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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #269 - Spanish State: Popular Resistance in La Cañada Real (fr, it, pt) [machine translation]

Date Fri, 10 Mar 2017 09:26:29 +0200

La Cañada Real, a mediaeval and stigmatized neighborhood, is the "neighborhood of 12,000 daily doses of heroin". It is also a working-class neighborhood with some 8,000 people living and resisting. Between drug trafficking, violence of cartels, junkies and police, but also the specter of doubtful games of real estate speculation, its population takes its destiny in hand and organizes itself. ---- On December 16, 2016, in a pouring rain, a thousand residents and inhabitants of the barrio obrero [1]of La Cañada Real, located on the outskirts of Madrid, showed his anger at the doors of the county council of the Iberian capital. At their side, members of associations from neighboring neighborhoods, such as Vallecas, and militants of the March of Dignity. The demonstration followed a first action on 16 November, when hundreds of people blocked the entrance to their neighborhood, using barricades and inflamed tires.

A double stake justifies the mobilization of the associations of La Cañada Real. First, the feeling of being kept out of all decisions regarding their future as a neighborhood, despite the promises of the "progressive" electors of Podemos or IU.[2]The rumor, and above all, of the upcoming destruction of 80 to 90% of housing, with the prospect of setting up a macro-project real estate with luxury resorts, a golf course and various shopping centers. A logic of destruction has begun since, according to one of the leaders of the Neighborhood Association, Juan José Escribano, no fewer than 150 families have seen their homes laid down in recent months.

When history stutters ...

This is not the first time the inhabitants have to show their teeth. In 2007, a major urban action plan (PAU) was in the pipeline with the idea of making a clean sweep of the neighborhood. We were, still, in full boom real estate in the Spanish state. But the popular mobilization, and especially the crisis of 2008, put an end to this project. This struggle had left gaping wounds in the collective consciousness of the barrio : many pregnant women had lost their babies, due to police violence, a young man had lost an eye following a shot by Flash-Ball, a 64-year-old man Testis for the same reason.

At the time, the same excuse was put forward by the municipal services and the politicians: to put an end to this neighborhood as it is to fight drugs. An excuse full of hypocrisy: if La Cañada Real is, alas for those who live there, the crossroads of addicts to the heroine of the Iberian capital for twenty years, it is above all, Habit, the fact of a political will. Concentrating and controlling traffic and consumption spaces in an area several kilometers from the city center and the tourist districts of Madrid was and remains the major concern.

Since then, the promises of rehabilitation of the district, spreading over several communes, have succeeded one another. Without effect. Various municipalities had, nevertheless, committed themselves to putting the hand to the purse to co-finance works of electricity, water purification or even repair of the streets. The inhabitants are still waiting. Yet the claim to be able to live decently, as proclaimed by the signs of the demonstration on 16 December, is legitimate, such as the claim that the Cañados are "human beings" and that they "have rights" .

A reality of human dignity that it is difficult to believe, however, the daily life is full of injustices. The case of a Moroccan family, Abdul and Fatima and their two children, who has seen his house destroyed three times by the bulldozers of the municipality, not to mention the police brutality that accompanied these destruction. An arbitrariness that made a great noise in Spain, the family having lodged a complaint before the European Court, which also gave them reason by a judgment condemning these acts as a "manifest violation of the right to private property".

Mutual aid and self-management

La Cañada Real has always been a neighborhood of the most disinherited. In the late 1960s, peasant farmers who had recently arrived from poor provinces in the southern part of the Peninsula found refuge there. With stumbling blocks, makeshift barracks grew like mushrooms. Today, gypsies, sub-Saharans, Moroccans and Rumanians have been added. In this climate of widespread misery, abandoned by the public authorities, the inhabitants and inhabitants have no alternative but to organize and help each other.

Tensions between communities may exist. They are overwhelmed by mediation and discussion. Young people of Moroccan origin and young gypsies played it Far West with its train of dramas. It is the mothers of the two communities who, through their voluntarism, play the link and reattach the pieces.

Young voluntary dentists offer every Thursday, care for their patients and patients, most without social insurance, against a lump sum payment of 3 euros. The care is provided in an adjoining room of the church of the worker priest Agustin, in the look of hard-rocker.

A food bank set up by the inhabitants ensures a distribution of nearly 5 tons of weekly food. A self-managed huerta also contributes to filling the families' plates. In order to help young single mothers, a self-managed crib has been set up.

Cristina, president of the neighborhood association Al Shorok testifies, on Radio Topo[3]: "The self-managed reality of our neighborhood is born of the resourcefulness. When it comes to repairing a street that becomes impracticable, because most of them are not tarred, everyone is getting started. We will see the neighbors and neighbors to make a quest and thus proceed to the purchase of materials. An appointment is set to clear and clean the street. Each one brings its know-how. La Cañada is a working-class neighborhood. We have all the building trades. So-and-so has electricity knowledge, he will make sure to put the streetlights to safety standards. So-and-so is a mason, he will direct the work of reinforcing the pavements. So-and-so plumber, he'll take care of the pipes. So-and-so has a dump truck, it brings it back to clear the rubble and so on. "

A solidarity and a popular creativity, which give meaning to the neighborhood. A barrio that will continue, tomorrow as yesterday and today, to live and resist.

Jérémie (AL Gard)

[1]Workers' Quarter.

[2]Izquierda Unida (IU), political coalition regrouping ecologists and the Spanish Communist Party.

[3]Radio activist of the city of Saragossa (Aragon).

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