The consequences of the pandemic in Spain are so-called “hunger queues”. “This is the new face of poverty,” said Conrado Gimenez, the head of Madrid’s charity foundation Madrina, in an interview with the Monday ABC daily.
– The worst has not passed, only since December we have distributed twice as much food among the needy, and since September, more and more homeless families, not immigrants, have been queuing up in lines, not immigrants – said the head of Madrid’s Madrina charity foundation Conrado Gimenez in an interview for the ABC daily. Madrina in the metropolitan agglomeration serves 4,000 meals a day. Before the pandemic, the foundation served 400 a month.
More and more often, families need help, as they have never had to use charity institutions before. Due to the pandemic, many people have lost their jobs, cannot pay for rented housing, and food banks have become the only option to survive, writes ABC. Meanwhile, the government is promising 12,000 subsidized social housing.
“The Spaniards in the queues of hunger are not the elderly or low-class,” said Gimenez. “Now they are hoteliers, sellers, skilled workers, flight attendants and architects, truck drivers and taxi drivers, as well as young people who, due to reaching the age of majority, had to leave nursing homes and have nothing to do with themselves” – he added. “After all, tourism, one of the main branches of the country’s economy, has shut down,” explained Gimenez.
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“Apartment owners are still holding on somehow”
The coronavirus crisis has brought about an economic tsunami. At the door of the Church of Santa Maria Micaela, on Madrid’s famous Paseo de la Castellana, hundreds of people each week wait for cartons of milk, diapers and jars of baby food. “Most of the women come because they see that their children are malnourished” – writes “ABC”. Volunteers distribute food bags, including lentils, rice, fruit, vegetables and sanitary items. It happens that people standing in the queue are indignant at immigrants because they think that they are competing with the Spaniards for public aid.
Gimenez has asked many politicians to come and see the queues on Friday. However, none appeared. Since January, the Foundation has been observing an increase in the number of people who cannot pay their utility bills, i.e. suffering from the so-called energy poverty. Many of them in an interview with “ABC” talk about unfulfilled promises of the government regarding social assistance.
The poverty continues to rise as the “pandemic has eaten” the Spaniards’ savings. “Those who have apartments are still holding on, but the landlords are on the border,” assessed Gimenez.
“I give it a year”
“Until now, savings and the family somehow cushioned the situation, but it’s over,” he adds. “People live in crowded apartments, they return to the countryside or to their countries. Since May it has already been an exodus. Our rulers have no idea about it,” he said. The Madrina Foundation is negotiating with the authorities of depopulated municipalities in the hope that entire families will find housing there. “They say there is social rent, but I don’t see it” – said 20-year-old Erika in an interview with ABC. “There is hunger in this country. What has happened to me – loss of employment – may happen to others, and now even working people are hard” – she added.
Queues of hunger are also queues of shame. “The worst thing is that people are watching. I come for some vegetables, I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong” – excused Gema. “I wish someone would say: eat as much as you want” – admitted the 26-year-old resident of Madrid. “Sometimes I think: what should I eat? Maybe a brick from this house where I am a wild tenant?” – she added.
“When the real unemployment reaches 25 percent and the other 25 percent is on ERTE (temporary employment suspension), there will be a social outbreak. I give it a year,” said Gimenez.
Main photo source: Fernando Villar / PAP / EPA
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