The oldest mayor in Spain resigns from leading the lists for the municipal elections in May | Spain | The USA Print

The deputy of Izquierda Unida Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo in the Andalusian Parliament, in a file image.PEREZ CAPE

Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo (Aguadulce, Seville, 74 years old), the oldest mayor in Spain, resigns from heading the municipal list of Marinaleda (2,626 inhabitants), a Seville municipality in which next May he will celebrate 44 years as mayor. The man who was a deputy of the Andalusian Parliament for 12 years leaves office after suffering several strokes and a political life crossed by the day laborer struggle as a member of the Unitary Candidacy of Workers (CUT) and the Rural Workers Union (SOC), the farm occupations, hunger strikes and the mastermind of the assault on two supermarkets.

Until the last moment, those who know him did not want to confirm his departure from the City Council. “You have to see that. I dont believe it. As it is published, he denies it and does not leave ”, they warned from his environment, aware of the sudden changes of opinion of the Seville mayor. He will replace him number one of the candidacy, the second deputy mayor Sergio Gómez Reyes.

Sánchez Gordillo has won the 11 municipal elections held since 1979. All by absolute majority. His best result was achieved in 1983: he won 11 seats out of 11. The worst was four years ago, when he defeated an independent candidacy largely drawn from his own ranks by 44 votes.

Gordillo has been a very annoying character for the United Left, the party to which the CUT belongs, although the affection remains. Actually, he has been very uncomfortable for everyone, because he is one of those leaders who is repelled by discipline, if it is not his own. The anthropologist Félix Talego in his research Day laborer culture, popular power and messianic leadership: Political Anthropology of Marinaleda (Universidad de Sevilla, 1996) assures that the day laborer movement of the locality “has been trapped by a power structure that has subordinated everything to its own continuity and that has turned the protest into a ceremonial in which it is already difficult to know who convinced and who by obligation”.

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Sánchez Gordillo is a loose verse in every way, which the foreign press branded as Robin Hood for encouraging the theft of packages of chickpeas, oil, sugar, rice, pasta, milk, cookies in August 2012 to give it to NGOs. “In this moment of crisis, when they are expropriating the people, we want to expropriate the expropriators, that is, landowners, banks and large stores, who are making money in the midst of the economic crisis,” he justified himself.

Gordillo planned his protest actions and occupation of farms in the month of August. The summer computer drought did the rest. Public and private television, the national media, such as the Eye of Mordor, focused on the Sierra Sur of Seville, reporting every minute of the day laborer struggles. After the heat passed, they returned to look where they usually do, to the center. So, until next summer.

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The mayor of Marinaleda began to build his legend when, in the mid-1980s, the residents of the town demanded the expropriation of the El Humoso farm, owned by the Duke of Infantado, which he only used for personal leisure. The duke ordered a path of poplars cut down where the day laborers protected themselves from the sun when they occupied the farmhouse in the summer months. In 1991, the Andalusian government, from the PSOE, expropriated these lands: around 1,200 hectares were ceded to eight Marina cooperatives (Los Jornaleros, Tierra, Trabajo y Libertad, Domingos Rojos, Camilo Cienfuegos are some of their names) that accumulate non-payments of 5 .6 million euros to the Board for the use of land on which they produce oil, canned artichokes, broad beans, piquillo peppers, chickpeas. The sale of those lands is pending and the case is in contentious-administrative proceedings. On its website, the cooperative ensures that “the average annual business amounts to six million euros and during the campaigns generates employment for more than 400 workers, mostly women from rural areas.”

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Gordillo was one of the first to innovate when it came to taking possession of the seat in the Andalusian Parliament. In July 1994, with his unmistakable checked shirt and Palestinian scarf, he proclaimed his commitment to “human creatures, utopia, the Andalusian people, the Andalusian nation, insubordination and freedom.” In 2012, he promised his position by legal imperative and promised to “subvert the capitalist system of production”, declared himself “unsubmissive to the dictatorship of the market, its recipes and its mandates”, and promised to “fight for this nation without sovereignty that is Andalusia, to give a voice to those who do not have a vote”.

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