Spain’s PM and human rights NGO weigh in on Madrid evictions, police arrest several activists

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NATIONAL POLICE officers have arrested at least seven people in connection with an attempt to stop four families, including one elderly widow, being evicted from their Madrid homes today (Friday).

Officers were sent to Calle Argumosa after activists gathered to prevent the eviction of residents including widow Pepi Santiago, 65, and her children aged 27 and 28. Another resident of the building named only as Rosi was also evicted along with two other families.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said politicians should work to end the housing “drama” in Spain.

“Society is waiting for answers. They cannot take any more,” Sanchez said.

Human Rights NGO Amnesty International said it was following the evictions with concern.

“They are proof of the ongoing Spanish housing crisis. Halt evictions or provide alternative housing now,” the NGO said.

Authorities have been attempting to evict them for months after the building’s owner said they were hiking rents from €400 to €1,700 a month, according to the Madrid Tenants Union.

Madrid’s 33rd Court of Instruction set dates for Santiago’s eviction five times. Each time it was suspended because of opposition, before going ahead today.

Activists gathered outside the apartment building where Santiago and her two children have lived for 20 years from 10am.

Police said activists attempted to get inside the building. They shouted: “Argumosa is not for sale” and “Argumosa defends herself” and called officers “mercenaries” leading to some scuffles, police claimed.

Madrid City Council said two of the families would be re-housed in a boarding home while one would be put up in a hotel. A fourth is set to live with relatives while homes are found for the long term, the council said.

The arrests come as figures showed there was an average of 163 evictions in Spain every day. Around 65 per cent are due to rent increases, according to figures reported in Spanish media.

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Joe Gerrard

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