December 14, 2008 at 8:48 am #54573
A year has passed since the Priors’ home in Vera was demolished. Since then, nothing has been done (and less accomplished). Thousands of other ‘illegal’ houses in eastern Almería are under threat from a callous administration in Seville and its offices in Almería. In the past few years, the international community resident in Spain has fallen victim to property mortgage scams, ‘land grab’, property fraud, corruption and thievery. Spain’s reputation is in tatters internationally because the authorities have failed to act coherently.
It’s time to make the call: the Priors will have been living in a garage without water and electricity for a year on January 9th 2009.
It’s time to show support and outrage.
Theme: Stop Corruption. Justice Now. Support us. We bought in good faith. Save our homes. Stop planning and real estate abuse. Regularisation now. Justice for the Priors. Transparency and Citizen Participation.
The organisers, residents in the province of Almería, are holding a peaceful protest: (1) against real estate and planning corruption and insecurity and to ask for justice; (2) to ask for solutions and the protection of purchasers in good faith, some of which, are subject to the threat of demolition, and many of which do not have proper water and electricity; (3) to seek transparency and citizen participation in the regularisation process; (4) against proposed charges the Junta seeks to levy within the regularisation process, and which should be met by those responsible, and to ensure this is guaranteed in writing; (5) to ask for justice for the Prior family, victims of so-called ‘planning irregularities’, whose house was demolished a year ago, and who have not yet seen any sign of redress.
The route will take us to the offices of the Junta de Andalucía’s representatives in Almería City. The march begins at the Puerta de Puchena, will go past the Edificio de la Diputación (Almería County Council) to continue to the Oficina del Subdelegado Provincial de la Junta de Andalucía where speeches (in both Spanish and English) will be made and a note handed to the provincial representative of the Junta de Andalucía, Luís Caparros.
The march has all necessary permissions from the Almería police and town hall. Join us!
Thank you for the support of the following citizens movements: AVEP, AULAN, AUAN, AUN, LSOS, Ciudadanos Europeos.
Contact: AULAN secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 950 069 558.
December 21, 2008 at 8:46 am #88749
I’m in Madrid for a few days and last night was talking with some friends here about the ‘protest march in Almería City’. They seemed quite impressed with the idea, saying that the ‘Northern Europeans’ (well, ‘los ingleses‘) had never tried a thing on such a scale and, if it was properly supported, then there could be be a spotlight on the whole problem of ‘illegal houses’, ‘mobbing‘ (Spanish for ‘bullying the weak’), property fraud and scams and the general lack of a sound policy on ‘the golden egg’ which is the europeos and their funds from overseas, job creation and support for local business.
December 25, 2008 at 10:44 am #88847
December 29, 2008 at 9:14 pm #88931
Hi -me again. An elderly Spanish lady I know gives me the following to post here..
We have organized this march to protest against the urban abuses in Almería province. The 9th of January is the first anniversary of the demolition of the Prior’s house in Vera. For those of you who don’t know, this retired British couple built their house with all the necessary licenses granted by the Vera Town Hall in 2002. Nevertheless, the Junta de Andalucía considered their house to be illegal and, in the end, it was bulldozed. To date, the Priors are living in their garage and there is no sign of any solution or compensation of any kind from the Spanish authorities. Every day there are more and more cases of abuse of this type. The confusion of the Spanish legal system and its arbitrary application affect all of us.
I am here to emphasise that this situation does not only affect the British. I was a farmacist and have lived in Garrucha since my retirement. Earlier this year I joined AULAN, an association for the defence of victims of urban abuse, even though I did not have any personal problems at the time. I thought that the Priors’ rights had been violated and it seemed to me that more cases of this kind could happen to anyone.
To my surprise, two months later, I learned that a new “highway” was going to be built right in front of my house. I have lived in a complex of 92 units, all occupied by Spanish, for 30 years. The town hall intends to expropriate our gardens and parking space and each household is expected to contribute 3000 euros so that the road can be built. This agreement was signed six years ago without any of us being notified. So we are yet another case of what the international press calls “land grab”. Your land is taken without compensation and what’s worse, you must pay for your share of the infrastructure costs and you have no say in the matter, as incredible as it may seem.
