I have slept in the hotel in El Algarrobico, in one of their illegal rooms overlooking the sea. They were three nights in September 2011, together with a dozen activists, in an action by Greenpeace to demand its demolition. One of the many that we have carried out in these 15 years to denounce the illegality of this aberration, such as the 2014 protest for which a court in Almería is now taking 28 of my colleagues to trial.
We entered the building through a back entrance, on the side that does not face the sea. We agreed without causing any damage and without any type of violence. We did not meet anyone, we simply entered. At first it was like being on a construction site, we walked down a corridor only covered in cement. However, when we went up a few floors, the surprise was great: we found much more advanced rooms in the construction. We did not see anyone working, but it was evident that the works had not stopped when the judge issued it in 2006.
It is impossible for one not to be struck by this giant so out of place, embedded in the mountain and with its concrete feet almost in the sea. If this macrohotel has 21 floors, the access through which we entered gave to a medium height of the building and then we went up a couple of floors. We settle there, where we occupy only a few rooms. When you step out onto the balconies, it was like being on a boat in the middle of the Mediterranean, you literally feel like you’re in the sea, how close the water is. Between us, the comments were one of astonishment and sadness.
From my occupied room at El Algarrobico the view was overwhelming. Just as overwhelming it should be for anyone who walked that hill before this mass rose. Around there are practically no buildings, it is a unique landscape. The most shocking thing was at night. Although we had installed solar panels for the computers and we had some flashlights, there was not much light, everything around it was dark. And this made the starry sky even more impressive. How is it possible that something like this could be built in a place like this, in the middle of a natural park, so clearly illegal?
The first time Greenpeace activists denounced the illegal construction of the El Algarrobico hotel in this way was in 2005, before even managing to stop the works. Since then, we have been there protesting seven more times. In all this time, more than 100 activists have been called to declare and more than half a million euros have been claimed from our organization for these actions. However, so far all complaints have been shelved. That now they want to open an oral trial against 28 other activists who protested in 2014 for this enormous illegality, while the hotel is still standing with some thirty sentences against it, shows the strange power relations of this country.
I slept in a room in El Algarrobico, in a sleeping bag, on a mat on the floor. I also cooked with solar ovens on the terraces and ate on the ground. It is not very comfortable, but part of our role as activists is to resist. I would not have chosen to ask for a few days of vacation to be there if there were not a manifest illegality and an inaction of the public administrations to throw it away at once. Promoters of irregular works often wait for a day when protesters will demobilize, but there are organizations that can endure for as long as it takes, decades.
If it had not been for all of us who have mobilized in this time, the illegal hotel would have been completed or legalized to avoid throwing it away, as has happened on other occasions. Today this construction is already a symbol and we will not stop until it falls. In my case, the company protested our action and the complaint was also filed, like all the others. I was not the one who was where I should not be, it is the hotel that has been in the wrong place for more than 15 years.
Sara Pizzinato She is an activist for the environmental organization Greenpeace.
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