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Ships, Bread, and Work: Agrarian Conflict in the Mediterranean Countryside, 1914–1923

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 December 2018

Julia Hudson-Richards*
Affiliation:
Duquesne University

Abstract

This article examines the collapse of the citrus industry in València, Spain during the last years of World War I. In it, I argue that the strikes represent a key moment in the proletarianization of the region's agricultural working classes. By 1914, citrus had become one of Spain's most profitable exports, and prior to the 1917 crash, the landed and monied interests in control of the industry had enforced the notion of inter-class cooperation, which broke down under the economic stress of the War. In the wake of the collapse and the strikes that followed, workers began to organize in earnest and began to work towards improving working conditions and establishing fairer work contracts.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © International Labor and Working-Class History, Inc. 2018 

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Footnotes

Research Funded by: The Fulbright Commission, the Tinker Foundation, the Program for Cultural Cooperation between Spain's Ministry of Culture and United States Universities, and Penn State Altoona's Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

References

Notes

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25. Ibid., 153; 1089; 1195. A quintal métrico is a unit of measurement equal to 100 kg; so production equaled 554,609,000 kg of citrus fruits, including lemons.

26. Grupo de Estudios de Historia Rural, Estadísticas históricas de la producción española, 1859–1935 (Madrid: Ministerio de Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentación, 1991)Google Scholar, 149; 153 (Alicante), 403 (Castellón); 1085; 1089; (Valencia); 1195 (region). A quintal métrico is a unit of measurement equal to 100 kg; so production equaled 554,609,000 kg of citrus fruits, including lemons.

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28. Ibid., 58–60.

29. There is no reliable statistical data on the number of citrus workers, as the census did not specify “naranjero” on any forms. At the height of the crisis of 1917, the Heraldo de Castellón reported that “60,000 workers had not eaten for two weeks” in Castelló alone, indicating that perhaps as many as 120,000 workers were involved in citrus production in the two provinces. “La crisis de la Plana,” Heraldo de Castellón 16 marzo 1917, 2.

30. The CRS reports of the 1890s were commissioned by royal decree in 1883, and the next ten years produced some of the most important data on living and working conditions, gender relationships, and cultural perceptions of Spain's working classes. Unfortunately, the data is somewhat patchy because some provinces, like Castelló, do not appear to have turned in survey data, or the participation was limited locally. València, like Madrid and Barcelona, submitted an extremely detailed and extensive report.

31. Reformas Sociales: Información oral y escrita publicada de 1889–1893. Tomo III. Información escrita practicada por la Comisión de Reformas Sociales en la provincia de Valencia, publicada en 1891 (Madrid: Centro de Publicaciones del Ministerio de Trabajo y Seguridad Social, 1985), 74.

32. Ibid., 75.

33. Ibid., 111–23.

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36. Reformas Sociales. Valencia, 33.

37. Burguera, Mónica, “Gendered Scenes of the Countryside: Public Sphere and Peasant Family Resistance in the Nineteenth-Century Spanish Town,” Social History 29 (2004): 320–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Burguera's work focuses on the 1878 strike, but she references the 1882 strike on p. 339.

38. Cucó, Alfons, “Revueltas campesinas durante la Restauración,” in Siete temas sobre historia contemporánea del País valenciano: ciclo de conferencias de la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras (València: Universidad de Valencia, 1974), 113–14Google Scholar.

39. Ibid., 131; Memoria de los trabajos y asuntos de que se ha ocupado la Liga de Propietarios de Valencia y su provincia, desde su fundación en 8 de enero de 1871 hasta 31 de diciembre de 1882 (València: Imprenta José Domenech, 1883), 31; Biblioteca Nacional (BNE), Fondo Antiguo.

40. Cucó, “Revueltas campesinas durante la Restauración,” 114.

41. Cruz, The Rise of Middle-Class Culture in Nineteenth-Century Spain.

42. Gallego, Francesc A. Martínez, Calero, Manuel Chust, and Gascón, Eugenio Hernández, Valencia 1900: movimientos sociales y conflicts políticos durante la guerra de Marruecos, 1906–1914 (Castelló: Universitat Jaume I, 2001), 35Google Scholar.

43. “El Congreso de Barcelona, junio de 1870, y el desenvolvimiento de la Internacional hasta junio (estadísticas), relaciones con el Consejo General (cartas de Francisco Mora y de F. Engels, 1870–71), in Documentos inéditos sobre la Internacional y la Alianza en España, ed. Max Nettlau (Buenos Aires: Editorial La Protesta, 1930), 27–28.”

44. The Alcoy Federation. An Anarchist Manifesto,” in Modern Spain: A Documentary History, ed. Cowans, Jon (Philadelphia, PA: The University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), 6264Google Scholar.

