by Max Dructor, edited by Aude Webber, perdod.co.uk
The sleepless night started when I arrived at work, simply because I had forgotten the wrong letter.
The same escalated to 2,200 people exhausting the hotels in the Spanish city of Barcelona for the United Nations climate talks on 13 November. In the immediate term this meant writing letters but as I looked for mine I knew we had bigger challenges.
For the majority of the people in the tower were white Spaniards, like me, living in a city often described as the “Berlin of the Mediterranean” – but unemployment was almost certainly closer to the epicentre of any gentrification taking place in Spain.
The private housing corporation that owns the tower illegally denied us the right to buy and told us that we were not a benefit group to which it was obliged to contribute.
But the same corporation was feeling the heat.
Last year they had sold out 900 flats in Barcelona, asking €625,000 (£532,437) a unit, and the local borough planning department had advised them to do the same with the next 3,000 flats in the same fashion. They did not listen.
Protesters gather in Barcelona. More join in
We saw that they would not benefit financially from buying these properties, but that we would be right under their nose.
After all, when 80% of residents are families with children, you don’t have to ask too many questions as to how many of these families could possibly afford the costs of a 600% mortgage.
What stood in their way is corporate law, just as little as the lack of political will to change things.
So on 12 September our group of 82 people invaded two of the buildings and moved into one together, then coordinated with other people’s actions to invade a third.
Demanding the right to buy, families struggle to get on the housing ladder in Barcelona.
Like us they wanted to speak to the powerful, top management of this company, to hear if they had a solution for people struggling in the current housing crisis.
Throughout the night we heard things that were confirmed and many things that were not.
We saw what it would take to make them change their minds. Organisations such as the Human Rights Defender’s Association faced just as much opposition.
And we were told that if we did not heed their warnings – that we should move because their security guards were present – that we would not be heard.
It is more than possible to keep claiming a right to home ownership if you are denied it by the powers that be.
We in the Enecom Group are demanding to be heard.
We consider ourselves among one of the first, or at least the most visible, human rights groups working on social housing.
And when we feel we have been ignored we are not afraid to call for a General Assembly of all the organisations fighting for justice.
We are coming together, saying that we need peace and freedom, or if the banks and the politicians have it then the people must have it.
We have stepped up the pressure on the shareholders. We are calling for peaceful resistance, and we hope that, together, we can put a stake in the ground of capitalism, so that we can finally see the day when the wealth creators in our city and country need not be there, but the people that live and work there do.
We all have something in common – houses that we cannot live in.
We all have something to say. We are coming together and that is what is happening now.