Introduction

Visual Index (Entire Poster Collection)

Catalogue

Chronology of the War

Acknowledgements

Lists of References

Afterword: Herbert R. Southworth Collection


 

Izquierda Republicana. Defiende la pequeña propiedad. Pena de muerte al ladrón

[Republican Left. Defend small private property. Death penalty to the thief]. Signed: V. Petit Alandi. Junta Municipal. Delegación de Propaganda. Valencia. Lit.: S. Dura, Socializada U.G.T. C.N.T. Valencia. Lithograph, many colors; 160 x 108 cm.

S. Dura, a Valencian lithography firm jointly collectivized by the CNT and the UGT, published this poster for Izquierda Republicana (the Republican Left Party), probably in the summer of 1937. At that time, the Republican Left Party, led by Manuel Azaña, had become frustrated with the problem of theft and joined others in the loyalist zone in calling for more severe punishments against those who stole foodstuffs or disrupted Republican trade. This scene portrays a Valencian peasant or sharecropper holding a Republican flag and sounding an alarm with a giant conch. The figure is essentially a vigilant sentry who has spotted some undesirables (lower right) stealing armfuls of grain. Upon sounding his alarm, other peasants or small landowners (lower left) react violently as they impose their vigilante justice on the thieves. The homes in the far center-left background of the poster are barracas, rustic adobe lodgings common in the province of Valencia.

The political party Izquierda Republicana was formed in the fall of 1934, when Manuel Azaña fused his Acción Republicana with other moderate parties to create a large coalition of like-minded Republicans seeking to regain political power. Izquierda Republicana was the driving force behind the Popular Front coalition, which included the Socialists and Communists, united to curb the advance of the "fascist" right. The Popular Front was able to slimly defeat the conservative coalition in the national elections of 1936, and Izquierda Republicana secured 106 seats in Parliament, second only to the Socialists.

Theft of agrarian products, among other valuables, was a significant problem at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, and the problem became worse as the war progressed. The food scarcity was exacerbated by constant warfare, and the rapid advances of the Nationalist army forced soldiers and refugees to help themselves to farmland foods. One Valencian collective sent the following complaint to the Minister of Agriculture on November 29, 1937:

[Soldiers and refugees] take whatever they want, break branches, strip our trees, break into and disturb our plantations, etc. Our nut crop has disappeared at their hands, the same is true of our pomegranates. They take vegetables, olives, yank out potatoes from the earth without letting them mature to a proper age and weight, and the oranges have disappeared from trees. We have an anguishing, exhausting, and frustrating situation on our hands.

Posters like this were one way that the Republican left tried to deal with the thefts.

 
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