There is poverty, there is misery and there is someone who also benefits from a situation of extreme exclusion. Violeta, Shaky, and their children, Ikslan and Zhara, who died this Tuesday in a fire in a busy bank office in Eixample, also they were victims of extortion to the weakest. All the roof they got for their family they did paying others to live in occupied apartments. Something “super habitual” among the people who live in the shanty town, confirm social services. Today, the professionals who cared for them, their relatives and the school where the 3-year-old boy went mourn their deaths. “He had a whole life ahead of him and we believed that we could reverse his situation by giving him opportunities,” they explain from the Santa Anna school.
Violeta emigrated to Barcelona in 2013 with her husband, and her brother, Mihaita Dragomil. “In Romania we had nothing, we came to Spain to work, have a future and help our parents“says Dragomil. He explains it through tears, shaken by the loss of his two nephews, but convinced that the life of his sister must be remembered.” He loved his children madly, “he explains, devastated. They had always lived by junk and in occupied spaces. Without papers, they had no other option to earn a living. And it was in Barcelona when she met Shaky, a Pakistani man who made a living from scrap metal, for whom she left her husband.
Extortion for a roof
They formed a family and went to live in Badalona paying for an apartment that was not theirs, nor one of those who offered them the fraudulent rent. When they were evicted, he explains, they repeated the same operation. Ikslan was barely a year old when the family went to live in an apartment in La Mina. “They paid 1,000 euros to some gypsies for a year”, he comments. The flat was busy, but they had no other choice. In September 2020, they were evicted again, and it was then that they entered to live in the old offices of Evo Banco in the Plaza de Tetuan. To get in there they paid 700 euros to a man of Romanian origin, of which today nothing is known. “It has disappeared,” he explains. “Of course they wanted to live in an apartment with windows, with running water… but they already knew that they did not have that right, they could not offer that to their children, “he laments.
The extortion of the most vulnerable to which this family was subjected is not new. “It is super common, those who open these ships or occupied premises are violating the Criminal Code. If the premises have electricity, water … they usually pay well more than 700 euros,” they comment from the services that attended this and more families . Sometimes, they explain, even the offers are made when the ships, plots or occupied commercial premises already have an eviction order. “Those who live there leave, and make other families pay to go and live there, and in two weeks they are expelled”, they comment. Expelled and, in addition, without the right to any alternative of living place.
Precisely these social workers today have exploded against the Barcelona City Council. “We work with insufficient resources,” they lamented in a statement. “It is flagrant that nothing is done to prevent children from having to live in these conditions of poverty, risk and social exclusion,” they added. And it is that these workers have been denouncing the outsourcing of the service for years, which, to this day, serves 209 children in Barcelona who live in occupied lots, warehouses or premises. Some workers who today have delivered a bouquet of flowers in front of the burned office, something that politicians have not done yet, and have burst into tears when reading the letter that the P3 tutor from Santa Anna school has left in the makeshift memorial in front of the burned-out branch.
Meetings with drawings
“Yesterday you told me your name, and you told me with your little hands that you were 3 years old,” the letter says. The concerted center decided to welcome the minor this September. “He had his whole life ahead of him and we were excited to be able to reverse their situation, We could give him the opportunities that his parents did not have, “explain sources from the center. The parents were illiterate and barely spoke Spanish, but they attended each and every one of the meetings with the teachers.”We related through drawings“They explain at school. They remember that he only missed a single day of class.” He was a child who really wanted to learn, everything surprised him, life at school was very different from what he lived at home or with his family, I was discovering a new world. He had a great road ahead of him, “they point out in the center. It couldn’t be. His lungs filled with smoke, a victim of poverty.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.