In an old abandoned warehouse in the Poblenou area of Barcelona there once was the largest settlement of illegal immigrants in Spain. The warehouse sheltered about 300 people and it atracted about 800 more every day to use their facilities. These immigrants worked collecting scrap metal, selling antiques and promoting cultural activities. Most of these people were of African ethnicity, but there were also people from South America, Romania, the Caribbean…
Picture yourself in August 2001, in Barcelona Plaça Catalunya was evicted. Every day hundreds of Senegalese immigrants who had come to Europe seeking a better future slept there. But one day, suddenly, they had to leave the place without any legal solution, without any rights as refugees. The state did not provide them with any political or economic aid, only kicked them out. “There was no choice but to occupy spaces and publicize our situation to citizens, in order to weave cultural and economic bridges between where we came from and where we are,” says Mamadou Kheraba, one of the founders of the settlement.
Prior to occupying this warehouse they had occupied other places in Barcelona, in which they developed different activities to raise awareness towards Africa. They held workshops on African music, theater, sculpture, painting… But as soon as these institutions began to run and were welcomed by the neighbours, the police would turn up and evict them, even burning everything they had built. And once evicted they had to start over.
After two years living in the warehouse, on September 24th 2013 the warehouse was vacated in response to the lawsuit filed by it’s owners, Fincas Riana SL.