Barcelona housing protest pits squatters against big business
UPDATE: Check out the great photos of the protests that our members have been sending in.
I'm from Vancouver, Canada, and we Vancouverites tend to think locally. Sometimes that's a great asset to us (supporting the arts, shopping). Sometimes it's a bit of a narrow view. For example: Many believe the housing crisis is a problem unique to the Lower Mainland; it's not. This weekend a large-scale protest in several cities highlighted Spain's problem with affordable housing, as well.
In the western Barcelona region of Vallarca, a series of buildings filled with squatters is set to be torn down over the next few months so the company that owns them--Nunez and Navarro--can rebuild office space in their place. Replace "office space" with "condo." Sound familiar?
Barcelona residents were out in full force to protest the tear down. Should the buildings be torn down, 300 occupied squats will have to be vacated. I'm guessing the okupa (occupiers) who live in them are not going to go quietly.
At 24, Kira has had her fair share of community metropole experiences - she lived in a squat in Berlin too. This evening, she welcomes me to her home, inviting me for coffee. I use my mobile phone to light my way up the dark, enclosed main entrance to reach her on the second floor, tackling a dodgy staircase on the way. The building is small, sparsely furnished and is heated with an electric heater – despite the fact that Kira pays neither rent nor for utilities.
‘I support myself with a part time job of 400 Euros a month,’ explains the young Spaniard. ‘I don't want to spend 80% of that on rent. In Barcelona, squatting empty spaces is the only way of having a roof over your head,’ explains Kira. ‘If that wasn’t enough, lately we’ve been targeted, undermined by those who want to cause disruption, who send the 'bogeyman of safety'.’