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Evictions Lead to Suicides and Despair in Spain

Evictions Lead to Suicides and Despair in Spain

At least two people in Spain have killed themselves as bailiffs appeared outside their doors to evict them for failing to pay their mortgages. In a suburb of Bilbao, an unnamed 53-year-old woman who had worked at a bus depot and whose husband was a former town councillor, jumped from a fourth floor balcony. 53-year-old Jose Miguel Domingo hanged himself in the city of Granada on October 25.

Under Spain’s mortgage laws, those who are unable to make their agreed mortgage payments face not only eviction but must also pay what is left on the mortgage, plus penalty interest charges and thousands of dollars in court fees, even after declaring bankruptcy. More than 280,000 people have been caught in what the Independent calls this “trap” since the 2008 property crash. Some 500 Spaniards are evicted every day, says the government.

Outraged at the suicides, Spaniards are demanding a reform of the country’s foreclosure legislation, whichis†weighted in favor of the banks. The terrible human toll of repossessions has finally gotten prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s government to set up a task force. Indeed, this month, European Court of Justice’s advocate general, Juliane Kokott, said that Spanish legal rules regarding eviction are “incompatible with European norms.”

Banks came under fire during a day of coordinated strikes and protests throughout the euro zone on Wednesday. Massive amounts of bad loans made by banks have meant that the Spanish government had to request a bailout from the European Union last June; the terms of the bailout have required Madrid to make even more budget cuts to public services, jobs and pensions.

Spain and Portugal saw general strikes in which protesters clashed, sometimes violently, with police. 142 were†arrested and 74 people (including a number of police officers) injured. Hundreds of fights were cancelled, public transportation was shut down in a number of countries and production at some factories ground to a halt.†Government officials in Spain downplayed the strikes and demonstrations, stating that the country had no other choice to curb a 25 percent unemployment rate and an economy that is not only in recession, but predicted not to grow until 2014.

But the day after what organizers called a†historic day of coordinated actions in which millions participated, figures show that the European economy has contracted for a second quarter and is again in a recession. Economists are saying that the double-dip recession is “entirely self-made,” the result of the harsh austerity polices governments in Spain, Ireland, Portugal and Greece have implemented in successive rounds. Noting that Germany’s economy has still grown, Paul de Grauwe, a professor at the London School of Economics, says in the BBC:

This divide, even hostility, between countries is stronger than I have seen in the last 20 years. The degree of austerity has now put so many people in terrible conditions that they reject all of this. That’s a very dangerous situation.

De Grauwe’s words ring too truly when applied to the situation in Spain. The evictions have also led to a wave of homelessness. With no options, many people are taking over vacant properties or even returning to their old homes. As 67-year-old, Ana Lůpez Corral, who slept in the entrance hall of her building the first night after being evicted, tells the New York Times: ďIt was the worst thing ever. You canít imagine what it felt like to be there in that hall. Itís a story you canít really tell because it is not the same as living it.Ē

Related Care2 Coverage

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67 comments

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4:51PM PST on Nov 22, 2012

The same thing occurs everywhere. So why all this about Spain?

3:22AM PST on Nov 22, 2012

It's a very sad story and the situation is simmilar in Greece and Portugal.

3:04AM PST on Nov 22, 2012

Thank you what a great article.

9:47PM PST on Nov 21, 2012

This really made me sad reading this article. Is there nothing that can be done?

9:14AM PST on Nov 21, 2012

Elaine A., I can tell you are a flag waving American and in a way that is good BUT you like so many others turn a blind eye to the crimes of our country. In FACT there have been a number of GREAT countries hurt because of the actions of American Corporations. So most likely the men meant it when they said they thought Spain was a great place to live.

Might want to open your eyes to the toxic dumps YOUR country created BEFORE you talk about others. American Bankers caused a large number of the other countries bankruptcies, look into interest swaps and how they made the bankers rich and EVERYONE else POOR.

3:44AM PST on Nov 21, 2012

And so the banks are protected at the additional cost to those evicted?

These are not Spain's problems - these are the problems of vulture capitalism rending the very lives of Spain's people away from them in pursuit of corporate/bankster profits!

10:02PM PST on Nov 20, 2012

thank-you.

7:55PM PST on Nov 20, 2012

This is only the beginning.

7:53PM PST on Nov 20, 2012

So sad. I hope the government can change the laws to be more equitable. All over the world people are suffering because banks gambled and then populations panicked. We all have the right to shelter. People who have lived in a home for years, paying a mortgage, maintenance and tending for it cannot be kicked out and expected to continue paying for the house and legal costs when it is not due to their incompetence but is a situation created and shared by whole nations.

6:17PM PST on Nov 20, 2012

Greedy rich people own and run the world and will ruin the whole planet before it's over if we don't all stand together and support each other in our respective needs. I believe if everyone on the entire planet had plenty of food, decent shelter, access to healthcare, and respect for each other, as well as all living things, life would be good for us all. That is my wish for the world.





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