Spanish Dumpster Diving

Next to the subsidized apartments where daughter Andy lives, you can see the abandoned remains of street layouts, street lights, and rows and rows of electricity boxes for non existent duplexes that were never built. All the wiring is ripped out, gone. It’s such a third-world kind of theft that people claim it’s done by bands of Latin American immigrants “who do that sort of thing back in their own countries…”

A post from Madrid today on last week’s sensational New York Times story and slide show on hunger rising in Spain. The post is courtesy of one of our favorite far-flung correspondents, Ana Westley, herself once a writer for the Times.

Ana was especially interested because the Times photographer got his start at “20 Minutos,” the Spanish quick-yet-serious newspaper started by her husband, the eminent Spanish journalist José Martinez Soler. (You can supposedly read the whole paper in 20 minutos).

I was also especially interested. That’s because, when we reported from Iberia two summers ago, our second story featured one sequence with — yes, dumpster diving in Spain. In wealthy Barcelona, no less.

What we reported is consistent with what Barcelona ex-pat Marc Herman writes in a story Ana cites below: the divers “tend to fit the description of the person in the Times story. It’s a type, with a name, an okupa. That means ‘occupy,’ and the name precedes the famous Wall Street protests last year, but means about the same thing.” I.e., squatters; communards.

I don’t pretend to have any real expertise about Spain, however, and certainly not about its economic fringes. So here’s Ana, who knows whereof she speaks.


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