Rajoy aims to stem evictions as suicide darkens crisis
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he will rush through measures to stem evictions in Spain after a woman committed suicide as officials tried to seize her home.
A bipartisan committee will meet today to draw up plans to reduce the number of people being evicted from their homes as Rajoy tries to control a growing sense of outrage at mortgage foreclosures. The group is set to announce a temporary halt to evictions and incentivize lenders to renegotiate loans and find ways to allow people to remain in their homes, Rajoy said. The government “will defend the most vulnerable families affected by the evictions and act with seriousness, sensitivity and great humanity,” the premier told supporters at a Nov. 9 election rally in Lerida, Catalonia. The Spanish people are experiencing “terrible things and inhumane situations.”
Amaia Egana became the second person in the past month to commit suicide in Spain over an eviction when she threw herself from her apartment in Baracaldo as officials arrived to change the locks on Nov. 9. Some 400,000 homes have been foreclosed on in Spain since the start of the five-year slump that is tearing at the fabric of the country. The number is set to increase without government action as unemployment reached a record 26 percent in September.
Banks, set to benefit from a 100 billioneuro ($127 billion) rescue package that Rajoy requested from the European Union in June, have become the focus of public outrage over foreclosures amid a growing public perception that they use abusive lending practices. In a Metroscopia poll published yesterday, 91 percent of respondents said lenders exploit clients’ lack of legal knowledge to insert abusive clauses into mortgage contracts while just 31 percent said some banks have acted in good faith.
“If we bail out the banks, how can we not bail out families?” Socialist Party No. 2 Elena Valenciano said in a Nov. 7 interview on Telecinco. She is negotiating the eviction measures with Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria.
Spanish unions have called for a general strike against Rajoy’s austerity policies on Nov. 14. The labor action coincides with a general strike in neighboring Portugal and an EU- wide protest day called by the European Trade Union Confederation.