|Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo|
Thanks. Yes, we know about Sánchez Gordillo. He's a colorful character and a major headache to his comrades in the Communist Party — not because of the way he runs that little town of Marinaleda, but because he has instigated peaceful "assaults" on supermarkets (dozens of activists load up their shopping carts with what are considered basic necessities and at check-out refuse to pay) and the repeated occupation of some unused government-owned land. The problem for the CP (which functions through a broader coalition called Izquierda Unida) is that it is now part of the government of Andalusia, in partnership with the Socialist Party, and therefore is responsible for upholding the law. Which doesn't permit "stealing" (they call it "liberation" of goods) or unauthorized occupation of land.
He's media-savvy, very careful to avoid violence (the supermarket raiders are supposed to be polite to the checkout girls, etc.). And he is an embarrassing example to those other politicians who are doing nothing effective to halt the hunger.
However, the Socialist-Izquierda Unida coalition in Andalucía has not really been as passive as Sánchez Gordillo would have us believe. Among the measures taken in opposition to the conservative central government (employment creation, subsidies), the Andalucía government — alone of all the 17 regional governments of Spain — has order the "temporary expropriation" of empty residential buildings held by the banks, to house those who have been evicted from their homes by those banks. The bank can avoid such temporary expropriation by making the property available for a manageable rent. In the case of expropriation (which can last a maximum of 3 years), the regional government will compensate the banks a tiny percentage of the assessed value.
For more on the painful problem of evictions, see my article written for Radikal Portal (published in Norwegian); here is my original, English-language version, Spain's many currents of protest. The Norwegian version is here.