Communist Party of Australia

We acknowledge the Sovereignty of the First Nations’ Peoples.


Journal of the Communist Party of Australia

ISSUE 67April 2018

Marinaleda, a utopia towards peace

This is what we can read in the official seal of Marinaleda. This Spanish village is famous for being the only openly stated socialist village in Europe. In the Council´s main office, you will not find a Spanish flag or the king´s photo as is customary in Spain, but a picture of Che Guevara instead. Among its achievements are its lack of police and unemployment, the expropriation of land from the Dukes of the Infantado, and the provision of rental houses built by the townspeople for just $21 a month.

To understand Marinaleda properly, we need to recognise and contextualise the struggle of this village of 2,700 people over the last 40 years against the bourgeois state.

A bit of history

In 1979, the head of the CUT (Workers Unity Collective), Sanchez Gordillo was elected the Mayor of Marinalea. The genocidal fascist General Franco had been dead for four years and the current continuist constitutional regime was declared just one year prior. In 1979, Marinaleda was poorly developed even by Spanish standards: 70% of people were unemployed, many families were without shelter and landowners ruled the economy in a territory chiefly focused on agricultural production.

The beginning of Gordillo´s term as mayor was characterised by continuous conflicts against the Spanish state. For example, in 1980 the “Hunger Strike Against Hunger” was led by the CUT, SOC (Rural Workers Union) and 700 Marinaleda inhabitants against the Spanish Government´s social cuts which were causing widespread starvation.

To provide for its people, the Marinaleda Council gave its first 50 free houses to its inhabitants in 1981. Throughout the 1980s, they also occupied El Humoso and La Nave, the farmland and factory which are now the backbone of Marinaleda´s income. At that time, 50% of the state of Andalusia (where Marinaleda is located) was owned by just 2% of the people.

The fight still continues

Sanchez Gordillo has remained the mayor of Marinaleda since 1979. He has been prosecuted and repressed by the state on several occasions, due to his union and political activities. As a result, Marinaleda has gained significant international attention. The facts are self-evident: its primary farmland and factory are governed by a public co-operative system and are staffed by 600 farmers in rotation by an “Unemployed Assembly”, where employment takes precedence over profit. The salary is an equivalent of AUD $65 per day or $1,670 per month (the minimum salary is $32.5 per day for the rest of the state) regardless of their role. Houses built are dedicated to Che Guevara or Salvador Allende and are rented for $21 a month. Nursery school attendance costs $20 a month.

Nine out of eleven Marinaleda councillors are CUT-BAI (Workers Unified Collective) members. They announce the assemblies and meetings via megaphone where everyone is invited to discuss the decisions which affect the village, and 23% of the population are SOC (Rural Workers Union) members.

Even though none of the four million Spanish unemployed workers live in Marinaleda, there is still a common ground between this village and the nearby villages: There are about 20 private businesses such as the the two pharmacies and three bars/restaurants. In addition, the low amount paid by the people as rent, is just possible through the subsidy paid by the state yearly to every village in the area, and that is the main weapon used by the media to write dozens of articles of all kinds against their economic and social progress every year.

Marinaleda is just a small village. It is not a general solution, but it is a living example which shows us that even today and in the most unfavourable contexts we can build high levels of class-consciousness, and the important role of the worker’s parties and unions for a real social change.

Improvements via class struggle may take years or even decades, but there is no doubt that it’s the only way to defeat capitalism.

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