Evicted Spaniard’s suicide brings thousands to the streets

Thousands of people have taken to the streets of the Basque Spanish city of Barakaldo to condemn the suicide of an evictee as well as to protests against further foreclosures.

­Fifty-three-year-old Amaia Egaña jumped four floors to her death as bailiffs prepared to kick her out after she failed to stay current on her mortgage payments. She is the second person in less than three weeks to commit suicide in the face of an impending eviction.

Organizers of the Stop Eviction march called for immediate action by Madrid to end foreclosures, blaming the suicide on Spain’s economic hardship. Demonstrators shouted slogans such as ”No eviction unanswered,” and ”Banker, remember – we have rope.”

It is estimated that more than 400,000 families have lost their homes due to unpaid rents since the start of Spain’s financial crisis in 2007.

On Thursday, the EU Court of Justice criticized Spain’s mortgage law, which governs evictions, calling for a halt to the reposition of property. The Court said the legislation is incompatible with European consumer protection standards.

Following the tragedy, Barakaldo judge Juan Carlos Mediavilla also said that it is “necessary to amend current mortgage legislation” to prevent the recurrence of such events.

Employment and Social Security Minister Fatima Banez said the government deeply regretted Egaña’s death.

A sticker is seen on an ATM in the Spanish Basque town of Barakaldo November 9, 2012. Thousands of people protested in Barakaldo on Friday after Amaia Egana, a 53 year-old woman committed suicide after receiving official notice that she was to be evicted, according to local media. The sticker reads, Bankers. Killers. (Reuters/Vincent West)
A sticker is seen on an ATM in the Spanish Basque town of Barakaldo November 9, 2012. Thousands of people protested in Barakaldo on Friday after Amaia Egana, a 53 year-old woman committed suicide after receiving official notice that she was to be evicted, according to local media. The sticker reads, “Bankers. Killers”. (Reuters/Vincent West)

Friday’s tragedy follows two similar events. On October 25, another 53-year-old, Jose Miguel Domingo, was found dead in Granada immediately after bailiffs appeared on his doorstep. The following day, another 53-year-old jumped out of his apartment window just ahead of an eviction in the town of Burjassot, surviving the fatal fall.

The growing trend in suicides over evictions is adding to a shopping list of public concerns in Spain, where unemployment is going through the roof – reaching well beyond 25 per cent.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will seek a deal with with the opposition Socialists at a meeting on Monday in an effort to halt evictions, Spanish news agency EFE reports.

“We ask the government and banks to halt all housing evictions until we have a new law,” Socialist Elena Valenciano said.

The Socialists aim to introduce a new law where evictions would be halted if a family only owns one home.

People look at the place where Amaia Egana commited suicide, jumping through her home′s window on November 9, 2012 in the Northern Spanish Basque town of Barakaldo. (AFP Photo/Rafa Rivas)
People look at the place where Amaia Egana commited suicide, jumping through her home’s window on November 9, 2012 in the Northern Spanish Basque town of Barakaldo. (AFP Photo/Rafa Rivas)

­The European countries hit hardest by the financial crisis have shown an upsurge in suicide rates and anti-depressant prescriptions.

Greece’s suicide rate, for example, has shot through the roof. The country’s health ministry noted a 40 per cent rise in suicides in the first half of 2010. And by 2011, that number stood at 25 per cent in Athens and by 18 per cent countrywide.

In Italy, suicides motivated by economic difficulties have increased 52 per cent, to 187 in 2010 from 123 in 2005, reports The New York Times.

housands of people march behind a banner through the Spanish Basque town of Barakaldo November 9, 2012. The banner reads, No To Unemployment. No To Evictions. (Reuters/Vincent West)
housands of people march behind a banner through the Spanish Basque town of Barakaldo November 9, 2012. The banner reads, “No To Unemployment. No To Evictions”. (Reuters/Vincent West)

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