Saturday, May 28

Chulapa squat in the heart of tourist Madrid

Acting as chulapos, with red carnations in their hair or ears, some 200 people, most of them young, have occupied this morning the historic convent of Las Recogidas in Madrid, which was the headquarters of the UGT until 2017 and was now waiting for its conversion into a hotel , after the City Council reclassified the land last February. The maneuver comes when it has just been learned that the Supreme Court has confirmed that the eviction of the self-managed center La Ingobernable at the end of 2019 was illegal. For the entry into the property, the Ingobernable group itself and others from Madrid’s social activism, such as Rebelión or Extinción, the Tenants’ Union, the La Ferroviaria social center or Fridays for Future, have agreed.

The input in the block has a double symbology. On the one hand, it is the latest event in the confrontation between the social movements and the mayor, José Luis Martínez-Almeida (PP), who made the eviction of the previous space one of his electoral campaign promises, only to end up closing it irregularly. On the other, he points to the UGT for having rented the convent to a hotel company and participating in the process of converting the city into a focus of mass tourism, “joining the neoliberal policies of consumerism”, as they pointed out at the doors of the building , at number 88 Hortaleza street, the spokespersons Silvia S and Martín S.

Applause, laughter and dancing to the sound of music from a loudspeaker have accompanied the entrance to the venue and as the banners were hung from the windows. Playing with the dates, the first explained reasons: “We get cool against speculation.” The second featured the mayor’s last name and the union’s name, joined by a heart. On the sidewalk, the usual chorus: “10, 100, 1,000 occupations” or “whoever governs, Madrid defends itself”, while at a certain distance police vehicles began to appear, which for the first hour did not intervene.

It is now about “generating new connections and circles in this non-institutional Madrid”, with hope, but bearing in mind that there will be resistance. “Almeida has a declared battle against us and is going to put us on all sides,” spokesman Martín has assumed, celebrating that the action coincides with the court’s decision. “He has come to our hair for the motto of ‘an eviction, another occupation’”, he has joked.

Meanwhile, the spring Saturday on a tourist street continued its course, precisely in the sense that the occupants intend to limit: food delivery men on bicycles, dozens of tourists with wheeled suitcases parading in single file, and visitors observing the scene with amusement. “Come in if you’re a neighbor,” one of those present warned a man in shorts and a summer shirt who asked what was going on. A municipal cleaning truck was crossing the road and the driver honked. The same was done by the driver of a VTC car. Those present cheered their dicks. It didn’t seem, at first, that anyone who saw the scene was going to install a burglar alarm when they got home.

The building, which dates from 1623, although it was rebuilt on several occasions (it burned down in the Civil War), has an area of ​​almost 4,000 square meters and enjoys heritage protection. Now it remains “at the disposal of social movements and grassroots trade unionism,” the promoters hope. The first open assembly was scheduled for the afternoon, in which the initial objectives will be defined. “It is about being transversal, metropolitan”, say the spokespersons, who want a refuge within the “hostile Madrid of the extreme right”.

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