On the first day of the occupation, we talked with the military, who asked us to leave at first. But in the end, we were so determined, there was nothing they could do.
I worked on a farm at El Humoso, which had been collectivised by workers from Marinaleda. [At the El Humoso cooperative, farmers work between five and six hours a day from Monday to Saturday. Each employee receives the same salary, regardless of their job. During the month of November to January, the cooperative hired an additional 400 people to help harvest olives. In April, they took on an extra 500 hands to help pick Lima beans]. At this time of year, there’s nothing to harvest, so we decided to take advantage of the season to try to reproduce the model at El Humoso at Las Turquillas, because it has allowed us to provide work for entire villages. [Gordillo recognises that for the moment, the cooperative at El Humoso has yet to turn a profit
Workers pose in front of Las Turquillas.
We had had our eyes on Las Turquillas for years. When the debt crisis hit Spain, farmers were severely affected, which was what really pushed us into action. The plot was completely unused by its owners, which is none other than the defence ministry. There’s more than 1,000 hectars of land there, but the military only uses about 20 of it to raise horses on
The Guardia Civil dismantled a camp of around 50 people.
We held daily meetings to decide what was the best strategy to adopt. In the end, around 50 people camped out on the land by night, and hundreds would come occupy it by day. We knew that the police would eventually come to pay us a visit, so we decided that children shouldn’t be allowed to stay on site overnight.
"Women on the front line"
Women make up a large percentage of the population in rural areas and are among those most affected by rising unemployment. They’re the ones who are often on the front line in union struggles.
During the day, children were allowed to come lend a helping hand.
We’re working toward becoming food self-sufficient by living entirely off of the fruit and vegetables we grow, as well as the goats and chickens we raise. Given the amount of land at Las Turquillas, we should be able to generate enough to create a small industry. But we still have a long way to go.