A little bit of communism mixed up with some Walt Disney environment of kindness and good neighbors policy. Marinaleda is a small town in Sevilla district, 2700 inhabitants, where social economy reached a level that socialism preached but never realized, not even in Cuba. Since the end of the Seventies, after Francisco Franco’s dictatorship, land reform let the population self-sustenance, leaving some margin for export.
So, if Spanish unemployment is near 30%, the Andalusian is at 20%, in Marinaleda is… 0%. Better than Cuban 2%, plus without a dictatorship. 70% of the population works in agriculture, but you can also find a job in the public system, administration, commerce. Always with the same salary, 47 € per day, six days a week, for a total of 1100 € per month.
If it doesn’t seem a lot, is because there’s more. You almost don’t pay rent or mortgage for the house, you just have to pay 15 euro in advance for a 90 m/q residence, helping actively in its construction. Then the citizens assembly will decide the part to give back to the Municipality, which provides with projects and plot of land.
Welfare has more services, like the school cafeteria for 12 euro per year and public pools for 3 euro a season. In return, Sundays aren’t for sleeping, short trips outside town or football. You have to take care of city spaces, cleaning parks and streets. In this utopia criminality doesn’t exist, therefore not even the police.
The inventor of everything is the historical alcade (traditional institution that nowadays is the Mayor) Juan Manuel Sanchez Gordillo, in charge since 1979. He is also a Regional Deputy since 2008, but he devolves the second salary to his own community. “What moves him is spirit of service, not personal ambition”, says his right arm Esperanza del Rosaria Saavedra Martin. In the world outside Marinaleda she would look naïve, but their system works, showing that something different is really possible.
Possible, but not for everyone. “Working the fields is a completing part of a system that is almost 30 years old”, continues Saavedra Martin, “not everybody would accept these conditions. First of all, it takes political will”. OK, not an Eden on Earth, but…