Spain: Evictions, tragedy and resistance

Capitalist establishment shaken by sustained mass movement

Amaia Barakaldo Egaña climbed onto a chair and jumped from the fourth floor of her building. This was the second high-profile death related to mortgage foreclosure in only a few weeks. The outstanding debt default which led to the eviction was less than € 214,000.

José Miguel Domingo, 53, was found dead in the courtyard of his home in the neighbourhood of Chana in the city of Granada. Joseph had a loan for 240,000 euros. A man also jumped from a balcony in Valencia before being evicted. He was hospitalized with serious injuries.

They are the last three known cases of a social drama that is taking place in the Spanish state, a graphic reflection of the barbarism of the system and the crisis of capitalism. Every day of the first half of this year (2012) 500 evictions were executed in the Spanish state, a social drama that overflowed into a people’s revolt with the second suicide in 15 days. These tragic cases have caused widespread shock and anger.

In Madrid, about 50 people threatened with eviction for non-payment of their mortgages were sleeping rough in a camp in front of the main branch of Bankia in Celenque Square, near the Puerta del Sol One of these protestors said: "People are extremely angry over the issue of evictions"

In Barakaldo where Egaña Amaia lived thousands, 8,000 according to organizers, marched directly following her death, under the slogan "No to unemployment. No to evictions. Yes to Social protection.”

During the march, protesters chanted slogans against the banks and financial institutions daubed "murderers" on their windows. Paint cans were thrown at the bank ‘La Caixa’ where Amaia had her mortgage. The demonstrators chanted slogans: "Not a suicide, a homicide," "They have the money, we have the dead", "No eviction without response" or "Stop financial terrorism".

The public reaction has shaken both the PP and PSOE and they have been forced to be seen to be ‘doing something’ about the issue, entering emergency negotiations to agree on a “humanitarian” bill to stop executions in very limited extreme circumstances. It was the pressure from social movements and the street that has obliged them. PSOE particularly must be condemned particularly for its opportunism. During last PSOE government issue was repeatedly raised IU / ICV and measures were put forward to end the drama of evictions. These measures were repeatedly rejected by PP and PSOE.

The Police Trade Union (SUP), adopted a semi-revolutionary decision in response to the movement. They said they would legally support agents who find themselves unable to execute evictions. It also requested that the Government take measures to stop the evictions. Other police unions branded the eviction orders as "barbaric" and "very difficult to implement."

The Basque Police union, Erne, also said that the organization will support and provide legal defence to members who refuse to participate in evictions.

Judges also denounced usury, unjust enrichment and abuse by banks. A judge said: "Judges are not the mere appliers of the letter of the law."

The reactions of the police and the judges in the face of the protests are very significant. The PP policy of cuts and attacks on living standards of workers is reaping a whirlwind of opposition. These cracks are the first to be seen in the state machinery. Clearly many in the police and judiciary have no desire to continue with the policies of the PP and its consequences.

The TV channel La Sexta has shown images of police actions in which they resemble an occupation army. They are seen going from house to house throwing families out of their homes. The feeling of great injustice is a very bitter taste in the mouths of millions in Spain. Even the Queen daytime television presenters, Ana Rosa Quintana, dared to call for civil disobedience!

Because of this social pressure, in Euskadi, Kutxa and Caja Laboral had to immediately suspend all evictions, even before the PP government announced their measures.

Although clearly insufficient, the temporary measures that the PP government have announced can be considered a victory since they would never have been implemented without pressure from below. The anti-evictions movement also shows that a sustained and determined movement can force the government to back down.

However, the fight should not stop here. The conditions of the two year moratorium are very restrictive and the problem is far from solved. The consequences of evictions and the opposition will continue.

Mortgage law and the law of civil procedure will be untouched. People who are evicted in Spain face abusive default interest charges and court costs. As well as losing their homes they also have to keep paying the mortgage even though the bank can sell their property!

The PP Economic minister, Luis de Guindos claims that people have to rely on the Banking Code and the willingness of the banks to follow ‘good practice.’ Some hope!

There is one law for the working class and another for bankers and big business. Since 2008 bankers and politicians have ruined building societies and banks yet have received multi-million euro payoffs while in the same time period half a million working class families have lost their homes in Spain.

Perhaps the saddest aspect of Amaia case was that she was a PSOE member along with her husband and a former councillor. A party with ’Socialist’ in its name should offer a vision of the future and have a programme to fight the injustices of capitalism.

However, these tasks are on the shoulders the left real. Our challenge is to completely stop ALL EVICTIONS and nationalise the banks and use their enormous wealth and empty housing stock to ensure the right to adequate housing through social rents for all workers and their families.

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December 2012