New ‘okupa’ CSO La Rosa is born today in a fight against the gentrification of Madrid

Author: Leah Pattem / Photos: Leah Pattem

The 162-year-old pink building on the corner of Calle Bastero and Calle Toledo had been abandoned for 15 years. Works were recently done on the building but only to be semi-completed and again left empty and abandoned. But, today, the pink building now belongs to the neighbours.

A hand-painted banner saying ‘The heart of Madrid keeps beating’ is draped across the exterior balconies. It’s a defiant demonstration of the plans the collective has to defend the city against gentrification, touristification and speculation.

“This will be a space for cultural and recreational activities, and educational, feminist and environmental activism,” explains one La Rosa activist. “We have so few public spaces, the barrio needs this for residents.” It will be like the Tabacalera was before it was shut for renovation, which has left a gaping lack of accessible spaces for neighbours to get together.

The activists seem as surprised as I am that not a single police officer has arrived to intervene, especially following the multiple violent evictions of former social space La Ingobernable.

“They’ll be waiting for the space to be empty to evict it, but we’ll have someone here around the clock,” said one activist. In the meantime, they’ll be cleaning, securing running water and electricity and beginning cultural activities immediately.

In their statement on their brand-new Instagram page @cso_larosa, the collective explains: “In a city that cuts down its trees, that destroys and commercialises its public space, in the heart of a city in which evictions do not stop and vulture funds run rampant, we want 10, 100, 1,000 social centres.”

The pink building is no longer abandoned, it has a name: La Rosa, and it now belongs to us.


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