Wave of Evictions Leads to Homeless Crisis in Spain

Francisco Rodríguez Flores in a building where he and his family live that has been taken over by the homeless. It had been vacant for three years.

By , The New York Times, November 11, 2012

SEVILLE, Spain — The first night after Francisco Rodríguez Flores, 71, and his wife, Ana López Corral, 67, were evicted from their small apartment here after falling behind on their mortgage, they slept in the entrance hall of their building. Their daughters, both unemployed and living with them, slept in a neighbor’s van.

“It was the worst thing ever,” Mrs. López said recently, studying her hands. “You can’t image what it felt like to be there in that hall. It’s a story you can’t really tell because it is not the same as living it.”

Things are somewhat better now. The Rodríguezes are among the 36 families who have taken over a luxury apartment block here that had been vacant for three years. There is no electricity. The water was recently cut off, and there is the fear that the authorities will evict them once again. But, Mrs. López says, they are not living on the street — at least not yet.

The number of Spanish families facing eviction continues to mount at a dizzying pace — hundreds a day, housing advocates say. The problem has become so acute that Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has promised to announce emergency measures on Monday, though what they may be remains unclear.

While some are able to move in with family members, a growing number, like the Rodríguezes, have no such option. Their relatives are in no better shape than they are, and Spain has virtually no emergency shelter system for families.

For some, the pressure has been too much to bear. In recent weeks, a 53-year-old man in Granada hanged himself just hours before he was to be evicted, and a 53-year-old woman in Bilbao jumped to her death as court officials arrived at her door. Continue reading

Spain steps up more austerity amid protests

The government is due to pass its 2013 austerity budget, which includes further salary freezes for government workers.

 27 Sep 2012
 [Photo: Protesters have gathered for a second day in a row to rally against the austerity measures in the country [Reuters]]

Thousands of protesters rallied near the Spanish parliament for a second straight night on Wednesday after a rough day on the markets again raised the spectre of a full bailout and deeper economic pain.

Shouting “Government resign!” and “We are not afraid”, demonstrators faced off against riot police in the Plaza de Neptuno, the same area of Madrid where officers beat protesters and fired rubber bullets to disperse them on Tuesday night.

“I came yesterday and I’ll come every day to say no to this system,” said Angel Alcaide, a 30-year-old engineer who carried a sign reading “Resign”.

“This government is worse than the last. It protects its privileges, its luxuries, and the people just get cuts in health and education,” said 26-year-old Carmen Lopez, who lives in London, pushed abroad, she said, by the lack of jobs for young people.

But mass protests seemed the least of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s problems as the prospect of an international rescue revived.

Spain’s borrowing costs crept back up to danger levels and the stock market plunged on Wednesday, as pressure from Catalonia, which called snap elections in a drive for greater independence, added to the gloom.

Continue reading

Spain prepares more austerity, protesters battle police

A demonstrator struggles with Spanish National Police riot officers outside the the Spanish parliament in Madrid September 25, 2012. Protesters clashed with police in Spain's capital on Tuesday as the government prepares a new round of unpopular austerity measures for the 2013 budget that will be announced on Thursday. REUTERS-Sergio Perez

By Tracy Rucinski and Paul Day, REUTERS

MADRID | Tue Sep 25, 2012

(Reuters) – Protesters clashed with police in Spain’s capital on Tuesday as the government prepared a new round of unpopular austerity measures for the 2013 budget to be announced on Thursday.

Thousands gathered in Neptune plaza, a few meters from El Prado museum in central Madrid, where they formed a human chain around parliament, surrounded by barricades, police trucks and more than 1,500 police in riot gear.

Police fired rubber bullets and beat protesters with truncheons, first as protesters were trying to tear down barriers and later to clear the square. The police said at least 22 people had been arrested and at least 32 injured, including four policemen.

As lawmakers started to leave the parliament shortly after 2100 GMT in official cars or by foot, a few hundred people were still demonstrating in front of the building. Most dispersed shortly afterwards.

The protest, promoted over the Internet by different activist groups, was younger and more rowdy than recent marches called by labor unions. Protesters said they were fed up with cuts to public salaries and health and education.

“My annual salary has dropped by 8,000 euros and if it falls much further I won’t be able to make ends meet,” said Luis Rodriguez, 36, a firefighter who joined the protest. He said he was considering leaving Spain to find a better quality of life. Continue reading

Spanish police arrest 5 union members over ‘Robin Hood’ supermarket looting

By Associated Press, August 10, 2012

MADRID — Spanish police have arrested seven left-wing union activists for their alleged role in a “Robin Hood”-style looting of a supermarket made to highlight the plight of people suffering through the country’s recession.A handful of activists from the southern Andalusian Workers’ Union made off with nine trolleys full of food from the supermarket in the southern town of Ecija and left without paying on Tuesday. They later gave the food to poor, unemployed people.

Sanchez Gordillo has boasted that his town has full employment thanks to the farm cooperatives his office has established for the jobless.

Police said one person was arrested during an eviction Friday of union members who were squatting on Defense Ministry land near Ecija that is lying fallow to demand it be given to hard-pressed farmers.

Four others were arrested elsewhere Friday, and two Thursday, although all but two have been released on bail pending legal action.

Behind the Masks: Spanish Miners Battle Police Over Austerity


July 09, 2012 via Associated Press
Spanish miners in the northwestern provinces of Asturias and Leon, armed with homemade rockets and slingshots, have been battling police in protest against government cuts, including a slashing of subsidies in their industry.


Striking Spanish Miners Fire Homemade Rockets at Police
June 15, 2012 via Telegraph.co.uk
Striking Spanish coal workers continued to block roads and clashed  with police inside a mine in the northern region of Asturias on Friday.

