The Grand Camouflage: The Communist Conspiracy in the Spanish Civil War

By Burnett Bolloten | Go to book overview

18
Balancing the Class Forces

A IDED by the Ministry of Agriculture which they controlled, the Communists were able to influence substantially the course of events in the countryside. By far the most resounding of the decrees issued by Vicente Uribe, the Communist minister, was that of October 7, 1936, by which all rural properties belonging to persons who had intervened either directly or indirectly in the military insurrection were confiscated without indemnity and in favour of the state.1"This decree," commented Mundo Obrero, the Communist Party organ, "breaks the foundation of the semi-feudal power of the big landlords who, in order to maintain their brutal caste privileges and to perpetuate salaries of two pesetas a day and labour from dawn to dusk, have unleashed the bloody war that is devastating Spain."2 Under the terms of the decree the estates that had been cultivated directly by the owners or by their stewards, or had been leased to large tenant farmers, were given in perpetual usufruct to organizations of peasants and agricultural workers to be cultivated individually or collectively in accordance with the wishes of the majority of beneficiaries. In cases where the estates had been leased to small cultivators, the latter were promised the permanent use of their holdings, which, however, were not to exceed thirty hectares in dry sections, five in irrigated districts, and three in fruitgrowing areas.3"[The decree of October 7 ]," affirmed the Communist organ, Frente Rojo, "is the most profoundly revolutionary measure that has been taken since the military uprising.... It has abolished more than forty per cent of private property in the countryside."4

Although the language of the decree gave the impression that it was

____________________
1
Gaceta de Madrid, October 8, 1936.
2
October 10, 1936.
3
One hectare is equivalent to approximately two and a half acres.
4
March 20, 1937.

-189-

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