Yolanda Díaz begins to add at home before the marathon of acts throughout the country

"Are you coming to Yolanda's, right?" The region of O Courel (Lugo) is revolutionized by the visit of the vice president and countrywoman who is beginning to take the first steps to become a candidate for the next general elections. Not even in high tourist season is it common to see so much movement of cars and people in an area that is particularly affected by depopulation. Everyone knows everyone here, so the neighbors and those responsible for lodgings and restaurants easily identify the foreigners who make up Yolanda Díaz's caravan for the first act of Sumar's tour around the country.

After several months announcing a listening process, which was paralyzed by the outbreak of the war in Ukraine and which was officially presented before the summer holidays, Díaz chooses his homeland to launch a marathon tour of his platform. "Galicia suits him very well," says one of the people on his team. So well, that the fantasizing about the idea of ​​turning around and leaving Madrid even sneaks into his public interventions. “I have already told Estela [su jefa de gabinete adjunta] to organize an event for me in Cangas (Pontevedra), that she is from there. And she, by the way, frees me from Madrid for a few days, ”she jokes on the spot.

Starting here a political course that promises to be of high voltage both within the Executive and in the configuration of Sumar and its relationship with the political actors involved is for Yolanda Díaz synonymous with playing at home. She is supported by many fellow militants of the Galician left who coincided with her in her time as a councilor in Ferrol and as a deputy in the Galician Parliament with AGE, that platform that she founded with Beiras in the heat of the indignant movement, which surprised the regional from 2012 and of which nothing remains today. There are also lifelong friends, like the family of the poet Uxio Novoneyra, who welcomes her at the headquarters of the poet's Foundation when she arrives arm in arm with her daughter, Carmela, unable to control her tears. "Here we love her very much, she is the best thing that has happened to Spanish politics in 40 years," says one of her assistants. "But they love me for my father, who is the one they really love," she says in reference to Suso Díaz, a historic Galician trade unionist who fought in a thousand fights in the Ferrol naval.

The landing at this specific point in Galicia has to do with the fire that devastated the Serra do Courel last July. The fire destroyed more than half of the 22,000 hectares of a space that is considered the green lung and one of the natural jewels of Galicia. “It has been a disaster. A real disaster from an environmental point of view but also an emotional one for all of us”, says one of the residents of the region who attend the event.

Before the event, Yolanda Díaz herself personally visits the burned area: a black immensity of burnt mountain that stretches out in front of spectacular beech and chestnut forests. Of 22,000 hectares, 11,200 burned. “Public administrations only act in the rural world in the extinction of fires and never before, no matter who governs. The only way to deal with the fires and to deal with what we are seeing here is to tackle the causes that cause rural abandonment”, denounces the vice president and possible candidate (she has not confirmed that she will headline the general elections, because before that listening process).

The population density data here speaks for itself: a thousand inhabitants in an extension of territory equivalent to the city of Berlin. “Everyone left in the 70s and 80s”, narrates another resident of the region: “The families went to Catalonia and Switzerland, mainly. Before they went to Buenos Aires or Havana and today they continue to go, above all, to Madrid. It is very difficult to live here." The difficulty comes from the abandonment by all the administrations, mainly the regional one. The nearest hospital is almost 70 kilometers away, more than an hour's drive. And there are no institutes for kids. "There are 18 teachers for 30 primary school kids, but when they reach the age to go to high school, many families decide to leave because there is no room to take them here," explains a neighbor.

This progressive depopulation draws a landscape of stone houses with slate roofs in practically abandoned villages. “Here is a town where only one person lives. And there are others with two or three inhabitants”, says the person in charge of one of the accommodations that offered to welcome free of charge the neighbors who abandoned their houses due to the fire, most of them elderly people. "It was a nightmare. It took three days to act. The origin was an electrical storm, lightning. But I refuse to let it be said that this is an accident. This is responsible for everything being abandoned. No one clears, no one cares. Now they say that they are going to spend two million euros to fix everything, but with that money they could hire a crew of 20 forest agents to take care of the forest in winter, when the fire goes out, and there would still be money left over. But we are forsaken by the hand of God. Here the Xunta disregards”, laments the man.

“We have a feeling of abandonment. As we are a thousand, we are not very important”, denounces a neighbor who speaks during the act. "The problem of depopulation and the environment is the same", raises another speaker, who explains how the progressive abandonment of the entire region means that no one cares for the forest anymore and that, therefore, the conditions for macrofires are increasingly auspicious. In the center, the leader of Sumar takes notes in a notebook with a pen. Sometimes she underlines some ideas with a green marker.

"The production model changed so much that it caused consequences as tremendous as the depopulation of rural areas," says Díaz, when he takes the floor. “They changed agriculture and livestock, which went from being close and sustainable to an intensive model that is not correct. Citizens abandon the rural world because the administrations abandoned the rural world and these people have the same rights as those who live in a city. We need a new social contract with the land”, he defended. Before, he had made a hole to refer to the current events of the day: new message to the employers to "be up to the task" and defense of the VAT reduction that Pedro Sánchez announced in a radio interview on Cadena Ser early in the morning.

The leader of Sumar vindicates her process of listening to citizens "in the face of the decisions that are made in the offices of the capitals without talking to the people." And she once again sent a message to the political formations that aspire to be part of this project: “You don't join from above, you join from below. And listening to each other is essential to change things.” She listened in the audience to the Galician deputy for Podemos, Antón Gómez Reino, and other grassroots militants and representatives of what are known as 'Galician tides', today scattered after several years of internal clashes. Beyond that, there is no trace of any protagonism of political leaders or parties.

“I have seen her well, although I noticed her tired. But how is it not going to be at the rate it is going, ”says one of the people who has shared a career with her since the days of councilor. "There have been too many emotions together and that's why I cried. This means going back to my home, to Galicia, of which I am a part and from which I never leave. It's coming back to my family, to the people I love. And show that things are also changing from Galicia”, summarizes Yolanda Díaz the day. Sumar's tour will soon take on the rhythms of a marathon. Next stop, Bilbao.

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