Spanish squatters being evicted from the 'Kukutza' social centre in Bilbaoby by armed police
Europe's empty houses drive new wave of squatting activism
6th January, 2012
As the recession continues, squatting across Europe has enjoyed a renaissance. Although controversial, occupying vacant buildings has become a form of activism, promoting alternative lifestyles and challenging the mainstream
Just around the corner from the centre of Madrid the windows of what used to be an abandoned hotel are covered with banners which announced that the hotel was in the hands of the people. Inside, as the Ecologist walked up some dark stairs full of rubble, with just a small torch to guide us, a woman with her baby in one arm and a huge torch in the other passed by and disappeared downstairs into the darkness.
This Madrid hotel was squatted after a world wide demonstration in October against the economic crisis. It was destined to accommodate around 100 people of all ages and backgrounds who had been evicted. 'We need to start taking matters into our own hands,' said a man who helped run the place.
Since our visit the hotel had been brutally evicted by police, who at 7am stormed into the building and threw everyone out onto the street. Now the winter is here and those who were evicted will have to face the courts.
As the current recession continues to bite, with increasing numbers of people losing their homes, unemployment and poverty on the rise, mortgages remaining difficult to secure and traditional social security networks breaking down, squatting across Europe, particularly in...
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