Land reform was a priority in rural areas of Spain during the republican era. High countryside unemployment contributed to the election of the leftist Popular Front government. In Extremadura, during the 1936 election campaign, Popular Front candidates had promised quick land reform. Rather than wait for the government to deliver on its pledges, unemployed peasants began to occupy large estates, starting with some 3,000 farms in the Badajoz province. The government, faced with popular unrest, legalised the early occupations. Hundreds of thousands of peasants were re-settled.
But it was not just a question of taking over the land. There was a debate about what should be done with it – whether it should be collectivised or allotted to individual owners. The seizures provided not just land and work, but also a democratic forum, a focus for arguments about the whole future development of the society.

Or so it was until the nationalist forces of General Franco conquered the territory and slaughtered the peasants and their leftist leaders.