Spanish police to shield politicians’ residences from home eviction victims
Spanish police will erect barriers around politicians' residences to shield them from protests over the growing number of home evictions and to call for changes to mortgage laws.
The Interior Ministry said it ordered police to keep demonstrators at a distance after protests outside the houses of senior members of the governing People's Party, including the Madrid home of Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaría.
Property foreclosures rose nearly fourfold in the four years since 2008 compared to the previous four-year period, court data shows. Last year, foreclosure cases opened by the courts increased 18% from 2011 to nearly 92,000 as the country suffered its second recession in five years and one in four workers were unemployed.
Around 200 people descended on Sáenz de Santamaría's home on Friday, including several victims of evictions who related their stories to the crowd using megaphones.
Protest groups, coordinated by the Platform for Mortgage Victims (PAH in Spanish), argue their demonstrations are peaceful, though officials, including Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, have condemned what they call acts of intimidation.
PAH wants changes to Spain's mortgage laws, which allow little margin for struggling homeowners to negotiate with banks than in other countries. Nor can mortgages be eliminated by personal bankruptcy.
The People's Party infuriated campaigners by amending a bill to ease mortgage regulations on Monday, removing a measure calling for such debts to be cancelled once houses are repossessed.
Hundreds of banner-waving protesters demonstrated at People's Party headquarters all over the country on Monday evening after it emerged parliament would not debate the measure in an open session. The bill was triggered automatically after 1.5 million people signed a petition.