Friday, May 27

The lampposts of discord in the Cañada Real | Madrid

The driver slows down, lowers the window glass and yells steering wheel in hand as he takes the curve: “Let’s see if you can bring us the fucking light!” The two employees of a subcontractor of the Naturgy electricity company continue to do their thing. They are neither moved nor taken for granted. His thing is to place some plates that prevent climbing and carry out manipulations in a turret of those that provide electrical service to sector five of the Cañada Real Galiana. “We do what they tell us,” admits one of them while tightening some rivets, helped by his partner. The unrest grows among the residents after weeks with hardly any supply in much of what is considered the largest irregular settlement in Europe. A gang of children on bicycles passes next and the demand is repeated loudly: “The light, we want the light!”

Photogallery: Two months in the dark in the Cañada Real

The authorities and the company link the marijuana plantations of La Cañada with the power surges that cause the neighbors, who live hooked by not having legal housing, run out of supply. But sources close to the investigation confirm that all the cultivation points of that drug dismantled by the National Police were in sector six and none in sector five, which since November 17 has also suffered to a great extent from the lack of light that keeps six in the dark, black since early October.

“Our surprise was that we stopped having electricity and began to sell in the media that we also have a plantation problem, when a month ago we did not have it,” complains Ángel García Sánchez, president of the Neighborhood Association of sector Cinco. It is somewhat better urbanized and with less precarious housing than the six. There are even some chalets in the upper part that paint reality with enormous contrast, since through one of the alleys you access a shantytown settlement that emerged in the last three years that does not stop growing.

The residents of sector five point out Naturgy, which has installed a new automatic recloser in the towers, as responsible for the lack of electricity, and the Commissioner, who according to them does not accept the installation of generator sets as a provisional solution. Ángel García’s association links the problem to this new “suspicious device”. Sources close to the conflict confirm that it has indeed been installed, but deny that it limits the power, although it does serve to restore the supply in a non-presential way when it falls. “Either you show me that these days there are plantations or something strange has happened,” adds García. His association and the other in sector five, Alshorok, have sent the Commissioner a report in which they denounce the situation. They propose several solutions such as canceling the recloser or bringing the light from Rivas Vaciamadrid, whose first buildings are barely a hundred meters away. This report is already in the hands of the Regional Commissioner of La Cañada and its content has also reached Naturgy. “They have deliberately limited the service to leave us without electricity, mislead public opinion and bring up the issue of marijuana,” says Ángel García.

“Either you show me that these days there are plantations or something strange has happened”

Where there is is in sector six. The bonfires and the noise of the generators announce the arrival of night, freezing these days in Madrid. A group of a dozen kids warm up and talk around a bonfire near the crossing of the mosque. The darkness is tinged with the orange color of the fire, which emerges in front of many of the houses. Sufian laments along with other young people about the weeks without supplies and, without hiding a certain boredom, distrusts reporters before opening up to talk. “We are from the party that brings the light,” he says. This 20-year-old, curiosities of fate, studies FP at a high school in the Vallecano neighborhood of Palomeras to become an electrician. Between jokes, one of his colleagues regrets that what they are experiencing, these two months without electricity, would be unthinkable in an area of ​​exclusive homes like La Moraleja. “We are filling the Cañada with CO₂,” he adds with laughter as they fan the smoke with a board in what, between jokes, is a challenge to environmental awareness. Warnings against the excessively animated nature of the flames are of little use: “May the fire be afraid of us.”

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Among the commitments acquired by the three Administrations in 2017 with the signing of the Regional Pact for the Cañada Real is that of guaranteeing an adequate electricity supply, for which a plan to rehabilitate the facilities was launched. The neighbors insist that this pact is not only not being fulfilled, but that the current problem of so many days of lack of electricity had never occurred. Sectors five and six host more than half of the approximately 7,500 inhabitants of La Cañada, of which around a third are minors. These were the official figures for 2017. Everyone assumes there are more now. Meetings happen to try to find a solution. Yesterday was the last and municipal, regional and national authorities were present, as well as representatives from Naturgy.

“Given the problem caused by illegal couplings, there is only one possible reading: the actions of the state security forces and bodies”

After this appointment, sources from the Commissioner of the Cañada Real of the Community of Madrid assure that “short-term solutions are already being considered.” “Given the problem caused by illegal couplings, there is only one possible reading: the actions of the State security forces and bodies,” explains a spokesman. That is why they imply that everything happens in one way: enter again and dismantle. End the mafias and the proliferation of marijuana plantations, which do not stop proliferating. Right now, they denounce, the agents are cleaning one place, and soon there are crops in another. The problem is pushing residents who are on the sidelines of drugs to the limit.

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That is where the Commissioner wants to focus. “They haven’t cut the power. They have not stopped offering the service and this is costing them money ”, they insist. On Wednesday afternoon, two representatives of the Alshorok neighborhood association, from sector five, admitted that sometimes, at specific moments, the light comes on. But the leads each time jump earlier. And the darkness and the cold ravage a population that is getting warmer and warmer when they sense that visitors seek to talk about marijuana, drugs, those who do not pay and even those who have a Porsche, as recently appeared in some television pictures. That, if it exists, is part of a minority, lament the neighbors. A minority that they do not want to interfere with because they fear their reprisals and that they do not support. How many are found on one side or the other of the barrier that separates them is difficult to quantify. But the most repeated thing in the streets is that they pay just for sinners.

The most pressing question now cannot be another. How is the family rehousing plan going? The Cañada Real pact estimated that 150 families would be rehoused in social housing, something that was planned to be done throughout 2020. But the situation has not improved and even in sector five the shacks have tripled in an open field. In 2017 15 families arrived. Now there are more than 55. “18 million euros have been invested in housing, nine have been contributed by the Community and nine, the City Council,” say sources from the Commissioner. “I cannot tell you exactly how the relocation plan is going, because the commitment is very relative, but more than half,” they insist. There are data that they do want to contribute: that of those who have refused to leave. “There are 15 families who have been assigned a home and have not wanted to leave for different reasons. Because they are very far from their relatives or they simply don’t like it. “

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