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Thursday, April 17 2014 @ 01:24 PM CDT

How the corrala movement is occupying Spain

Direct Action

"Life changes when you lose everything," says Manoli Cortés. "There was a time when I was happy just to work and look after my home. Now, at the age of 65, I have suddenly become an activist." She is sitting in a typical Spanish living room: immaculately clean, filled with family photographs and dark wood furniture. Meanwhile, with its crisp, geometric lines, sliding French doors and private balconies, the exterior of her building looks much like any other newly built urban apartment block.

How the corrala movement is occupying Spain

The financial crash and plummeting property market struck Spain with a high eviction rate and a rash of empty houses. Now victims of the crisis are fighting back by setting up home in a network of vacant buildings

Dave Stelfox
The Guardian
Sunday 3 March 2013

"Life changes when you lose everything," says Manoli Cortés. "There was a time when I was happy just to work and look after my home. Now, at the age of 65, I have suddenly become an activist." She is sitting in a typical Spanish living room: immaculately clean, filled with family photographs and dark wood furniture. Meanwhile, with its crisp, geometric lines, sliding French doors and private balconies, the exterior of her building looks much like any other newly built urban apartment block.

Look a little closer, though, and a different story is told. The afternoon sun shines down on concrete walls adorned with spraypainted banners and stencilled slogans, the most revealing of which reads: "Ni gente sin casa, ni casas sin gente" (No people without houses, no houses without people). This is Corrala Utopía, the first in a growing network of previously vacant properties in the Andalusian capital of Seville now occupied by victims of Spain's ongoing economic crisis.

Like much of the rest of the country, Andalusia experienced a building boom at the turn of the millennium. Locals took jobs as bricklayers, painters, carpenters, contract cleaners, and property values rose. But in 2008 the global financial crash brought this cycle to an abrupt end, leaving huge numbers unemployed and, after punishing cuts to social welfare, struggling to keep roofs over their heads.

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