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Murcia: Dozens of immigrants wait for eviction in occupied houses

Illegal settlements

In Los Dolores (Murcia), there are constant complaints about the filth and presence of minors in ‘deplorable’ conditions, while in Patiño, camps have been set up again.

In La Azacaya, black pudding is the talk of the town. But less than one kilometre away, among the fig and lemon trees beside the River Segura next to Manolito’s lane, several dozen immigrants live in subhuman conditions. They are waiting for a judge to order the eviction and demolition of the abandoned houses in which they have lived for the last two years.

Complaints about the filth and the stench, the presence of minors, and fears that the area will turn into a permanent ‘homeless’ camp have led the Municipal Council to inform the Civil Protection Branch of the National and Local Police Force about the existence of these illegal settlements. According to the Mayor, Joaquín Lopéz, the order to demolish the houses is already being processed. ‘Obviously we have received complaints, in fact in March a motion was approved in Council to request that the National Police and the Regional Government Office, who are responsible for immigration matters, intervene as the conditions in which they are living are deplorable’.

However, the immigrants themselves are standing their ground, and insist that they only decided to move into these houses because they had nowhere else to go, and in order to avoid paying rent. ‘We just collect scrap metal, we don’t drink and we’re not thieves. The police know us and they know that we don’t steal’, Gogu, a 23-year-old Romanian who lives with 13 other relatives – brothers and nephews - in one of the houses, told LA OPINION. The house will have to be demolished in the coming weeks, before work commences on Los Dolores’ planned bypass, one of the Mayor’s high profile projects to improve connections between Murcia and the eastern districts.

In my country, 70 Euros is a lot of money’

Some 20 men, the majority sub-Saharan African youths from Senegal and Mali, as well as from the Gulf of Guinea, have found refuge in a ruined farmhouse. Sendor, 32 years old, has been in Spain for three years: one year in Madrid and two years in Murcia. His home, hidden among lines with washing hanging, is an old abandoned electrical workshop which today serves as shelter and improvised kitchen. ‘I work in the countryside, but they call you for four days and we’re off’, the youth tells us, while another of his fellow lodgers guides us, barefoot, to where three Romanian families live. ‘For this pile of scrap you see here, they give us about 70 Euros, which in Romania is a lot of money. What we earn here in Murcia in two or three days, we’d have to work more than a month for in Romania’ says Vasile, 38 years old and father of five. ‘In my country I looked after horses on a farm, but here life is better’. Vasile and his nephew Gogu go out every day looking for scrap, and they make enough to eat. ‘We buy chicken and pork and we have got used to Spanish cooking’, they say, not knowing when they will be evicted, ‘but we can’t stand octopus’.

For now, eviction doesn’t bother them, as they plan to travel to Jaén for the olive harvest and return to Murcia: ‘If it’s gone, we’ll look for another place’.

On the other hand, the mayor of Patiño, Pedro Martínez García, confirmed to LA OPINION the appearance of new illegal settlements in the district, after the Council dismantled Bulgarian settlements before summer. Martínez pointed out that not all settlers had left and that some continued to live illegally in houses there. However, Nuria Fuentes, the councillor responsible for Public Safety, indicated that no further complaints about the occupation of private property in Patiño had been received, although she pointed out that in such cases, authorities could only intervene at the request of interested parties.

Decenas de inmigrantes esperan el desalojo en viviendas ocupadas