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POLITICS

Colau gets down to work as Barcelona mayor by stopping an eviction

Ex-Mortgage Victims Platform activist phones up bank manager to request a stay

The new mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, takes the subway on Monday.
The new mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, takes the subway on Monday.

Ada Colau began her term as Barcelona’s new mayor on Monday by doing something she did for years when she was a social activist: stopping a home eviction.

The head of leftist bloc Barcelona en Comú personally showed up at 8.30am at one of the nine evictions scheduled in the low-income neighborhood of Trinitat Nova on Monday.

The neighborhood is located within the Catalan capital’s Nou Barris district, which contains the largest amount of families at risk of losing their homes to the banks.

The opposition CiU accused Colau of making “opportunistic use of vulnerable situations”

Colau – who used to head the Mortgage Victims Platform (PAH), which campaigned on behalf of those facing eviction – visited a couple with two children who live on Pedrosa street. The mayor personally phoned a branch of lender Bankia, whose manager “confirmed that they were staying the eviction in the courts, and the family were able to remain,” she said.

“If we had not confirmed the stay, they would have probably left,” said Colau, who also stopped two other evictions after speaking with bank heads on Monday. “Now we will work to find a more stable solution.”

Most of the foreclosures pending in Barcelona are scheduled to take place in Ciutat Meridiana (known popularly as Eviction City), one of the Catalan capital’s two furthest-flung neighborhoods.

In this part of town, some families accumulate several eviction notices on the same property: the first one comes when they stop paying their mortgage, the second one when they are allowed to stay as tenants but stop paying the rent as well, and the third when they became squatters, refusing to abandon the property.

At a press conference on Monday, Colau said one of her priorities at an upcoming meeting of city officials would be to convene an eviction prevention committee that brings together municipal workers, lenders and neighborhood associations. “It hasn’t met for months,” she said.

The main opposition group in the city, the CiU Catalan nationalist bloc – which was in government until last week – accused Colau of “making opportunistic use of vulnerable situations.”