As a society, perhaps, we are becoming numb to witnessing people eating from dustbins and families evicted from their homes, but not so in the case of Carmen.
This 85-year-old woman in a working-class area of Madrid was evicted from her home on the 21st of November because she had signed as a guarantor on a loan for her son, as any parent would do.
She had lived in her house for 50 years and had tried to negotiate, but the loan company wouldn’t budge and insisted on her eviction. The son had borrowed 70,000 euros, couldn’t meet the payments, and Carmen on her old-age pension, certainly couldn’t.
There are many cases where elderly parents have lost their homes because they tried to help out their offspring, so Carmen Martínez Ayuso would be just another if it hadn’t been for the response of locals and a 1st Division football club, Rayo Vallecano.
On the one hand, there are companies that specialize in high-interest loans are having a heyday with desperate people – if they weren’t desperate, they wouldn’t even contemplate such ‘deal.’ But on the other hand you have people who put their hearts before their business and come to the rescue, like this football club, backed by their fan-base, who will provide Carmen with somewhere to live in the meantime.
The first match at the home stadium after the eviction saw banners in the crowd, bearing her name or reading, “The evicted ones of a sick state.” and “The solidarity of a workers’ barrio.”
The Madrid City Hall had made “noises” about helping Carmen but other than the announcement in the media, nobody contacted her, until, that was, Rayo Vallecano made their announcement about temporarily funding rented accommodation for Carmen, then the City Hall rapidly announced that they were finding a home her too – elections six months away.
In fact the PP Mayor of Madrid, Ana Botella (Wife of ex-PM José María Aznar) has received scathing criticism from the anti-eviction platforms for selling off publicly-owned housing to vulture funds instead of using them for people in Carmen’s situation.