Spanish protesters seeking to stop a wave of evictions have resorted to embarrassing politicians at their homes over harsh mortgage laws that have multiplied the pain of a property crash in the recession-hit country.
Inspired by Latin American human rights campaigns from the 1990s, the “escraches” — Argentine slang for denunciation — have involved protesters posting flyers and shouting slogans on the doorsteps of a number of politicians over the past fortnight.
“There is a certain lassitude — the demonstrations grouping together tens of thousands of people don’t seem to be as effective as before,” said Tomas Alberich, a sociology professor at the University of Jaen.
Late last year a series of suicides of people who had recently been forced out of their homes thrust evictions to the fore, pushing the government to offer the most vulnerable families two years’ breathing room on mortgage payments.
Campaigners now want drastic changes in mortgage rules, including for debts to be cancelled when a house is handed over — a shake-up that could hurt banks. At present, the debts are not even cancelled in death, making Spain’s mortgage laws much harsher than those in many other countries.