Back in August of last year, when I was in Almeria, I wrote about the apathetic way in which Andalucians watch their wonderful part of the world being destroyed. Well, it seems that times-are-a-changing. My sweeping generalisation was not true! For example, The Rio Grande Vivo Siempre campaign
is a great example of how local action can have national impact. The Rio Grande flows near Guaro. It has been proposed that the river be dammed and the water diverted to Malaga, a growing, thirsty city.. This kind of environmental nightmare has been going on for years. Many rivers on the Costa del Sol have been destroyed, leaving nothing but arid, dusty veins running across the region, so that we can enjoy the benefits of modern living in luxury apartments and hotels aor play golf on perfectly green courses. Yet this recent plan for the Rio Grande is meeting with a strong resistance from motivated and organised local people.
Towards the end of last year I started to see graffiti on the roundabouts, roads and bridges in the local area as well as posters and banners
across the villages and towns – "Rio Grande Siempre Vivo". The campaign has shown signs of being surprisingly organised. When I asked some villagers about it, they all knew the issues. They were adamant that the river would not be destroyed. This might have been seen as a classic "country vs city" fight, but the campaigners were clever not to lose support from Malaga capital. They clearly communicated that this was an environmental issue. I recently read in La Chispa Magazine (the alternative magazine for Andalucia) that 200 people went to donate blood in the city to show their solidarity. The campaigncontinues to go from strength to strength and is not just saying no to the dam, but also highlighting areas where the water could be saved in the city, such as recycling the huge amounts of grey water that get dumped into the sea by Malaga each year.
Reassuringly, the project to dam the river has now been "put on hold". Rio Grande Vivo Siempre!
(Photo of the banner was taken from the Rio Grande Vivo Siempre Blog – the site is in English too.)