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For the right of housing: Spanish activism in the EU elections

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THE SPANISH PLATFORM of Citizens Affected by Mortgages (PAH) claims to demonstrate peacefully during the European elections to present their new campaign that asks for solutions to the dramatic housing crisis.

They launched a new campaign based on the basic right to housing within the context of the European elections, this was with the aim of forcing those in power to guarantee what they believe is a global basic right. In this way, the Platform brings into question whether politicians in Europe give more priority to the interests of banks than to the interest of people.

By criticizing the “abusive mortgage law” in Spain, that has left evicted families with huge life-long debts, they presented three important citizen initiatives, which according to surveys, 90% of the Spanish population support. These are: a moratorium on evictions; the cancellation of mortgage debt upon handover of the property to the bank and the creation of public rent housing with empty homes owned by banks.

Nevertheless, the Spanish government – represented by the Popular Party — ignored all the efforts and overwhelming popular support of the initiatives and have rejected the PAH’s demands. This, according to the PAH, is a response to financial pressures and not to citizens’ needs — “a sign that our democracy is de facto hijacked by the influence of economic interests”.

In this campaign, the PAH wants to warn people that “voting for the People’s Party means voting against the three demands of the PAH, and against citizens’ demands”, since the Popular Party is a member of the European People’s Party (EPP).

The PAH, largest social movement in Spain, is part of the ‘European Action Coalition for Housing Rights and the City’ network that are fighting since 2009 for “a more democratic and social transformation of European structures and urban development based on the rights of citizens”.

They have achieved great progress in the attempt to solve the dramatic situation that the aftermath of the housing bubble has left in many Spanish families. They have already stopped around a thousand evictions and provided housing to more than a thousand people through a campaign called ‘Obra Social’.

Furthermore, since the start of the crisis, there have been 500,000 foreclosures and 184 evictions per day in Spain. The situation of hundreds of thousands of families is critical and many lives are at stake.

Obra Social Madrid took a block of apartments last 11th May (the third one since the last month) for homeless families.

Words: Ana Escaso Moreno

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