Untold Stories

The battle for Baobab

10 January 2020

Update: Baobab closed on Sunday 12th January.

Yesterday, the people of Madrid make their thoughts crystal clear: don’t evict Baobab!

So far, this emotive Instagram post has been shared by 2,793 people in their stories, and viewed by 32,557. To put things in perspective, that’s about 10 times more people than my average Madrid No Frills Instagram posts.

The Baobab post reads…

An investor is allegedly planning to acquire Baobab and demolish the building – the oldest on the square – to make way for a new hotel. A HOTEL! This exact same investor who reportedly owned the plot of the Plaza Lavapiés Ibis hotel – he’s serious.

Did you know that around 10% of flats in Lavapiés are AirBnBs? All of this means that fewer homes are on the market, exacerbating the demand for those that remain and driving rents up faster than inflation and wage increases.

Spain’s deregulated property industry is destroying neighbourhoods, communities and will drive us into another crisis if we don’t stand up and fight back.
Share this post in your stories. Everyone needs to know about this!

And you did just that.

THE SOCIAL MEDIA BAOBAB STORM

Responses started flooding in: people were horrified, angry, upset and frustrated. Dozens of followers asking for instructions on how to demonstrate slid into my DMs. Over on Twitter, famous Trap artist Yung Beef retweeted my Baobab tweet and back over on Instagram, I received two (update: five) requests from Spanish newspapers and TV channels in investigating the plight of Baobab.

THE BATTLE FOR BAOBAB

The evidence is in: we adore Baobab. This Lavapiés institution was the first Senegalese restaurant in Lavapiés, quickly becoming a hub for the local Senegalese community and a safe place for many more communities to all come together. These borderless spaces are the soul of our barrio and must be preserved.

When we know more, the battle for Baobab will undoubtedly unfold: you have already proven that. One thing Madrid is damn good at is protesting.

But in the meantime, many more places are currently facing eviction and need your attention…

BODEGAS LO MAXIMO AND MUSEO DE LA RADIO

Bodegas Lo Maximo first opened its doors in the 1950s and was a typical no-frills neighbourhood bar. The feminist bar we know today has been welcoming us in for vermouth and boleros for 20 years, but will soon be forced to close its doors. Investors have bought up the entire building, including 20 flats and three business units. All are set to be evicted as early as February.

Three generations have run Museo de la Radio, which hosts a collection of over 200 radios. They’re being evicted, along with the entire building they occupy, because a vulture fund has bought the premises. They have until February 29th before the family and their collection of radios, which they’re slowly selling off, will be evicted.

ARE YOU AFFECTED OR MOVED BY THESE ISSUES? THEN GET INVOLVED:
  • Read all about the gentrification of Madrid in my article here.
  • Follow eviction notices and find out when they’re happening here.
  • Attend an eviction.
  • Join your local pressure groups or associations for evictions, neighbourhood issues and anything you can find. Here are just a few:
  • Go to organised protests whenever they’re on. I’ll try keep you posted.
  • Talk to your friends, family, colleagues and students about gentrification, irresponsible tourism and the various issues surrounding it.
  • Tweet Pedro Sánchez @sanchezcastejon and any other politicians you can track down.
  • Be conscious about where you spend your money: keep it local.
  • Contact journalists and share your stories with them. They have a platform and you can stand on it too.
  • Contact me, Leah, and tell me your stories (hola@madridnofrills.com).
  • And, finally: share, share, share!

Why should you fight against gentrification? It can be exhausting and is rarely rewarding. But I always say…

If you’re fortunate enough to have nothing to fight for, then fight for someone else.

INFO


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I will keep telling those hard-hitting stories of inequality and discrimination, keep pushing overlooked businesses, and keep delivering the independent journalism this city so badly needs without anyone telling me what I can and can’t say. But in order for this project to grow, I’m asking for your help.

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2 Comments

Marta 12 January 2020 at 12:19 pm

Do you think “promoting” these places to tourists has an unintended effect that actually helps to further gentrification?

Reply
Madrid No Frills 12 January 2020 at 12:54 pm

Are you implying that I’m promoting places like this to tourists? More than 90% of my audience lives in Madrid and the majority of them are Spanish.

If MNF was a tourist blog, then yes, that would further gentrification, but it’s not and I’m trying to counter gentrification by encouraging local people to support and treasure local businesses.

Reply

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