Campesino, defiende con las armas al gobierno que te dió la tierra
Peasant, defend with weapons the government that has given you the land... From the decree of October 7, 1936
- Creation Date
Farmer in hat, in a wheatfield, raises a sickle in one hand and a rifle labelled "Decreto" in the other. The rifle's bayonet has been run through a snake, labelled "Propietario faccioso", that coils around the rifle
The artist Renau incorporated into his work part of the text of a law by which the land belonging to all those associated with the military rebellion was turned over to local peasants and day-laborers. The gun held by the muscular peasant is inscribed with the word decreto (decree). Curled around it, and run through by the bayonet, is a wounded snake, identified as the propietario faccioso (factious landlord). The use of this animal surely stems from the traditional use of snakes as symbols of evil, most notably in the case of the expulsion of Adam and Eve. The decree confiscating the land is presented in this poster as a weapon with which to defeat one group which had supported the military uprising that led to the Civil War: the land-owners. This decree was one of the most important efforts in the area of land reform during the war. It resulted in the transfer of nearly one-third of Spain's arable soil to about 300,000 peasants. Vicente Uribe Galdeano, the Minister of Agriculture mentioned in the text, occupied the Ministry in the cabinets headed by Francisco Largo Caballero and Juan Negrín, from September 4, 1936 to nearly the end of the war. He was one of the most important Marxist theorists in Spain and a leader of the Spanish Communist Party (PCE). As Minister of Agriculture, Uribe opposed the collectivization advocated by the anarchist and socialist trade-unions, and upheld a policy of more moderate agrarian reform which favored peasant proprietors and tenant farmers.
The issue of agrarian reform was one of the most contentious problems faced by the Spanish Second Republic from its birth in 1931. A symbol of its importance was the renaming of a street in Madrid during the Republican period as "Agrarian Reform Street." It has also been seen as one of the main reasons for the outbreak of the war which began in July 1936. According to one historian, the war "was initiated [by the right-wing military rebellion] for the benefit of the large property owners, and they were the winners." The basic problem was the uneven distribution of land: traditionally in Spain there existed large (more than 100 hectares), unproductive estates and numerous landless laborers, especially in the southern and southwestern regions of the country. This resulted in frequent conflicts and violence, including crop burning and robbery. The agricultural problem remained in the forefront during the years of the conflict, and was used by the government and other organizations in their efforts to secure a popular following, as this and similar posters show.
This poster is signed by Josep Renau, one of the most important artists represented in the Southworth Collection. A member of the Spanish Communist Party, he was active during the war both in art and in politics. On September 7, 1936, when he was only twenty-nine years old, Renau was named Director General of Fine Arts in the central government; in that post, he was in charge of safeguarding the artistic treasures of Spain. He was also one of the figures responsible for organizing the Spanish Pavilion in the International Exhibition held in Paris in 1937 (for which Picasso painted Guernica). In a letter written in 1974, Renau dated this poster to 1936. It was therefore designed and printed between the date of the decree, October 7, 1936, and the end of that year. Since it was printed in Valencia, it was probably issued after the government left Madrid for Valencia on November 6. In the letter mentioned above, R
- Physical Description
1 print (poster) : lithograph, 4 cols. ; sheet 153 x 103 cm
- Related Resource
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- Digital Object Made Available By
Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego, La Jolla, 92093-0175 (https://lib.ucsd.edu/sca)
- Publication Information
Madrid?, Ministerio de Agricultura (sp)
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