Helena Lyng Blak
4 weeks ago

“The Canaries Have a Limit”: Tens of Thousands Protest in Canary Islands and Spain

Tens of thousands rally in the Canary Islands and mainland Spain against unsustainable tourism practices, demanding a new model that preserves their environment and local economy.
Cristian M Balate / Shutterstock.com
Cristian M Balate / Shutterstock.com

On Saturday, April 20, 2024, tens of thousands of people protested across the Canary Islands, as well as in Madrid and Barcelona.

The demonstrations targeted the government policies that have encouraged the mass tourism overwhelming the islands.

Estimates put the number of protesters at between 20,000 and 50,000 on the streets of Tenerife, Gran Canaria, and other islands.

Despite tourism being a significant factor in the islands’ economies, representing 35% of their GDP, protesters are arguing that the current load of tourism is neither financially nor environmentally sustainable for the islands and their populations.

According to The Guardian, the protests are taking place under the banner “Canarias tiene un límite”, meaning “The Canaries have a limit”. With a population of 2.2 million, the Canaries received 14 million tourists in 2023 alone, Sky News reports. And that is negatively affecting the environment of the islands, housing costs, and infrastructure, says the protesters.

A protester expressed to Reuters, "It's not a message against the tourist, but against a tourism model that doesn't benefit this land and needs to be changed."

The protests are planned and supported by both local groups such as ‘Canarias se Agota’ and international groups such as Greenpeace and WWF.

Besides the demonstrations, several members of 'Canarias se Agota' are taking a more drastic step by participating in a hunger strike, which as of April 24 has lasted 14 days, to underscore their demands and more concretely try to prevent the construction of two grandiose luxury developments in Tenerife.

“The land is not a commodity,” the group says on its Instagram. “It is the guarantee of our survival and it is being taken away from us.”

“The unity and the strength of the Canary people is unbreakable,” the group asserts.

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