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Spain: “Neighbor, Wake Up, Evictions at Your Doorstep!”

This post is part of our special coverage Europe in Crisis.

In these times of severe crisis and government cuts, banks are being watched by citizens. This week's announcement of a bailout of 10 billion Euros for the Spanish bank Bankia has provoked many reactions on the web. The blog Platform for the nationalization of saving houses [es] has taken on the news:

La nueva inyección, que puede alcanzar los 10.000 millones de euros —mientras se recortan miles de millones en la Sanidad y la Educación públicas— en bonos contingentes convertibles en el Banco Financiero y de Ahorros volverá a ser insuficiente. (…)La propuesta de una banca pública bajo control democrático y gestionada con transparencia, creada mediante la nacionalización de las cajas de ahorro, no es una de las opciones posibles para resolver la actual crisis. Es la única solución porque es imposible la movilización de fondos privados en la cuantía necesaria para recapitalizar las entidades financieras españolas.

The new cash injection can reach 10 billion Euros in bonds convertible at the Financial and Savings Bank – while thousands are cut from Health and Public Education – will be  insufficient  (…) The proposal of a public bank under democratic control and managed with transparency, created by the nationalization of the saving houses, is not one of the possible options to solve the current crisis. It is the only solution because it is impossible to move private funds of that quantity to recapitalize Spanish financial entities.

Also, banks are responsible of a great number of foreclosures and evictions throughout Spain which reached a record in 2011. In the downtown neighborhood of Lavapiés, in Madrid, another eviction took place recently after Banesto bank and the judicial commission denied the owners the alternative of negotiating the payment or social leasing of the property. Two families from Bangladesh who bought the apartment in Fray Ceferino Street nº12 were affected after the interest rate of their loan increased and their economic and working situation worsened.

That is how the blog CIERRABANESTO [es] explains the situation in the post titled “Manual to kick out a bank out of a neighborhood”:

Como sabéis, Banesto pretende dejar a Uddin, Hafiz, sus señoras esposas y sus cuatro niñxs en la calle el próximo 9 de mayo. Sí, será la segunda confrontación entre la dignidad y la barbarie, después de que el pasado 28 de marzo Lavapiés ganase el primer encuentro. Nuestrxs vecinxs como tantxs otrxs aquí, en Españistán, escucharon el canto de las sirenas bancarias que gobiernan y se creyeron que debían y podrían tener una casa propia. Ahora están a punto de ser expulsados de esa casa con una deuda pendiente casi tan grande como el crédito original.

As you know, Banesto wants to leave Uddin, Hafiz and their wives and four kids on the streets on May 9th. Yes, it will be the second confrontation between dignity and barbarism after Lavapiés won its first round on March 28th. Our neighbors, as many other around here in Spain, heard the governing banks siren song and believed that they should and could own a house. Now, they are about to get expelled from that house with a pending debt almost as big as the original credit.

An evicted person from Lavapiés takes out the last furniture from his apartment. Photo by Elena Arrontes.

An evicted person from Lavapiés takes out the last furniture from his apartment. Photo by Elena Arrontes.

Last March 28, thanks to the support of approximately 80 people, the eviction was postponed to May 9, but an excessive police deployment has blocked the access to the street so the protest couldn't prevent Banesto from taking over the apartment. Even though the police and anti-riot forces (including a helicopter flying around the area) blocked the street, there were manifestations of solidarity from several support groups against the eviction.

From both sides of the street people were chanting: “What a coincidence, poverty raises as well as police expenses!”, “I would be ashamed of throwing out a family!”, “Neighbor, wake up, foreclosures at your doorstep!”, “Today it's you, tomorrow it'll be me”…

Arrival of the eviction victim with his lawyer. Photo by Elena Arrontes.

Arrival of the eviction victim with his lawyer. Photo by Elena Arrontes.

A group composed by about 20 people went to Uddin and Hafiz's apartment the night before just in case the bank and realtor decided to do the eviction in advance to the scheduled hour (8am). The solidary group had to abandon the building at 9:30 when Uddin and Hafiz, together with a lawyer from the Victims of Mortgage Platform (PAH) met with a the judicial commission to sign the eviction.

Citizens on strike, students, committed neighbors and neighbor assemblies act several times a week in cases like this and make calls to protest using social media. The PAH has made a call on its website to stop evictions in Madrid and Barcelona. Unfortunately, Uddín and Hafiz were not lucky enough and the eviction became effective, but other cases have been successful due to citizen pressure.

This post is part of our special coverage Europe in Crisis.

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