Three years into the crisis, the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has faced protests by miners, students, teachers, legions of jobless workers and any range of others unhappy with his austerity policies. But the protests here in rural Spain, which have tipped increasingly toward lawlessness and civil disobedience, contain the echoes of conflicts that have a special place in Spain’s history. As Spain’s biggest region and farming heartland, Andalusia was the site of many of the confrontations over land ownership leading up to the Spanish Civil War, when a landed elite resisted an agrarian reform meant to give farm hands better work conditions and job security.
“We’re not anarchists looking for conflict, but our claims are similar to those of the 1930s,” Mr. Cañamero said, referring to the war years, “because the land is, unfortunately, under the control now of even fewer people than at that time.”
José Luis Solana, a professor of social anthropology at the University of Jaén, said that even if some of the claims made by the farm unions were questionable or exaggerated, “an agrarian reform and proper land distribution in Andalusia is one of the missing elements of our transition to democracy” — both in terms of social justice and improved economic efficiency.