by Saskia Mier
Marinaleda is primarily an agricultural village, primarily dedicated to olives and producing olive oil. However it is better known for its social experience based on a left-wing ideology of led by Juan Manuel Sanchez Gordillo. It has about 2,700 inhabitants.
Marinaleda made headlines in 2012 after its Mayor, Juan Manuel Sanchez Gordillo, orchestrated a series of food raids on local supermarkets. Armed with a megaphone, Gordillo encouraged supporters to fill their trolleys with basic staple foods and then leave without paying. This food was then transferred to local soup kitchens and Gordillo was then known as the "Spanish Robin Hood"; stealing from the rich to give to the poor.
Juan Manuel Sanchez Gordillo has a long history of participating in militant action for the benefit of Spanish working class. He helped to transform Marinaleda from a town blighted by rural poverty into what Sánchez Gordillo himself and other sources call "communist utopia". In November 2013, a Spanish court sentenced Sanchez Gordillo and four others to seven months in prison for occupying unused military land they wanted to be loaned to farmers hard hit by the economic crisis. More>
Initial human settlements date back to the end of the Neolithic and the beginning of the Metal Age in the Chalcolithic period. The Romans built many roads connecting Marinaleda to Astigi (Écija), and Ostippo (Estepa). The Arab presence is attested by monuments such as Torres de Gallape of Écija or the Arab fortress of Alhonoz. The conquest of these lands by the Christian Kingdoms took place in the thirteenth century and Marinaleda passed into the Señorío of the Order of Santiago.
Felipe II gave Marinaleda to the first Marquis of Estepa and it remained under his ownership until the nineteenth century when the Señoríos were dissolved.
During the nineteenth century there were several groups of bandits in the area which residents of the municipality participated. Especially relevant are the groups led by José María Hinojosa Cobacho "El Tempranillo", Francisco Ríos González "El Pernales" and Juan Caballero.
The Civil War began in Marinaleda with the murder of the then Mayor, Vicente Cejas Moreno, and his son in the Empedrá era in El Rubio. Many other resident of the town were assassinated and left the population in great need.
In the summer of 1980, 700 people went on a 13 day hunger strike, claiming more money and a more exact regulation of the Community Employment. This brought the village national and even global attention. After this success, the struggle for land was intensified by the occupations of large landowners' farms. A protest took place at the Cordobilla reservoir for 30 days in 1984 to request irrigation for the farmhouse of El Humoso, property of the Duke of Infantado. Later in 1991, 1,200Ha of the El Humoso farmhouse was sold to Marinaleda to be worked by the villagers.
THINGS TO SEE
Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza
The church dates from the seventeenth century, in particular from the year 1666. The main altarpiece in its interior stands out, made of in polychrome wood and dating to 1859. There are also two images from the eighteenth century made by the sculptor, José Fabré, in 1776 and a table in which represents the Calvary of the eighteenth century. Located on Calle San Nicolás.
THINGS TO SEE OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE
Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Paz
The church of Matarredonda has a broad whitewashed façade with Marian mosaic. Located on the A-388.
The archaeological site occupies around 414,000 square meters on two opposite slopes, separated by a stream. It shows the remains of the foundations of buildings excavated in the limestone, as well as stone structures and a large excavated ditch whose functionality is not clear, but is suggested it was to direct water. Located on the A-388.
A large farmhouse that belonged to the Duke of Infantado until 1991 when, after a long and hard period of struggle, it passed into the hands of the inhabitants of Marinaleda, through the Junta de Andalucía, who founded the "Cooperativa Marinaleda SCA" creating more than 400 jobs. It consists of not only an olive oil mill, but also a factory producing conservatives, vegetable plots and also breeds and sells sheep. Located 11.5Km from Marinaleda, on the A-388 towards Écija.
Arroyo de las Escobas
This stream is born in the hill of Casablanca and passes by the vicinity of Venta de Pozo Ancho, Molino del Carmen, Cañada Real de Ronda, Molino Ceballos and Cortijo de la Navilla. Located south of Marinaleda, on the A-388.
This peri-urban park is located between Marinaleda and Matarredonda, next to the Vereda de Granada and the Molino de Carmen. A lovely area rich in native flora. Located north of the town, off the A-388.
The most import product in Marinaleda is the excellent olive oil, with which residents make typical andaluz recipes like salmorejo and gazpacho. Other traditional dishes worth trying are paella de carne (meat paella), migas (breadcrumbs with pork) and grilled Iberian pork. Sweet dishes include gachas (like sémola), arroz con leche (rice pudding), magdalenas (muffins) and hornazos (pastries).
Cabalgata Reyes Magos
Three Kings procession celebrated on the evening of 5 January.
Fiesta de la Candelaria
Celebrated the 2 February.
Celebrated in February.
Fiesta de San Marcos
Celebrated the 25 April.
Romería de la Virgen de los Caminos
Celebrated the third week of May.
Feria de Santiago
Celebrated the middle of July.
Verbena de Matarredonda
Celebrated the last week of August.
Fiesta de San Nicolás de Tolentino
Celebrated the 10 September.