AULAN is an information and pressure group, one of many citizens’ groups which are mushrooming everywhere in Spain. In September, we organized a peaceful march in Cantoria for the regularisation of some 5000 homes which are currently considered to be illegal – although, once again, all permissions were given. So far it appears that the authorities are taking us seriously. But we must keep the pressure on and for this to happen, we need the collaboration of everybody.
You all know that the global economy is collapsing. The property market here in Spain is dead. Foreign residents are fleeing in mass. The international press writes about the lack of legal transparency in our property market. The European Parliament has already come three times to Spain to investigate our cases of urban abuse. The foreigners will not be coming back until they feel secure about their rights and their property. We have killed the golden goose.
It is time for ordinary citizens to take responsibility for our lives and to begin fighting back against ineffective politicians – from every party – who have brought us to this situation. The non-Spanish who are coming on this march are those who don’t want to leave Spain, who consider Spain to be their home. That is why I urge all Spanish to help us convince them not to leave, to show them that Spain is not a lawless country. But most of all, I ask that we Spanish get involved and learn to protect our rights and our property. Only then will we have true democracy.
December 29, 2008 at 10:55 pm #88933
Make her the next prime minister or give her a passport to live in another Country. This woman is far too sensible to be a Spaniard.
I was speaking to some Spanish friends from Madrid. They had not heard of the Priors & were horrified to hear what I told them..
December 30, 2008 at 9:16 am #88934
I have never in my life come across such an abuse of human rights,Spain is a disgrace to the modern world,it has no fair legal system and the country is in a total mess,its a third world country at most and its very diffacult to find anyone honest in the legal and construction areas and especially some of the british we have met but include other foreiners in that such as Germans and South Americans,they have no shame.
December 30, 2008 at 10:28 am #88936
“I have lived in a complex of 92 units, all occupied by Spanish, for 30 years. The town hall intends to expropriate our gardens and parking space and each household is expected to contribute 3000 euros so that the road can be built. This agreement was signed six years ago without any of us being notified”.
I’m hoping that with the Spanish themselves becoming affected, the momentum against this total arrogance and abuse by officials will gather pace. I can see civil unrest being the next step if this abuse of rights doesn’t stop.
December 30, 2008 at 11:21 am #88938
Charlie: I say bring it own ASAP. They should learn from compatriots of their Queen.
December 30, 2008 at 12:20 pm #88941
well thank heavens for common sense. What Concha Arranz is saying is what the people posting on this thread, and hopefully the majority know to be right. How much longer can Spain ignore the fact that it’s own people in positions of power are still ruining their country (with the help of UK crooks and sharks from Spain and other countries) in the name of corruption and greed, despite the ugly facts being out in the open.
I so much want this protest march to succeed, not just for the Priors, though heaven knows, that’s a good enough reason, but for everyone who has lost through no fault of their own, and for the Spanish people. They are a proud race, i and i feel sure they would prefer their country to be once again seen as a desirable place to visit and live, not a corrupt joke that it’s been reduced to in some regions in last few years.
This perhaps really could be the start of forced change if enough people have the spirit to drive it forward?
December 30, 2008 at 12:46 pm #88942
“They are a proud race,”
Agree, an ordinary citizen and with a lot of dignity & self respect.
“i feel sure they would prefer their country to be once again seen as a desirable place to visit and live “
Until few years ago and perhaps even today. Spain was a Country where very few people read a newspaper or books. They are happy to be uninformed & I can assure you that even today perhaps 98% of the people do not know what is going on & how once a country that was held in such esteem is now looked up with disdain.
” a corrupt joke that it’s been reduced to in some regions in last few years.”
Sorry to disappoint you but its not some some region that are corrupt and not the last few years. In some regions its on your face & others you don’t hear about it Spaniards takes this as a way of life and it becomes a second nature to them.
