Spanish banks make people homeless

This video is called Suicides highlight crisis over Spain mass evictions.

By Francisca Vier:

Protests grow against evictions in Spain

1 December 2012

The austerity measures of the Spanish government have hit every area of ​​life. In addition to poverty, unemployment and private indebtedness, evictions of residents from their flats and houses has become a mass phenomenon.

Death of Amaya Egaña

Ms Egaña used to be a socialist local council member.

Amaya Egaña and her husband

Three suicides within a month have highlighted the brutality of the government and banks. Spontaneous protests broke out in Barakaldo, a town in the Basque country, following the suicide of Amaya Egaña, age 53, two weeks ago. Amaya Egaña was a victim of the policy of evicting all those unable to keep up with their repayments in the wake of the Spanish financial crisis. Popular anger is directed primarily against the banks that cause the evictions. Currently, 200 to 300 evictions are taking place each day with people dumped on the streets by police and bailiffs. Almost 180,000 evictions are being prepared.

Since the outbreak of the crisis in 2008 the number of over-indebted homeowners has risen to around 400,000. At the same time, another 800,000 flats stand empty. According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, citing the Madrid business press, there are a total of 1.3 million empty apartments in the country.

In recent years many Spaniards had bought homes with cheap credit offered by the banks. As the value of property rose over the years even low-income earners were able to obtain loans. As the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports, at one point 86 percent of Spanish families possessed residential property. After the bursting of the housing bubble property prices plummeted by between a third and half of their value, making it impossible to pay off debt through sales of the property.

According to a Spanish law passed in 1909, a debtor is liable to repay his mortgage even after the loss of his property. The debtor must pay back loans even if the apartment or house was lost a long time ago.

Many Spaniards can no longer pay their mortgages because the austerity measures of the government have led to rampant unemployment and poverty. The gap between low and high income has quadrupled in recent years. Today over 20 million Spaniards, representing 43 percent of the population, earn less than €12,000 (US$15,600) per year. Unemployment has risen to a record level of 26 percent. According to the Red Cross, one in four children lives in poverty.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (People’s Party—PP) is well aware of the social tensions arising from the wave of evictions. One day after a general strike and nationwide protests on November 14 the government and banks announced a moratorium on some evictions in an effort to avoid a social explosion.

Legislation provides for a suspension of evictions for two years for those living in a particularly precarious situation. However the regulations determining who is exempted from immediate eviction are so narrow that a large proportion of those affected are not covered by the bill. The law does not apply retroactively and also makes no change to the requirement that those who lose their property must still repay their outstanding loans, including exorbitant rates of interest. Accordingly, the bill has been vehemently opposed by the population.

In order to prevent evictions taking place, local initiatives have sprung up in many places expressing their solidarity with those facing evictions. On a number of occasions bailiffs and police confronted militant pickets who barred officials from taking control of sequestered property.

One coalition of those affected is the Plataforma de afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH). On its web site the organization demands a right to housing and publishes details of impending evictions. Their perspective, however, is extremely limited. They focus on changes to the law to prevent a disproportionate increase in mortgage payments and demand the authorities act in a more equitable fashion.

The PAH also calls on political parties and the government to provide affordable social housing to solve the housing crisis. It hopes to draw attention to its activities with signature campaigns and street blockades. …

Despite the mass protests and 24-hour general strike on November 14, the Rajoy government has made clear it will continue its austerity course.

Locksmiths in Pamplona in northern Spain are refusing to co-operate in evictions. This is part of a growing backlash across the Spanish state: here.

A retired couple committed suicide on the Spanish Island of Mallorca on Tuesday, leaving a note saying that they could not face losing their home: here.

Last week, Spain’s ruling Popular Party executed an about-face over foreclosures and evictions: here.

17 thoughts on “Spanish banks make people homeless

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  9. False friends in Washington

    Friday 24 May 2013

    by John Haylett

    Life is good for Yoani Sanchez and Berta Soler, who are feted throughout their world tours denouncing their native land, but other Cuban dissidents have not fared so well.

    Unemployment and eviction from his home for rent arrears are the rewards enjoyed by Gilberto Martinez, who settled in Spain three years ago.

    Martinez is one of 115 Cubans whose opposition to the socialist system led to their imprisonment and subsequent release following talks between the Havana government and the Catholic church.

    Cuba and Spain agreed that the released prisoners could remain in their homeland or start a new life in Europe.

    Martinez, 115 compatriots and 600 family members opted for Spain, where he, his wife and three children made their new home in Alicante.

    Then prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s government undertook to provide the Cuban immigrants with a home, food, health care, transport, school materials and job training.

    But things changed when Zapatero’s social-democratic government gave way last December to Mariano Rajoy’s right-wing People’s Party and the Cubans learned the harsh reality of capitalist freedom.

    Martinez has been unable to find work – not surprising since Spain has 23 per cent unemployment – and has existed on a monthly allowance of 995 euros (£852) from the Spanish government and the Red Cross.

    Rajoy has axed that allowance along with countless other benefits on which Spanish citizens rely, while over 30,000 tenants have been evicted from their homes.

    “They brought us over under false pretences. We’re on the street. We’ve gone from one place to another. The truth is that the politicians take care only of themselves and fix nothing,” said a bitterly disappointed Martinez.

    “Now we receive no aid of any kind. If I had been told in Cuba what’s happening in Spain, I would have stayed home,” he added.

    “All I ask now is that you send me back to Cuba,” Martinez told the Spanish conservative daily paper El Pais.

    Some supporters of the Cuban revolution may believe that the misfortunes of the Martinez family are self-inflicted and that they deserve their fate.

    Indeed, the blogosphere features references to him as a lemon squeezed by the US and now discarded once he is no longer in Cuba where he can be used for Washington’s political purposes.

    However, this would be a particularly hard-hearted response in light of a catalogue of problems that could bring tears to a glass eye.


  10. From the USA:

    Dear FirstName

    Federal bank regulators have proposed a rule that would place strong restrictions on the eight biggest banks in the country. The new rule requires these banks to maintain a larger buffer to cover any risky bets – which ensures that they don’t gamble with our money. Federal bank regulators are requesting feedback from you, the public, on this proposed rule. Please co-sign our letter to tell them that they’re on the right track – and demand that big banks stop gambling with our money.

    Petition: “Big banks shouldn’t gamble with our money. Twenty percent of America’s net worth was destroyed in the 2008 financial meltdown – that should never happen again. I am co-signing the Grayson-Conyers letter to make sure big banks stop gambling with my money.”


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  15. We kunnen allemaal kleine helden zijn

    “Kleine helden” van de Spaanse auteur Almudena Grandes vertelt het verhaal van zo’n twintig bewoners in een gemengde volkswijk in Madrid: arm en rijk, alleenstaanden en gezinnen, jong en oud, met en zonder hond. Ieder heeft zijn eigen leven, eigen geluksmomenten en eigen sores. De crisis heeft echter vat op iedereen. In “Kleine helden” zien we hoe de crisis in Spanje heeft huisgehouden: werkloosheid, bezuinigingen, sluitingen, faillissementen, huisuitzettingen en uitbuiting om de prijzen laag te houden en klanten te trekken zijn aan de orde van de dag. Lees meer:


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