February 15, 2008 at 6:20 pm #53652AnonymousParticipant
Is Spain Going To Turn Nasty For The Brits?
Usual slip-shod attitude from the police 😯
Attack victim tells of Spanish nightmare
By Rachel Wareing
Vivienne with son Aaron, daughter Katrina and Katrina’s baby son
An ex-pat who fled Spain after she was attacked by locals has warned of growing hostility towards British residents.
Vivienne Benson’s family arrived back in Sussex homeless and penniless after their dream of a place in the sun turned sour.
The 47-year-old was assaulted as she enjoyed an afternoon drink with her partner in a bar near their home in La Alfoquia, near Almeria, two years ago.
A 40-strong mob attacked the couple then targeted their house, smashing windows, doors and personal possessions while Vivienne’s teenage son, Aaron, hid upstairs.
Vivienne said: “They were screaming they were going to kill us and shouting, Brits out’.
“There was no reason for it. We had seen these people around the village for years.
Nobody could understand why they suddenly turned on us. We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
When police arrived they took pictures of the house on their mobile phones but did not take any forensic evidence, even though the blood of one of the assailants was splattered on the walls.
Surveillance camera footage of the attack at the bar also disappeared.
Vivienne received death threats after she decided to press charges and had to leave her sales job and escaped to a house in the mountains with Aaron, 15, and her 18-year-old daughter Katrina. Her partner, a builder, covered the bills but Vivienne was unable to find work and the family lived on the breadline.
They spent a year in hiding but eventually decided to move back to Hove after their bolthole was discovered.
The mother-of-two said tensions between Spaniards and the ex-pat community became increasingly apparent during the five years she lived there.
She decided to share her story with The Argus after reading about Goring couple John and Christine Bull, who fear their three-bedroom home near Almeria will be demolished.
The Spanish authorities plan to clear thousands of homes built illegally on the coast and on agricultural land – many of them owned by British ex-pats who, like the Bulls, bought them in good faith.
Vivienne believes resentment among Spaniards is fuelled partly by the overdevelopment of land for homes.
She said: “As the coastal areas have become built up builders have been moving inland and building 10,000 homes in villages where there is no infrastructure.
All the resources such as water are being taken by the British.”
Too few ex-pats bother to learn the language or adapt to the culture, she added, with some residents unable to say even basic greetings.
Yet she admits even those who do make an effort to integrate can find it hard to make friends with their Spanish neighbours.
“It’s not until you learn a bit of Spanish that you realise they’re insulting you, or telling you you’re being ripped off.”
Her allies were fellow migrants who also found themselves isolated – Ecuadorian and Argentinian workers and neighbours from Barcelona, who see themselves as Catalans rather than Spaniards.
Vivienne has now been back in Hove for four months but the process of rebuilding her life is proving difficult.
She and her two children and baby grandson Harvey are living with her sister and nephew in a two-bedroom flat in Wilfrid Road, Hove.
Her relationship with her partner has finally crumbled under the stress of the past two years and they have now separated.
Aaron is happily settled at Portslade Community College but has been moved back a year as he had fallen behind with his studies while attending the local Spanish school.
Although she is working as a sales administrator, Vivienne does not earn enough to rent a house privately and has appealed to the city council for help.
Housing officers have warned they may only be able to offer her temporary accommodation in Eastbourne, but that would mean finding a new school and job.
She said: “It’s been horrendous.
I want to pay my way but just need a helping hand to get started again.”
February 15, 2008 at 7:06 pm #78795AnonymousParticipant
Do not know what to make of this story. If half of it is true it is horrendous.
Personally I have never noticed real hostility towards foreigners, I do find when talking to Spanish people they do tend to be racist. They have always had a hatred of gypsies and are not too keen on the people from North Africa .
Reading the Spanish press there does not seem to be too much physical crime against foreigners, a lot of the crime seems to be between Russian , Irish and Rumanian mafia.
I am nervous that as unemployment rises , the foreigner will be blamed but this is as true in the UK as Spain.
A gang of 40 people attacking a villa seems hard to believe. I would certainly like to know more, can any Almeria residents who use this forum contribute anything?
February 15, 2008 at 7:24 pm #78797katyBlocked
Now I know I am usually accused of being negative about spain and the spanish but I just feel a little sceptical of this story. What I do know is that a lot of UK riffe raffe (Spanish term) have moved to some Inland pueblos, One Inland place has regular Saturday night fights usually Brits. They are attracted by cheap booze etc.
I do think that the spanish are a little racist but I don’t think they are as bad as that. It could actually have been a Gipsy area but it just doesn’t happen like this for no reason (and you know I don’t wear the rose-tinted!). There is a lot of resentment amongst the spanish but on the surface they are a very well-mannered people.
February 15, 2008 at 7:49 pm #78799MelosineParticipant
Know La Alfoquia and Zurgena well.
Locals and 99% of the residents were lovely but initial impression of some of the British kids and their parents was not good.
The kids aged 8 – 16 wore hoodies…in August !!! , did wheelies on the narrow pavements and hung about in groups outside shops. It was very intimidating.
Quite frankly, and this sounds very snobbish…something I am not, but it was as if Blair had sent all the asbo’s here.
However am in no way suggesting that this family were any part of this. Just setting the scene as I saw it.
Although this lady put a couple of messages on Viva-Almeria.com forum telling of her plight, not quite as has since been reported, posters residing in the village knew nothing of any such tensions then nor apparently do they now.
So it remains a mystery.
February 15, 2008 at 8:18 pm #78803katyBlocked
Yes, sounds about right!
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