December 30, 2008 at 11:05 pm #88949
I’ve read Lenox’ postings on this thread since 12 December with growing disquiet and anger. The ‘property situation’ in Spain is dire. Wherever one looks there is illegality, deviousness, corruption and fear. Our politicians and organisations set up to help victims say that they can’t interfere. Those in authority within the Spanish legal system avert their eyes. So many purchasers and would-be purchasers have been disappointed and distressed to a point of nigh on desperation. The stories which reach us are infinite in their variety and are never-ending.
There has to be a turning point. And maybe now is the time. I may be kidding myself but I believe that we are beginning to see signs of movement. By the end of this year we have had yet another damning report on the property situation in Spain from the European Parliament’s Petitions Committee led by a Danish MEP, and a Spanish MEP has undertaken a fact-finding mission on the spot in Andalucia. For the first time we are hearing the word ‘sanctions’ used in their condemnation of the current goings-on. Spain is in real danger of losing grant monies from the EP unless it gets a grip and starts behaving in a just and fair way in its attitude and practice towards land, property and environmental issues. What more can be done? What can you and I do to add to any momentum now taking place?
On Thursday it will be the first day of 2009. It’s a day of resolutions – a day of rethinking and reworking. To remind – these are some of the protests now underway that will culminate in January.
1. The Protest March in Almeria City on 9 January.
2. The Spanish Property Scandal Petition that Suzanne has put together will be taken in person to No 10 Downing Street in early January.
3. The petition to the Governor of the Bank of Spain demanding the honouring of Bank Guarantees will be sent to him towards the end of the month of January.
I am now suggesting that we get involved in such a groundswell of protest that it cannot be ignored any longer. Let’s all make a resolution and commit to it. For a start this is mine. The only way we can have any effect on the Spanish judicial system is through the European Parliament. This is only my opinion, but I think it may be a fact. It’s a long and tedious way of doing things but I believe it has to be accepted because as far as I can see we have nothing other than this to work with. In the UK there are 78 MEPs who are supposed to represent us in Europe. When we have concerns they are the people to whom we are meant to turn. I’m therefore going to blanket email all of them and respectfully request that they support our protest efforts (they won’t have heard of them unless we tell them) by adding their individual written protest to ours in whichever way they feel it’s appropriate to do so.
I would like to throw some ideas into the ring and for now I want to suggest some specific actions that could be taken. I would like to ask you to think about doing one or all of the following:
a) if you have not already sent a petition of your own to the Petitions Committee in the EP that you do that asap. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/committees/peti_home_en.htm
b) write to ALL the MEPs in your area – this would support my blanket mailing – and to your MP to make them aware of your situation. Only one letter needs to be written and that copied to them all. Those of you who have done this in the past please send a follow-up letter to update them (and not let them off the hook). http://www.europarl.org.uk/uk_meps/MembersMain.htm
c) visit your MP at his/her next surgery and ask them to support you in an individual protest letter – look them firmly in the eye. We put them there to do this kind of thing for us!
d) write to the Spanish Ombudsman. http://www.defensordelpueblo.es/web_ingles/home2.asp
e) write to the Spanish Bar Association. Ilustre Colegio de Abogados (branches in each province) or directly to the President of the CGPJ – Consejo General del Poder Judicial (The General Council of the Judiciary)
f) write to or ring your local newspaper and get a story printed. Don’t be shy.
g) make sure you have signed the Spanish Property Scandal Petition http://www.spanishpropertyscandalpetition.co.uk and, where it’s appropriate, the petition to the Governor of the Bank of Spain. http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/spanishbankguarantees.html
h) attend protests where it’s physically possible to do and cheer on by email where you can’t.
I’m sure you have more ideas and suggestions that you can make so lets put our heads together so that we can bang the drum and make as much noise as possible.
We need a flood of mail and a tide of publicity.
We need to keep up the pressure.
We need to stand by each other.
Something, somewhere, has to give – and it’s not going to be us.
