the day that 108,000 tractors paralyzed the country

the day that 108,000 tractors paralyzed the country


The unrest in the Spanish countryside is paralyzing the country’s main cities. A huge tractor unit, organized by majority unions, advances along the roads towards the administrations and logistics centers vindicating their fight against the threat and loss of profitability that the agricultural sector lives. We are talking about a type of demonstration that had its origin in 1976 and that reached its highest point in the 1977 tractor unit that claimed “fair prices”just like those that emerge 47 years later.

The image of the week is made up of tractors. Above them, the Spanish farmers who have taken over the main arteries of the country to vindicate their cause. A demonstration that began strongly in France at the beginning of the year and that has been expanding like a domino effect in Europe, to the point that The tractor units arrived in Brussels to raise the voice of the agricultural sector.

In the case of Spain, the order of the main union organizations has been focused on “paralyze” the main cities of the country. Thus, in Ciudad Real, Huesca, Salamanca and Ávila, among others, they have mobilizations startedwhich, together with the transport sector, are expected to expand until reaching Barcelona and Madrid.

A scenario that accounts for the magnitude of the current crisis and the struggle of the agrarian union movement Regarding its mobilization strategy, the politicization that supports it and its growth since its beginnings.

This is how we arrived at the 70’s. At that time the union organizations were formed into two groups. The one that represented salaried agricultural workers under the name of Agricultural Workers Unions (SOAS) and, on the other, the representation of farmers, called Agricultural Professional Organizations (OPAS).

The birth of the agricultural union movement

According to the documents rescued by the organizations themselves, the origin of the agrarian union movement dates back between 1976 and 1979. This is shown by a historical archive of the Union of Farmers and Ranchers of La Rioja (UAGR), which graphs what the clandestine demand meetings and the first tractor units like the one that came to Congress for the first time in 1977 and that paralyzed the country with more than 100,000 tractors throughout the country.

“In the death throes of the Franco dictatorship, the Rioja agricultural sector He was no stranger to the air of freedom and changes that existed in Spanish society.…”, reads the document. “When the Rioja towns were witnessing the disbandment of their youngest inhabitants, who were escaping from an economic reality and customs very distant from those experienced in the cities. It is in this context where the most active elements of Rioja agriculture begin to meet clandestinely in wineries and sacristies, hosted in this case by some progressive priests from rural areas,” he adds.

The first tractor unit for “fair prices” and the weight of the field

The tractor units appeared in 1977 as the first union demonstrations. The Spanish countryside, at that time post-Franco, had greater involvement in the demand processes, because it enjoyed the Decree of Freedom of Association (1977) that, among others, supported the causes of OPAS. A scenario that accounted for the power of the agrarian claim and the conjunctural weight of the countryside in that period of Spanish history.

Tractors cutting a road at a demonstration in the 70s.

Between 1974 and 1976 the agrarian panorama was just as it is today. The demands, and demonstrations, were associated with the ruin of the profitability of the Spanish countryside caused by the fall in prices of various agricultural productions, a breeding ground in which the first and great tractor unit of February 18, 1977 in which for 20 days the farmers and their tractors camped as a form of protest.

The great protest over the ruin of the countryside

According to data from the Coordinator of Farmers and Livestock Organizations (COAG), which is collected in the Transition Archive, in the first large tractor unit of 1977 108,550 tractors participated, occupying the roads of 28 Spanish provinces.

The Spanish press at that time had the headline on the front page: ‘Tractors on the road to defend agricultural producers’ or ‘The agricultural protest does not give in’, and they emphasized that the demands were to achieve profitable prices, egalitarian social security, joint negotiation prices and freedom of association. Some points, such as “fair prices”, which appear 47 years later and which They drive a new tractor unit due to the discomfort in the countryside and the loss of profitability.

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