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Madrid Neighbourhood Tries To Maintain Balance Between Miscegenation

Breakwater of many worlds Arturo wrote that this neighbourhood in the central almond of Madrid is accessed from above or below after rushing down the social pyramid or quite the contrary, climbing its first rungs. Beyond literary licenses, the fate of the old Jewish quarter of the capital, where 47,200 neighbour’s reside today, can be guessed this Friday on Calle del Amparo.

Tourists with their rolling suitcases commercial suits from a real estate company, children and grandmothers, drug addicts who walk in zigzag and faithful in robes in the direction of the mosque travel from top to bottom. Trajectories that avoid the food store at number 31, where its shopkeeper Abdul Hakim was stabbed the night of October 15. The police are still looking for the author. “The streets are bad,” warns a companion of the wounded man, still convalescing at home.

The broken shop window of the establishment recalls the attack, which was not the first. The truth is that Nelson Mandela Square, where Hakim’s shop is oriented, heralds fights, drug dealing, dirt and exacerbated tourism in that just four years ago was chosen by Time Out magazine as the best place in the world. world to live. “It wasn’t so cool then, nor is it a war today,” say police sources familiar with the field.

The gentrification of the neighborhood, which reached its maximum splendor in February 2020 —when renting a home cost 19 euros per square meter, 3.7% more than now, according to the Idealista portal—, could never bury the ghosts of degradation. This has coexisted in silence with the terraces and art galleries in a parallel underworld that is taking shape with the crises.

In September, La Quimera, one of the largest occupied buildings in the capital, was evicted here, where 70 people lived among the complaints of numerous neighborhood associations. The building was first inhabited by groups from the neighborhood that carried out cultural activities, although everything changed after the pandemic, when the police detected the presence of drug traffickers and users who have also spread out on other nearby streets.

A couple of junkies wander around Abades Street around six in the evening, their shaky bodies disappearing under their clothes. They both take a seat in a doorway, and he takes silver paper out of his backpack, which he heats with a lighter until the mixture of cocaine and heroin dissolves. After inhaling the dense smoke, one and the other hold hands before falling asleep.

“There have been drugs and garbage in this neighborhood since the 1980s, but at times you see more,” says Adela Sánchez, a resident of the area. “The problem is that those who used to live in La Quimera are now on the streets, they don’t want to go to the shelters,” she adds.

The commissioner of the Central district, Alberto Carba, certified to the press on the day of the eviction of La Quimera the end of the phenomenon of narco-flats, occupied buildings where, in addition to selling drugs, they are consumed: “Now there are flats where consumers live and a movement of other drug addicts, but they are their flats. We have made entries and records, but you cannot dismantle a point of sale if it is your property.” However, the presence of the Municipal and National Police has certainly increased in recent months, to the point that a patrol is permanently installed in Nelson Mandela.

The square was a multicultural symbol that has collapsed. Here the Baobab restaurant not only served cheap halal rice to the Senegalese community, but also to tourists, hippies, hippies, precarious students, budding writers and long-time neighbors. That apparent balance ended shortly before the health crisis, when the owner terminated the rental contract with the aim of selling his premises to a hotel company.

The Baobab was cut down, while the hotel has not yet been born, and what has come after seems hostile. Sociologist Santiago Ruiz Chasco, author of The Two Faces of Insecurity (Dado), points out that gentrification processes usually bring a prior “clean up” in the name of order. And he adds has long been announced as the new Chueca or the new Malasaña, where there are hardly any popular classes left, but the truth is that it is resisting change.”

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