by Lena Ariño
The squatters’ movement emerged on the 70 as a response to abuse of private property and the few expectations of youth to obtain decent housing. The occupation is always there, but the difference is that this movement was used as policy recognition, which is known as squatting.
When a building has been abandoned for a long time, squatters come inside and recondition it. After that, it can be used as a housing, social center or both. In these social centers alternative activities or services as playgroups for kids are carried.
This movement has received a great repression, particularly by the commercial media, where it defames the squatter movement compared with homeless and vandals who destroy people’s homes.
The counterculture element associated to the squatting movement is a common feature in all Europe. What is observed is that the strength of any social group to oppressive living conditions generates a unique culture that includes specific ways of expression, dressing, rules about courage and loyalty to the group, identities and values, as well as friends and romantic partners. It claims not to focus on a single demand, scarcity and access to housing in Spain. In addition, the movement includes reviews of macroeconomic policy, housing management policies and cultural spaces by public powers.
I would like to mention a special case in Holland. In Holland, squatting a house is legal if the building was more than 12 months abandoned. In that case, the police can act only when the input is forced or there are broken windows, then it will be interpret as vandalism. When a squat is installed in the building he will announce it officially and the police will arrive and verify it. There must be a bed, a chair, a table and a lock that can open and close the inhabitant. In my opinion, as for many things in this country, they are doing it great.
Its critical point is the social maladjustment and the paradox of going against the system. Finally, someone always loses, because they usurp private property of others, don’t pay taxes or utilities, and even the establishment of social centers is positive. It is also true that in many cases contribute to degradation of the urban environment. His behavior demerit the effort in the case of housing: their neighbors work a lifetime to pay off a mortgage, taxes and services, while they are installed on the face and also enjoy infrastructure.
Perhaps the most difficult thing is to know who among them fight for ideals and binds to enjoy its free benefits, who contribute to the balance of this society (which is certainly poorly designed), and who just unsettles all standards and established system.