Evicted families occupy a building in Seville and call on others to do so

Evicted families occupy a building in Seville and call on others to do so

Evicted families have squatted a building in Seville. They are resisting despite having the water and electricity cut off.

Twenty families in urgent need of housing, organised through the 15M movement, have squatted an empty building in Avenida de Juventudes Musicales, (the Avenue of Musical Youth!) to make homes for themselves there under the name of Patio of Neighbours “La Utopia” and to “make visible the terrible housing problem that so many people suffer”.
The building has been empty since it was completed in 2010. Instead of it sitting empty, twenty families have made it their home.

This statement from Barrios en Lucha (Neighbourhoods in Struggle), received on Monday 14th of May, about the occupation of Corrala de Vecinas la Utopia, is the latest in a militant struggle over housing taking place in Spain. The building is an empty apartment block, never let since it was built, which is owned by a property company which has gone bankrupt, with a mortgage owing to the bank Ibercaja. The families squatting the building are homeless, some have been evicted from their homes by the banks after being unable to pay the mortgage, some are tenants who have fallen into rent arrears. There are now thirty six families as more people have moved in. In their own words, “We are a group of people who have an urgent need of housing. The crisis, like it has many people, has hurt us. We are workers, poor people, who have lost our jobs.” Since moving in the occupiers of la Corrala have been suffering harassment including the disconnection of the electricity and, from Tuesday 8th June, the water as well, even though there are people inside in a serious state of ill health.

The occupiers of la Corrala are cleaners, building labourers, hairdressers, supermarket cashiers, who have for years handed over most of their wages to pay for the roof over their heads, and when they have lost their jobs and cannot pay any more, they have been put out in the street. In the block where one woman was living, thirty families have been evicted from their homes. Most of the squatters in la Corrala de Vecinas la Utopia come from la Macarena, which currently has the highest rate of mortgage foreclosures in the city. Seville now has 100,000 empty flats in the metropolitan area, which has a population of around one million.

La Corrala have received support from the strong housing movement in Seville and from 15 M. There have been demonstrations of hundreds of people in support of the occupation and in protest at the withdrawal of gas and water. They are not the first group of people to do this in the city as there is the example of the abuelas of San Bernardo, the “granny squatters” who are elderly people whose homes were uninhabitable, have been able to get themselves decent homes by squatting.

This inspiring direct action by people in defence of their basic needs is becoming more and more necessary. If Corrala de Vecinas la Utopia can succeed it will inspire other people. The banner hanging from their balcony says “We have squatted, you are within your rights to as well.

Posted By

fingers malone
Jun 8 2012 14:36

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  • “We are a group of people who have an urgent need of housing. The crisis, like it has many people, has hurt us. We are workers, poor people, who have lost our jobs.”

    occupier of Corrala de Vecinas la Utopia

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Comments

Steven.
Jun 8 2012 14:49

Great stuff! Please let us know how the story develops

Auto
Jun 8 2012 15:58

Awesome story - especially good in a country like Spain where so much housing stock is just lying empty after the crash.

jonthom
Jun 8 2012 17:18

awesome! solidarity.

emblack
Jun 8 2012 19:31

for those who are interested in the furthre updates of this occupation you can go to their webblog at : http://corralautopia.blogspot.com.es/ the further international solidarity might be needed since the government has begun their harrasment by sending rumors about taking away their kids becuase of bad living conditions(without wather and electricity).
they also have a video channel at youtube : http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9tGF23zJwEbgdQL2CvVx4g

plasmatelly
Jun 8 2012 20:02

Nice one!

fingers malone
Jun 8 2012 20:22
emblack wrote:
further international solidarity might be needed since the government has begun their harrasment by sending rumors about taking away their kids becuase of bad living conditions(without wather and electricity).

Thanks for posting that, God, just when you thought they couldn't get any more disgusting.

TitusMoans
Jun 9 2012 05:56

I wish that here around Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, the homeless would start to occupy the thousands of empty homes and buildings around the city. Equality must be wrenched from the ruling class. Good story.

fingers malone
Jun 13 2012 22:50

Another occupation just happened, people marched to the local parliment with a list of demands including the legalisation of squatting. They marched from there to the town centre and broke down bricked up doors with sledgehammers in broad daylight, while other people blocked the road. Five families have squatted there. They were people who had previously gone to the Corrala to ask for help but it is now full. They self organised and have now squatted these flats.

fingers malone
Jun 22 2012 19:08

Live report from someone there:

"Five families with children have squatted in Seville city centre. We are turning back gentrification. These families were evicted from their homes. Supported by the 15-M movement they have squatted five houses owned by a Sevillian landowner and noble."

