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Castilla-La Mancha: Fraguas Revive – The rural squat wins its first battle temporarily against the demolition of the village

Fraguas. Castilla-La Mancha. Spanish state. Thanks to a document officially issued by the Criminal Court No. 1 of Guadalajara on April 29th, the Fraguas inhabitants learned that the demolition of the village is temporarily suspended. It is a change of judicial criteria that has been achieved by the struggle and the legal battle that its inhabitants have been defending for years and that temporarily stops the execution of the sentence of demolition of the village.

Originally published by Squat Net.

A project of eight years of life for the recovery of the rural space.

For those who do not know the trajectory of this community project of Fraguas, this rural squatting initiative was launched in 2013 in a small abandoned hamlet in the Sierra Norte of the province of Guadalajara. This village, which dates back to the 12th century, was evicted during the Franco dictatorship in 1968 for the monoculture of pine and its subsequent sale to the timber industry. A group of young people decided last decade to rebuild some houses that were left half standing, after the Spanish military used the area as a practice range for shooting and explosives in the 1990s. Their project is real and they have achieved their initial objectives, since they were able to rebuild several houses in the village, they have also experienced a great level of collective self-sufficiency in coexistence and self-management of natural resources. They have a vegetable garden and a greenhouse built with their own hands, a small open-air chicken coop, bees in a couple of dozen hives, and as energy self-sufficiency they have about thirty photovoltaic solar panels.

After being criminally denounced by the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Junta de Castilla-La Mancha in 2015, they testified in court about their community project for the care and natural repopulation of the environment. Throughout 2018, they were finally tried and convicted for the crimes of occupation of public forest and against land use planning. A judicial process that, in the legal terms imposed, is an absolute institutional rejection of any alternative for the rehabilitation of abandoned villages, and even less so under a paradigm of economic self-management and social autonomy. They are requested to be sent to prison for one year and nine months, rising to two years and three months for each of them if they do not pay the civil responsibility imposed, that is, to pay for the demolition of what has been rebuilt in the village, valued at a total of 34.000 euros.

Another repressive move against the survival of Fraguas

Since 2019 they have been in resistance under the continued risk of eviction and demolition as indicated in the sentence, however, the pandemic has delayed the execution of the sentence. During this time, the CSIC has intervened as a result of the studies that the inhabitants themselves have carried out on the village with regard to the rehabilitation of historical and rural memory. It is noted that an independent archaeological investigation should be carried out to determine the historical value of the former village. There are probably assets that could be considered cultural heritage, which could change the course of current events, or at least open a new path to continue fighting for the survival of Fraguas.

However, the current inhabitants take this judicial communication with great caution. Although on the one hand it is a cause for joy among so many previous notifications that have led them to the current criminal situation, this report does not ensure that a preventive eviction will not end up being carried out in order to carry out these archaeological investigations. It should also not be forgotten that the prison sentences of the six defendants are still active. Furthermore, during this time, the identifications of some temporary or solidarity inhabitants have led to new administrative sanctioning processes; and even the Guadalajara Court does not rule out the possibility of new crimes being charged. The institution has many resources, tools at its disposal, twisting its own legislation and applying them always in favour of its interests and objectives.

A network of rural initiatives for autonomy and social memory.

Its current inhabitants encourage people to get to know the village, to come and participate in daily activities, to discover its heritage and cultural environment; to get closer to the reality of rurality that resists. The rural community model is a challenge to the dynamics of capitalist exploitation, and the Fraguas project is now in its eighth year. Along with the initiative of this village, there are four other collective projects in the northern part of Guadalajara, which meet in monthly assemblies to share experiences and go to one of the villages involved to work together.

The defense of the territory is also a defense of the memory of the villages, in times when everything is diluted in the superficiality of the needs of the market, it is necessary to support this kind of rural sustainability projects. When you are in Fraguas, time passes, and it doesn’t matter at all, you work collectively, productivity is not a dictatorship that marks its rhythms. Personal and collective autonomy takes on a different meaning, work is redefined as being directly related to common survival, and not to putting in the hours to get euros to exchange for things through consumption. Beyond all idealism, the reality is that life takes a rest and takes on another level, necessary to listen to our companions and to the natural environment itself. The human becomes wilder, the natural becomes necessary.

Fraguas Revive
Fraguas, Castilla-La Mancha
Guadalajara, Spanish state

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