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Fraguas, the state against an autonomous rural collective

We return to Fraguas, spain, in solidarity with the effort to create an autonomous, rural collective in the mountains around Madrid, now confronted with the final act in a process of state persecution.

Originally published by Autonomies.

The Fraguas six will go to jail (if we don’t do anything to prevent it).

Repression against the settlers of a small town in Guadalajara

(from Todo por hacer, September 2022)

The Fraguas Revive collective, made up of a group of people who have lived or live in a small village in the Sierra Norte de Guadalajara [outside Madrid], has started a campaign through social networks to finance their legal defence after receiving the court order confirming the execution of the sentence of 2017. This sentence condemns six of the members of the Fraguas collective to eviction from the village and decrees the demolition of the rebuilt houses for alleged crimes against land planning and usurpation of real estate, as well as to pay civil liability (compensation) currently valued at 110 thousand Euros to the Public Administration for the cost of demolishing the buildings. Otherwise, the expectation is that they will go to prison, since it is normally a condition for the sentence to be suspended that payment of said civil liability be made. To avoid this, the group has called upon social movements to help deal with such a debt.

This latest judicial order, dated June 24, is being appealed, but the Fraguas group considers, according to its own statement, that the judicial process is practically exhausted. The courts have been primed against the Fraguas collective members. The monetisation of the countryside is prioritised, since the Sierra Norte was declared a special area of natural protection for logging. In addition, a disproportionate repression is exercised against those who protect and defend the territory, while at the same time the public institutions campaign against rural depopulation.

The collective’s members defend that the crime against land use planning for which they have been convicted is completely unjust, since none of the reconstructions carried out are new, and all can be are authorised. Furthermore, the territorial planning of both Fraguas and many other Spanish towns is fraudulent, heir to Francoism and with regulations that oppose social rights. Almost four years after initiating the procedures for the execution of the sentence, the Junta de Castilla La Mancha insists on demolishing the buildings , when it is perfectly well known that this was not initially the state in which the constructions were in before the arrival of the members of the collective.

After the forced abandonment of its last settler in 1968, the village was reserved for military practice by the Spanish Army, for the Balkan War in the 1990s, which is what produced the state of destruction and ruin in which the old village of Fraguas was in when its settlers first arrived. It is this that should have been denounced and judged for the destruction of patrimonial assets. In fact, the residents of Fraguas requested an archaeological report on these events, which the Junta de Castilla La Mancha also forced them in turn to pay for.

Currently, the settlers of Fraguas want to denounce the public institutions of the autonomous region for maintaining fraudulent territorial planning and trying to demolish a village with eight centuries of history, making it disappear. In addition, these institutions have presented and defended a totally oversized budget for the execution of the legal decision against six young people and thereby trying to imprison them for repopulating a village in the most depopulated area of ??southern Europe. For all these reasons, the Junta de Castilla La Mancha and the courts are directly responsible for the fact that these six residents could end up in prison, a reality that unfortunately seems less and less avoidable.

Since 2013, when some young people from the city decided to settle in Fraguas, they have built a self-managed community project that has placed on the table some interesting debates on rural life. Walking through the old streets that made up the village of Fraguas is a task that is more intuitive than clearly demarcated. Its former residents immediately came to learn about the project, holding interesting talks about the past of the town and have instilled in collective’s members a love for their roots. The old buildings have the style of black shale architecture, typical in the area due to the abundance of shale stone, and it is with these materials that buildings such as Casa Cándida, or the common house of the village, have been built again.

Spain’s institutions are throwing their hands up in horror against rural depopulation, but the reality is that they are only interested in responding with activities that generate monetary benefit: ecotourism, the timber industry, the industrial agricultural food sector and macro-farms. However, when it comes to putting rural life at the centre from a social perspective and not only from the economic profitability of the capitalist system, any alternative project that is not approached from that perspective of maximum exploitation is viewed with suspicion and rejection by those same institutions.

This has been the case of Fraguas, since the natural evolution of these projects is to create a wide network of rural social communities where self-management and autonomous collective life can be experienced. The residents of Fraguas themselves have discussed the isolated bubble that a project with these characteristics supposes in a world in ruins with a brutal system that engulfs everything, that is, they are an example of how to organise in an alternative way, even though their model is not a tool for the deep transformation of the whole of society. However, without these examples of other possible worlds, we could not imagine our lives outside of capitalism.

(four years ago)
(four years ago)
(three years ago)

For those who can contribute with financial support to the defense of the Fraguas Six, the information to do so follows:

For more on the Fraguas collective (in spanish), see El Salto Diario and (in english), The Guardian.

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