Publicador de contenidos

Back to 19_04_29_EDU_opi_okupa

Gerardo Castillo Ceballos, School of Education and Psychology of the University of Navarra

The social utopia of the squatter movement

Mon, 29 Apr 2019 12:03:00 +0000 Published in El Confidencial Digital

One of the meanings of the word "utopia" is "project or attractive and beneficial ideal plan -usually for the community- that is improbable to happen, or that at the moment of its formulation is unrealizable" (dictionary of the language). It is especially applicable to social utopia.

Lately the squatter's utopia has become fashionable. It has intensified as a "response" to the politicized and massive staging against the evictions of delinquent families, who do not pay the rent or mortgage installments of their homes. The anti-system street riots are becoming a quick procedure for political promotion. Some of these opportunistic rioters have gone from being unknown to being mayors of very important cities.

Home invasions are presented as the adventures of Robin Hood, who stole from the rich to give to the poor. There are already children who say that when they grow up they want to be squatters.

 The squatting movement states that only the second home and unused premises are occupied, but this is not true. They squat everything they can, including the first home. A data from Spain in 2017: according to the newspaper Expansión, there were 90,000 houses occupied illegally, taking advantage of the fact that at that time they were empty, or that being inhabited, their inhabitants had been absent for a few hours. Upon returning, the owners find that they cannot access their home: squatters have changed the lock, claiming that the house is now theirs, and that they are doing it for a social purpose. Anyone who does not accept this would be "unsupportive" (sic).

This issue continues to grow at a fast pace, especially in large cities.

With their illegal invasions of private property, the squatters believe they are effectively denouncing the unjust land use policy. They aspire to social equality based on article 47 of the Spanish Constitution, which states that all Spaniards have the right to enjoy decent and adequate housing. It is added that the public authorities will regulate the use of land, to avoid speculation. Many squatters have not read it, but the mafias that manipulate them have.

Such land regulation would, according to the squatters, allow many young people to emancipate themselves from the family home when they wish, accessing a home purchased or rented at social prices, without remaining indefinitely in their parents' home.

The squatters plan to put the stolen premises to social use. To this end, they hold workshops that will supposedly rehabilitate neighborhoods lacking in life.

The fallacy of the squatters' movement can be discovered simply by seeing that they are very frequent news in the events pages of the newspapers. Some recent headlines: "A family finds their squatted house when returning from a weekend outing"; "A squatted building in front of a high school is a nest of rats"; "Some squatters with the light bugged originate a fire that causes several fatalities"; "In an eviction of squatters they find precision scales to weigh drugs and 300 kilos of garbage"; "Evicted the owners of a house after the denunciation of its squatters".

The slowness of justice makes some invaded owners negotiate with their squatters the recovery of their homes. The deception of the squatting movement can be seen not in words, but in deeds. Let's take a look at some of them.

It knowingly ignores the fact that private property is sacred, as stated in several articles of the Penal Code. Article 202 penalizes breaking and entering and Article 245 penalizes usurpation.

It is not true that neighborhoods are rehabilitated with squatted housing, but rather that they are degraded; young squatters neither study nor work: in reality they are Ninis with the alibi of an apparent social commitment; squatters cannot promote culture because they themselves are a shabby subculture; they are not idealists, but usurpers of other people's property who live at the expense of those who work, which includes not paying electricity, water and community fees. In addition, they set up flea markets that sell everything subject of things without paying taxes, with clear skill unfair .

All this does not promote social equality, but inequality. And, of course, the complaints have not served to promote social housing, except those of the squatters themselves.

It is urgent to eradicate a movement that until now has been unstoppable, modifying the permissive laws that make it possible. Some political parties, at last, include in their current electoral program to put an end to this scourge. Before, they were attracting votes by tolerating squatters, while now it is more profitable to promise express eviction by the police in a 24-hour deadline . It remains to be seen if this procedure is applied.