Spanish State/Albacete: massive police operation to expel the residents of “the 600”

Feature image: Police surveillance of one of the entrances to the building. Source: La Tribuna de Albacete.

We publish an unofficial translation of an article of Servir al Pueblo, from the Spanish State. The article is on the continued struggle of the residents of “the 600” from Albacete, which we have previously reported on.

On Tuesday, April 2, the eviction of building number 28 in the block of the “the 600” neighborhood known by the City Council as “Homes of Renfe” [Translator’s note: Renfe is the State owned train company] was carried out. At 09:30 the first police operation arrived, five local police cars arrived to cover the entire street that enters the area of the neighborhood known as The Miraculous Woman, but the National Police had already appeared the night before to notify the neighbors to leave the building. A second operation involving two National Police vans appeared around 11:00.

On April 3, La Tribuna de Albacete (local and regional newspaper) published an article that includes a small section called “History of a legal eviction”, a title that seems to be a response to the letter sent by several residents of the block and made public by various media (including the same one we are talking about). This section includes the administrative procedures by which this procedure is supposedly made legal, five in total, starting in March 2023; declaration of the building’s state of ruin, approval of the demolition project, hiring of the company that will demolish the building, judicial eviction procedures, beginning of the demolition. Let’s highlight something important, of these five procedures, only one is directly directed to the evicted neighbors (judicial eviction procedures) and, as has already been reported by them, the notification arrived without notice of date or time, the notice was a sign posted outside the building a week before and the time was not known until a “tip” from the same police on the same day of the eviction. The demolition procedure may be legal in that sense, but the eviction procedure is not, which is why the title “History of a legal eviction” seems not so impartial. How can an eviction be legal in which the neighbors do not find out about the date until the previous week, nor about the time until the same day? Well, much less if they have not even found out through notification (under the bad excuse that since they are squatters they are impossible to locate, when in order to give them the notification that failed in its content, they could notify them).

There are enough witnesses to compile a series of key dates that La Tribuna de Albacete team cannot take into account, since it at no time has held a dialogue with the neighbors to publish the article (something that other media deigned to do).

February 2024

For the first time, the residents of the block, specifically those from number 28, were made aware that there is an eviction order against them. This order does not specify a date or time; an appeal for reconsideration is filed by several neighbors, which is ignored by the City Council.

March 2024

Administrative silence, the infamous threatening sign from the City Council (without an official signature) is placed on the block of flats, threatening residents in general that they may suffer personal or material damage. Panic spreads, we still don’t know a date.

One week before the eviction

A sign signed by the City Council and URVIAL is posted warning that the works will begin on April 2.

The day before

The National Police is mobilized to the building and tells the neighbors to leave, but they do so in a deceptive manner and several neighbors declare that they do not believe that they are going to be evicted on the 2nd because the police assure them that a representative of the City Council will come to tell them their situation, this is a false hope for many neighbors, especially immigrants who do not know the typical procedures and believe in good faith that they will be offered a home alternative, the “City Council representative” never showed up.

April 2, 2024

Several people lose their only housing alternative, the neighbors only find out about the time of eviction and that a building is going to be expelled only through a tip-off that turns out to be true. The Local Police insists since 9:30 that the National Police will show the court order to the neighbors, no neighbor reads the order at any time but the eviction is carried out anyway.

It is important to note an appreciation of La Tribuna:

«The expectation that this eviction generated among the occupants of these homes, which in recent days united in solidarity denounced in a letter sent to the media that the City Council wanted to evict them illegally, caused the entire area to be armored and guarded by police agents of the National and Local Police, in front of the possibility that an altercation that compromises citizen safety could take place.

Teresa Roldán, editor of La Tribuna de Albacete.

From this statement two facts can be taken as true, first, that the Police and the City Council were aware of the feeling of indignation on the part of the neighbors and their response was a greater repressive operation to crush even the slightest sign of organization and protest against the injustice; second, that some altercation was assumed, criminalizing the sole fact of having sent a letter to the media denouncing the situation, precisely what is denounced in that letter is the senseless criminalization against the working families of the neighborhood!

We should also analyze the words of the City Council, because they show a big bias of the situation and the complete neglect that the working migrant class suffers in Albacete.

There is no choice but to demolish the building, since there is a report from 2022 saying that it may collapse because it is in ruins […] We also cannot rehouse all the people who live there when there is a long waiting list for social housing.

Julián Garijo, town planning councilor.

Neither rehousing, nor legally notifying the neighbors, nor was there any other option but to demolish the building, the City Council only knows how to say “it can’t be done”! Go tell any worker of the countryside Mr. Garijo, they have all been waiting for decades for a solution to the situation of absolute destitution that seasonal workers experience in the city. When the warehouses where dozens of seasonal workers lived were demolished, it was said that they had put an end to the irregular settlements, there they could tackle the problem, but the lie quickly came to light 1 , they all relocated to the settlements on the Carretera de las Peñas. Successive governments have passed the problem to each other, promising and leaving the problem for later, but then, after decades of the same problem, it turns out that “nothing can be done”. The problem of the 600 and that of the settlements of Las Peñas is the same, it is the problem of housing in Albacete, it is the same profile of a worker that seeks a life in one place and another, and for both they get along decades proposing solutions that never materialize. The final solution will be to demolish all of these 600 buildings to sow the seeds of poverty throughout the city, overcrowding Albacete with immigrant workers with no way out, the problem is becoming big in their hands, Mr. Garijo, saying that “it cannot be done” only demonstrates the lack of honesty and dark intentions of our rulers.

The City Council’s project to build “a temporary center with capacity for 80 people” was also a topic of conversation for many temporary workers in the city, this in 2022 2 (For URVIAL too, which today is carrying out the demolition of the 600 block! ). Do you know what is now in the place where the center was going to be built? Absolutely nothing. The situation, filled with lies and administrative abuses, is becoming difficult for Mr. Garijo, but also for all those responsible for the situation. The police operation on Tuesday hid the deep fear of the City Council, and the neighbours are increasingly aware of this reality.

This article must be closed by remembering the demands of the neighbors, united in solidarity, since the problem persists.

-We deny the responsibility that the City Council wants to place on us regarding hygiene and the ruin of buildings.

-We point out to the City Council, Provincial Council and Autonomous Community as responsible for the fact that in Albacete a regrettable situation of housing and habitability, and forced poverty, has been maintained for 50 years.

-We point out to those responsible that the immigrant seasonal workers, the driving force and heart of the agrarian regime in the region, are treated as spoils. No one should work so hard and still not be able to afford a bed.

-We request the solidarity of the residents of Albacete, and we ask that they not be fooled by a false image. We are not criminals, we are working families.

-We demand an immediate and realistic housing solution, and in particular, the stoppage of any illegal eviction that violates human rights.

If we legitimize expelling people from the place where they live, without harming anyone and as the only way to survive the forced poverty in which they live, we will be legitimizing the attacks against all the workers and humble people of the city.



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