Spain burns as strikes bring nation to its knees

Nine injured and scores are arrested as austerity protest descends into violence

by Alasdair Fotheringham, The Independent (UK)

Friday, 30 March 2012 — A nationwide general strike fuelled by a groundswell of anger against crippling unemployment levels and severe ongoing austerity cuts culminated in dozens of large-scale evening demonstrations across Spain yesterday.

Approximately a quarter of a million protesters took to the streets in Barcelona, with some fringe groups attacking police vans and smashing shop windows until late into the evening. In contrast Madrid’s almost equally large demonstration, where the crowds of chanting, whistling protestors filled the emblematic Puerto del Sol square and surrounding streets to bursting point, was reported as being totally peaceful.

“There’s lots of people here, but we need even more, this country is going through an awful situation and its going to get worse,” young protester Luis Ferrer, on the dole for three months, told The Independent in Madrid’s demonstration.

“If we don’t make ourselves heard now, we never will. I don’t think we’re going to end up like Greece, but they’re using this recession to take away our rights as workers.It’s just an excuse.”

“The labour reforms they want to bring in are terrible and our wages are awful,” Jose, a protestor in his twenties, added. “They want us to work more and more, put up taxes too and that’s just not on.” Continue reading

Crackdown in Spain

October 10, 2011
Wave of Arrests Sweeps Barcelona
by PETER GELDERLOOS, COUNTERPUNCH

The message went out to a thousand phones on Monday morning, the 3rd of October: the first of the arrests from the Parliament blockade had taken place. Four undercovers snatched him up as he left his house. A protest was called for the same day, at 7 o’clock in the evening, Plaça Catalunya. Two more arrests soon followed. The news quickly spread via telephone, internet, and word of mouth. Several meetings are called to share information and organize the response. By the time people started gathering in the hundreds for the protest, a fourth arrest had occurred.

Back in June, the popular rage that has been growing in Barcelona, in tandem with other parts of the world, coalesced once again as 200,000 people blockaded the Catalan Parliament in an attempt to prevent the passage of the latest austerity laws. These laws cannot accurately be called cutbacks, for in addition to slashing healthcare and education, they augment the ranks and arsenal of the police and continue the urbanization projects that tailor the city to the needs of tourism and social control.

This was not the first round of reforms to hit Catalunya, and in fact the Socialist Party was already voted out of power for inaugurating the crisis measures, so now it’s the conservatives’ turn to continue the same policies. Half of the people never voted for any of them, and an increasing number of these have been taking to the streets to win back control over their lives in an escalating series of strikes, protests, occupations, and popular assemblies that have spread across the Spanish state. The media and the academics have referred to this phenomenon as the movement of “indignados,” the “Real Democracy Now” movement, or the 15M movement, but in reality the feeling on the street is increasingly closer to rage than to simple indignation;  its politics are much more heterogeneous and in large part more anticapitalist than a narrow, naïve call for a “real” democracy, whatever that means; and the activity ascribed to it predates the 15M—or 15th of May—plaza occupations. Threads of the ongoing defiance run continuously back through the joyful Mayday riots in the wealthy neighborhood of Sarrià, the January 27 general strike that was called only by anarcho-syndicalist and far-left minority unions, in an unprecedented move demonstrating a new boldness, the September 29 general strike that reached massive proportions on a countrywide level and in Barcelona erupted in a daylong insurrection, which itself evoked references to and drew on experiences from an entire history of struggle against dictatorship and against the democracy that replaced it, a struggle that not everyone has forgotten.

On June 15, for the first time in much too long, politicians remembered the taste of fear as people blocked their path and harangued them, assailed them with insults, spat on them, threw trash, and in at least one case, attacked them with spraypaint. Many lawmakers had to be flown in by helicopter, and only in the face of undeniable public opposition and with the help of an army of riot police were they able to pass the reforms. For at least one day, the lies of democracy were put in their place, and the curtain masking the reality of social war was parted. Continue reading

The grumpy diplomats of the rogue state of Israel

by Ilan Pappe,
22 July 2011

The Israeli ambassador to Spain, Raphael Schutz, has just finished his term in Madrid. In an op-ed in Haaretz’s Hebrew edition he summarized what he termed as a very dismal stay and seemed genuinely relieved to leave.

This kind of complaint seems now seems to be the standard farewell letter of all Israeli ambassadors in Western Europe. Schutz was preceded by the Israeli ambassador to London, Ron Prosor, on his way to his new posting at the United Nations in New York, complaining very much in the same tone about his inability to speak in campuses in the United Kingdom and whining about the overall hostile atmosphere. Before him the ambassador in Dublin expressed similar relief when he ended his term in office in Ireland.

All three grumblers were pathetic but the last one from Spain topped them all. Like his colleagues in Dublin and in London he blamed his dismal time on local and ancient anti-Semitism. His two friends in the other capitals were very vague about the source of the new anti-Semitism as both in British and Irish history it is difficult to single out, after medieval times, a particular period of anti-Semitism.

But the ambassador in Madrid without any hesitation laid the blame for his trials and tribulations on the fifteenth century Spanish Inquisition. Thus the people of Spain (his article was entitled “Why the Spanish hate us”) are anti-Israeli because they are either unable to accept their responsibility for the Inquisition or they still endorse it by other means in our times. Continue reading

Democracy Now: Toma la Plaza!, Protests Spreading Across Spain

Maria Carrion & Ivan Martinoz on Pro-Democracy, Toma la Plaza!, Protests Spreading Across Spain

May 27, 2011

DemocracyNow.org -
Tens of thousands of Spanish protesters are demonstrating across the country calling for better economic opportunities, a more representative electoral system, and an end to political corruption. Democracy Now! speaks with independent journalist Maria Carrion and protest spokesperson Ivan Martinoz in Madrid. Continue reading