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Spain anti-bank protest decries second evictee suicide

Madrid protesters denounce banks

Image Credit: Reuters
Thousands of people hold a banner as they march through the Spanish Basque town of Barakaldo on Friday. The protest was called after a 53-year-old woman committed suicide.
Gulf News

Madrid: Hundreds of people demonstrated in Madrid on Friday after a woman facing eviction killed herself in northern Spain, with the protesters blaming predatory mortgage menders for the second such suicide in as many weeks.

Demonstrators also took to the streets in Barakaldo, the city in Basque Country where police said the 53-year-old woman had committed suicide “as the bailiffs were to evict her from her home.”

With cries of “Guilty! Guilty!” and “Shame! Shame!” the Madrid protesters denounced banks like state-rescued lender Bankia for continuing to evict homeowners struck by unemployment and the eurozone crisis.

The suicide came 15 days after 53-year-old Jose Luis Domingo hanged himself shortly before bailiffs came to his home in the southern city of Granada.

Ruined homeowners have been camping outside Caja Madrid — a major mortgage lender now part of the Bankia group — in the capital with mats and sleeping bags since October 22, demanding they be spared eviction and have their debts renegotiated.

A banner reading “credit scam” could be seen hanging next to the bank as the protesters held a minute’s silence for the dead woman.

Last month, a group of top magistrates released a report denouncing the trend of forced evictions, which they said have risen by a fifth this year and totalled 350,000 between 2008 and 2011.

They complained of “extremely aggressive judicial procedures against debtors” who “find themselves defenceless in a crisis that they did not cause.”

Faced with this trend, the government has announced it will submit proposals on Monday to the opposition Socialist party in an effort to agree on urgent action to halt the evictions and protect the most vulnerable residents.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he hopes the talks will include discussion of a “temporary halt to the evictions which are hitting the most vulnerable families.”

He is also seeking ways to make the banks better apply their code of conduct, to renegotiate debts and allow people to remain in their homes.

“It’s a difficult subject and I hope we will soon be able to give good news to all the Spanish people,” Rajoy said.

The eurozone’s fourth-largest economy, Spain has been mired in recession since last year, with a record-high unemployment rate of more than 25 per cent.