Ed
Jun 14 2012 09:40

Cheers for the updates!

fingers malone
Jun 14 2012 22:15

The houses they squatted have been empty and abandoned for years.

The people who squatted are young families who have been evicted recently after they couldn't pay their rent or mortgage after losing their jobs. Most of them were construction workers. There have been 6,000 evictions in the province of Seville in the last two years.

fingers malone
Jun 14 2012 23:03

fingers malone
Jun 14 2012 23:06

Women from la Corrala (the occupation in the op)

fingers malone
Jun 16 2012 00:38

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cycQM5Y_Me4
thought I'd worked out how to do this. Obviously not.

Admin: I wasn't sure either at first but after knocking about I realised it was coz the bit you're supposed to c&p is the bit from after the = not the ?.. everything else you'd done was fine - Ed.

fingers malone
Jun 18 2012 22:10

Thanks Ed

Mark.
Jun 24 2012 11:21

From Paul Mason's blog. The video is worth watching as well.

Paul Mason wrote:

You can see how badly the crisis has hit people at the "Utopia" apartment block in Seville. It's a modern, newly-built, five-storey complex next to a busy road. The flats are small: perfect for young professionals with their taste for minimalist furniture. But the company that built the flats went bust and now the whole place has been squatted by families turfed out of their own homes due to repossession.

"We had weekly meetings for four months and we realised we were all in the same situation and finally we decided to do something about it. When we took over the building I was frightened, because I've seen things on TV where they drag people out. The banks need to adapt the mortgage system to avoid kicking people out of their homes."

Toni, aged 44, is one of a tight group of women - mainly cleaning workers - who've organised the occupation. They all have working age children who are unemployed. They resent the banks for kicking them out of their homes, and the politicians for bailing them out.

Around the edges of the project move people from a completely different demographic: the so-called "indignados" of the M15 movement - anti-globalist youth with trademark tattoos and piercings. The indignados made world headlines last year after massive occupation protests in the public squares of Spanish cities, in turn sparking the global Occupy movement.

When you see the Utopia flats, draped with banners announcing "no homes without people, no people without homes", you see what happens when official politics abandons people. Very ordinary, indeed anti-political people have begun to turn to Spain's radical youth for help. They in turn have found a purpose, here and elsewhere, outside mainstream politics, which they despise.

Also a land occupation by SOC-SAT:

Paul Mason wrote:

The regional unemployment rate is 30% and many farm labourers feel trapped by the current crisis, which, says Lola Alvarez, is just an intensification of a land crisis which is "always there".

Lola is a union organiser at Somonte, a farm abandoned as unworkable three years ago which has now been squatted by upwards of 50 people who are trying to revive it as an eco-farm. The directions to Somonte are "drive to a certain kilometre marker and look for the flags".

The flags, of course, display the face of Che Guevara. It's early, so the occupiers - who sleep nose to toe on the floor of two tiny farm buildings - are still stumbling into the ritual of black coffee and roll ups that attends all occupy protests. Some are farm labourers, some itinerant anarchists, some both.

"Before the crisis, because of low pay on the land, the majority of farm workers switched to the construction sector. Their jobs were taken by migrants, and also by mechanisation. Now construction has collapsed there's very little work on the land."

More on the Somonte occupation here:

Quote:

Sunday March 4 at 11 am about 500 members of the Laborers Union City – Union Workers Andalusian Somonte have occupied the farm in the town of Palma del Río. This property owned by the Junta de Andalucía leaves tomorrow for auction. Privatize the land while the common people suffer extreme arrest 1,700 people in Palma del Rio and more than 4,000 people standing in the surrounding villages. They are selling more than 20000 hectares in Andalusia leaving about 8,000 still without offers. Before this attack the SOC-SAT will mobilize these days and on Thursday at 11 am will be a demonstration at the Ministry of Agriculture asking Sevilla to a standstill this sale of land and instead of going to bankers and landowners are farmed by cooperatives of agricultural laborers s unemployed.

