The Mortgage Law (Ley Hipotecaria) in Spain does not make sense. It’s crazy. In the U.S., if you are unable to continue paying your mortgage and you are forced into foreclosure, the bank repossesses your house and sells it in order to recuperate the original loan to you. Once the bank evicts you and takes your property, your debt is cleared. In Spain, if your home has lost market value and the bank is unable to sell it for the original purchase price, it is your responsibility to pay off the difference. In other words, foreclosure does not automatically eliminate your debt.
A worsening Spanish economy with an unemployment rate hovering around 25% for the general population and as high as 50% for young adults has led to the eviction of 400,000 Spaniards from their homes since 2008. Recent suicides related to foreclosures attest to a growing feeling of hopelessness and despair. My initial response to this awful situation is to demonize the bankers and capitalism. What a senseless, crazy system! However, it is always important to take a critical stance. So, I’ll play the devil’s advocate. The Spanish Mortgage Law actually makes more sense than that of the U.S. If you loaned a friend $150,000 with the agreement that the money would be returned in its entirety at a later date, you would probably be upset if you only received half of it back. It is perfectly logical that you would feel that way. It makes sense. The banks, too, just want their money back. That’s rational. I would argue, however, that the problem is precisely our allegiance to that rationality. We need to counter the logic of capitalism with NON-SENSE, with a different logic, with a different value system.
What’s crazy is not the Spanish Mortgage Law, but solidarity and compassion with regard to others. A group of activists in Spain known as Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca is getting “crazy.” It uses its creativity to access non-sense and to multiply it. How? One example is the following video that they produced in which they use satire to undermine the Spanish State’s stance on home ownership:
This group is calling for a massive demonstration in favor of decent and adequate housing for all Spaniards February 16, 2013.
To show your support, you can visit their website: http://afectadosporlahipoteca.com/manifestacion-16f/