You'd almost think it could only happen in the social safety net lacking United States, not a welfare loving socialistic European state. But in Spain it happened repeatedly some months ago, and now it's happening again.
A 46-year-old man has killed himself in Alicante, Spain, over the threat of being evicted from his house. It was the fourth case this week in Spain of a suicide committed over an eviction.
It turn out that Spain has some of the harshest foreclosure and eviction laws in the industrialized world.
European Union Advocate General Juliane Kokott issued a non-binding report concluding that Spanish legislation on evictions contradicts European norms for protecting consumer rights. Europe's highest court will rule on the issue.So crazy that in many cases, after you've been foreclosed on and evicted, the banks can still come after you for the rest of your life for what you "owe" them.
Under Spanish law, even when borrowers turn over their homes to the bank, they still owe the entire amount of the mortgage.And so the anguish continues.
On Tuesday, a retired couple took their lives by taking an overdose of prescription drugs in their apartment on the island of Majorca, AP reported. The 68-year-old man and the 67-year-old woman left a note saying they were going to lose their home due to debt. The couple’s son found their bodies.Spaniards have been up in arms protesting these draconian laws for some time now, and the current conservative Government promised reforms. But legislation that was enacted last year has no teeth, only preventing evictions of people if they are in the direst of dire straights and meet stringent requirements.
Families who fail to keep up payments on home loans must also meet other conditions to qualify for the protection from the banks ((under the new law)). They must have at least three children or a child under three years, or be taking care of a dependent who is disabled, or be unemployed and not receiving benefits, to name a few stipulations.
No one thought to ask Basauri Vizcaya how dire the straights were he found himself in as he became despair's fourth victim.
And at the beginning of the week, a 56-year-old man committed suicide in the town of Basauri Vizcaya because he couldn't pay his mortgage.Now protesters are rallying for parliament to consider a "people's legislative initiative" for a new mortage law.
Anti-eviction activists protest in front of Popular Party's office in Barcelona, February 12 (Reuters / Albert Gea)
Public outcry against evictions this week led Spain's parliament to accept ((for consideration)) a popular initiative against mortgage-related evictions for unpaid debts...The conservative Government agreed to consider the proposal "in extremis" due to increasing social pressure, but would obviously be loathe to enact such legislation.
The Popular Legislative Initiative (ILP), promoted by the citizen movement Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH) (Platform for those Affected by Mortgage), is backed by nearly a million-and-a-half signatures.
It calls for "payment in kind," meaning that a person’s debts are written off once they have surrendered their home, and wants this to apply retroactively. It also wants a moratorium on evictions, and the creation of social housing with homes confiscated by banks.
It remains to be seen whether the measures proposed in the ILP will be incorporated unchanged into a bill on the same subject which is already passing through the parliament...Spain as a whole continues to be in deep shit, not just with respect to housing, but in every sector of the economy.
Some in economic circles oppose payment in kind, arguing it will make credit more expensive and hurt the financial system.
Unemployment is now affecting a whopping 26.2 percent of the workforce in Spain, even as there are drastic cuts in key areas such as health and education.The total failure of its economic policies has (finally!) led the government to say that they might do something, pulling back just a tad on some of their austerity measures.
Mr. Rajoy ((Spain's Prime Minister)) has signaled he might ease up somewhat on the austerity push. He said last week that his government will continue to extend benefits for the long-term unemployed for as long as the unemployment rate stays above 20%. He also said it would extend a plan offering financial assistance for new car purchases.Yup. A new car is just the thing for all those middle-aged unemployed workers tossed out of their homes. But even with that massive anti-austerity measure in the works
Most analysts expect the first quarter of 2013 to be nearly as bad for the Spanish economy as the previous three months... "Looking ahead, we forecast GDP to contract through 2013..."Meanwhile, as government ministers ponder and pontificate
Protesters gathered outside parliament on Tuesday evening, shouting slogans such as "It's not eviction, it's murder."It's time Spain's politicians started listening to their people. It's time for austerity, and despair, to end.