Spanish police evict far-right squatters from upscale central Madrid building

‘Hogar Social’ group set up in 2014 offers shelter and food exclusively to Spaniards

Police outside the former palace on Tuesday morning.
Police outside the former palace on Tuesday morning.Álvaro García

Police in the Spanish capital have evicted a far-right group from a former palace in the upscale Serrano neighborhood where several people had been squatting since November. Around 6.30am some 50 officers entered the building, at 107 Velázquez street, and ordered the 14 or so individuals sleeping there to leave, taking their belongings with them.

The building was occupied by Hogar Social Madrid (Madrid Social Home), an organization set up in 2014 to provide shelter and assistance exclusively to Spaniards – as opposed to immigrants – who had been made homeless or who lacked the means to support themselves as a result of the economic crisis.

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The eviciction of Hogar Social, in photos (Spanish captions)

Speaking from outside the building on Tuesday morning, Melisa D. Ruiz, the organization’s founder and leader, explained that this was the fifth time Hogar Social had been evicted, claiming that no warning had been given on this occasion. “We had no idea what was going on until they started taking people out of the rooms. The older people were thrown on the floor and had to lie there for 40 minutes. It was a relatively calm eviction, but the police could have been more humane,” she said.

The building was used after the Spanish Civil War as a hospital for injured soldiers and is where General José Millán Astray, one of the key plotters in the rebellion launched by General Francisco Franco in July 1936, died in 1954.

The eviction order was given by a court on March 7 after the Juan Carlos I University, which owns the property, reported that the premises had been occupied illegally in December.

They aren’t doing anything wrong, they are simply helping people who have nothing Amanda, Hogar Social Madrid supporter

Around a dozen supporters of the far-right organization turned up at the building on Tuesday morning after word spread on the social networks of the eviction. Amanda, aged 20, who says she has been a member of Hogar Social Madrid since it was set up, offered help to those who had been evicted. “They are persecuted, it’s not about the building they are occupying, that’s nothing to do with, the fact is that they don’t like them squatting,” she said, describing the organization’s work as “helping, delivering food and sticking together to avoid families living on the street. They aren’t doing anything wrong, they are simply helping people who have nothing,” she said.

The owners of the building reportedly informed the squatters that they would be allowed to remove the food they had stored there so they could deliver it on Sunday.

English version by Nick Lyne.


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