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Spanish Activists End Attempt to Revive Abandoned Village After 10 Years

An abandoned village in Spain has been condemned to its third and final death after the rural activists who occupied it 10 years ago gave up the struggle to bring it back to life.

Fraguas’s first death came in the late 1960s, when it was expropriated by the Franco regime to make way for a huge reforestation programme; its second when it was used as an army training ground.

Its third death now looms as the regional government of Castilla-La Mancha has decided to reverse the resettlement effort begun nine years ago by a collective of young people who had hoped to find a more sustainable life in the abandoned village.

The six activists now face fines of €110,000 (£96,000) or prison sentences of two years and three months imposed by the regional government as the cost of demolishing what they have rebuilt of Fraguas, which lies 90 minutes north of Madrid that has been empty since 1968.

In a statement the group, Fraguas Revive, said: “After 10 years of struggle and three court cases, we have decided to end the project. Although it won’t continue, we believe it’s been a success in that it’s raised public awareness of rural depopulation.”

The group has launched a crowdfunding drive to help them pay the fines.

The 1,000-year-old village was requisitioned in the 1960s, first in a reforestation plan and then as an army training ground. The Castilla-La Mancha regional government accuses Fraguas Revive of illegally occupying the site, which lies within a natural park.

The group has received support from the village’s former inhabitants as well as environmental groups and organisations campaigning to stem the tide of rural depopulation in what has become known as España vaciada – hollowed out Spain – as people abandon the countryside for jobs in the city.

Over the past 10 years the group has restored buildings, installed solar panels, planted vegetables and made beer and jam. However, the regional government has remained implacable in its opposition.

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“Making changes to urbanise a protected natural space would encourage people to break the law, and would also represent a social injustice as we would not be promoting that space for the use and enjoyment of everyone, but for the use and enjoyment of a minority,” the government said in a statement, although the group points out there are at least 40 inhabited villages within the natural park.

“It’s very sad and frustrating that after so much effort the authorities have failed to come up with a solution,” Isa Turina Rodríguez, a member of the collective, told the Guardian. “At a time when it’s so difficult for people to find somewhere to live, the authorities could have taken advantage of this group of young people who wanted to rebuild the village but instead they chose to criminalise us.”

Source: The Guardian