ITALIAN TRANSLATION

SILA

THE AGRARIAN REFORM

This particular reform deals with all the farmland programs including, not only the distribution of farmlands, but also the larger  commercial farms, agrarian contracts, labor problems and so on.

        In Italy there has never been a true agrarian reform. Thanks to the presence of the parties of the left in the democratic war government of 1944, after the agreements reached at Salerno,t he first elements of an agrarian reform were enacted by special decrees by the than Communist Minister of Agriculture, Fausto Gullo. The writer, Paolo Cinanni in his book” Struggles for land “ 1943-53 { 1977, Milano, page 28} explains that the decrees constituted :formidable weapons for land reforms and extremely efficient instruments for promoting initiative and unity. These thoughts were shared by M. Alcaro and A. Paparazzo in: “Farmers Struggles in Calabria.” 1943-1950 {1976 Cosenza, page 30 }, in which they conclude : It was only in 1944, especially after the enactment of the Constitution of the first government of the Badoglio coalition which included the Communist party, that the farmer’s movement abandoned the old methods of violent demonstrations and individual protests in order to form new and more efficient organizational structures. Therefore, there is a direct correlation between the . movements and the activities of the communists in the government which resulted in new and better organized farmers movements, thanks to the leadership of Fausto Gullo. These events gave birth to initiatives which helped create the movement of “Land Constituency {1947}” and promoted a platform for an agrarian reform as in articles 44-45-46 of the Constitution which provided as an important element { the limitations of land ownership and occupation and redistribution of lands}, the reforms of the agrarian work contracts { rental agreements and sharecropping included} taking into account the problems of the contractual rapport of the salaried farmers and the economic incentives, technical  and social, from the central government for the small and medium farmers with guarantees of “equal treatment” by a Social State.

       In 1950, as a result of many urgent requests from landless farmers and day labourers ,tired of living hand to mouth and in poverty, the government of De Gaspari enacted a reform which promoted the redistribution of lands, targeting primarily the large estates belonging to a single owner, characterized by extensive single crop cultivation or, in a fallow  state.,

       The first land reform dealt primarily with the Silan plateau and lands in the Ionian territories. The laws of 31 December 1947 {no.1629 } helped create “The Institution for Development of the Sila Region” which intended to establish a permanent plan for agrarian transformation, promote public works of land reclamation . for the benefit of the community and provide tech assistance and financing to the small land owners.

        The law of 12 may 1950, no. 230 [ Provisions for the development of Silan plateau and Ionian territories} was entrusted to the “Opera Sila” with the responsibility to : “take charge of the redistribution of properties and supervise the creation of arable lands to be given to poor farmers “ {art.1}.

 

CONTENTS AND RESULTS OF THE REFORM;

          The constant pressure exercised by the agrarian interests forced the DC to adopt, for the first time, a course of action which turned out tobe one of their most persistently contested policy. The enactment of ‘temporary” measures and the promises of a real reform that would come to pass in the future NEVER materialized. In May 1950, nevertheless, the first measures for Calabria, “The law for la Sila”, were approved by Parliament.

          This law affected only those lands with a land mass of more than 300 hectares, and authorized the seizure of all parcels of land that laid fallow and not improved in any way.  700,000 hectares were expropriated and redistributed to 120,000 families. The law affected two different types of properties: “Podere” for those farmers who had never owned any land, and “Quota” which added some land to the small holdings of the poorest farmers.

           In the latter case, the farmers had to pay a small rental for 30 years, after which they assumed permanent ownership of the added property. These reforms soon proved to be totally inefficient. Very often, by erecting a flimsy structure on their lands in danger of expropriation, the owners of large estates were able to avoid confiscation by having the lands declared as “improved”! This provision in the law was used as an escape by many large estates who took advantage of this provision in the law that allowed expropriation only where no particular improvements had been made. In conclusion, the reform was a bitter disappointment for the farmers. The expropriated lands were not sufficient to satisfy the needs of the farmers, taking into account that a considerable part of the land was already in their possession since the Gullo Decrees !

            The reform covered only the redistribution of land, without adjusting the agrarian contracts, national land reclamation, equitable salaries and better working conditions for the labourers. These conditions induced an exodus from the farms resulting in mass emigration of the work force.

             The reform did away with the efforts of the farmers to unite in cooperatives which had inspired the movements for reform of early 1944-50. The occupation of lands by force which had mobilized entire towns soon came to an end with the exception of certain areas of Sicily. The cooperatives which had multiplied during the Gullo period, ceased to exist. The Farmers movement disbanded without a struggle never to emerge again. 120,000 families became dependents of the state reform office: many farmers deserted the Communist party. The values of solidarity, sacrifice, egalitarianism, the attempts to defeat bureaucratic abuses and distrust, promoted by the movement with difficulty and contradictions, were definitely defeated. In the future history of the south one does not come across an analogous effort to build an alternative political ethos. The year of 1950 marked a defeat of historic proportion and it defined the values of life in contemporary Southern Italy.