15,500 Ecuadorians Still Trapped in Mortgage Crisis

Despite the millions spent in the governments of Rafael Correa and Lenín Moreno on ‘legal advice’ to Ecuadorians in Spain, migrants still suffer the effects of the 2007 crisis.

14 years have passed since the mortgage crisis broke out in Spain, and still some 5,500 Ecuadorians face problems legal.

More of 10,000 Ecuadorians in Spain are waiting for banks to initiate evictions or other processes against him, according to reports from the Ecuadorian Embassy in Madrid.

PRIMICIAS accessed reports from the Embassy and the Foreign Ministry, as well as testimonies from Ecuadorians residing in Spain.

These documents and narratives account for the political use of a humanitarian tragedy during the call Citizen revolution.

The help offered was very limited for those who were left homeless: migrants who lost everything, from their flat to their jobs and even their lives.

The governments of Rafael Correa and Lenín Moreno used public resources from more than USD 13 million, between 2012 and 2021, in hiring ‘legal advice’ for Ecuadorians who had mortgage problems, as we revealed in a previous report.

The money was also used for psychosocial assistance contracts, as well as social and political events and shows.

Thus, the resources that were to help migrants ended up financing proselytizing activities and benefiting the political allies of Correísmo.

Among them the Spanish left parties We can and PSOE, and the political operators of correísmo-morenismo, who received millionaire contracts.

Defenseless

“We felt very helpless without having anyone to turn to, because the costs of a lawyer are very high. We started meeting in assemblies because we were desperate. The common problem was that the banks threw us out on the street“, Recalls Bolívar Herrera, who migrated to Spain in the late 1990s.

In the midst of this crisis, some leaders and migrants had the first contacts with other Spaniards and political activists, who were protesting the abuses of mortgages.

This is how they met the lawyer Rafael Mayoral, today deputy of Podemos, that co-governs with the Socialist Party (PSOE) in Spain.

Among the most enthusiastic Ecuadorians were Iván Cisneros, Aída Quinatoa, John Angulo and Luis Chicaiza.

When the groups were already organized, the government of Rafael Correa began to intervene, with some of its assembly members and representatives of the Foreign Ministry.

Government offered support to solve judicial and economic problems of Ecuadorians.

And the project of free advice to those affected gained strength from the Ecuadorian embassy in Madrid, which started in 2012, with the arrival of Aminta Buenaño as an ambassador.

“From the beginning, politicians thought of electoral revenues, not of helping families. They thought about the numbers, while we, those affected, just wanted to save our homes, ”says Herrera.

By that time there was already 55,000 Ecuadorians, of the 400,000 who live in Spain, facing serious problems paying their mortgages.

How the ‘consultancies’ were born

When the housing bubble burst, it became known that credits were unreal and overrated.

Countless abuses committed by banks, real estate companies, management firms and appraisers came to light.

The crisis produced massive layoffs. After losing their jobs, thousands of Ecuadorians could not pay their loans. Creditors began to evict them, often by force in a procedure known as eviction.

For Aída Quinatoa, another of the leaders of the migrant groups, what actually took place was a mortgage scam.

Quinatoa recalls that the process of organizing Ecuadorians began in 2008, together with Mayoral, both to provide advice and with demonstrations and marches.

“In the first march we organized, we delivered a letter addressed to the Presidency of Ecuador -which never replied- in which we said we felt abandoned and that we demanded support, “says Quinatoa.

According to Quinatoa, that same day, personnel from the Embassy in Madrid told them that it was a dispute between private parties and that they could not intervene.

Ecuadorians decide to fight

A mainstay of the demonstrations in defense of the victims of the mortgage crisis was the creation, in 2011, of the Madrid Mortgage Affected Platform (PAH), promoted with other neighborhood and popular organizations.

Therefore, Quinatoa points out, the service of legal advice was the product of the permanent demand of immigrants to the authorities.

“No one has given us anything, this has been the result of our struggles,” he adds.

By the time the consultancies began, the migrants had already carried out a number of actions, such as stopping evictions or the peaceful seizure of bank offices, mobilizations, marches, concentrations, meetings and workshops.

“Many situations had to be dealt with individually and, in this regard, the embassy service was also helpful. But it is clear that in time the aforementioned legal service had problems due to political managementQuinatoa emphasizes.

Divorces and suicides

The crisis also unleashed acts of domestic violence, divorces, dropout problems, depression and even suicides among migrants.

And it got worse because Spanish legislation does not release the debtor from liability, for the mere return of the property.

Despite the fact that in many cases the departments were handed over to the banks, the migrants continued to have large balances of the total outstanding debt, colloquially known as’backpacks‘.

Between 2003 and 2009:

  • Near 123,000 Ecuadorians subscribed mortgages, either as principal debtors or as guarantors.
  • 53,000 families had problems of non-payment.
  • Near 28,000 Ecuadorians had to return their homes to cover its obligations with the bank.
  • Approximately 5,000 migrants, despite handing over their home as a dation in payment, remained in debt.
  • AND another 5,500 still hadn’t fixed their mortgage problems, according to a technical study carried out at the request of the Embassy in Madrid, at the end of the last government.

“Many families today continue to pay between 400 and 700 euros per month, forced by the abusive clauses of the bank, which was one of the causes of the crisis, as it opened the tap to give credits of all kinds, knowing that they were going to be rescued by the Government with our taxes “, comments Sonia Ávila .

Ávila is an Ecuadorian activist who lives in Madrid and was a defender of correísmo and its legal advisory project.

“We were used. Correa took advantage of our pain, politicized this tragedy to divert public funds and benefit his friends from Podemos, giving them contracts, ”says Ávila.

She estimates that of the thousands of families who signed up for the counseling, only 30% had a tangible benefit.

“There were already free help platforms for those affected, anyone could access that help in their neighborhoods.”

Sonia Avila

The warm water trap

Edison López is a journalist. From his channel España Latina TV he has followed the evolution of the crisis for several years. Estimates that the The service provided by the Embassy to the migrants was necessary, but over time it became disfigured.

“It’s like everything Correísmo did: he said one thing and in the end managed another,” he says.

The The trap is that “the government hired companies to provide legal advice, despite the fact that many organizations, including the PAH, already offered this free service with public defenders, even with defenders facilitated by the Spanish state ”, explains López.

In observations and interviews that he has carried out with dozens of Ecuadorians on the impact of the Embassy’s support, López found that the criteria are divided.

Half believe that it served as an initial orientation, while the other half estimates that it was only a negotiation to benefit Podemos and served as publicity for the correista project, adds López.

Ecuadorians interested in counseling, according to several interviewees, were registered and that was already noted as an achievement.

One more point for statistics and thus justify the hiring of the cooperative Kinema, founded by the deputy of Podemos Rafael Mayoral.

The truth is that, over the years, the correísmo’s mask fell off, says Vega: “each one threw to his side, took the water to his mill.”

“Government I was looking for our votes and we can also, to shore up as a party and reach the Assembly with more deputies. Correa widely won the 2013 elections and Moreno in 2017, among Ecuadorians in Spain ”, concludes Vega.


You may also be interested in: