Sun Apr 14, 2013, 05:38 PM
BelgianMadCow (5,346 posts)
The evictions drama in Spain and the powerful counters of the PAH-movement (aka protesting "nazis")
I’d like to share with you all some information about the insurgency in Spain, where the crisis has hit very hard, and which has been a poster child for austerity under its conservative government. Those of you aware of the situation at large may skip to the part about PAH, as I think especially that very succesful social movement has been underreported.
In Spain, there was a real estate bubble of staggering proportions, spurred on by rock-bottom interest rates and dubious lending practices. Since the outbreak of the crisis, and the resulting big increase in unemployment (with youth uneployment over 50%, and the overall rate at 27%) and salary cuts, 350.000 families have been evicted from their homes.
Let that number sink in for a minute.
You need to know that spanish law regarding mortgages is somewhat of a special case: being late one month enables the bank to start a high-speed foreclosure process, and even when you, as a borrower, can prove that there was wrongdoing (like illegal clauses in the contract), the process will not be interrupted. Even more astonishing, when the bank forecloses on you and they take possession of your house, you can still be forced to pay back the loan (like, for example the part that your house that was “underwater”, but also in full).
It’s no wonder , then, that the European Court of Human Rights has struck said spanish mortgage law down a month ago.
That’s how the borrowers in Spain fared. As to the lenders? The banks have gotten a 40 billion bailout last year, from the Eurozone taxpayers via the ESM. The Spanish people will have to pay back that loan, and are of course forced upon the classical neoliberal recipe administered by the “troika” of IMF, ECB and European commission, the recipe of deregularisation (of the labour market), privatization and cuts to the welfare system. There have been massive national strikes against the first, the “white sea” against the planned privatization of 17 hospitals, and a three day walkout by teachers, students and parents against cuts in education. And that is for example…
In comes the Plataforma de Afectados por la hipoteca , or PAH – the platform for those affected by foreclosures. Grown out of the 15-M or Indignados movement, they have managed to halt 692 evictions up until now. When they and 15-M jointly call for street protest such as the “white sea” or the “sea of citizens”, hundreds of thousands have responded in cities all over Spain, repeatedly.
Even more impressive, the PAH has put forward a so-called popular legislative initiative, a proposal of law sponsored by the people directly. It needed half a million signatures, but got 1,5 million.
In the ILP, they propose to retroactively halt all eviction procedures, to allow people who couldn’t keep up the mortgage payments to simply hand over the keys and walk away (called dacion en pago, or “payment in kind”), and to allow people to keep on living in their house at a social housing rent. Note that social housing in Spain is virtually nonexistent, whereas in the EU the average is 15 % of properties for rent.
Now, the ruling Partido Popular, rather than voting on the ILP, has come up with a (counter)proposal for “mortgage relief”, which waters down the demands about eviction stops and dacion en pago, and has totally thrown out social housing. Note that the PP was elected on a platform of “no cuts”…
The PAH has now taken to a tactic which was born in Argentina as a method to point out those colluding with the dictatorship – the escrache , in which protesters name and shame politicians blocking the ILP, by peacefully protesting at their residence or in public places.
The PAH has also just recently occupied a bank building that had been sitting empty for four years, since its construction. The bank had also been getting public money, so they figured (rightly imho) that they could squat on this property, and plan to extend this principle to other similar buildings.
And what has the been the government’s reply to PAH? They have tried to compare the movement to the bombthrowers of ETA (which was soundly rejected by one of its leaders), they have given the politicians police protection and now require the protesters to stay at 300 m of the politicians. Protesters also face fines of up to 6000 euro.
And to top it all, the leader of the PP, in a roundtable this weekend, has said these protests are “pure nazism”.
I think the revolution in the west will start in Spain. In any case, things seem to be on a collision course. My heart goes out to all those unjustly affected, and more power to them in their struggle against what I would call a fascist government – defining fascism as the merging of state and corporations (in this case, banks).
El pueblo, unido, jamas sera vençido!
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Replies to this discussion thread
The evictions drama in Spain and the powerful counters of the PAH-movement (aka protesting "nazis") (Original post)
Response to BelgianMadCow (Original post)
Wed May 1, 2013, 08:30 PM
G_j (37,836 posts)
1. Wow, gotta respect these folks, smart
and persistent. There is no doubt a lot to learn from their model. The American Occupy movement's involvement in the foreclosure issue has been a smart
and positive evolution.
Response to G_j (Reply #1)
Wed May 1, 2013, 09:16 PM
BelgianMadCow (5,346 posts)
2. Yes, the social movements in Spain are a force to behold AND a force for good
There have been confrontations with police, but in comparison to the protests' size, very very limited.
The PAH now even have judges on their side, a report came out of how judges were trying to work out a strategy to DO delay evictions in the absence of a changed law.
There are also policemen and for example locksmiths that are refusing to cooperate.
I have a half decent excuse to go there and witness the grassroots, with a nephew there (who ran a construction company and now relies on his mom for financial support, having gone broke). I think I'll go and do a report or something.
The other bit I like about the Occupy movement in the US is OccupyTheSec, with lawsuits against the too slow impleme,ntation of Dodd-Frank. That's a point where the Indignados are not visible, or at least not that I know of.
Thanks for your reply, the kick and the rec!