Riot police intervened Wednesday for the first time since Spain’s “indignant” activists began blocking home foreclosures, to allow bailiffs to evict a woman from her apartment for failing to pay the mortgage.
About 100 activists gathered outside the Madrid apartment building of Maria Jose del Coto Maeso, 53, to prevent the bailiffs from serving her with an eviction notice.
A first attempt to evict the woman from the apartment she shared with her disabled son and unemployed daughter failed on July 6 when some 200 activists gathered at the entrance to the building in the working class neighbourhood.
This time around dozens of police dispersed the activists “without incident”, a police spokesman said, and the eviction finally went ahead.
“I have never seen anything like it in my life. The amount of means employed was disproportionate. It was like a war zone,” Maeso’s daughter, who is also named Maria Jose, told AFP.
She believes force was used “to teach a lesson” to Spain’s “indignant” movement, which emerged after protesters set up camp in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square in May to demonstrate over the weak economy.
“They have taken my home but I still have my brain and my intelligence.”
A group that works to stop repossessions has been active mainly in Barcelona since 2009 but the “indignant” movement has provided an army of activists ready to help across the country.
This is the first time since the start of the “indignant” movement that police have been used to allow a foreclosure to go ahead.
The family’s lawyer, Rafael Mayoral, called the police deployment “disproportionate”.
“Today you have to ask why it is so urgent to throw a family out on the street and give an empty apartment to banks,” he added.
The number of house repossessions has swelled in Spain since the collapse of a property bubble in 2008, which caused the jobless rate to soar to 21.29 percent in the first quarter of this year, the highest rate in Europe.
Spanish courts carried out a record 93,622 foreclosure last year, nearly four times the amount in 2007, according to the body which oversees Spain’s judiciary, the CGPJ.