The mayor of Olivenza (Badajoz), the socialist Manuel González Andrade, announced Wednesday night that he refuses to host in his town what would be the largest hunting museum in the world, with 1,250 animals of 420 species shot throughout half a century by a single man: Marcial Gómez Sequeira, former president of Sanitas. "This project cannot represent us, it does not represent Oliventinos and Oliventinas, nor can it represent the future of Olivenza's progress and, therefore, will not have a place in any municipal public building," the mayor said in a statement hung on your account From Facebook.
The alderman reverses after this newspaper will reveal sunday that the president of the Junta de Extremadura, Guillermo Fernández Vara, the hunter and the mayor himself had signed a pre-agreement in March to expose the collection of animals dissected in an 18th-century building in the heart of the Extremadura town.
"On Sunday we find that the statements of this man are based on a concept of hunting diametrically opposed to the sustainable hunting of rural areas, where he also boasts of being a Francoist, having killed more than 420 species of animals, some of them in danger of extinction, while taking away from tax crimes for trying to avoid paying taxes on the sale of your company, ”says the mayor, referring to the information revealed on Sunday by EL PAÍS.
In the interview with this newspaper, Gómez Sequeira calculated that, adding the time of his hunting expeditions, he had spent “shooting shots, 24 hours a day, for 11 years and three months” of his life. The businessman, born in Madrid in 1940, sold his majority share of Sanitas three decades ago for about 22,000 million pesetas (the equivalent of 320 million euros today) and invested a fortune in hunting. The Provincial Court of Madrid sentenced him in 2018 to a penalty of two months of major arrest, a fine of 260,000 euros and another payment of 287,000 euros as compensation to the public treasury for creating a screen company “to obtain illegal tax savings” in Sanitas sale.
The mayor of Olivenza says that the initial idea was to create a hunting museum "to promote the city as a historic municipality" and "encourage the study, research and dissemination of hunting and fishing" in Extremadura. “You know that I am not a bullfighter or a hunter, but I respect both groups,” underlines González Andrade. "I do not consider bullfighters or the more than 500 hunters murderers" of the local society, the councilor adds.
The collection of dissected animals of Marcial Gómez Sequeira, today exhibited in his mansion in La Moraleja (Alcobendas, Madrid), includes species such as the white rhinoceros, in state "Almost threatened" according to the Red List of Endangered Species, and the polar bear, in a "vulnerable" state. Many organizations invite not to get carried away by the visceral rejection of these practices. As noted on its website the specialized NGO Traffic, wildlife conservation "is much more complex than choosing a side based on personal morals."
The organization recalls that uncontrolled hunting in the 19th century brought white rhinos to the brink of extinction. “Now, their number reaches 20,000 copies throughout the African continent, initially thanks to trophy hunting. Landowners and ranchers received a financial incentive to reintroduce the species into their lands, ”explains Traffic.
The world's largest environmental organization, WWF, too supports trophy hunting provided that the money generated benefits the local population and the conservation of the ecosystem, two complex objectives. WWF supports, for example, a program that allows millionaire hunters to shoot a protected species of goat, the marjor, upon payment of about 100,000 euros. Gómez Sequeira calculates that his collection has cost him “several tens of millions of euros”.
The ancestors of the Madrid hunter were from Olivenza. His grandfather, the landowner Marcial Gómez Castaño, was mayor of the town more than a century ago. His father, the doctor Marcial Gómez Gil, founder of Sanitas, was born in Olivenza and was a third cousin and friend of the parents of President Extremadura, Guillermo Fernández Vara, also born in the same town. Despite this link, the current mayor says that Gómez Sequeira "never appealed to any personal relationship" when proposing the idea of the museum. The socialist councilor ends his statement harshly: "This man, and this way of understanding the hunt and the world, represents a Spain that I did not live, but had done so, would have fought to change."
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