To start talking about this district of Vitoria-Gasteiz, we should look at the industrial development of the city in the 50's. Many people came from the south of Spain to look for work, and Errekaleor was built to house some of them: a district with 192 homes on the outskirts of Vitoria-Gasteiz. Rooted as a worker, on March 3rd 1976, Spanish police shot and killed a young neighbor, Romualdo Barroso, in a general strike in Vitoria-Gasteiz, along with four other workers.
As the years went by, and in the midst of the city's urban development, some delegates decided to demolish Errekaleor and turn it into a site with duplexes. In 2002, the first relocation of residents began, but many did not accept it and on appeal, the housing construction bubble burst and as a result, the plan for new duplexes was canceled. Today, there are some neighbors who have not yet left the neighborhood.
With the neighborhood half-empty, in 2012, some students from the University of Vitoria-Gasteiz began to address the problem of housing and look for alternatives. After a study and elaboration of the district, on September 3, 2013, we occupied the 26th portal of Errekaleor and started the “Errekaleor Stays” initiative.
Initially we were 10 students who came to revitalize the neighborhood. Today, however, the project is made up of around 120 people and, beyond the student plan, the profile model is very diverse. Focusing on self-management, along with the declaration of the own collective development of all areas of life, Apart from that, the reconstruction of a district that has undergone a difficult process of gentrification is the basis for the realization of other objectives.
A huge challenge, of course, but it can be easily seen that the conditions of the neighborhood push this approach if you know Errekaleor. It consists of 16 blocks of houses consisting of two portals, each of which has six floors on three heights. In addition, there are many common areas: a 115-seat cinema, a Catholic church (now a gaztetxe), an evangelical church (now a local music rehearsal), a social house (including a school, library, craft workshop, meeting room), a 12-meter covered fronton, bakery, bar ... To top it all off, the neighborhood is surrounded by plots of land, allowing us to get our own food.
In terms of risks, and given the occupation-based project, there have been many attacks from Vitoria-Gasteiz City Council (which is owned by the town council's town planning company).
Currently, the legal process against the first occupied portal is quite advanced and the mayor of Vitoria-Gasteiz has repeatedly said that he wants to demolish the district. The main argument they use (or at least give it the most weight) is neighborhood safety. In the opinion of the City Council, the very lives of the new residents may be in danger and the houses do not guarantee decent living conditions. Last November, the mayor offered a relocation to the inhabitants of Errekaleor: to leave the neighborhood behind and move to another semi-empty neighborhood called Aretxabaleta, through a kind of social rent based on repairing houses. The people of Errekaleor ruled out this option and made a firm choice to continue in the district, because otherwise the Errekaleor Bizirik project would mean the end.
Apart from the general assembly, which is the central decision-making area of the project, we are organized into working groups that work on different issues and lines. In addition to these working groups made up of the residents of the neighborhood, other people who do not live there take part in Errekaleor.
It should be noted that Errekaleor Bizirik was not created as an isolated island, but was created and developed through constant collaboration with other movements and actors.
The doors of the neighborhood are open to anyone who wants to come and live in it, anyone who wants to participate in the activities we organize, and of course, anyone with any new ideas. We have continued to keep Errekaleor alive and we will continue to defend the neighborhood over all obstacles.
Errekaleor, JO TA EMAN GOGOR!
- children's activity
- (free) shop/market
- work space/diy