Welcome to Madrid: City of Protests
Madrid (CNN) – “The people, united, will never be divided!” yells the crowd, angrily waving banners and placards. “To fight is the only way!” Dog-walkers, mothers with strollers, and pensioners carrying shopping bags join the crowd. These people on the sidewalk are no curious neighbors. Indeed, many of them are complete strangers to the family living on the fifth floor, but they are all here to protect Rocio from eviction - being forced to leave her property by legal process.
Rocio and her son, now 17 and in high school, moved from Ecuador in 2003, when times were good and jobs plentiful in Spain. But then the global financial crisis hit, bringing Spain’s economy down, Rocio lost her two jobs - in a shop, and as a cleaner. For a while, Rocio got by on benefits, but then those stopped too. She is an example of the crisis many Spaniards face as the country deals with the highest unemployment rate since the Civil War in the 1930s, and a recession entering its second year. “I can’t stand the thought of living on the streets with my son, but I have no idea where else to go”, she says.
Rocio’s story is echoed by others all over Spain. It is this fear that took many Spanish citizens to action. Many of those people who are outside the door of Rocio’s apartment block are supporters of “Stop Desahucios” (Stop Evictions), part of the Platform of People Affected by Mortgages (PAH – Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca), a group that campaigns to prevent banks and authorities from eviction because of the country’s economic crisis. They accuse the banks and authorities of “real estate terrorism”.
There are also the mass marches of the 15-M movement - also known as the “Indignados”. Activist Dante Scherma, 24, says citizens were not used to speaking out on political issues. “The 15-M movement made people talk about social issues, and about politics in normal conversations - in cafés, restaurants, bars - where before they only talked about football or fashion.”
Back in Vicalvaro, the moment of truth has arrived, but the crowd - now shouting at the police, insisting they have to stop forcing families to leave their properties - appears to have had an impact. Lawyers from the PAH explain that Rocio will be able to stay - for a while, at least. For those working to stop Spain’s eviction epidemic, today has seen a small and temporary victory. For those demonstrating about cuts, corruption and lack of cash, the protests will go on.
Adaptado de http://edition.cnn.com/2013/02/20/world/europe/madrid-city-of-protests/index.html
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