December 31, 2008 at 8:12 am #88950
to me it looks like there is a god.
very well done the ball is now rolling lets keep pushing it guys.
December 31, 2008 at 1:47 pm #88962
You have achieved more in actual ‘action’ than anyone else I know. With endless hours researching and letter-writing, am sure your efforts have and will contribute greatly towards changes to Spain’s current abuse of people’s rights. Changes that will ultimately benefit endless thousands.
Likewise with Suzanne and the petition she has organised.
Many of us ‘talk’ a lot on the forum about how there should be change, but actually doing something constructive like you requires determination and a dedication of mind that I for one lack.
I would like to say a big ‘well done’ – and may your own personal encounter with Spanish corruption finally be laid to rest with a just result in the New Year.
December 31, 2008 at 2:21 pm #88963
Charlie. I second you.
December 31, 2008 at 6:48 pm #88968
Re: roots. How right you are. Made my bit of letter writing and joining petitions, along with much bleating, all look a bit feeble compared to those like Roots and Suzanne.
January 1, 2009 at 9:14 pm #88973
Thanks, folks. I think I was born b****y minded.
January 5, 2009 at 5:30 pm #89027
I for one will be trotting around the streets of Almeria on the 9th. I mean, if not now….when will we stand up for our human rights?
January 6, 2009 at 8:35 am #89028
well done to you and all others going to protest on the ninth. Most of the reason for Spains mess is because the bad guys have been allowed by the powers that be (also often bad guys) to run rough shod over rules, regulations, common sense and justice. I think it’s down to decent people now to force change, because it’s not going to happen otherwise!
January 6, 2009 at 8:56 am #89029
This subject and demo appears in todays Daily Telegraph…..UK…and the on line version.
January 7, 2009 at 10:14 am #89040
Here’s the document the protestors will be handing to Luís Caparros, the Junta de Andalucía’s gauleiter for Almería (he who ordered the demolition of the Prior’s house last year – costing Almería its reputation internationally and, in estimate, hundreds of millions of lost sales):
Demonstration Almeria City 9 January 2009:
We, the demonstrators, are asking for:
1. Study Commission: That a Study Commission be established, with representatives from the government and citizens’ groups (including those for the protection of homeowners’ rights and ecologists):
– To investigate the serious planning and environmental problems, to draw up a report on the causes of said problems and their possible solutions, as well as recommendations for the future.
– To follow up any measures adopted to resolve said problems, as a consulting body, ensuring maximum publicity of and transparency in all procedures.
– In both the investigation and follow-up, particular care will be taken to respect the following principles: 1) The necessity of full adherence of EU community law and fundamental rights, including those covered by the European Agreement for the Protection of Human Rights and Basic Freedoms as well as the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights; 2) The true needs of the cities and towns affected; 3) The sustainability of the environment and the need to preserve the historical and cultural identity of the affected areas; 4) That developers, officials and other third parties responsible for these problems should rectify the damages caused in a real and effective manner; 5) The threat of demolition of property acquired in good faith should only occur in exceptional cases and only when previous and real compensation has been guaranteed; 6) The legitimate right of purchasers of property acquired legally must be recognised and criteria established according to Art. 33 of the Spanish Constitution with respect to public and social interest in order to prevent and prohibit that decisions made by local and regional authorities can infringe on personal rights of ownership; 7) When it becomes necessary to compensate the loss of real estate property under any circumstances, such compensation must be made prior to the loss of the property and according to adequate valuations and the laws of the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights; 8) Any process of regularisation should, as much as possible, be in the form of binding agreements (including adequate guarantees) between those who have caused the irregularities and the various administrations. The above is almost entirely in accordance with recommendations made by the European Parliament in its Resolution dated 21 June 2007 based on results collected during their fact-finding visit to the Autonomous Communities of Andalucia, Valencia and Madrid carried out on behalf of the Committee of Petitions.