From this occupation about 30 people from Posadas, Palma del Rio and other peoples have been on this farm in order to stay there and begin to work it. We think this is the only way to carry out our ideas accordingly as the land has to be self-managed by workers themselves to create the maximum number of jobs and helping to develop local and regional economy. The field has 359 Somonte you. rainfed and 41 hectares. irrigated. The share of irrigation could result in an early stage about 50 jobs through the cultivation of asparagus, onions and other vegetables. In the medium term it could generate more employment through the social culture of the whole land, agribusiness and marketing of products through the necessary investments.

From the SOC-SAT we urgently appeal to the solidarity of Palma del Rio and the surrounding villages and all the comrades’ s the province of Cordoba and Andalusia to support this cause coming to join the fight and work in the estate of Somonte pressing the organs of power, spreading the word and supporting us materially food, seeds, plants, materials, money and see what is possible.

This action must be the beginning of the agrarian revolution in this time of unemployment, hardship and neoliberal scam we need so badly. Today any alternative to survive with dignity must go through the struggle for land, farming, food sovereignty and development that generates as has happened and see every day in Marinaleda and other towns of Andalusia.

We encourage tod @ s workers and parad Andalusia's fight for public or private land for collectivisation by the people.

IF THIS IS FIGHT, THE FUTURE IS OURS

ANDALUSIA LIVE FREE!

Harrison
Jun 24 2012 14:18
fingers malone wrote:
The houses they squatted have been empty and abandoned for years.

The people who squatted are young families who have been evicted recently after they couldn't pay their rent or mortgage after losing their jobs. Most of them were construction workers. There have been 6,000 evictions in the province of Seville in the last two years.

allowed to build homes but not live in them!

fingers malone
Jun 25 2012 19:43

People asked for more info about the anti eviction movement in Spain.

This eviction is in Coronil, a village in the province of Seville, Andalucia. The father in this house is an unemployed bricklayer. They have two small children. The family have been unable to pay the mortgage since he lost his job. It takes two attempts to evict this family, because between 70 to 100 people turn out to resist the eviction, including neighbours, 15-M and the SAT fieldworkers union.

The posters you can see in the windows of the houses around say "your neighbours are with you". The woman crying and being held back is the mother of the house.

fingers malone
Jun 25 2012 22:23

This one is really interesting, it's a long way from my manor (it's Murcia) so I don't know any background, but going on what they say, this is the 18th eviction they have stopped in Murcia. The protest seems to be organised by PAH, Platform of people affected by mortgages. I've heard of them but I don't know much about them, anyone know more?

Something very noticeable in both the videos is that most of the people involved, going by the clothes and so on, are neighbours and "ordinary" people, not predominantly from the leftist or activist scene.
[edit] And also, these are in villages, not in the big cities where you traditionally have big political movements. Mind you, when I was in Andalucia there was loads of class struggle going on in villages.

Mark.
Jun 25 2012 22:52
fingers malone wrote:
The protest seems to be organised by PAH, Platform of people affected by mortgages. I've heard of them but I don't know much about them, anyone know more?

Here's a report from El Pais in July last year about PAH Madrid meeting up with 15M to coordinate action (in Spanish):

http://elpais.com/diario/2011/07/05/madrid/1309865059_850215.html

Also a couple of reports in English:

http://elpais.com/diario/2011/06/28/sociedad/1309212001_850210.html

http://elpais.com/elpais/2012/04/25/inenglish/1335363631_285617.html

Dannny
Jun 26 2012 14:07

I've just come back from stopping an eviction in Pinos Puente, a small village outside Granada city. It was more fun than normal because there were lots of kids and the people whose house it was bought chips for everyone. Apart from that it followed the same pattern as others I've been to: a combination of people connected to 15M (some from the specific stop evictions group of 15m) and neighbours gathered in front of the house about an hour before the eviction was due to take place, singing and encouraging passers by to join in. I'd say we ended up with about 50 people today. The bank's lawyer or whoever came past and alerted the police. Representatives of the stop evictions group (one of whom is a cgt official and the other two are housing lawyers I think) spoke to the police and to the bank and the latter decided not to try and go through with the eviction. It is possible that they will attempt to fix another date for eviction but this is not something they can do overnight and it is likely that in the meantime something will be arranged between the bank and the family, with some involvement and advice from the group. So far, noone who has contacted the stop evictions group of Granada 15m has been successfully evicted.

fingers malone
Jun 26 2012 22:34

Danny this is really interesting, please can you write some more for us about other anti eviction actions you have been to and how the stop evictions group works?

