Marinaleda , Spain
Unemployment is almost extinct in the Andalusian Village of souther Spain. Marinaleda is being described as a democratic, socialist utopia thanks to its well organized farming cooperative.
On the surface, Marinaleda is no difference from any other city in the region. It is perfectly located in the beautiful Campiña valley, surrounded by miles of olive plantations, rolling green hills, and golden fields of wheat stretching all the way to the horizon. The town is peaceful, beautiful, and tranquil; no different than any of the other cities found within the the southern province of Spain.
Surprisingly enough, it also happens to be a democratic, anti-capitalist village as well. Ever since the financial crisis of 2008, Marinaleda started gaining fame. It mayor, Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo, also know as “The Spanish Robin Hood,” organized and carried our supermarket raids in a direct action protest in which they loaded groceries into carts and took them to a local food bank to help feed the poor.
Gordillo was has been the democratically elected mayor since 1979, and defended his actions saying that it was not theft, but a non-violent act of disobedience.
“There are many families who can’t afford to eat,” he argued. “In the 21st century this is an absolute disgrace. Food is a right, not something with which you speculate.”
In the souther province of Spain there are 690,000 empty houses and properties due to bank foreclosures. However, that is not the case in Marinaleda. Anyone who wants to build their own house can do so for free. Materials and craftsmen are provided by the town hall. Families just have to pay $19 a month for rent for the rest of their lives, with the agreement that the house and property can never be sold for personal gain.
In the Andalusian province, unemployment is a whopping 37% (55% among young people.) On the other hand, Marinaleda, with a populations of around 2700, has almost full employment due to the to town’s farming cooperative. Laborers earn equal wages of $1600 per month. In a region where 1 in 3 people are unemployed, this full employment achievement should not be underestimated.
“We need to rethink our values, the consumer society, the value we place on money, selfishness and individualism,” Gordillo remarks. “Marinaleda is a small example, and we want this experience to extend throughout the world.”