Recuperation as eviction, resistance as occupation

“Spain shows again that it has regained the confidence of the markets.” (Le Monde 04/05/2014)  The interest rate on the spanish debt, at ten years, has dropped below 3%, Madrid’s stock market registers an increase in value of 25.58% over the last year, dividends to shareholders of Spanish companies have expanded, and the ratings agencies look favourably once again on the future of the Spanish economy.  Growth is predicted anew and the country’s government speaks repeatedly of “recuperation”.

The refrain is repeated in Greece, Portugal, and Ireland, the supposedly weakest points in Europe’s “sovereign debt crisis”.

The populations of these countries have presumably then the right to breadth easy once again.

Yet the obscenity of this triumphalism in all of the countries concerned is without shame.

To take but spain as the example, unemployment remains at over 25%, with almost 200,000 jobs lost just in the first trimester of this year.  If the statistics show a negligible decline in the unemployment rate, a great deal of that has to do with the ever growing numbers of those who have abandoned all hope of finding work, or those who have chosen to leave the country altogether.  And for those who do work, the conditions of labour have deteriorated in parallel: ever more short term contracts, the growth of part time employment, the lowering of salaries, the reduction of benefits, and the obligation to work more years for pension entitlement.

Yes, one may speak of recuperation.  Sixty CEOs of companies quoted on Madrid’s stock market earned over one million Euros last year; ten earned more than 2 million, six earned 3, seven 4, three 5, two 6, and one was able to garner 7 million.  The average salary in spain does not exceed 25,000 Euros annually.  And since 2008, that average has dropped by 17%.  According to the IMF, spain is the country of the EU where the differences between rich and poor have increased the most.

The refrain of “recuperation” would be merely farcical were it not for the authoritarianism and the violence that have made it possible.

What the “markets” above all celebrate is the sack of “public” wealth under privatisation schemes, the dismantling of the welfare state, the pacification of the working classes and the indebted, in sum, the defence of private property.

In spain, this defence is played out daily in the eviction of people from their homes, as millions of houses sit empty, the property of banks and public housing is sold off to vulture funds seeking to collect on spain’s debt.  What may first appears to be excessive (the deployment of dozens of fully armed riot police to evict an elderly and sick widower, or a mother and her young daughter), is in fact a line of battle over what can be bought and sold, against freedom; and thus the resistance of so many.

On the 3rd of March, in Madrid, 50 riot police carried out the eviction order against 53 year old Andrés González.  Earlier attempts at eviction (there were three) had been averted by protests from neighbours, and PAH and other activists.  The police on this occasion arrived early … (Periodismo Humano 27/04/2014)

A few days later, another eviction in Madrid, this time of 51 year old Verónica Carro and her 14 year old daughter.  Here the resistance was organised, with seven activists having to be attended in hospital … (Periodismo Humano 01/05/2014)

And as the evictions follow, the occupations also continue.  On the 26th of April, The Obra Social of the Madrid Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca and La Asamblea Centro de Vivienda occupied a building in the Malasaña neighbourhood to house a group of women, five mothers, two grandmothers, and eight children.  The La Leona is born, a sixth occupation to add to the five already carried out in the city by different neighbourhood assemblies.

 

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