By Alejandra Ramírez
While the crisis in Argentina is generating headlines, a far more tangible crisis is gripping Spain.
More than 200,000 people have left homes in the country over the past 10 years, according to data from the country’s National Institute of Statistics and Informatics.
And thousands more face eviction.
As home ownership falls, evictions from private homes are soaring.
Last year, roughly 103,500 people lost their homes in the country, a nearly 4% increase over the year before. The total number of evictions is now close to 650,000, and that’s without factoring in the latest wave of evictions spurred by last month’s economic bailout deal for Catalonia.
Faced with all of these problems, thousands of Spaniards have taken up the battle on their own.
In a letter that was sent to the Spanish premier and printed in Saturday’s issue of El País, the country’s most widely read newspaper, about 27,000 people have signed a petition calling for the reversal of several legal rulings that have allowed banks to evict families that can’t pay their mortgages.
The landlords have issued evictions to as many as 190,000 of the roughly 700,000 families who live on rented homes in Spain, according to figures from the Andalusian Landlords’ Association.
The author of the letter, Alfonso Marín, said he made the case to the prime minister because he believes the eviction order from Bankia of Madrid was applied unjustly. Bankia went bankrupt last year and was bailed out by the Spanish government.
“We are facing a massive war in Spain, and the war isn’t only against landlords. It’s against all of Spain,” Marín said.
“We are facing a grave injustice and a national shame.”
Bankia declined to comment on the matter.
As in Argentina, opponents of eviction claim the way this crisis was played out was unfair.
“I can’t understand how the doors to even own a house in Spain has been taken away from us with people like Bankia,” Carmen Marzucci, co-founder of the advocacy group Commitment to Homes (in Spanish, Commitment de Decibel), said.
Mariucci, who has been fighting to stop evictions in her own neighborhood, claimed that “they just booted us out without explanation or anything. We don’t have any reasons for this. I have paid my mortgage payment since I got this house.”
*Continuing coverage from CNN
The petition can be found here.
If you want to spread the word, you can also add your signature.