The primary sector and rural Spain are not currently experiencing their best moment. Both livestock and agriculture, harassed by rising prices (energy, feed…), as well as the inland areas of our country, increasingly depopulated, have entered a negative spiral that requires a profound turnaround to revitalize them. . In this sense, in the face of the showers that are looming on both fronts, the hope of figures such as Herminio Sancho (1966), mayor of the small town of Mezquita de Jarque (Teruel) and PSOE deputy in Congress, who does not resign and fights to strengthen the primary sector and to combat depopulation inch by inch.
Sancho’s involvement in the defense of the primary sector and in the fight against depopulation goes back a long way: he defines himself by his involvement in agrarian organizations, such as UAGA, despite the fact that he has been affiliated with the PSOE since the late 1990s. jump to the first political line (Cortes de Aragón, in 2015, and Congress, in 2019) is after his time at UAGA. “The sector wanted me to make the leap into politics and asked me to be a deputy in the Parliament of Aragon,” he explains. However, long before, since 2007, he has served as mayor of his town, a town with only 84 inhabitants and harassed by the bad demographic trend that runs through inland Spain.
Far from being carried away by the temptations of the political front line, Sancho has pledged loyalty to the people. «I do not like that concept of Empty Spain. Empty Spain is the one that has left, I stay in my town. I will always live in the Mosque, I am not going to go live in Madrid, “says the socialist mayor, in conversation with this newspaper.
The mayor and socialist deputy has dedicated practically his entire life to agriculture, livestock and his town because he had no other choice because he comes from “a humble family”: so much so that he gave up his studies despite the scholarships offered to him in the Seminary of the Mercedarians of Reus for his good grades and his talent for athletics and had to return to Mezquita del Jarque to help his parents. He finished third in BUP and returned to the town to tend to the cattle and the land that his parents planted. “We were from a very humble family, we couldn’t afford to study,” explains Sancho.
Therefore, from a very young age (with breaks to take courses on animal welfare or agriculture), Sancho has been involved in the primary sector: right now, together with his wife and one of their three children, they have land planted with wheat (mostly) , oats or sunflowers, and they have almost a thousand sheep. Sancho shows his preferences: «I am more of a sheepherder than a farmer. I can’t see the village without sheep. The day he runs out of sheep he would cry a lot », he explains, although he already warns that only he has stayed in the town because there are many farmers who have had to leave it because it is not profitable for them.
Despite serving as a deputy, Sancho does not neglect the sheep either. «Whenever I have a hole, I lend a hand to my family, with the cattle or with the tractor. In fact, I am paying agricultural social security », he explains. The company, run by him and his wife, also has two other employees and one of them is in charge of acting as a shepherd, taking out the sheep in a town that is located at 1,300 meters above sea level. “Extensive farming implies a lot of subjection,” he explains, before emphasizing that all his herd is pure Aragonese breed.
He has been left alone with the sheep, swimming against all odds. The same as it does with the town, where it resists depopulation at all despite the bad demographic trend. «What you have to do in a town is generate what is necessary so that people have no excuse to leave. The most important thing is to have housing available, today we have five apartments for social rent », he explains. In his opinion, the first thing is housing; the second, connectivity; and thirdly, availability for education from 0 to 16 years of age. “And we have achieved all three things,” he celebrates, since the nursery (0-3 years) is in the town and has around ten children, and in the town next door (three kilometers away) primary and secondary are taught , but the City Council has put a van to transport the students.
“Now there is a little girl, there is a couple that is building a house,” he claims. The truth is that Sancho has also managed to have a doctor and a pharmacy more than half the days of the week, another basic public service. In addition to the basics, the mayor has also launched a gym with a monitor, an activity that is increasingly in social demand throughout Spain (especially among young people).
The town was heavily nourished by mining activity and, when it began to decline in the 1980s, it gradually lost its population. It also suffered the harsh impact of the closure of a thermal power plant in the 1990s. Now, thanks to the “boom” of renewables in Aragon, it could go back: there is already a couple that has settled there thanks to a renewable project that was He has launched.