. Angry, broke and Homeless | London Progressive Journal
A non-partisan journal of the left.

Angry, broke and Homeless

Sat 29th Oct 2011

In May Spain held its elections for the town councils and some regional governments. On that occasion, the agenda was hijacked by the 15-M movement, Los Indignados, who campaigned for a return of true democracy and an end to political corruption. They camped out in the nation’s plazas and the people, young and old, marched with them. They were the forerunners of the protestors camping on the streets of New York and London now.

The Los Indignados have not gone away, far from it. However there is now a new mass protest movement on the streets. This involves those who have lost their homes after they were reposed by the banks – but although homeless they still face massive debts to the mortgage companies.

They held their first nationwide demonstrations on the day before the socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero dissolved parliament and Spain’s general election campaign got underway. This new angry protest movement will accompany all the parties all along the way. Their plight is the nation’s plight.

Demonstrations are being held nationwide to demand a change to the laws that govern homes being repossessed. The numbers being forced onto the streets has gathered pace because of the economic crisis and the protestors are defending the constitutional right of people to live in a home in dignity.

The action is being co-ordinated by the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca. They also have the support of the 15-M democracy movement. Their objective is a reform of the unjust mortgage law because it places in debt for life all the families that have had their homes repossessed. The law over-protects the banks and other financial entities to the detriment of the families that lose their jobs then homes because of the economic crisis.

One of the angry protestors has been 47-year-old Juan Coperías who lost his business and home, a rural hotel in Ciudad Real when he found himself in debt to over a million euros in just a few years. The bank auctioned the property for 300,000 euros and is demanding he pay them a further 400,000 euros. A despondent Juan said even if he had three lives he could not repay that huge sum.

However the majority of the cases involve homes in the 100,000 to 200,000 euros bracket. As the family cannot pay the mortgage they are forced out on to the street. The property is then auctioned at a knock down price usually to the predators waiting to pick up such bargains leaving the previous owners still owing the difference between the sale price, their mortgage plus costs.

The protestors are not alone. A recent statement was issued by the progressive judge’s association, Jueces para la Democracia, which denounced the existing law in favour of the banks. This legal group is demanding a new law that limits the ability of the financial institutions to place those who lose their homes in major debt. It wants the regulation of the handing down of huge debts on families and small businesses. The association added it was very worried by the steady growth in those made homeless because they cannot fund their mortgages.

The Spanish tragedy is that things are not going to get better – they are going to get worse. The financial crisis still has a long way to run and the jobless level, standing at over 20 per cent, could well rise. When Spaniards go to the polls on November 20 it is likely they will return a centre-right Partido Popular government. This is bad news for Los Indignados and the dispossessed. The PP, the heirs of Franco, will cut harder than the Socialists. They are no friends of democracy; they are mired in corruption and will always favour the banks over the homeless.
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