Protesters met with the Spanish prime minister and demanded funding for medical expenses for survivors of the historic food poisoning scandal.
Survivors of a mass food poisoning incident in 1981 have taken over the Del Prado Art Gallery in Madrid, threatening to attempt suicide if their demands for help and attention are not met.
A photo shows six – one in a wheelchair – holding a banner in front of Las Meninas (The Maids of Honor), a painting by Spanish painter Diego Velazquez, inside the gallery on Tuesday. Others gathered outside.
A statement posted on the Twitter account of an association for victims of adulterated oil, which harmed thousands of people across Spain in 2001, said: “No more insults and abandonment.”
“Six hours after the start of our visit, we will start taking the pills,” warns the We Are Still Alive Association, without warning.
The group is holding a meeting with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in late October and is demanding money to cover the medical expenses of the surviving victims.
One of the world’s biggest food poisoning scandals, the group claims that at least 50,000 people have been killed and 20,000 injured, mostly with curable conditions.
‘We are sick’
No immediate comment was received from the Spanish government or Prado.
Protesters said they chose the museum because the culture helped deal with the victims.
“We are sick. Physically, we are 20 years older than our ID, ”said one woman outside.
The substance that affected protesters and others was originally for industrial use but was sold as adulterated and illegally olive oil, mostly in street markets, starting in Madrid and spreading to other areas.
Symptoms ranged from lung failure and organ deformity to the destruction of the body’s immune system.
Many survivors were crippled for life.
According to the Science Direct website, about 100,000 people were exposed and 20,000 people had clinical disease, of which 10,000 were hospitalized. More than 30,000 victims have died, according to Science Direct.