Wide Angle

Huelva Gate : For a strawberry producer, reports on alleged abuses are part of a hate campaign

For the president of strawberry producer FreshHuelva, reports on alleged sexual abuses in the fields are part of well-plotted campaign launched to affect the sector.

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According to the president of FreshHuelva, a strawberry producer and distributor in southern Spain, reports highlighting alleged sexual abuses in the region are part of a «premeditated campaign» launched to affect the sector.

Speaking to local online newspaper Huelva 24 on Wednesday, 20th of June, Alberto Garrocho stressed that the wave of criticism targeting strawberry companies in Huelva started in January on social media and was carried out through an article published by a German newspaper.

Garrocho referred to Buzzfeed News Germany, which published last April an investigation conducted by Pascale Muller and Stefania Prandi. While in Huelva’s fields, the two journalists were told by several Moroccan strawberry pickers that they were allegedly abused, sexually assaulted and blackmailed.

In a few weeks, and following Buzzfeed News’ article, several women decided to voice their struggle and denounce alleged sexual abuses, lodging complaints against their managers and bosses in the fields.

Farm-owners react

For FreshHuelva’s president, the supposed campaign is carried to negatively affect the strawberry sector that has been clean and productive for years. For him, strawberry producers in Spain provide job opportunities for more than 95,000 women, hailing the benefits of his company’s activities.

Moreover, he indicated that the current events have highlighted the need of creating a protocol that «can predict such attacks and stop them before happening».

Alberto Garrocho’s comments come as other farm-owners in Huelva broke their silence regarding Moroccan strawberry pickers, working in the region. Employers in Huelva told EFE on Thursday that out of the 15,000 Moroccan farm-workers hired by Spain «2,000 fled the fields once they arrived in Huelva».

Interviewed by the same source, Minister of Employment and Vocational Training Mohamed Yatim confirmed the information given by the Spanish employers, but without referring to numbers.

«It is too early to figure out the exact number», Yatim told the Spanish news agency, adding that he would wait until the end of the season to reveal statistics related to the subject.

For the record, the Huelva Gate scandal erupted two months ago. Since then more than 10 Moroccan women have lodged complaints denouncing sexual and labor abuses.

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