An Interesting Town Where Unemployment Is Now at Zero
Categories: Life Stories
Marinaleda, we are delighted to share this story with you. The story of Marinaleda is worth telling to the rest of the world. People’s lives are being transformed in the town. Take your time now and read carefully. Marinaleda is a small town in Spain. The town is located in the province of Seville, Andalusia. As of 2014, it was estimated that the town’s population stood at 2,748. The town has been identified as social-democratic, due to its collectivist economy. Some observers describe the town as anti-capitalist, while others say it is a communist-inspired town.
But whatever the description of the town may be, we are not interested in that. What we are interested in sharing with you are the policies the leadership of the town has implemented, making life comfortable and worth living in the town. The Andalusia province is considered to be one of the poorest in Spain. In the province in general, it is estimated that 37% of the population is unemployed. Out of this, a staggering 55% of the unemployed is the youth. It is said 1 in 3 people are unemployed in the Andalusia province. This makes the situation in the province disturbing.
But in the town of Marinaleda, specifically, unemployment is 0%. The town has opened a wide gap between itself and the rest of the towns and cities in the province. One may ask what the secret of the town is. The answer to the question is that Marinaleda has a strong farming cooperation. The town is made up of rolling green hills, miles of olive plantations and golden fields of wheat. With virtually no police, crime or unemployment, meet the Spanish town described as a democratic, socialist utopia. Unemployment is non-existent in Marinaleda, an Andalusian village in southern Spain that is prosperous thanks to its farming cooperative.
On the face of it, the Spanish town ofMarinaleda is indistinguishable from any other in its region. Nestled in the picturesqueCampiña valley, the surrounding countryside is made up of rolling green hills, miles of olive plantations and golden fields of wheat stretching as far as the eye can see. The town is pretty, tranquil and typical of those found in Andalusia, Spain’s poorest and most southerly province. It’s also a democratic, anti-capitalist village whose mayor actively encourages shoplifting.
Since the financial crisis began in 2008, Marinaleda has shot to fame — and so has its maverick mayor Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo, who earned the nickname,”The Spanish Robin Hood,” after organizing and carrying out a series of supermarket raids in a direct action protest last August. Basic groceries such as oil, rice and beans were loaded into carts, wheeled from the store and taken to a local food bank to help the poor, as helpless cashiers looked on, some crying.
In an interview after the event,Gordillo, the democratically elected mayor since 1979, said 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 this province alone there are 690,000 empty properties due to bank foreclosures. But not inMarinaleda, becauseGordillo has a solution: anyone who wants to build their own house can do so for free. Materials and qualified workmen are provided by the town hall, and the generous allowance of 192 square meters means the homes are spacious. Families then pay just 15 euros ($19) per month for the rest of their lives, with the agreement that the house cannot be sold for private gain.
In Andalusia, unemployment now stands at 37 percent (a staggering 55 percent for young people). But Marinaleda, population 2700, has virtually full employment through the town’s farming cooperative, where laborers earn equal wages of 1200 euros ($1600) per month. Here, in a region where 1 in 3 people are unemployed, this achievement cannot be understated.
“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.”