When Manolo Boro, a 29-year-old student, heard that he would no longer be able to live on his parents’ joint Dublin apartment, he took to Facebook. His post appealed to housing activists to provide him with an alternative accommodation — even as he was packing his bags to leave the apartment for good.
“From next week I’m going to be relocating away from home for the first time,” he wrote. “I don’t even know what to pack! I’m not going to London … It’s completely depressing!”
Moro, who was born in Spain, was one of a number of Spaniards who began referring to themselves as “warriors” against the country’s austerity-driven housing crisis.
The New York Times’ Oliver Martin described the policies of these courageous, “renditioned” Spaniards who had been “beaten by hard housing market realities” and were “seeking an afterlife as do-gooders and relief workers for housing-afflicted people in the war zones of Spain’s housing crisis.”
On Tuesday, the brigade of the Spanish alternative news outlet Real Clear World gave a group of these “warriors” a video camera and two makeshift microphones. The brigade was a collective of people living on the island of Mallorca and had been documenting the eviction of 19 families. They were being evicted because their rent payments were “sufficiently low,” that is, because they hadn’t paid rent for long enough.
Choreographed rituals then began to unfold in the span of only several minutes. First, they ran toward a front-porch window, made loud noises and screamed at the landlord. Then they screamed out of a second-floor window, repeating the main elements of the protest in a song reminiscent of “The Star-Spangled Banner”: “We refuse to be evicted!”
While the group of 38 demonstrators roamed the streets of downtown Madrid in support of residents being evicted from Madrid’s Metrópolis apartments complex, the raucousness of the Sant Felix apartment complex in Madrid did not go unnoticed. Those residents had gathered outside the Jordi Cuixart residence to conduct their own game of tap-dancing, as their neighbors had done earlier in the day. When four of the evicted residents attempted to throw themselves into the abandoned apartment, a handful of demonstrators threw rocks through the windows of the abandoned apartment. The Metropolitan Police arrived, arrested several people and took the residents into custody.
The architect Rafael Moneo may be best known for building his Barcelona museum at the very height of the housing crisis, but for many Spaniards, Moneo has become the living embodiment of the alternative housing crisis. He was also at the center of the protest in Madrid.
“It’s not the objective of this fight to be locked up, it’s not the objective of our attempt to be passive,” Moneo told National Geographic Spain. “It’s to be locked up and trapped in these structures.”