The intensification of the financial crisis in Spain, and across Europe, is having very real effects on the lives of people. Beyond the rise in the unemployment rate, widespread foreclosures across Spain have caused at least two suicides over the past few weeks, along with an unsuccessful attempt in the city of Valencia. The latest case, reported on Friday, involved a 53-year-old woman who jumped from her sixth-story balcony in the Basque city of Barakaldo as foreclosure agents forced open her door.
Spain has been one of the hardest hit victims of the European sovereign debt crisis. Mired in a deep recession, the Iberian nation has seen the unemployment rate skyrocket above 25%, with youth joblessness reaching 50%. The consequence of a real estate bubble, Spain’s crisis has led to a slew of foreclosures across the nation.
The latest victim has been Amaya Egaña, a former municipal councilwoman for the Socialist Party of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. According to Spanish daily El Pais, Egaña jumped to her death from a sixth-floor balcony on Friday as a legal team from the local court walked into her apartment to foreclose on her. Receiving no response after ringing the bell and knocking on the door, a locksmith opened the door, only to find Egaña standing on a chair to jump from her balcony. Egaña was found alive, but paramedics had no chances of saving her life.
Egaña’s suicide isn’t the first related to foreclosures in Spain. Just a few weeks ago, on October 25, 53-year-old Jose Miguel Domingo was found dead hours before foreclosure agents arrived at his apartment. Domingo hung himself after not having been able to pay interest payments on a €240,000 mortgage that went sour in 2009.
A day after, a man whose name hasn’t been disclosed jumped from his window in the city of Valencia. The man attempted to commit suicide minutes before foreclosure agents arrived at his apartment; this time, though, paramedics managed to save his life.
The suicide of Egaña has been like the straw that broke the camel’s back. A social repudiation of banks’ foreclosure practices has made its way to Madrid, where the Administration of Mariano Rajoy is working on a plan to give subprime debtors some relief. According to El Pais, Rajoy is looking to put into place a two year foreclosure moratorium for subprime debtors.
Spanish banks are in dire need of cash. Despite a €100 billion bailout-pledge by the EU, institutions like Bankia and BBVA are struggling to plug holes in their finances. Much like in the U.S., they are doing whatever they can to extract payment from debtors.
In the U.S., banks’ attempts to speed up the foreclosure processes resulted in the robo-signing scandal, by which major mortgage originators were using fraudulent protocols to processes thousands of mortgages in record time. Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Ally Financial were forced to fork over $25 billion to settle a suit brought Attorneys General from across the nation.
With Spain falling even deeper into the rabbit hole, as Rajoy refuses to take a bailout and borrowing costs rise, the situation could deteriorate further. Beyond economic losses, Friday’s events are direct evidence that financial crises have the potential to destroy the lives of ordinary individuals.