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Instituto Nacional de Colonización

Town Hall in Guadalcacín, formerly Guadalcacín del Caudillo, one of the villages established by the Instituto Nacional de Colonización in 1952
El Poble Nou Del Delta, a village built after drying wetlands of the Ebro river delta.
Instituto Nacional de Colonización logo

The Instituto Nacional de Colonización y Desarrollo Rural, English: National Institute of Rural Development and Colonization, was the administrative entity that was established by the Spanish State in October 1939, shortly after the end of the Spanish Civil War, in order to repopulate certain areas of Spain. This entity depended from the Ministry of Agriculture and it sought to alleviate the effects of the devastation caused by the three years of civil war.

The Instituto acquired land which it transferred to the villagers under different conditions according to the area and the levels of poverty of the tenants. The tenants eventually were expected to pay a small sum that allowed them to become the future owners of the land they tilled.

This ambitious plan led to the establishment of new villages in different parts of Spain, some of which still survive. The Instituto reached a height of activity and influence during the first two decades of Francoist Spain, but after the Plan de Estabilización in 1959, and the subsequent Planes de Desarrollo, its autarchic goals and ideals became outdated. By 1971 the word "Colonization" had stopped being politically correct and the name of the entity was changed to Instituto Nacional de Reforma y Desarrollo Agrario (IRYDA).[1]


Goals and resultsEdit

The Instituto's main goal was to increase agricultural production in Spain by devoting more land surface to agriculture. Priority was given to the development of new irrigated areas in arid and semi-arid zones. This goal was very effective for the propaganda purposes of the new regime and triumphalistic claims were made that the colonization measures would increase self-sufficiency. But often irrigation was opposed to the traditional and sustainable methods of dryland farming that were ecologically more in tune with locally available resources in fragile environments.

Although the plans of the IRYDA were implemented with the avowed goal of a "better management of natural resources of the country" (Spanish: "mejor aprovechamiento y conservación de los recursos naturales en aguas y tierras"),[2] the agricultural policies implemented were sometimes not mindful of the environment, leading to salinization of the terrain and to soil erosion in some areas. Some of the villages that were established in former wetlands or in chronic drought areas were later abandoned, along with the lands that surrounded them and that had formerly been earmarked for agriculture.

List of villagesEdit

Many of the new villages were given a name related to the nearest river or even a name with an explicit reference to the Caudillo in order to cast a benevolent image of Francisco Franco, like Llanos del Caudillo, Villafranco del Delta, a village in the Montsià comarca nowadays rechristened as El Poblenou del Delta or Isla Mayor near Seville, the former Villafranco del Guadalquivir.

Some of these new settlements were built to house the families whose houses were flooded when their ancestral village was submerged by the waters of one of the many reservoirs built during the development plans of the 1950s and 1960s, like Loriguilla, Mequinensa and Faió (Fayón), among others. Others were renovations and repopulations of previously extant but abandoned towns.

See alsoEdit


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