Hello from Barcelona,
this is the weekly newsletter that will inform you about the activities of 15M movement in Barcelona, Catalonia and occasionally the main events in Spain. If you do not wish to receive it anymore, please say so.
1. The PAH challenges banksters and evictions
2. Barcelona’s 15M neighbourhood assemblies plan 2013’s battles
3. Community Manager workshop on tour: Vallès Occidental
1. THE PAH CHALLENGES BANKSTERS AND EVICTIONS
After two days of silent occupation, on January 5th the PAH (Platform of those affected by the mortgage, see NL#19, 4 ) made it public: They had occupied a 4-story building inCerdanyola del Vallès (a town 20km from Barcelona). It was the typical case of land especulation: the block had been built three years ago, the initial price was impossible to afford and the apartments were never used. So now it is finally usefull, occupied to hand it over to four families who had been recently evicted from their homes.
But the news didn’t end here: another branch of the PAH had just occupied another empty block of apartaments in Sant Vicenç dels Horts to hand over to six local families without income. All in all, the PAH has occupied during 2012 six blocks of flats for social use in the Vallés Occidental area. And they are planning to look for more empty buildings belonging to banks.
“For each eviction, a new occupation” is one of the most famous slogans used to protest against the evictions and for the housing rights. “Homes without people and people without homes” is also a common chant. Yet it isn’t just a slogan: each day, all around Spain, houses are being occupied by the PAH or with its support.
One of the first and most famous cases of social occupation was the building known as edifici15o, taken over by 15M activists after the global demo on October 15th 2011. Over 2,000 people went in a column as the demo branched out into 3 action-directed groups, and they claimed this unused block of flats, empty since its construction 6 years before, to house 11 evicted families and to use as a social center the parking lots and ground floor equipments. A group of activists teamed up to support the occupation and run the social part of the building, including the neighbourhood assembly, several 15M commissions, the PAH and other activists fighting for housing rights. A year and a half after, it is still resisting, after a first month full of police visits, and even winning its first courtcase. Now there are regular workshops (mend your own bike every Thursday, graffiti and design on Tuesdays…) besides debates and videos of documentaries in the social area, political-based street parties (NL#17, 3 ) and other forms of supporting social change. Meanwhile, the flats are still used by families who can’t afford a home of their own.
On January 10th, members of all the local sections of the PAH in Catalonia got together for #UltimatumCX : a concentration to give CatalunyaBank an ultimatum. 300 people met in front of the bank’s main office in Barcelona, blocking the bank’s entrance and pasting images of people in danger of eviction. The Platform wanted CatalunyaBank to accomplish the assignments in payment and the social renting of homes already agreed with more than 300 families, thanks to the PAH’s mediation during eviction processes. The bank promises to carry out the commitment, but time is passing and obviously for the platform a promise made by a financial entity is not a guarantee, so they are not giving up protests until the bank gives true solutions, not only words.
On January 12th the Platform held in Barcelona their 7th National Meeting to coordinate local and national actions in order to force the Congress and the Government into accepting their ILP (Popular Legislative Initiative to modify the Spanish mortgage law). The next big appointment with La PAH is on February 16th: there is a call for a national mobilization to demand the end of evictions in Spain, asking for a change of the mortgage law in Spain and to defend the universal right to have a decent housing.
So far, since its creation in Feburary 2009, @LA_PAH has stopped 522 evictions and has managed to mediate between banks and families in many occasions to agree on more social solutions. Yet evictions in Spain are a huge plague: 500 homes are taken over by banks or state agencies every single day. They have started recovering buildings from banksters by occupying them and handing them over to evicted families. They have also been campaigning for a definitive change in Spanish laws: With more than 1.000.000 signatures collected on official forms during the whole of 2012, the ILP (NL#12, 2 ) expresses the people’s voice: demanding the end of evictions, regulating the assignment in payment as a common practice and establishing social rent. Now it’s the Government’s turn to speak up, as La PAH has stuck to the legal system to ask for the people’s signatures, all around Spain, in person, on official forms, and they have doubled the minimum number of signatures needed to present their petition to the Congress.
Proof of the great work the Platform is doing and the huge support it has by Spanish citizens is the continuous nomination of La PAH or Ada Colau -their spokesperson and most well known member- to prizes for their social support to people in need. The latest prizes received are the National Prize for Human Rights granted on January 16th by the Spanish Association for Human Rights or the Prize to the Best Humanitarian Iniciative granted to LA PAH in May 2012 by the Catalan Public Television, TV·… where many people complained as the whole ceremony of the awards was broadcasted live except for Ada Colau’s speech!
People need homes to live in. Spain is full of empty apartments due to the recession. If the Spanish Government keeps ignoring people, La PAH might decide to ignore the Government.