45. Piqueras, José Antonio, Persiguiendo el porvenir: la identidad del socialismo valenciano (1870–1976) (Alzira, Spain: Algar Editorial, 2005), 7Google Scholar.

46. Carr, Spain, 1808–1975, 447; Martin, Benjamin, The Agony of Modernization: Labor and Industrialization in Spain (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1994), 182Google Scholar.

47. Martin, The Agony of Modernization, 63.

48. Buenacasa, Manuel, El movimiento obrero español, 1886-1926. Historia y crítica (Madrid: Ediciones Júcar, 1977), 40Google Scholar.

49. Herrero, Samuel Garrido, Los trabajadores de las derechas (Castelló: Diputació de Castelló, 1986)Google Scholar.

50. Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum [Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII on Capital and Labor], accessed September 25, 2015, http://w2.vatican.va/content/leo-xiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_15051891_rerum-novarum.html

51. Antonio Vicent, Socialismo y anarquismo [1893] (Madrid: Narcea, 1972), 40–58.

52. Martin, The Agony of Modernization, 151.

53. Garrido Herrero, Los trabajadores de las derechas, 208–09.

54. The records for Los Mercados are housed at the Museu de la Taronja in Borriana, Castelló, Spain. “El Círculo Frutero,” Los Mercados junio 17, 1901, 234.

55. “Los productores y los confeccionadores de naranja,” Los Mercados enero 21, 1901, 65.

56. Comellas, José Luis, Historia de España contemporánea (Madrid: Ediciones RIALP, 1988), 348Google Scholar.

57. “La exportación de frutas. Comentarias sobre la campaña de naranja,” Los Mercados octubre 10, 1914, 2–4; “La exportación de frutas,” Los Mercados octubre 31, 1914,” 2–4.

58. “Incorregible,” Los Mercados enero 16, 1915, 2; “La exportación de frutas,” Los Mercados febero 27, 1915, 3–4.

59. “La exportación de frutas. Información Naranja,” Los Mercados octubre 2, 2915, 3–4.

60. “Las subsistencias, la burguesía, y los gobernantes,” Solidaridad Obrera noviembre 28, 1916, 1; Martin, The Agony of Modernization, 175–96.

61. Kaplan, Temma, “Female Consciousness and Collective Action: The Case of Barcelona, 1910–1918,” Signs 7 (1982): 545–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

62. “Centro obrero de Vila-real. Pleigo firmado por varias asociaciones de obreros en manifestación por el 1° de Mayo,” 1916. Arxiu Municipal de Vila-real, Signatura 5,947.

63. “El Sindicato Obrero de Sueca, clauserado,” Solidaridad obrera agosto 23, 1916, 3; “El comité de la Asamblea Nacional de Valencia, a todos los Sindicatos, Ateneos y grupos obreros en España,” Solidaridad obrera agosto 8, 1916, 1.

64. “La huelga de carreteros,” Solidaridad obrera agosto 28, 1916, 3; “Dos huelgas,” Solidaridad obrera septiembre 1, 1916, 3; “La huelga de Valencia,” Solidaridad obrera septiembre 13, 1916; “En Alcoy,” Solidaridad obrera octubre 27, 1916; “La naranja y la patata,” Solidaridad obrera agosto 16, 1916; “La huelga general de 24 horas,” Solidaridad obrera diciembre 9, 1916, 1—a national strike, this was scheduled for 18 December.

65. “En Alcoy,” Solidaridad obrera octubre 22, 1916, 3; “La naranja,” Solidaridad obrera noviembre 3, 1916, 3; “La cuestión del gas,” Solidaridad obrera noviembre 3, 1916, 3.

66. “La naranja y la patata,” Solidaridad obrera agosto 16, 1916, 3; “Varias noticias,” Solidaridad obrera agosto 18, 1916,” 3.

67. “La inundación,” Solidaridad obrera diciembre 2, 1916, 1; “Los temporales en Levante,” Solidaridad obrera diciembre 2, 1916, 2.

68. “9,000 obreras en huelga,” Solidaridad obrera enero 23, 1916, 3; “Otra huelga,” Solidaridad obrera enero 26, 1917, 3.

69. “El día en el puerto. La exportación de frutas,” Las Provincias de marzo de 13, 1917, 1.

70. “El problema de las subsistencias. No adábamos desencaminados,” Los Mercados febrero 24, 1917, 1–2.

71. “El día en el puerto. La exportación frutera,” Las Provincias marzo 13, 1917, 1.

72. Ibid.; “El día en el puerto. La exportación frutera,” Las Provincias marzo 14, 1917, 1.

73. Ibid.

74. “La crisis de la Plana,” Heraldo de Castellón marzo 16, 1917, 2.

75. “Intereses naranjeros. El viaje del señor Zorita,” Las Provincias marzo 20, 1917, 1.

