Social emergency

Tension in an eviction in Poble-sec, the first of Pere Aragonès's presidency

Police evict a Bloc Llavors flat and dozens of activists gather at ERC national headquarters

Maria Ortega i Clara López Alcaide
4 min
An activist protests in front of a riot police unit during the second attempt to evict her from the Entonces block, which has been carried out

BarcelonaThe organisations for the right to housing have sent a clear message to Pere Aragonès's new Government, just twelve hours after the inauguration of the republican as president of the Generalitat and in the middle of the debate about the role of the Mossos d'Esquadra in this type of actions. Early this morning, housing activists have occupied Republican Left of Catalonia's (ERC) headquarters to protest against an eviction in the Bloc Llavors, a well-known building on Carrer Lleida, in Poble-sec district in Barcelona.

The protesters denounced that riot police turned up at six o'clock in the morning this Tuesday to evict Axel, Arkaitz and Manel, the three young people who live there and who have a certificate of vulnerability from social services. After nine o'clock in the morning, the judicial committee managed to enter the building, once the agents had broken the lock, and shortly after they executed the eviction, without finding anyone inside. The protesters have accused the police of "connivance" with eviction company Desokupa, which arrived early in the morning at the building, and to began to intervene without the judicial committee.

Riot police during the eviction.

A large police force was deployed since early morning in the well-known Bloc Llavors, where dozens of activists were concentrated to support the squatters and gathered in front of the building's entrance. The police established a perimeter around them and urged them on several occasions to call off the action through megaphone messages, but the concentrated refused and threw pots of paint against the officers. Several CUP deputies, including Eulàlia Reguant and Carles Riera, took part in the protest, representing a first disagreement between CUP and their republican partners.

The Mossos have evicted the protesters who defended the block at the entrance of the building, charging with truncheons and removing them one by one. After nine in the morning, the judicial committee managed to enter the building. Axel Altadill, one of the occupants, has assured that at no time had he been notified of the eviction and that, in fact, he has not even seen the committee, and that despite meeting the requirements for the moratorium on evictions, he has not been offered alternative housing after he lost his home. In this sense, Eli Hernandez, representing the Xarxa d'Habitatges, has pointed out that police officers entered the property alone.

Protestors thew paint at riot police outside bloc Llavors

After the officers entered the building, members of the housing movement in Barcelona have announced they would occupy ERC headquarters. With the action they wanted to point the finger at president Aragonès and Department of Home Affairs, in the hands of Joan Ignasi Elena. On the one hand, protesters demanded coherence with the message of the new president's inauguration speech, which valued his commitment to social justice and to "leave no one behind". On the other, that the Catalan police stop intervening in evictions, in compliance with ERC and CUP's legislature pact.

The activists received everyone who wanted to access the Republican headquarters with cries of "shame" and "ERC and JxCat, patience is over," and said they would block the headquarters in the same way that politicians "block the right to housing," explain spokespersons of the unions of Raval and Nou Barris neighbourhoods. Representatives have met with Republican spokespersons José Rodríguez and Lluís Salvador and have agreed that identifications made during the eviction will have no effect, according to union sources.

During the eviction there have been several moments of tension as when one of the workers of Desokupa pushed an activist who was protesting outside the block. The eviction company has published a video on its social media in which it celebrated that the eviction was successful, despite the fact that "they were asaulted and insulted", a fact that led them to "defend themselves" and "a little blood has reached the river".

According to the police, there are 12 peopple under investigation, three of which are for attacking police officers and nine for public disorder, as well as 60 reported for disobedience. In addition, police reported three agents suffered injuries.

Criticism of Aragonès

The occupation of the headquarters of ERC lasted a few hours until the activists left by themselves. Outside, demonstrators who had moved from the affected block and who were waiting for them on the other side of the police cordon received them with applause. One of those affected, Axel Altadill, criticised the actions of the new government of Aragonès, whom he accused of allowing riot police to collude with Desokupa, he said in statements to the media outside the headquarters. "Aragonès is the executive arm of the Constitutional Court," said the occupant, who also assured that the housing movement will continue to stop evictions: "Today I'm homeless but I have to continue, because I have nothing else."

The councillor for Citizens' Rights and the district of Sants-Montjuïc, Marc Serra, has assured that one of those affected has vulnerability report from City Council social services, a fact that acting Minister Miquel Sàmper has denied. Serra accused Sàmper of lying and remarked that the report "exists and has been in court for months". "They had done the work and had presented the vulnerability report," he replied after Sàmper had urged the authorities to act sooner.

The eviction attempt - which is the second that the three young people faced - was initially scheduled for May 1, but the court postponed it due to a lack of riot police to assist the judicial committee. The Housing Offices and the Anti-Eviction Unit and Social Services of the Barcelona City Council have managed to postpone five of the nine evictions scheduled for today in Ciutat Vella, as reported by the councilman of this district, Jordi Rabassa.

Eviction in Badalona postponed

On the other hand, activists forced a postponment of an eviction of a vulnerable family in Sant Roc in Badalona. Dozens of activists and neighbors have defended Juan and Rosa and their two underage children so that the judicial committee could not evict them from the apartment where they live, owned by Cerberus, one of the big vulture trust funds that own thousands of homes.