Dannny
Jun 27 2012 11:14

Ok fingers, thanks. Apologies in advance for the ramble.
I don't know much about how the group itself works. It came out of 15M but I don't know if there is any continuity with previously existing groups, like PAH, although I think there probably is. Their public meetings are when I'm at work and much of their day to day stuff involves meetings, negotiations and legal stuff as opposed to mobilisations. They have about 60 ongoing cases and have called around 15 mobilisations to prevent evictions. I've been finding out about the mobilisations through facebook since February and I've been to 3 since then.
The first one I went to was the most "activisty" in terms of the people there - I recognised the majority of the faces from other things. There were about 40 or so people and it proved enough for the the officials from the bank to speak to the people I mention above who seem to have responsibility for mediating with the authorities - although they do so in the presence of the people who are going to be evicted - and call off the eviction. The person who was going to be evicted is now paying a kind of rent to the bank with an option to buy, half of what he pays goes into a deposit. Everyone seems happy enough with that outcome.
The second one I went to there were much fewer people from the group and we were quite nervous that we would be swatted aside by the police (who had a visible presence on this occasion with a couple of vans parked up nearby). So we started shouting to neighbours about what was happening and someone explained the situation through a megaphone and people started joining us. In the end there were more people from the area than activists. It was a particularly shocking case in which someone had only delayed very slightly in a payment and had advised the bank in advance but was nevertheless due to be evicted with his wife and three kids. In the end the same thing happened as before with the authorities acknowledging that it was impossible to carry out the eviction on that date. We then went, accompanied by neighbours, to the bank branch of the family to kick up a fuss until a meeting between the family and the bank with representation from the group was arranged. A couple of weeks later they received another eviction notice which met with the same response. As far as I know the case is ongoing. Here is a video and article from the local paper (now a right wing rag but which was briefly heavily influenced by the local CNT during the Second Republic):
http://www.ideal.es/granada/20120412/local/granada/impide-desahucio-zaidin-201204121231.html
The fact that the parents of this family are African immigrants gives an interesting extra dynamic to the struggle in my opinion; as you know black Africans are hugely marginalised economically and socially here.
Yesterday's action made it into El Mundo:
http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2012/06/27/andalucia/1340780374.html
The chants and slogans at the demos are for the most part against evictions in general and calls for solidarity but also have a strong anti-banker element and the "it's not a crisis, it's a rip-off" one gets an airing. Yesterday there were also chants against usury.
I should stress that there isn't an obvious separation between locals and outsiders at these demonstrations, obviously some people are both activists and locals, and in general the atmosphere is one of friendly intermingling. It's not like only the activists chant, and the neighbours also start chants and make up new ones too.
There's an article in Spanish here on the first year of the Stop Evictions group in Granada:
http://www.tercerainformacion.es/spip.php?article37172

fingers malone
Jul 3 2012 22:02

That is a great report Danny.

This video is from Madrid a few days ago, look at how the police treat the old people.

At the end the people are singing the miners song in solidarity!

fingers malone
Jul 7 2012 11:19

Background: IU have put forward some kind of parlimentary motion about the housing crisis, and specifically call for the Corrala to have the electricity and water reconnected. The socialists back some of it including the bit about the electricity and water. The PP oppose everything. The women from la Corrala are sitting in the audience. One politician is saying "we have done everything possible to help them" and one occupier can't take it any more and she starts shouting "lies, lies" and is marched out by the police. Another woman is marched out and shouts "and thieves as well" as she goes out the door. The women start shouting and walking out or get marched out. The woman in the stripes is shouting "You only help the people with money, you never help the poor, the poor will always be poor and the rich will always be rich, with your help we will never get anywhere."

Mark.
Jul 8 2012 23:17

El País: Squatting the land to rise up against unemployment

Quote:

A woman in her mid-forties, with dark eyes and skin tanned by the wind and sun, wakes up from the siesta she has been enjoying on a mattress lying on the ground. Suddenly, she sees the man mounted on a horse trampling on the vegetables she has been tending so carefully for the last two months. He begins to shout at the 30 or so day laborers, who along with her have been staging a sit in at the Somontes farm in Palma de Río, in Córdoba province.

"What on earth are you doing on that horse?" shouts the woman, who has emerged as a leader among the men.

