The IU, the communist coalition partners of the PSOE in the Andalucian government, have proposed a new law that will allow for the expropriation of any “productive land which has not been used for its assigned social function” during the last two years.
Such land, explains the proposed law, would be that should be dedicated to productive uses such as forestry, farm or ranching land. Or, indeed, my back garden.
As a cited example by the IU, they talk of land which during the boom years was urbanised but now lies fallow, which could be expropriated and put back to use as farmland by local cooperatives. Strangely enough, I notice that farmers union COAG is supporting the bill…
Other targets of the bill would be big landowners (which the IU want to see seized and broken up), large international farming corporations, and, basically it seems, any landowners not called Paco or who smoke anything but ducados.
Large polluting industries which shouldn’t be there but are because of historic accidents(Deretil in Villaricos comes to mind although they’ve cleaned up a lot) could also be seized under the law, and the nasty big foreign corporations that own them told to take a hike.
Such land would be put into a public land bank called the “Patrimonio Agrario Andaluz” (an organisation that already exists and looks after the vast swathes of public land held by the Junta) and then leased out -or donated- to local cooperatives. The PAA would become a vast landbank which would dole out free land to the peasants.
IU reckons there are currently 22,000 ha of public land of which about 10,000 ha – or about 100 square km- is lying fallow.
They also want the Junta to dedicate 0,4% of its annual budget towards expropriating and purchasing agricultural land to prevent big landowners for massing and “oppressing the Andalucian small farmer”, supporting what they call the founding principle of their party, the antilatifundista. “Anti-big landowner”. Basically, the Junta, using its 0.4% + “donations” from the peasants will keep seizing land and then giving it back to the peasants. And I use the word “peasant” with care: the IU seems to only care that the peasants continue to have access to land, to keep that social category firmly entrenched in agricultural backwardness, where they will keep on voting for the IU.
The law then goes a bit weird(er!): The IU will then allow any unemployed person to come forwards with a project asking for some land, which will be donated for free for periods of not less than 25 years, in exchange for an undertaking that the land is for the use of their own family, they will not use GM seeds, and that within 5 years of taking possession of the land 60% of their crop must be organic. Local farmers can band together to form local cooperatives to work the land in commune, under the same conditions.
Individual families or local cooperatives that want land will be able to have it for free, being subjected only to the normal taxes levied on any surplus food they sell. Instead, the famer will be asked to “donate” 5% of his annual profit to the antilatifundista fund, to expropriate or purchase more land, and a further 1%, to be donated to local good causes.
Fines of up to 6,000€ will be levied for failing the above (famers must present their books to their local “Chamber of Cooperatives” for annual accounting), but the Junta will setup a seed bank and an equipment bank for small farmers to borrow and buy from.
Chaps, this communist “the land is for the people” hasn’t worked in any country that’s tried it ever so why the dickens you expect it to propel Andalucía into the next century is beyond me. Those in charge have obviously realised they’ve run Andalucía so far into the ground that the only way up is by farming their way out. Or, it’s been their master plan all along, to keep the Andaluzes backwards peasants who till the ground with no hope of escape. Giving someone on the dole 500 square metres of (probably unproductive without modern fertilisers) land and expecting them to farm it to support his whole family isn’t really a modern way out of having half the region unemployed.
Yes, we have large landowning problems in Andalucía, with several people (Duquesa de Alba, anyone?) owning huge tracts of the country. And yes, lots of land has been urbanised and now is economically unviable to build on (or full of empty or half built homes). And yes, the complete destruction of what little government supported industry the region had has left large empty warehouses, abandoned factories and desolate urban blocks all over the place.
But quite a bit of the land in Andalucía is only productive when farmed with modern fertilisers and intensive water usage. Which puts it out of range of the small farmer with a tiny bit of land, especially when the condition under which he is given the land is that he can’t use those fertilisers. It’s only the larger cooperatives / conglomerates that can productively use the land.
You don’t have to expropriate the land and turn us into a communist communal regime where we all work on the land to fix these problems. Proper modern planning laws, a bit less corruption (no need to go nuts! We can still have a little bit!) and hey, a bit of incentive towards industry and entrepreneurs would go a long way to fix this problem. Not dialling the clock back to 1960’s Cuba.
I leave you with this thought from the stats office:
Andalucía currently has a population of working age of 6.8 million people. Of these:
- 4.02 million have or would like a job, broken down into:
- – 2.58 million of the above have a job.
- – 455.6 thousand of the above have a job they don’t like and are trying to move.
- 1.5 million are on the dole.
- 2.8 million don’t want a job (they aren’t actively looking for a job, or have simply been unemployed for so long they aren’t eligible for the dole any longer so are classified as inactive, a cunning statistical ploy to get the stats down).
So, 2.58 million people have a job. Believe it or not, 19% of these -or half a million- work directly for the government. So, about 2,1 million people actually earn any money, and of these, half a million of them can’t stand their job. (The government workers don’t actually earn the state any money, do they? Their salaries come from the taxes of the workers. They usually earn more than minimum wage, so they actually draw more off the state coffers than those on the dole).
So, 2.1 million people supporting the other 6 million people in Andalucia. 4.3 million people on the dole or classified as “of working age but not in work or drawing dole”. Officially, 36% of the population is on the dole, or 66% of those under 25. The actual percentage of unemployed is far higher, because when your dole ends you drop off the statistical picture.
And expropriating land from the large landowners, and letting these people work it as basic subsidence farmers, without access to modern fertilisers, is the solution?
The whole of the IU plan is daft but the idea of expropiating unused land from large landowners who obtained that land by use of power, corruption or what ever is a matter worthy of debate,
The history of land ownership in Andaluscia is a history of exploitation of the peasant unlike in some other areas of Spain. This has been exacerabated in recent years by corrupt dealings often involving local politicians.
I, instinctively, like the idea of handing algorobico to a bunch of the local unemployed – all those balconies would make excellent raised beds for growing organic veggies…..
Thus, I think there is something to be debated. It is also unfair to the IU to compare their plan to Mugabe – he stole working farms for his boys.