Agrarian reform for the valley

The Republican government included the Cortijo del Marrufo in the catalogue of estates to which it wanted to apply agrarian reform. There was not enough time to do so. After the uprising of the military insurrectionists against the Republic, the workers took over the 800 hectares of land and started to work them as communal property. They also set up the Committee in Defence of El Marrufo to stop the advance of the fascists.The Marrufo estate was included in 1933 in the Register of Property Suitable for Expropriation; the register was drawn up by order of the Ministry of Agriculture and it referred to land to which the Law of Agrarian Reform could be applied.

That law had been approved by the Constituent Assemblies of the Second Republic of Spain on 9th September 1932. Agrarian reform was one of the Republic’s most ambitious projects and was something which tens of thousands of labourers without land of their own in Cádiz province and the whole of Andalucía had been wanting for a long time, as a way of improving their lives.

This law stipulated that within one year an inventory had to be drawn up of estates which were suitable for expropriation, based on declarations from the owners in the property registers. According to research by historian Fernando Sigler, El Marrufo was included because its size was greater than the limits set by the Provincial Agrarian Board, which decided which estates were applicable for reform. The conditions for the application of the law varied, depending on what was being grown on the land and the quality of it. The Provincial Board established various categories in different parts of the province, and in nine municipalities the maximum limits permitted before the estates were subject to expropriation were: 600 hectares of herbaceous land, 300 of olives, 125 of grapevines, 150 of trees and 750 of meadows. And it was the latter in which the Guerrero family’s estate was included.
As well as El Marrufo, Manuel Guerrero owned a further 20 estates which featured in the Property Register. In total, his lands covered 4,599 hectares. El Marrufo was the second largest, after the nearby Garcisobaco, which had just over 1,360 hectares. However, agrarian reform was never applied to El Marrufo. The changes of government and slow speed at which the law was put into effect prevented Manuel Guerrero’s surplus land being redistributed. It appeared in the register of land suitable for expropriation but the process was never carried out.
Agrarian reform was, however, applied to an estate belonging to one of Manuel Guerrero’s brothers, Antonio Guerrero Lozano. It covered 622 hectares and 66 families lived there, 11 from Jerez and the others from five villages in the Sierra de Cádiz region.
In 1935, 30 families were living on the Marrufo estate, a total of 112 people. Many worked on the land: 36 men were registered as such on the census. There were also three household staff (two female and one male), a butcher, a cobbler, 33 housewives and 38 children who had not reached working age. Many of them - 37 - were from Jerez de la Frontera, and others had been born in Algar, Ubrique, Cortes or Arcos.
When the coup d’état took place on 18th July, Cortes de la Frontera, Ubrique and the whole valley of La Sauceda including the inhabitants of El Marrufo remained loyal to the Republic. The Guerrero family remained in Jerez, where the rebels triumphed on the first day of the uprising and embarked upon a bloody repression which ended the lives of more than 600 defenceless civilians. The workers on El Marrufo estate decided to work the land collectively and organise themselves to regulate all aspects of their working and social lives. They also set up the Committee in Defence of El Marrufo, an organisation which maintained contact with the neighbourhood committees of La Sauceda, Ubrique and Jimena, to face up to the advancing fascist troops. This will to resist was effective until 31st October 1936, when all the villages around had fallen into the hands of the insurrectionists.