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August 30, 2014
August 30, 2014

Large protest against a Nazi squat in Madrid

Author: Jairo Vargas Translator: Susana García
Source: Pú  Categories: Antifascism, Protest
This article is also available in: esel
Large protest against a Nazi squat in Madrid

Police prevented hundreds of protesters from entering the street Juan de Olias of Madrid, where neo-Nazis have squatted a building. - JAIRO VARGAS

Around 500 people took to the streets of the Tetúan neighbourhood to demand the eviction of the “Hogar Social Madrid” (Social Home Madrid), occupied recently by extreme rightists to help exclusively Spanish families who are in need.

Half a thousand people demonstrated this Saturday in the streets of the Tetúan neighbourhood of Madrid against the “Hogar Social Madrid – Ramiro Ledesma” a name given by extreme rightists to the building they have occupied on Juan Olías Street.

The protest, called by neighbourhood residents along with numerous members of antifascist collectives, ended with no incidents despite the tension sparked when the protest reached the street where the building is located. The occupants popped out of the windows with faces covered with masks, under a big Spanish flag to answer back to the yells from outside. The heavy police presence dissipated any chance of clashes, at least for the day, because, as their slogans warned, “we will be back without the police”.

The mobilisation was presented as a “matter of urgency towards the Government Delegation”, as Pedro, a 56- year-old Tetúan neighbour carrying a banner heading the protest under the slogan “Fascists out of our neighbourhoods”, explained to El Publico. “The presence of people with fascist, racist, xenophobe and exclusive ideology has kept all the neighbours restless”. “A place like this attracts people with violent behaviour”, explains Pedro stressing that the neo-Nazis have settled in a neighbourhood with a large foreign population. “This will end with clashes with the people they despise, the migrants”, he adds.

The “Hogar Social Madrid – Ramiro Ledesma” is an empty building where the neo-Nazis, linked to the Republican Social Movement political party (MSR), aims –according to the organisers– at helping families in need in the neighbourhood, as they explain in their Facebook page, excluding non-Spanish families or citizens.  The paradox lies in the fact that the building is located in a street “where mainly foreign people live” explained another middle-aged neighbour who did not want to provide her name, surprised by the ultra- rightists groups “advance” in the area.

Those attending the protest shouted slogans like “Fascists out of our neighbourhoods” or “Madrid will be the tomb of fascism”, escalating their tone as the bulk of the march reached the street of the “social centre” whose extremist occupants were waiting for them with the tranquillity provided by a huge police presence. Over 30 riot police and several vans prevented the demonstrators –mostly people with anti-fascist look– from getting closer than 30 metres from the place. The verbal provocations could be heard from both sides of the street, with the extremist gesturing and the protesters encouraging them clearly to cross the cordon and face them. The antifascists called them “cowards”, accused the police of “protecting fascists”, and replied to the cries with slogans such as “Adolf Hitler was transsexual” or “legless, armless, Nazis in pieces”.

Even after the protest was over, around 7.30 pm, hundreds of people were still blocking one of the lanes of Bravo Murillo, until the officers forced them to retreat to the sidewalk.

From the vicinity, other neighbours –mainly of Latin American origin– observed the protest, some with profound ignorance and others with the highest approval. Three young Spaniards, of Dominican descent, asserted to this newspaper that they fear being persecuted by the neo-Nazis. “Especially at night, when they gather to ‘go hunting’, as they say. They go, more than ten of them, looking for lonely foreigners to beat up”, they relate, so they regard as positive that someone mobilises against them.

Zaragoza, the beginning

This building in Madrid is not the first one to be occupied by neo-Nazis. In Zaragoza, the MSR has recognised the squatting of another building with the name “Hogar Social Zaragoza” and, although they have disassociated themselves from the squat of Madrid and another one in Castellón, they approve the exclusive and openly racist “social work” put into practice in them. The allegedly “patriotic” social work of the Spanish extreme right follows the model of the Greek Golden Dawn, the infamous neo-Nazi political party whose leader is in jail but is represented in institutions, distributes food only for Greeks in a country devastated by the economic crisis. Nevertheless, this emergence of the “non-conformist patriotic squats”, following the left-wing social movement style, is relatively new in Spain.

This is a clear example of the revival of extremist groups such as MSR or España 200, which follow the model of the Italian fascists whose epitome is Casa Pound, a fascist organisation committed to providing housing to Italian homeless people. “The neo-Nazis have been disguising their look and imitating the social movement discourse for years in order to gain followers”, the demonstration organisers explain, adding that “they want to use the crisis in order to spread their racist ideas and divert the struggle against social cuts in order to blame and point at migration as the cause of current problems such as unemployment, poverty and lack of opportunities”. And the thing is that the new discourse of the Spanish far right is about putting an end to speculation, stopping evictions and distributing food for the those in need, about “demolishing the power of money through the strength of selfless work for our people”

Note by On the 3rd September the first xenophobic and racist aggression by the neo-Nazi occupants of the “Hogar Social – Ramiro Ledesma” took place against a youth of Chilean origin. On September 16th, at the request of the National Police, the Judge of Instruction No. 48 of Madrid has ordered the evacuation of the occupied building.

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