El patio maravillas: Struggles for an urban commons

Amongst this population, men, women, animals, age, sex, health, sickness, all seemed communal; everything fitted together, was merged, mingled and superimposed; everyone was a part of everything.

Victor Hugo, Notre-Dame de Paris

The struggle of okupations in the city is part of the  war against the appropriation and accumulation that are at the very heart of capitalism.  On the 11th of June, one of Madrid’s most emblematic and active okupied social centres was evicted by order of local city authorities, El Patio Maravillas.  Only one response to such state actions is fitting: okupation!  At the end of the same day, the Patio collective okupied a public building that had been sold to a private real estate company a year before, but which has remained unused. (12/06/2015: Tercera Informacion, Periodico Diagonal)  The “court of miracles” will thereby continue …

In solidarity with the Patio, we publish below, in translation, the collective’s communique after the eviction and okupation:

This morning the National Police evicted our headquarters of 21 Pez Street over which hung an an eviction order for more than three months. It was assumed that the order was because the Patio was in danger of ruin and it was urgent to evict. That urgency came three months later and just three days before the government that for 4 four years had responsibility to address the situation of the Patio Maravillas with regards to its functions. It has not started any work inside the building after the eviction, and has simply walled the building. If the risk of ruin was real was, the building could have collapsed, but obviously there was no such risk. The eviction was absolutely peaceful.

Why were evicted today? Media relate it to the investiture of the new municipal government. Maybe so. Though perhaps there is something more in this than the simple blindness and hatred of those who see themselves lose power while El Patio, small but proud, continue. As we have always said, no matter who governs in the city and who is in the opposition our demand has been clear for years. The municipality needs to recognize the importance of initiatives such as the Patio Maravillas and open a dialogue with the aim of stabilising them, to get them out of insecurity, etc. And while it does not, the Patio will continue to occupy buildings.

The city of Madrid can not afford a single day without the Patio Maravillas: the Office of the Precarious can not stop giving advice, the thousands of workshops, lectures, screenings, debates, meetings, etc; what in the Patio is done cannot simply disappear. Juventud Sin Futuro has to be able to meet and work. Cooperative networks have to have their infrastructure. The Patio choir must be able to sing. The salsa and tango milonga have to keep dancing. Yoga classes have to follow along with the English workshops, stories, etc. Real Democracy Now Madrid must continue to meet, etc, etc, etc. The Patio is not a resource that Madrid dispense with. For this reason we have decided to continue with our project and we maintain our project of moving on to another occupation.

We have recovered a building on 9 Divino Pastor Street because it was a sold public building, like many others, to a construction company that has kept it absolutely empty for more than a year. We hold these situations in the city of Madrid to be the responsability of the city government and we announce that we want to begin talks with the current institutions to ensure the necessary stability of the project as we begin a phase of dialogue with the political groups making up the New Town Hall of Madrid. Also we initiate contacts with other areas of the city for the development of a common statute of social spaces and have the necessary national endorsement.

We do not want to follow into invisibility. We do not want to be evicted again and again. We do not intend to dedicate our lives to the eternal return of police and media. We like projects that grow and become stronger over the years. We have nothing to be ashamed of and no one to ask for forgiveness or permission. We are backed by seven years of jobs, thousands of supporters of all kinds and especially, we endorse the support of tens of thousands of people who at this time made the Patio theirs.

There is no more hope than that which we build every day.
We defend the joy of knowing that we have been involved in some things that happened in our city that made it more dignified and freer.
We uphold the determination to know that we will not go.


From From Periodico Diagonal … 

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