Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo

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Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo
Mayor of Marinaleda
Assumed office
6 May 1979
Deputy of the Parliament of Andalusia
for Seville
Assumed office
13 April 2008
Personal details
Born (1952-02-05) 5 February 1952 (age 67)
Marinaleda, Seville, Spain
Political partyCUT-BAI
ChildrenMisrain and Libertad[1]
ProfessionHistory High School teacher

Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo (Spanish: [ˈxwan maˈnwel ˈsantʃeθ ɣoɾˈðiʎo]; born 5 February 1952) is a Spanish politician, labour leader and history school teacher. Since 1979 he has been the Mayor of Marinaleda and since 2008 deputy for United Left (UL) in the Parliament of Andalusia.[2] He is also leader of the party Collective for the Unity of Workers - Andalusian Left Bloc (CUT-BAI), part of UF and the rural workers's union Andalusian Workers Union.[3]

Sánchez Gordillo has a long history of participating in militant action for the benefit of Spanish working class. He helped to transform Marinaleda from a town blighted by rural poverty into what Sánchez Gordillo himself and The Guardian have described as a "communist utopia",[4] where since the early 1990s there has been no need for mortgages—the town has "virtually full employment, communally owned land and wage equality". In August 2012 the town had only 5% unemployment, mostly recent arrivals and economic migrants, contrasting with the rest of Spain where unemployment is at 25%, and at 34% in Andalusia.[2][4][5][6][7]

Robin Hood raids[edit]

In mid August 2012, Sánchez Gordillo attracted considerable media attention both within Spain and internationally due to his role in raids on supermarkets in nearby towns, Seville and Cádiz, where food was stolen and handed out to poor families and to Food banks. The items stolen were part of a list chiefly made of rice, sugar, pasta, milk, olive oil and flour. Sánchez Gordillo did not personally remove food, but was outside in the car parks while members of his union conducted the raids. Several of these members have been arrested and later released, though Sánchez Gordillo himself has immunity from prosecution. Sánchez Gordillo has however said he is happy to waive his immunity and go to jail for his cause, in fact he said he expected to be jailed in order to make his message spread further. English speaking media have widely reported that Sánchez Gordillo is seen as a hero and a "national celebrity" within Spain, comparing him to Robin Hood.[8][9][10] A dissenting voice came from Jonathan Blitzer of the New York Times, who suggested he may fail to live up to the hype and be more like a Don Quixote.[7] Sánchez Gordillo has also been called a modern Robin Hood and "the revolutionary of Andalusia" by several Spanish newspapers, including the center-left El País.[4][10] Gordillo has been criticised by several Spanish citizens and officials, including Alfonso Alonso, a spokesman for the governing People's Party in Spain's national parliament, who said "One can’t be Robin Hood and at the same time earning a salary as the sheriff of Nottingham".[8]

2012 anti austerity march[edit]

On 16 August, Gordillo set off on a three-week march to Madrid; on the way he planned to occupy banks and to persuade local authorities to default on their debts and refuse to implement austerity. So far this has included a brief occupation of a Unicaja branch in Mancha Real.[11][12]

2013 sentence[edit]

In November 2013 a Spanish court sentenced Sánchez Gordillo and four others to seven months in prison for occupying unused military land they wanted to be loaned to farmers hard hit by the economic crisis.[13]


  1. ^ Cotta, Charo F. (18 November 2011). "Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo, alcalde de Marinaleda: 'Soy comunista como Cristo, Ghandi y Marx'" [Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo, Mayor of Marinaleda: 'I am a Communist like Christ, Gandhi and Marx']. kaosenlared.net (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  2. ^ a b "A Job and No Mortgage for All in a Spanish Town". The New York Times. 25 May 2009. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
  3. ^ Cuarenta años de lucha por la tierra de jornaleros en Andalucía (in Spanish)
  4. ^ a b c Dan Hancox (2012-08-15). "The Spanish Robin Hood". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-08-20.
  5. ^ "Spain returns to Sánchez Gordillo" (in Spanish). El País. 2012-08-11. Retrieved 2012-08-20.
  6. ^ Dan Hancox (2012-08-25). "Expect more farm protests in Spain". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-08-20.
  7. ^ a b Jonathan Blitzer (2012-08-22). "The Don Quixote of the Spanish Crisis". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-08-30.
  8. ^ a b Miles Johnson (2012-08-17). "Robin Hood mayor vows to occupy banks". The Financial Times. Retrieved 2012-08-20.
  9. ^ "Spanish 'Robin Hood' mayor becomes cult hero after ordering raids on local supermarkets – before handing out food to poor families". The Daily Mail. 2012-08-16. Retrieved 2012-08-20.
  10. ^ a b Fiona Govan (2012-08-10). "Spanish mayor hailed as modern-day Robin Hood". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-08-31.
  11. ^ "Gordillo's union occupies a bank in a "symbolic action"" (in Spanish). Telemadrid. 2012-08-17. Retrieved 2012-08-20.
  12. ^ Reuters (2012-08-15). "Spanish 'Robin Hood' mayor sets off on three-week march". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-08-20.
  13. ^ "Spanish court sentences 'Robin Hood' mayor". The Huffington Post. November 21, 2013. Retrieved October 6, 2014.

Further reading[edit]

  • Utopia and the Valley of Tears: A journey through the Spanish crisis, Dan Hancox (2012) [a Kindle ebook about Sanchez Gordillo and the town of Marinaleda].
  • Dan Hancox. (2014). The Village Against the World London: Verso. ISBN 978-1-781682-98-2

External links[edit]