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Spain: Days for the Right to Housing without Borders

A tour of international initiatives for the right to housing and the right to the city is kicking off on Saturday 31 May in Madrid with the seminar ¿ Cómo conseguir una vivienda digna ? (How to obtain decent housing). These initiatives are probably the first ever of their kind to be held in Spain, and will run until Saturday 7 June. They go under the name of the Days for the Right to Housing without Borders, organized by the International Alliance of Inhabitants (IAI) in partnership with the Federacion de Vecinos de Madrid , Plataforma por una Vivienda Digna and other inhabitants collectives, and in collaboration with FAMSI-FAL and various local authorities (the Basque country government, Diputacion from Malaga and Grenada, the communes of Jaen, Seville and Rivas).

A number of initiatives are programmed to take place in the capital and various towns in Andalusia and the Basque Country; around twenty urban social leaders from Latin America, Africa and Europe, including Russia, are participating.

With the disputed 2004 Barcelona Urban Forum, cancellation of the European meeting of housing ministers in 2006 following protests, and the recent visit the Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing took advantage of to criticize countries’ housing policies, Spain is once again attracting international attention. The IAI therefore took the decision to launch the tour in Spain, starting in Madrid, the city that saw the birth of the IAI in September 2003.

Objective: to give unified support to the relaunch of the movement for the right to housing by strengthening coordination with inhabitants organizations and the urban social movement on the international level. The aim is to reinforce a movement that, starting out from the World Zero Evictions Days, now an established event held every October, succeeded in coordinating around fifty initiatives in various countries for the WSF Global Action Day on 26 January 2008.

On the programme: creation of Local Offices against evictions and violations of the right to housing; promotion of experience-sharing between initiatives innovating in the field of collective property cooperatives and loan assistance; preparations for the new European States General for Housing and the Social Forums (ASF in Guatemala, ESF in Malmö, WSF in Belem); strengthening of partnerships with local authorities committed to the struggle to defend and develop public services, and collaboration between institutional universities and the IAI-promoted Urban Popular University.

Focus will be on relaunching the debt cancellation campaign for poor countries and provision of resources for the Popular Funds for the Earth and Home, i.e. participation policies, possibly the only point credited to the movements in the conclusion document of the recent and disputed Lima EU-LAC governmental summit.

The IAI coordination committee will also be meeting in order to define a new strategy for 2009-2010, a vital step in building a united front against the attacks of neo-liberal globalization on human settlements.