Since the first half of the twentieth century, La Selva has enjoyed a rich network of associations. The first expression of this modern social cohesion in the agrarian sphere is the Societat dels Pagesos, (Company of Peasants), founded in 1900. Until then, peasants and farmers had grouped into guilds and confraternities.
Keywords: association networks, trades, 20th century.
Agrarian association networks in La Selva. The first unions
In the early twentieth century, agrarian associations began to gain a lot of power in La Selva. The first expression of this modern social cohesion is the Societat dels Pagesos, founded in 1900. Later, other associations would arise with highly differentiated profiles – some even antagonistic: L’Agrícola (1904), which grouped landowners; the Sociedad de Obreros Agricultores (1912), which represented workers and was commonly known as “la Raconera”; the Sindicat de Sant Andreu (Saint Andrew’s Union, 1916), under the umbrella of social Catholicism; the Sindicat de Sant Isidre (Saint Isidore’s Union, 1920), arising from the absorption of the Societat dels Pagesos into l’Agrícola; and Acció Obrers del Camp (1932), linked to the Unió de Rabassaires.
Saint Isidore’s and Saint Andrew’s unions
The Sindicat de Sant Isidre (Saint Isidore’s Union) and Sindicat de Sant Andreu (Saint Andrew’s Union) played leading roles in much agrarian association activity during the 1920s until the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. Saint Andrew’s Union was the first organisation to sell the products of the peasants in its association, but even so it never became a stable entity and in March 1936, it planned to dissolve. Saint Isidore’s Union, though it stayed neutral through events, was an influential element in local politics during Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship (1923–1930). Yet it was disbanded on proclamation of the Republic (1931). With the outbreak of the Revolution in summer 1936, the Saint Isidore’s Union had its assets confiscated and transferred to the town.
After the war, Saint Isidore’s Union recovered its property and, following the directives of the New Spanish State, absorbed what remained of Saint Andrew’s Union. In 1953, it became the Agricultural Cooperative and with the help of the Instituto Nacional de Colonización (National Institute of Colonisation, INC) improved its economic activity. In this way, it began almost two decades of economic bonanza thanks to its Celler (Cellar) and Caixa Rural (Rural Savings Bank). In the late 1970s, the Cooperative suffered from a credit crisis that lasted until 1985 when a number of its members split off to create l’Avellanera. From then on, the Cooperative sought new management models, improving its influence in international markets under the name Coselva.