Isabel Rodríguez decided to pull her then nine-year-old son Ulises out of the school system and homeschool him instead – an alternative chosen by more than 2,000 families in Spain, who are calling for a law that would overcome the legal vacuum surrounding the growing phenomenon.
A new mortgage bill approved by Spain’s lower house of parliament would merely put a bandaid on the plight of people whose homes are being repossessed, and would not guarantee protection for most families facing eviction, activists complain.
Wholemeal rye bread, lettuce and chard are some of the products on offer from the El Caminito urban vegetable garden at the small organic produce market in this southern Spanish city, with prices set in "comunes", one of more than 30 social currencies circulating in the country.
Spain has more large-scale plantations of genetically modified seeds than any other country in the European Union (EU).
“They wanted to hire me, and that was something that hadn’t ever happened to me before,” says Marta Seror, a 25-year-old college graduate from Spain who is now working in an outsourcing company in Poland.
“We used to be seen as really useful, and now we’re a pain in the neck,” said Roberto Suárez, an Ecuadorian who was complaining about proposed fines or prison sentences that could target Spanish citizens who help undocumented immigrants.
Public outcry against evictions this week led Spain's parliament to accept a popular initiative against mortgage-related evictions for unpaid debts, which in the past seven days have led to four suicides.
The Spanish public is well aware of the widespread exploitation of workers in the globalised garment industry. But low prices, shrinking buying power and the lure of brand names act as strong disincentives to responsible clothes shopping.
The severe crisis crippling Spain is also sparking some creative responses, such the Okonomía project, a teaching initiative that helps individuals and communities to understand the workings of the economy and make more informed decisions to manage their finances.
"That's where I sleep," says Fernando, indicating a puddled area under a bridge. A 62-year-old Portuguese citizen, he has lived in Spain for 15 years, and he is part of the growing number of homeless people in this country wracked by a merciless economic and financial crisis.
A recurring question in crisis-stricken Spain is how to ensure that surplus agricultural products reach those most in need. One response is citizen initiatives to protest the waste of food and to advocate efficient management along the full length of the food chain.
Daniel introduces himself as a “gypsy and guitarist,” Francisco José wants to become a doctor, Yomara timidly says she likes to cook, and María has no idea what she wants to study.
“It’s really painful to work and not get paid. And I can’t report them, because I don’t have documents, or a contract,” Rossana, one of the many immigrant women working as domestic employees and caregivers in Spain, told IPS.
A huge pot of rice steams on the stove at the soup kitchen run by Emaús in the municipality of Torremolinos, on the outskirts of this southern Spanish city. This morning, like every other, Pepi, Adriana and Diego are cooking for over a hundred people who can no longer afford to feed themselves.
Out-of-work engineers, family businesses that are falling apart, people working in precarious conditions in an ailing labour market – it’s a description of Spain, but it could just as easily be Portugal, Greece or Italy…