Protests in Madrid, Barcelona and across Spain against rent prices, with government under pressure

Hundreds of protesters gathered across Spain to call for measures to tackle rising rents and evictions.

Protests in Madrid, Barcelona and across Spain against rent prices, with government under pressure
Activists wearing "La casa de papel" (Money Heist) jumpsuits hold smoke flares during a protest of the Mortgage Victims' Platform (PAH) demanding price-regulated house rentals in the city centre of Barcelona on March 20, 2021. (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP)

People took to the streets in Madrid, Barcelona, San Sebastián, Bilbao, Vitoria, Zaragoza, Huesca, Murcia and Logroño on Saturday to call for fairer rental prices in Spain.

They would like to see rents regulated at a price that suits those living in each area and for tenants to be better protected from evictions, RTVE reported

There are more than 32,000 people in Spain who do not have a fixed address, 12 million people at risk of social exclusion and there were more than a million evictions between 2008 and 2020, the protesters in Madrid said.

Trade unions and activists joined at the Puerta del Sol in Madrid before marching towards the Spanish parliament, the Congreso de los Diputados.

In Barcelona, the Guàrdia Urbana said 500 people gathered to demand price-regulated house rentals. In protests organised by trade unions, demonstrators called for guarantees to the right to decent housing, and increases in the supply of public housing, among other demands.

Some activists in Barcelona dressed in outfits similar to those used in Casa de Papel, or Money Heist, the Spanish Netflix series about a bank robbery, and released flares in the city.

READ MORE: Queuing for food handouts – How the pandemic has left thousands more going hungry in Spain

Protests across the country followed a PSOE proposal to reject limits on maximum rents but instead to modulate taxes to encourage lower prices.

Unidas Podemos threatened to walk out of their coalition with Pedro Sánchez’s ruling socialist party over the decision, describing a rental cap as a “non-negotiable red line”. Allies of the government, like the left wing Catalan party, Esquerra Republicana Catalana have also criticised PSOE’s decision.

The agreement signed between PSOE and Unidas Podemos when they formed a government in January 2020 included a commitment to put a stop to abusive rises in rental prices, El País reported on Friday.

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Madrid police end escaped camels’ night on the town

Eight camels and a llama took to the streets of Madrid overnight after escaping from a nearby circus, Spanish police said on Friday.

A camel in a zoo
A file photo of a camel in a zoo. Photo: ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP

It was not immediately clear how the long-legged runaways managed to get out but Quiros Circus, which owns them, blamed sabotage by animal rights activists.

They were spotted at around 5:00 am wandering around the southern district of Carabranchel close to where the circus is currently based.

“Various camels and a llama escaped from a circus in Madrid overnight,” Spain’s national police wrote on Twitter, sharing images of eight two-humped camels and a llama hanging around a street corner.

“Police found them and took care of them so they could be taken back safe and sound,” they tweeted.

There was no word on whether the rogue revellers, who are known for spitting, put up any resistance when the police moved in to detain them.

Mati Munoz, one of the circus’ managers, expressed relief the furry fugitives — Bactrian camels who have two humps and thick shaggy coats – had been safely caught.

“Nothing happened, thank God,” he told AFP, saying the circus had filed a complaint after discovering the electric fence around the animals’ enclosure had been cut.

“We think (their escape) was due to an act of sabotage by animal rights groups who protest every year.”

Bactrian camels (camelus bactrianus) come from the rocky deserts of central and eastern Asia and have an extraordinary ability to survive in extreme conditions.

These days, the vast majority of them are domesticated.