EU plagued by suicides, as deeper austerity measures enacted and economic woes worsen

Saturday, November 10, 2012
By Paul Martin

TheExtinctionProtocol.com
November 10, 2012

MADRID – A woman in Spain jumped to her death as bailiffs approached to evict her Friday from her fourth-floor apartment for failing to pay the mortgage, officials said. It was the second apparent suicide linked to evictions, and it further illustrates the dire conditions many Spaniards find themselves in as the country’s economy sinks. The government recently created a task force to study how to reduce evictions because of the devastating personal impact of repossessions due to tough Spanish mortgage rules and growing unease among the public on the subject. The unnamed 53-year-old woman threw herself from her balcony in a suburb of the northern Spanish city of Bilbao, the regional Interior Ministry said. She worked at a local bus depot, was married to a former town councilor and had a 21-year-old daughter. Local judge Juan Carlos Mediavilla told reporters at the scene that it was “necessary to amend current mortgage legislation” to prevent a recurrence of such events. Employment and Social Security Minister Fatima Banez said late Friday that the government deeply regretted the woman’s death. Home owners in Spain face greater risks than mortgage-holders in many countries. If a home owner in Spain is unable to make the agreed mortgage payments – through unemployment or low income – he or she can get evicted but also remain liable to repay whatever value is left on the mortgage after the repossession. Since the 2008 property crash, more than 350,000 people have been caught in this trap. There are another 500 evictions a day, according to government figures. On Oct. 25, Jose Miguel Domingo, 53, was found dead in the courtyard of his building in Granada moments after bailiffs appeared to evict him. A day later, another 53-year-old man who had been unemployed for four years jumped out of his apartment window in the eastern town of Burjassot as eviction loomed. He survived but with injuries. The dramatic impact that repossessions can have on individuals spurred Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government to create the task force on evictions, and the latest death will likely add pressure on the group to find solutions. “We must find the most effective means to alleviate the situation experienced by people who are losing their homes,” Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said earlier this month. On Thursday, the European Court of Justice’s advocate general, Juliane Kokott, handed down a non-binding legal opinion that criticized Spanish legal rules regarding evictions, saying they were incompatible with European norms, according to Spanish media reports. The ruling came in response to a query from a Spanish court on a 2011 lawsuit over an eviction due to an unpaid mortgage. Kokott said the Spanish system did not sufficiently protect consumers against possible abusive clauses in mortgage contracts. An improvement in the property market is not expected anytime soon. The government predicts Spain’s economy, which is now in recession, will not grow until 2014. Unemployment is at a staggering rate of 25 percent. -AP

Thousands protest evictions: Thousands of people have taken to the streets of the Basque Spanish city of Barakaldo to condemn the suicide of an evictee as well as to protests against further foreclosures. ­Fifty-three-year-old Amaia Egaña jumped four floors to her death as bailiffs prepared to kick her out after she failed to stay current on her mortgage payments. She is the second person in less than three weeks to commit suicide in the face of an impending eviction. Organizers of the Stop Eviction march called for immediate action by Madrid to end foreclosures, blaming the suicide on Spain’s economic hardship. Demonstrators shouted slogans such as, “No eviction unanswered,” and “Banker, remember – we have rope.” It is estimated that more than 400,000 families have lost their homes due to unpaid rents since the start of Spain’s financial crisis in 2007. On Thursday, the EU Court of Justice criticized Spain’s mortgage law, which governs evictions, calling for a halt to the reposition of property. The Court said the legislation is incompatible with European consumer protection standards. –RT

Same story in Greece: In May, a 61-year-old Greek pensioner has hung himself from a tree in a public park after succumbing to the pressure of crushing debt. A note in his pocket indicated he was merely the latest in a rash of economic crisis-induced suicides. The pensioner’s lifeless body was found dangling by an attendant in a public park not far from his home in the suburb of Nikaia, Athens. The attendant also found a suicide note in the man’s pocket, The Athens news reports. The man, identifying himself as Alexandros, said he was a man of few vices who “worked all day.” However, he blamed himself from committing one “horrendous crime,” becoming a professional at the age of 40 and plunging himself into debt. He referred to himself as a 61-year-old idiot who had to pay, hoping his grandchildren would not be born in Greece, as the country’s prospects were so bleak. “Greece will be wiped off the map! Unless of course there was a politician with [Margaret] Thatcher’s balls so as to put us and our state in line,” he lamented. The father of two and former electrician had once run his own small business, but hard times forced him to close shop. He had apparently tried his hand at working as a contractor, including working on a ship, but was struggling to get by. His neighbors said they had seen him sitting on a park bench in his work overalls prior to his death. Apparently no one knew that desperation had put him on the verge of taking his own life. -RT

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