- Map of evictions in Spain from 2010 to mid-2012
- Spain: If you really want to solve the evictions, listen to @La_PAH [EN]
- The Mortgage Holders Platform: Resisting the financialization of housing (Part 1 , 2 , and 3 [EN]
- The PAH plans an action to increase their pressure on the Government [SP]
- Eat and sign: popular “paella” against evictions (about the ILP) NL#12, 2 [EN]
Videos & pics
- Cerdanyola building occupation [SP]
- PAH documentary [SP]
- Interview about the ILP by @okokistme [EN]
- #PAHcontraCX photogallery by @fotomovimiento
- #EncuentroPAH photogallery by @fotomovimiento
- Building taken over after a global demo: Edifici15o
- Streaming of the PAH’s 7th National Meeting by @paullonch and several other ones at http://bambuser.com/channel/pau+llonch
- Accounts: @15Mcerdanyola @PAHcerdanyola @LA_PAH @Repensar_cdv
- HT: #ocuPAHcdv #EdificioLiberadoSVH #PAHcontraCX #UltimatumCX #16F and #EncuentroPAH (for the PAH’s 7th National meeting)
2. BARCELONA’S 15M NEIGHBOURHOOD ASSEMBLIES PLAN 2013’S BATTLES
Before 2012 finished, neighbourhood assemblies from 15 districts in Barcelona got together to plan lines of common strategies.
A dynamization group collected proposals on action, organization or eventswith which an agenda was developed with suggestions and methodology. 12 proposals were finally presented and each neighbourhood assembly chose where to participate.
For hours 6 work groups were debating the projects in order to be presented at the plenary meeting. Once ready, the groups described the ideas they had been discussing. From all the chosen topics, two lines of work evolved: A short term and a long term one.
In the short term it was decided to support the health workers’ fight against privatization. The assemblies remembered that several hospitals are still occupied in Catalunya (NL #35,1 ). Every day there are activities carried out to demand the end of Health privatization.
In the long term it was decided to support the battle against the banks. In fact, housing evictions is one of the hardest problems to fight: fraud in political parties, public and private companies and banks are daily news together with the huge budget cuts in the welfare state, and many of these problems exist because the Spanish state has been converting private debt into public debt refunded by citizens’ taxes. Unfortunately, the government responds only to the banks’ requirements.
The meeting ended with the proposal for scheduling the next steps. The two groups created for these two main lines will file a schedule of further actions to develop which will be presented in their next big meeting. The 15M neighbourhood assemblies are working locally yet thinking globally. Only united we can win.
@ECoordinacio HT of the meeting: #reflexiobarris
3. COMMUNITY MANAGER WORKSHOP ON TOUR: VALLÈS OCCIDENTAL
At the end of 2012, in December, the first radical CM workshop in the Vallès area took place in Terrassa, broadcasted live and commented online through the HT #TallerComValles
The “Coordinadora del Vallès Occidental” (West Vallès Coordinating Committee) organized it at the Ateneu Candela, where around 30 people from the Vallès area learnt the basics on 2.0 tools during the whole day.
The Ateneu is a really cozy squat in Terrasa (40 km from Barcelona) that presents itself as “a public square for precarious people and migrants, against any kind of borders”, and “a point of reference where to meet so as to achieve new social rights, promoting and sharing free culture”. The Ateneu has a bookshop and a bar inside, a space for small conferences and a stage. Their calendar is very rich with book presentations, debates and workshops.
It was a very intensive workshop, taking up the whole day from 10 am to 10pm. During the morning several activists went through the most important tools for working together online, to communicate and organize events despite the distance. Some of these were group Pads, mailing lists, google calendar and mumble
Just before the lunch break it was time for twitter and its related tools such as topsy, twitterfall and trendsmap.
During the afternoon some hours were dedicated to present the Peoplewitness project and its tools: bambuser, xplit and livestream.
The day was closed with a short conference on strategies.
More workshops will be organized to go into specific tools in depth, but this intensive workshop aimed at giving a general panorama and making people realize that anyone can teach how to use the tools they know and use better.
15M activists have a long battle ahead to end capitalism, so they’d better be prepared to be their own media!
- Ateneu Candela website [SP]
- Coordinadora del Vallés Occidental blog [CAT]
- The Workshop [SP, CAT]
- Previous NL articles on the Vallès Occidental
- Vallès Occidental: a 9-day march to Pl. Catalunya’s 12M mobilization NL #11, 2 [EN]
- The Vallès speaks out NL #18, 3 [EN]
- A solidary concert to pay for unfair fines to activists NL#31,3 [EN]
Streaming by peoplewitness in 4 sessions:
- Accounts: @coordvallesocc @ateneucandela
- HT: #tallercomvalles