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6 Sep, 2011 06:56

Outraged Spaniards fight for roofs over heads

Spanish authorities are gearing towards setting a constitutional cap on budget deficits. With unions expecting the move to further hit social welfare in the country, some people are taking to the streets to fight for their basic right: housing.

Just a day after an RT crew visited Mari Carmen at her house, she, along with her 14-year-old son, was evicted from the subsidized flat she had called home for five years. “I was 15 days late with a payment. I paid 524 euros, and they still want to evict me, even though I paid everything and it was months ago,” she told RT.  Since then, Mari Carmen has spent most of her time fighting to keep her apartment. Although she appears calm and collected, the pressure of losing a roof over her head caused Mari Carmen to suffer a heart attack.“These apartments should be distributed in such a way so that people can afford to pay for them, but a lot of times, they cannot. I am going to fight to make this type of housing more affordable,” she vows.Mari Carmen's case is not unique in Spain. The country's unemployment rate of over 20 per cent means many people are simply unable to make their next mortgage payments.  In the past two years, more than 300,000 people have been evicted from their homes as a result of Spain's financial crisis. This is where members of the 15-M rights movement come in.“According to the International Human Rights Convention, every person has a right to decent housing,” 15-M activist Julio told RT. “If eviction is inevitable, they have to make sure these people are not going to go homeless. You just cannot kick them out on the street.”  The organization is known as the Indignados, or the Outraged. They stage protests by the homes of those who are being evicted, hoping to prevent court bailiffs and police from entering.“This is subsidized housing for people who are in a tough situation financially, so I cannot understand how they can evict people who cannot afford to buy their own homes,” another 15-M activist said.  So far, 15-M has managed to stop 50 evictions across the country. Unfortunately for Mari Carmen and her son, they were powerless this time.

According to writer and journalist Miguel-Anxo Murado, establishing a cap on public deficit and debt will inevitably affect simple people. ”Most of the money that government [has] goes to pay the pensions of the people,” he said. “If the government makes a commitment not to spend, or to spend as minimum as possible [sic], then people are going to suffer. That is clear and that is why trade unions and left-wing parties are protesting this measure, because yes, it will, or it may, have an effect on how people live.”