A FAMILY of four squatters have been forced out after hundreds of angry residents descended on the house of a 94-year-old woman in Portugalete, in the Basque Country.
The parents and two young children requested police assistance to vacate the property under fierce threats of violence outside no. 66 in the Grupo Progreso urbanisation after five days of protests.
The house was owned by nonagenarian Victoria de Castro, who returned after visiting her 97-year-old ill sister for only a few days in mid October.
She returned to the house she’d lived in all her life only to find the locks changed and illegal occupants replying to neighbours’ demands by flashing their buttocks and waving a knife.
Victoria made a denuncia, but claimed authorities said they would look into the matter no sooner than November 20 – a whole month away.
“They won’t even let me gather my clothes,” Victoria told El País before public anger reached boiling point.
“They just make you want to smash the door down and kick them out,” María del Carmen Fernández, Victoria’s friend, added.
On Thursday, October 17, hundreds of people gathered outside the house from 6pm while local police guarded the property from attempts to smash the doors down – Spanish laws grant occupancy rights if a house is squatted for more than 24hrs.
At 6.30pm, Victoria arrived with her 97-year-old sister and told the crowd: “I’ve lived here since 1931, please, I want to go home.”
After six hours of confrontation, the family eventually fled after requesting Ertzaintza police supervision.
“I have to thank the neighbours of Portugalete, because without their help this would have been impossible,” said Jesus, one of Victoria’s nephews.
Reports claimed the squatters were ‘professionals’ who enter properties with young children in order to negotiate a financial settlement for their exit.