Over one hundred angry farmers descended on Palma in their tractors yesterday and, with the support of several thousand people, brought traffic in the city and along the motorway to the airport to a chaotic standstill as they demonstrated in protest over the Balearic government's agricultural policy. The protest, which started in front of Chief Minister Antich's headquarters at the Consulat del Mar, attracted the support of 2.700 people according to the police, while the farmers' unions claim that nearly 7'000 turned out in solidarity for the struggling agricultural sector. There was an air of tension as an official communique was handed over to the government at the Consulat del Mar and police were on full alert, but the real problem was caused when the tractor drivers unexpectedly decided to head for the airport and busy Saturday traffic along the motorway was brought to a halt for over 20 minutes. Some drivers were even forced to abandon their cars as they pleaded with the police for assistance and tension rose when farmers threatened to block the motorway completely if they were prevented from carry out a single file demonstration. The farmers criticised the government for purchasing two estates in Artà, Abarca and Es Verger, saying that “now they have no money left to pay the livestock farmers.” The irate farmers said that they were fighting for survival. They criticised the government's agrarian policy and even blamed the minister of agriculture for the lack of rain. The minister of the environment, Margalida Rosselló, did not escape the wrath of the farmers, either, and there were calls for her resignation, too. Antich had already announced that he would not receive the farmers as they had refused to attend an audience earlier in the week. The government took this as a one-sided breaking off of talks.


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