Torres Diez, a store owner in downtown Madrid, was working furiously at the end of the week, stocking up on food for the new Friday morning feast. But even in her busiest hour, the 25-year-old’s profits were close to zero.
“I’m lucky if I make 10 euros per day,” Torres Diez said. “It’s hard to even make 500 euros a month. I can’t say anything to you.”
Torres Diez is one of an estimated 180,000 Spanish families that have been forced out of their homes and apartments in the most recent wave of foreclosures. One side effect of all this is economic collapse: Spain has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the European Union, according to a recent report by OECD, while more than two million Spaniards between the ages of 15 and 24 live in families with no living parent.
In recent weeks, about a dozen protesters have started staging weekly demonstrations outside of financial institutions across Spain, where they blame institutional racism for the large number of deportations.
“We are not fools,” said one 20-year-old protestor, who identified himself only as Ramón, the father of a baby girl, to National Geographic in a profile published this week. “We know what is being done, we know why we have to come to the streets, why we have to stand up. We have no choice. It’s not personal. It’s not just for us.”
This week, members of the Falangist Party of Reforms, a liberal political party in Spain, have staged protests as well. One of the main demands is the passage of the Law of Repentance, a political document adopted by some parliamentarians who have called for criminalization of discrimination and a minister for equality. The bill has yet to pass the legislative body.
It’s a shame, the protesters say, that many of the victims of the nation’s economic collapse, the children of marginalized immigrants, are most likely to be deported at the same time they are being evicted from their homes.
“[The Police] came, and they had batons and they started hitting the residents and demanding to get into the apartment,” Ramón recalled. “And I was in the line. My house is a unit, but I was in the bathroom, and they started hitting me, and everything started flying, and then I found out the history of the person who was in the other bathroom with me. My house was also occupied by a Honduran man.”
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