76. “El día en el puerto,” Las Provincias marzo 14, 1917, 1.

77. “A los habitantes de la Plana,” Heraldo de Castellón marzo 14, 1917, 1.

78. “La crisis de la Plana. Los sucesos de Burriana,” Heraldo de Castellón marzo 16, 1917, 1.

79. Ibid., “Graves sucesos en Burriana y Villarreal,” Las Provincias marzo 17, 1917, 1.

80. “La crisis de la Plana. Los sucesos de Burriana,” Heraldo de Castellón marzo 16, 1917, 1; “La crisis de la Plana. Los sucesos de Burriana,” Heraldo de Castellón marzo 17, 1917, 1. Interestingly, despite a reporter being present in the meettings on the sixteenth, no in-depth discussion of the meeting's discussions appeared in the Heraldo.

81. “La crisis de la Plana. Los sucesos de Burriana,” Heraldo de Castellón marzo 17, 1917, 1.

82. “Long live the Plana! Long live Burriana! Long live Villarreal! Long live the long-suffering and honrable Plana!” “La crisis de la Plana. Grandioso mitín en Villarreal,” Heraldo de Castellón marzo 20, 1917, 1.

83. Ibid.

84. Ibid.

85. It is also an indication of the uncertain influence of organized socialist or anarchist activity in the countryside. José Antonio Piqueras notes that the PSOE, until 1918, “lacked a true agrarian program;” though there were other Socialist parties in the Valencian region, they did not have the presence of the UGT At this point, there is no indication that the CNT was active in the planning or execution of the spring 1917 strikes, though members from both unions could very well have been involved in strike activities. By August, the CNT took credit for continuing actions in the region, but the August rebellions were far more nation-wide—interestingly, the national economy was beginning to follow in Valéncia's footsteps, and the wartime boom was beginning to turn to bust. Piqueras, José Antonio, Kern, Robert, Red Years, Black Years: A Political History of Spanish Anarchism, 1911–1937 (Phildelphia, PA: Institute for the Study of Human Issues, 1978), 30Google Scholar.

86. “Crónica del día. De Burriana,” Heraldo de Castellón marzo 20, 1917, 2. “Con motivo del mitín de Villarreal,” Los Mercados marzo 24, 1917, 1; “Intereses naranjeros. Viaje del Sr. Zorita,” Las Provincias marzo 20, 1917, 1–2.

87. Edward Malefakis, Agrarian Reform and Peasant Revolution in Spain, 114, n. 42.

88. “El aumento del precio de la carne,” Las Provincias marzo 23, 1917, 2; “¡Solo nos faltaba esto! Se anuncia un nuevo aumento del precio del pan,” Las Provincias marzo 29, 1917, 2; “El precio de harinas,” Las Provincias de abril de 11, 1917, 1; “El aumento del precio del pan,” Las Provincias septiembre 12, 1917, 1; “El precio del pan y los obreros,” Las Provincias septiembre 13, 1917, 2.

89. Jordi Maluquer de Motes, “Precios, salarios y beneficios. La distribución funcional de la renta,” in Estadísticas históricas de España, siglos XIX–XX, 503–507.

90. Abad, Historia de la naranja, 183.

91. Kern, Red Years, Black Years, 30.

92. Aguado, Ana, “Treball, gènere i identitat femenina a la societat valenciana contemporània,” Cuadernos de Geografía 64 (1998): 333Google Scholar.

93. “Bases que para la reglamentación del trabajo de confección de cajas de naranjas acordó la Sociedad “El Despertar Femenino,” reunida en Junta general el día 3 de Noviembre de 1917,” Arxiu Municpal de Carcaixent; Carpeta: Sociedad “El Despertar Femenino.”

94. Notification of meeting, submitted to Alcaldía de Carcaixent, April 22, 1918,” Arxiu Municipal de Carcaixent, Carpeta: Sociedad de los Trabajadores del Campo, 1917–18.

95. “Relación nominal de los obreros de la sociedad denominada Unión Obrera, 1919,” Arxiu Municipal de Alcira, Carpeta: Societats.

96. “Federación Regional Levantina: Sesiones del Tercer Congreso celebrado en Alcira, durante los días 20 y 21 de Octubre de 1920,” El Defensor del Obrero no. 2, octubre 30, 1920, 2–4. Arxiu Municipal de Alzira, Hemeroteca.

97. “La ofensiva patronal,” El Defensor del Obrero no. 3, noviembre 6, 1920. Arxiu Municipal de Alzira, Hemeroteca.

98. Ibid.

99. Ibid.

100. ¡Triunfaron los campesinos!” and “Terrorismo patronal,” El Defensor del Obrero no. 7, December 4, 1920Google Scholar. Arxiu Municipal de Alzira. Hemeroteca.