You need to be the mayor of a forgotten little town sunk by unemployment to understand the determination of someone like Ángel Vadillo. You need to be dealing with a lineup of 30 to 40 people outside your office every morning, asking you for work and solutions, to understand why he decided to do something drastic about it. And you need to feel the hope that comes with a plan to build five solar plants to understand the disappointment when that plan vanishes in thin air.
Vadillo, 48, is the new hero of Alburquerque, where he has been mayor for the last 17 years. He says that courage depends on the situation you find yourself in. "Only when you are in an extreme situation does your courage surface," he says.
The mayor announced on Saturday that he was abandoning his hunger strike after securing a meeting with the Industry Ministry (which did not confirm the appointment) to discuss renewable energies for his village. "I am satisfied that my struggle has served to achieve this."
He began his 91-day fast when the Industry Ministry eliminated its subsidies for renewable energies last January, which in turn struck down a project to create five solar plants in Alburquerque.
Alburquerque, a village of 5,600 in Extremadura near the Portuguese border, has a 40-percent unemployment rate. The Socialist-run council had gotten everything ready for the project: the land had been rezoned and building permits approved. Construction work was hoped to create 820 jobs, with 250 permanent posts to follow.
Three months ago, Vadillo weighed 94 kilos. Right now he is under 66kg. Last Wednesday he was admitted into a Madrid hospital due to cardiac arrhythmias caused by exhaustion. For three months, he has been living on four liters of sugary water a day. A few days ago, he began feeling pain in his legs. But his condition has only increased the media impact of his campaign.