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All politics is local -- in Villafranca de los Barros


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I'm in Villafranca de los Barros, which is just outside the spot where "someone" wants to build an oil refinery. The idea would be to bring crude oil from Venezuela to Huelva, then pipe it up (through a national nature preserve) to what is now an olive grove on the Vdlp outside Villafranca de los Barros.

This morning walking from Zafra, I saw the several "no refineria" signs along the way. Then I took the turnoff to the Albergue de Almanzara (highly recommended) to have a cup of coffee and see the XIX century olive oil press, which is now an albergue and soon to have a nice restaurant attached. As I discussed the refinery with the hospitalera, she made her opinion known that the opponents were the rich landowners who wanted to keep their area pristine, and that the people's party, the PSOE, was all in favor. I left thinking that the "little guy" was in favor of the refinery.

In Villafranca, at the wonderful Casa Perin, the owner sent us to the Meson Restaurante Monterrey. I HIGHLY recommend this restaurant. I had the first good piece of fish I've had since leaving Sevilla. It was a terrific grilled lubina, just wonderful. Plus some delicious champinones with gambas. Ok, so starting up the refinery conversation again, it turns out that the opponents include many locals who have joined for environmental reasons, as well as many who fear depletion of the water supply, as well as those who are just sick and tired of the people in power being able to work their will on the people and the land. This restaurant has been blacklisted and is not included on a list of places to eat that is handed out to entering peregrinos. This makes me mad and gets my equality juices going.

So, if you are in Villafranca de los Barros, wherever you may stay, go to the Restaurante Monterrey. (address is Calle Rodela no. 25). The food is delicious, and if you tell them you are interested in the refinery issue, you may wind up with a long lesson by an animated Antonio, the owner, who will show you the maps and tell you the story, and who then gave me a very good bottle of his own making, which I am now sharing here in the Casa Perin.

As a passer-by, it's always hard to know what's really going on in local political disputes, but I think there's no doubt but that those who love the Vdlp will want to keep the refinery out of the area.

Buen camino, Laurie
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Just a p.s. for those of you who may be cynical about the power of the people. The construction of the refinery was supposed to start 6 years ago. Three months after it was announced, the opponents got mobilized. The opposition has been growing steadily, and they now have formal complaints pending in Brussels. Delay is always on the side of the opposition, so even though it seems like a David and Goliath type situation, maybe they will win!
Well, it looks like the Balboa Refinery project (near Villafranca de los Barros) has been definitively rejected by the Spanish national minister of Agriculture, Food and Environment. I'm sure the recession had something to do with it, but the many years of protests by Camino associations must have played a part.

In any event, this is great news for the Vdlp! Buen camino, Laurie

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