Kutxabank freezes evictions in wake of suicide of woman about to be thrown out of her house

Public protests against banks have grown since Amaya Egaña’s death was reported in the media

The suicide of a Basque woman just minutes before she was going to be kicked out of her foreclosed home has led to a temporary freeze on all evictions by Kutxabank, a merger of three Basque savings banks. Another regional lender, Caja Laboral Ipar Kutxa, had previously decided to do the same.

Public protests against the banks grew in intensity Friday, after Amaya Egaña’s death was reported by the media. Thousands of people took part in a spontaneous march in Barakaldo, the town where the former Socialist councilor lived, and over the weekend several bank branch offices were spray-painted with the word “Murderers.”

In a two-paragraph press release, Kutxabank chairman Mario Fernández said he had “issued instructions for the [bank] to immediately suspend all eviction procedures” until new information emerges on a mortgage legislation reform being hammered out jointly by the ruling Popular Party and the opposition Socialists.

On an entirely different note, Banco Popular chairman Ángel Ron warned that a legislative change would end up “rewarding” defaulters, harm the majority of mortgagees who pay religiously, and hinder economic recovery. However, he added that his bank only had 17 evictions in the last three years and always reached last-minute deals with defaulters.

There have been more than 350,000 evictions in the last four years in a country with extremely high home ownership levels. With the EU forecasting six million jobless Spaniards by 2013, growing numbers of people will foreseeably be unable to meet their mortgage payments.

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