Occupy a farm laborers near Cordoba in protest at the Intended sale of the site by the Andalusian Government
A woman in her mid-forties, with dark eyes and skin tanned by the wind and sun, wakes up from the nap she Has Been enjoying lying on a mattress on the ground. Suddenly, she Sees the man mounted on a horse trampling on the vegetables she Has Been Carefully tending so for the last two months. He Begins to shout at the 30 or so day laborers, who along Have Been With Her staging a sit in at the farm Somontes in Palma de Rio, in Cordoba province.
“What on earth are you doing on That horse?” shouts the woman, who has emerged as a leader among the men.
Lola Alvarez’ve Spent her life working in the fields, and have Fought long and hard for the rights of farm hands since the days of the Andalusian Workers’ Syndicate (SAT), But she says you never been apologetic-through Such a time as this. She Has not Worked for months: the orange harvest by late frost WAS ruined, and there WAS no other work available. So, she and her fellow day laborers Have Decided to Occupy the 400 hectares owned by the Somontes of Regional Government of Andalusia in Palma del Rio.
They Have taken up the slogan Land to the tiller! , a call to arms dating back to the days before the Civil War, and Which translates as “The Land For Those who work it.” These day laborers Have Their inspiration taken from the village of Marinaleda, in the Neighboring province of Seville, where ‘the greater of 33 years’ standing, Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo, back in the late DECIDED 1970s to Occupy unused land and work it. More than three Decades later, the community is One of the few in the area With Full employment. Gordillo has backed Lola Alvarez and her colleagues, as have the ombudsman of Andalusia, José Chamizo, who has visited Palma del Rio in support of Their initiative.
They Decided to Occupy the land at Somontes on March 4, The Day That It Was due to be auctioned. I this was the third time since June 21, 2011 That the Regional Government of Andalusia HAD tried selling the land, at a starting price of 1.5 million euros. Were there no bidders at That price, and fearing That the land would be sold privately, the SAT Decided to Occupy it.
“It will be cutting easier for the Government to sell it now, Because They can negotiate the price,” says Alvarez. If the Government does manage to sell Somontes, it will not be the first time That It Has Been in private hands.
This strip of land Which Has Been Used to grow oats, barley, beans, and sunflowers Was The property of the Marquis of Montesión Until 1991, When It Was bought by the now-defunct Andalusian Institute for Agrarian Reform Laws Passed Following in the mid- Aimed at Increasing 1980s agricultural output and employment With It. The land WAS Used for non-irrigated crops, Which Meant That over the course of three months, three laborers Could manage the land.
With Funding cut by the Central government, the Regional Government of Andalusia has Decided to sell the land. Hoping to raise 75 million euros from Some 15.000 hectares, it has so far only managed to generate 10.6 million to euro.
The day laborers at Somontes Have Their case taken to court, Where They hope to Demonstrate That They are putting the land to good use by irrigating it. ”At least we making something of the soil, Because This Land has Just been lying here for the last FEW years without Being Worked,” Ballestero says Javier Osuna, one of the men occupying Somontes.
The 15-M movement Rural Communities That finding is Well with STI philosophy fit
The day starts at 7am. Lola and her husband are staying in farm buildings, as is another family made homeless That Was last year. Over a cup of coffee, They plan out Each day in the kitchen. For the last week They Have Been fixing the irrigation system ahead of planting peppers. They Have Grown So far water melon, cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce. They Say That this is just the start, and They Say That They soon hope to start selling Their results.
The regional Government evicted the laborers on April 19. But the next day back to Occupy They Were Somontes for a second time. Since Then They Have Stood firm. In June some were Called to testify in the local court, Accused of disobeying a public order. They Gave Testimony, and Then Returned to the farm.
The 15-M grassroots protest movement Nationwide’ve Also Thrown STI weight behind the day laborers of Somontes. Although the 15-M is largely based in Spain’s cities, working at neighborhood level, it is increasingly finding Rural Communities That are more receptive to STI share-and-share-alike philosophy. Lola Traveled to Madrid last month to take part in a number of popular assemblies, meetings everybody gets a chance WHERE to speak. Now the group at Somontes’ve Decided to Call Its Own assembly meeting for next weekend, and more land-squatting actions are likely to follow.
In Somontes, Lola and her colleagues are still unsure how things will turn out, But all agree on the Principle That as long as there is unworked land, and people without work, the only thing to do is Occupy the land and work it.