Lola Álvarez has spent her life working in the fields, and has fought long and hard for the rights of farm hands since the days of the Andalusian Workers' Syndicate (SAT), but says she has never been through such a difficult time as this. She hasn't worked for months: the orange harvest was ruined by late frost, and there was no other work available. So, she and her fellow day laborers have decided to occupy the 400 hectares of Somontes owned by the regional government of Andalusia in Palma del Río.

They have taken up the slogan ¡La tierra para el que la trabaja!, a call to arms dating back to the days before the Civil War, and which translates as "The land for those who work it." These day laborers have taken their inspiration from the village of Marinaleda, in the neighboring province of Seville, where the mayor of 33 years' standing, Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo, decided back in the late 1970s to occupy unused land and work it. More than three decades later, the community is one of the few in the area with full employment. Gordillo has backed Lola Álvarez and her colleagues, as has the ombudsman of Andalusia, José Chamizo, who has visited Palma del Río in support of their initiative.

They decided to occupy the land at Somontes on March 4, the day that it was due to be auctioned. This was the third time since June 21, 2011 that the regional government of Andalusia had tried selling the land, at a starting price of 1.5 million euros. There were no bidders at that price, and fearing that the land would be sold privately, the SAT decided to occupy it.

"It will be easier for the government to sell it now, because they can negotiate the price," says Álvarez. If the government does manage to sell Somontes, it won't be the first time that it has been in private hands.

This strip of land which has been used to grow oats, barley, beans, and sunflowers was the property of the Marquis of Montesión until 1991, when it was bought by the now-defunct Andalusian Institute for Agrarian Reform following laws passed in the mid-1980s aimed at increasing agricultural output and with it employment. The land was used for non-irrigated crops, which meant that over the course of three months, three laborers could manage the land.

With funding cut by the central government, the regional government of Andalusia has decided to sell the land. Hoping to raise some 75 million euros from 15,000 hectares, it has so far only managed to to generate 10.6 million euros.

The day laborers at Somontes have taken their case to court, where they hope to demonstrate that they are putting the land to good use by irrigating it. "At least we making something of the soil, because this land has just been lying here for the last few years without being worked," says Javier Ballestero Osuna, one of the men occupying Somontes.

"I never went to school. All I know how to do is work the land, so tell me what I'm supposed to do if I can't find work."

The day starts at 7am. Lola and her husband are staying in farm buildings, as is another family that was made homeless last year. Over a cup of coffee, they plan out each day in the kitchen. For the last week they have been fixing the irrigation system ahead of planting peppers. So far they have grown water melon, cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce. They say that this is just the start, and they say that they soon hope to start selling their produce.

The regional government evicted the laborers on April 19. But the next day they were back to occupy Somontes for a second time. Since then they have stood firm. In June some were called to testify in the local court, accused of disobeying a public order. They gave testimony, and then returned to the farm.

The 15-M nationwide grassroots protest movement has also thrown its weight behind the day laborers of Somontes. Although the 15-M is largely based in Spain's cities, working at neighborhood level, it is increasingly finding that rural communities are more receptive to its share-and-share-alike philosophy. Lola traveled to Madrid last month to take part in a number of popular assemblies, meetings where everybody gets a chance to speak. Now the group at Somontes has decided to call its own assembly meeting for next weekend, and more land-squatting actions are likely to follow.

In Somontes, Lola and her colleagues are still unsure how things will turn out, but all agree on the principle that as long as there is land unworked, and people without work, the only thing to do is occupy the land and work it.

fingers malone
Aug 25 2012 11:23

Ten families have squatted an empty apartment block in Torremolinos, Malaga, which was empty and abandoned. They say they cleaned out 200 black bags of rubbish before moving in. The building has no electricity or water and they have to bring in water in bottles. They are going to set up a generator to have one fridge between every two families.

http://www.diariosur.es/videos/actualidad/sociedad/1802921952001-diez-familias-okupas-estrenan-bloque-pisos-torremolinos.html

[edit] this happened in July but someone sent it to me today for some reason so I thought it had just happened. I'll try and find out if they are still there.

fingers malone
Aug 30 2012 19:39

And another one.
Five families, evicted from their homes, have squatted flats in Calle Feria, Seville, supported by Corrala la Utopia and other social movements. The building is currently owned by a bank and the flats were all lying empty for some time.

fingers malone
Aug 30 2012 19:43

The families demanded a new law which would mean that empty flats owned by property companies and banks would be given to homeless families at a rent not more than 25% of their income.

fingers malone
Aug 31 2012 07:25