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Excerpt: "Last Friday's suicide of 53-year-old Amaia Egana has inflamed a public already angered by what they see as a lack of compassion among Spanish banks."

Demonstrators protest outside a couple's home as they wait for the judicial commission to carry an eviction. (photo: Reuters/Heino Kalis)
Demonstrators protest outside a couple's home as they wait for the judicial commission to carry an eviction. (photo: Reuters/Heino Kalis)

Spain Promises to Spare Needy From Eviction After Suicides

By Nigel Davies, Reuters

13 November 12


Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos promised on Monday that no needy family will go homeless over mortgage arrears, responding to public fury at a homeowner's suicide as she was being evicted

acing accusations that politicians and banks are complicit in de facto "murder", Spain's banking association said its members would suspend eviction orders for two years for those borrowers worst hit by economic crisis and record unemployment.

Banks have repossessed close to 400,000 homes in Spain since a property bubble burst in 2008 and the nation subsequently sank into recession, throwing millions out of work and unable to keep up mortgage payments to the banks.

Last Friday's suicide of 53-year-old Amaia Egana has inflamed a public already angered by what they see as a lack of compassion among Spanish banks, many of which have benefited from taxpayer-funded bailouts organized by the political elite.

Egana, a former Socialist councilor in northern Spain, jumped to her death from her fourth-floor flat as bailiffs were trying to evict her under foreclosure laws.

Speaking in Brussels, de Guindos said action was vital to avoid evictions at a time when huge numbers of homes, built during a frenetic property boom before 2008, lie unoccupied.

"In Spain right now, we have nearly a million empty housing units. In this situation, the government and the economy ministry ... has to take steps so that no family in good faith goes without a home. This is our commitment," he said.

Public pressure prompted Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to call for officials from his conservative People's Party and the opposition Socialists to speed up negotiations on reforming the eviction laws during talks on Monday.

Fans at a Primera Liga soccer match on Saturday protested about the fate of Egana, who killed herself in the Basque town of Barakaldo, and countless others who are losing their homes.

"They're not suicides. They're murders. The banks and politicians are accomplices. Stop the evictions!" read a banner held up by supporters of Rayo Vallecano, which plays in a working class district of Madrid.

Heads of the economy departments of both main parties were expected to look at the possibility of granting moratoriums on mortgage payments for families in dire straits and to change the legal proceedings that lead up to an eviction.

However, the Spanish Banking Association (AEB) said its members had already agreed with the government last week to suspend eviction cases for two years for those most in need.

This showed "...the commitment of the AEB's members, for humanitarian reasons and because of their social responsibility, to stop evictions during the next two years in those cases of extreme need", it said in a statement on Monday.

Protesters say this will not go far enough given thousands will face difficulties in the next few months.

Desperate Homeowners

Egana's death, and another eviction-related suicide in October, have intensified a popular backlash with many accusing the banks - some of which will receive part of an up to 100 billion euro European bailout - of callous disregard for the effects of unemployment, which has hit 25 percent.

However, a number of banks themselves are in dire straits because of the failure of many borrowers, ranging from small homeowners to major property developers, to repay their debts.

On Monday protesters gathered outside the People's Party headquarters in central Madrid before walking to parliament.

"We are due to be evicted on the 20th of this month, and we have nowhere to go but the street," said Angel Moran, a 59-year-old painter.

He said he had been out of work for four years, had a young daughter to support and the two other people living in his home to share the costs were now also without work.

As property prices have tumbled about 30 percent, hundreds of thousands of people who took on huge mortgages during the boom years now owe more than their home is worth.

Under Spanish law, even when borrowers turn over their homes to the bank, they still owe the entire amount of the mortgage.

A citizens' movement called "Stop Evictions" has organized protests at apartment buildings to block court workers from evicting families.

The pressure by Stop Evictions and other groups led the government to ask banks earlier this year to forgive mortgage debt for properties worth less than 200,000 euros and where all family members are unemployed.

A group of senior judges has pushed for a cross-party agreement on eviction reform, and a police union said it will support officers who refuse to take part in an eviction.

On Saturday, northern Spanish mortgage lender Kutxabank said it was suspending repossessions after the suicide of Egana.

Last week, European Union Advocate General Juliane Kokott issued a non-binding report concluding that Spanish legislation on evictions contradicts European norms for protecting consumer rights. Europe's highest court will rule on the issue. your social media marketing partner


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+5 # reiverpacific 2012-11-13 11:29
Spanish banks, like their international peers (many are linked) are no place to look for compassion.
Many have been run by CEO's and senior personnel who were dedicated "Francoistas" during the dark years of that Fascist dictator's regime and only too glad to profit by the same housing bubble set up by their US kin.
Sadly, the former Socialist government didn't look at this as it was reveling in the revenues artificially generated.
+2 # Virginia 2012-11-13 14:15
The fraud behind the mortgage securitization Ponzi scheme was worldwide and continues. Investors still active in Wall Street securities after 2008 deserve to lose every single penny because anyone invested in these unregulated defective products is a fool.

I'm not saying individuals, like union members for example, are at fault or that they deserve to lose their pensions - but collectively they have the ability to tell their leaders to get their funds out of these fraudulent vehicles NOW! See - THE SUCKER PUNCH & The REMICs Have Failed!

What gauls me is the fact that America has over 14 million families affected by foreclosure and neither party party drove that point home during the election. Except for a rogue few like Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin (who pulverized their opponents) - nothing was mentioned during the campaigns.

Here, Spain has taken the initiative to combat the displacement and no matter what any politician thinks - homelessness and family disruption is not good for America. This mess was NOT the fault of the majority of homeowners.

And after reading William Black's article - I begin to wonder just who is calling the shots?!

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