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Why the word “Okupa” is Sparking Fear and Chaos in Spain

In the last few days, we have seen a subject sneaking into television grids with even more virulence than the COVID-19 pandemic.

I am talking about what is referred to as the “Okupas” – that has been dominating the news from all over the country for some time now. The insecurity that it causes us as citizens is only counteracted by the hatred of these lazy evil-doers who take advantage of any opportunity to sneak into your home that you have achieved with so much effort and sweat…

That’s right – people are stealing people’s homes while they are out. And they are getting away with it.

It seems that if you have a second home, such as a house on the beach or in the country, it’s even more difficult to throw them out. In these cases, the question is clear:

Have we made a mistake by working and studying? Does our country reward these criminals with total impunity?

Judging by what can be heard on the street, the answer is doubly affirmative…

The Fallacy of Generalisation

In some media outlets, we can read that how people declare, with latest generation smartphones no less, that they are violent and that they belong to radical groups, so we should all be in doubt:

How many are there? Are these “Okupas” all violent radicalists?

In reality, most of the Okupas target vulture fund properties or bank properties.The possibility of having your property forcibly occupied in this way is relatively low compared to other crimes. Of course, the possibility is never zero, just as there is never zero that your home will be burgled. Last year, there were nine times more burglaries in homes than squatters – and of these, 80% were on properties owned by large holders.

From these figures, it can be inferred that I am defending the Okupas. Far from it. The helplessness and anger I would feel if someone violated the privacy of my home would be immeasurable. It is truly horrifying to see how people see their homes destroyed at the whim of some stupid, brainless people.

To take away someone’s home is one of the most terrible evils there are. But let us not forget that it is the speculators who drive out the most vulnerable families. They then use the means at their disposal to exert pressure on the ruling class so that an exemplary response is made to the people who occupy empty properties owned by the latter. The business is round. And we are confused, intimidated and turned against each other. Tomorrow it could be you who is evicted or unable to pay the rent.

Who does this benefit?

Some point out that these fallacies are the river fishing of politicians and private security companies. The truth is, the first hypothesis seems to be the most plausible. Fear and the feeling of chaos only benefit those who are not in power. This, added to the pandemic, would leave hundreds of Spaniards petrified who would not know whether to leave home only to catch the disease, or stay and have their home forcibly taken from them while they’re inside.

What does the law say?

According to INE, Spain’s national statistical office, a family home is considered “unoccupied” when it is not the habitual residence of any person and is not used seasonally, periodically or sporadically by anyone. Therefore, entering someone’s home when they have gone out to buy bread could be considered a crime of breaking and entering. In that case, you can call the police with complete peace of mind. They will make a few minor checks and then throw those people out of your home (and yes, even that can take more than 48 hours). Moreover, this assumption is in fact included in 202.1 of Spain’s Criminal Code.

They want us to believe that there is a sector of society that supports a person freely entering your home. Whoever justifies such acts is as contemptible as the one who commits them. Article 18.2 of our country’s Constitution clearly states the inviolability of the home, which, together with the above-mentioned laws and the testimony of lay professionals in law, should give us the peace of mind to leave our home whenever we feel like it.

The magistrate Joaquim Bosch, spokesman of Judges for Democracy gives his opinion in an interview in ElDiario:

“I think that people should be reassured that it is highly unlikely that someone will be able to enter their home and that, if this happens, they will be quickly evicted”.

Some Final Thoughts

We are led to believe that a person who has no place to sleep resembles those gangs of fiends who enter your house taking advantage of the situation that you have gone out to run errands. And no, it has nothing to do with the pain of living on the streets if you are the kind of person and sneak into and take over the house of people who have suffered so much to pay for it. All homeless people shouldn’t be painted with the same brush – most would not do this. A person can make some decisions or others in life, but the Spanish state must always – no matter the particular circumstances –  give them a housing alternative.

There are a number of resources that can be traded – but others that cannot. No one would think of building large pools in the dry season if there are people who do not have enough to drink or bathe in. It is true that this is not the same situation, but let us make an effort to understand that while there is a part of the population that does not have to take shelter, there cannot be another small part that can take the homes of others as they choose.

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