2. ARBITRATION: A special administrative commission composed in a similar fashion as the Study Commission and guided by the same principles to be created. This commission should include a provincial public defender, advised by independent investigation services including representatives from the appropriate administrations and from citizens’ groups (including those for the defence of property owners and ecology groups), and with arbitration powers over conflicts related to these problems. The commission should be available to affected parties free of charge (point 12 of above Resolution).
3. MORATORIUM: A moratorium on any pending procedures which could result in the demolition of houses should be put into effect while the Study Commission carries out its work.
4. ELECTRICITY AND WATER: Any house which has been occupied in the past three years should be temporarily permitted electricity and water services until the regularisation process has been concluded.
5. TRANPARENCY AND PARTICIPATION: Notice of any planning or environmental procedure should be communicated individually to all those affected, directly or indirectly, as well as publicised widely, not only limited to publication in the relevant Bulletins (point 10 of above Resolution).
6. PROTOCOL: A protocol should be established related to the precise steps and standardised procedures with regards to the purchase and sales of real estate to individual homeowners, such as those in other EU member states such as the UK which will include:
– The following related certificates which must be issued by the relevant administrative body: 1) Planning; 2) Environmental; 3) Catastral and Land Registry.
– Standardised sales contracts and deeds
– Set deadlines to complete each stage related to property purchases or construction to be required by law
7. CATASTRAL & LAND REGISTRY: Information in these two registries must be identical with topographical documentation in the Land Registry.
8. REAL ESTATE AGENTS: Should be 1) licensed or able to prove that they have passed an examination related to their knowledge and abilities; 2) have adequate insurance to cover all civil liabilities; 3) clearly regulated in their activities.
9. PROMOTERS & CONSTRUCTORS: These must be subject to bonds, guarantees or other insurance to cover any third-party liabilities including from buyers, administrations, for environmental issues, etc. Proof that such guarantees are valid should be required before any property transaction whatsoever.
10. PRIOR FAMILY: The Junta de Andalucia should immediately compensate the Prior family, carrying out any action against third parties which it deems necessary, without the Priors having to undertake any further legal action in order to attain such compensation.
January 7, 2009 at 12:02 pm #89043
Congratulations to the people involved in drafting the petition. As a part of Spanish character is to be bloody minded & egoistic. There are two Spanish expressions ” cabesetos” or a ” burro ” the first means bloody minded & stubborn and the second is compared to a stubborn Donkey who would just not move despite of all the stick work on it.
I am sure that you will be forwarding the document to Junta de Andalucia in Seville & other relevant departments in Madrid.
Good luck & we all have our best wishes for those who are affected.
January 8, 2009 at 7:37 pm #89058
January 9, 2009 at 10:10 am #89064
good luck indeed to them and everyone else protesting. I hope this is just the start, and will snowball if that’s what it takes to force change on those responsible for sitting back and doing nothing to put right so many wrongs.
January 9, 2009 at 11:07 am #89066
Good Luck to all on the protest march. It is truly fantastic to see such enthusiasm and support by people to fight the corruption and shocking abuse of the justice system in Spain.
I’m sure we who fight will win in the end.
January 10, 2009 at 6:06 am #89087
It seemed to go well. We were lucky that the weather was warm and sunny (!). We met up at the top of the main street, the ‘Paseo de Almería’ and I gave some speech in Spanglish to the assembled protestors (and passers by). The ‘carpet-slippers and cocoa’ protestors (as one of them said), escorted by the police, then took off down the Obispo Orberá and on down to the offices of the Junta de Andalucía’s gauleiter in Almería where speeches from various people with land-grab and other problems were made. I read Helen Prior’s speech for her (…’sometimes I think that I would rather have been put against a wall and shot than to have gone through with this’) as she was in the office of Luís Caparros (he who ordered the demolition a year ago) together with the leaders of the AULAN and AUAN protest groups and their lawyer.
We were told afterwards that ‘progress had been made’ (which means little) and that we should have a clearer picture by next week. I’ll continue to write this up as I get information – see http://spanishshilling.blogspot.com.
January 11, 2009 at 10:32 pm #89113
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