The mayor of a small town in Spain's Andalusia region was hailed last week for his part in at least two raids on local supermarket carried out by his supporters.

Seven labor union activists were arrested for taking part in the raids, which Juan Manuel Sanchez Gordillo, mayor of Marinaleda for over 30 years, said resulted in food being distributed to families in financial dire straits. Being a member of Andalusia's regional parliament, Sanchez Gordillo is protected by political immunity.

The raiders entered the supermarkets and proceeded to fill up shopping carts with food items such as pasta and oil before leaving with their ill-gotten loot. Outside, Sanchez Gordillo was shouting encouraging words through a megaphone as cheering supporters gathered.

"There are people who don't have enough to eat. In the 21st century, this is an absolute disgrace," he is quoted as saying.

While many are impressed with the 59-year-old's blunt anti-austerity initiative, Spain's conservative ruling party feels an elected official should not be so gung-ho about breaking the law.

"You can't be Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham," People's Party spokesman Alfonso Alonso said. "This man is just searching for publicity at the cost of everyone else."

Andalusia, where a third of the workforce is unemployed, knows to pain of Spain's economic crisis more than most. Sanchez Gordillo hopes to draw more attention to the plight of his people during a three-week protest march to Madrid which starts today.

[screengrab via YouTube]