Oh the shame of it! I’ve become a symptom of my time. Head down, scurrying out to work and then wandering home, always lost inside my myopic little world of worries; it took a facebook post for me to realise my neighbourhood squat has been evicted and bricked up.
Now Barrialonia, as it was called, was not just a squat.
It was a community center. It used to host concerts, political meetings and community parties. They celebrated Id last year by cooking up a massive pot of biriyani and setting tables and chairs out on La Rambla del Raval for an open air picnic for the neighbourhood.
They organised makeshift movie nights on the Rambla with a small projector and screen, and anyone interested just had to park their bum on the street and get comfortable. They hosted debates and talks about Real Democracy and kept the movement alive between the more high-profile marches.
The council’s reasons for shutting the squat down are ‘structural concerns’ with the building. They used similar excuses to shut down other squats in Barcelona in the past, including la Makabra, Miles de Viviendas and Ruina Amalia. In all these cases, the squats served as community centres which hosted art classes and exhibitions, spaces for political debate and spaces to celebrate cultures.
What follows is usually either swift demolition of the building or comprehensive bricking up of all entrances, which is then followed by….. nothing.
They won’t attempt to replace the space with a council built community center, sports center or art space. They can’t afford to. That much is blatantly obvious, this being an economic crisis and all. So why go and kick the sand box over in the first place? Is it so bad to have people with initiative doing something in their community?
Dear government, haven’t you realised it is the people with ideas, opinions and initiative who will save you from this nightmarish crisis?