Apparently it is now perfectly acceptable on Gran Canaria to fly in a private “security” outfit to intimidate people out of their homes before you knock them down without due process or oversight.
The luxury timeshare holiday club Anfi have, it seems, contracted a controversial “security” organisation to enforce demolition of shanty homes located on its land on the Tauro coast, despite there being no court judgement or any other hearings that would appear to have permitted such an action against private individuals in their homes, and where it still seems the company have plans to install a sports marina as well as complementary services, for the artificial beach it built two years ago with sand taken out of Western Sahara without any properly recognised permissions, despite work having been stopped there by a court order since 2016 following a Guardia Civil investigation.
Anfi Tauro, the promoter of the beleaguered Tauro Beach tourist development, have confirmed the demolition of 13, what they called, “sub-houses” and said that these were all on property legally owned by the company and without any authorisation. However, they avoided giving any more details about this latest addition to a series of controversial actions along that stretch of the coast of Mogán.
Ms Onalia Bueno, mayor of the southern municipality, explained that the Town Council has not had any participation in the demolitions but also asserted that it is private land. These 13 shacks, according to Bueno, had appeared in recent months, following the total paralysis of the beach development. Therefore, they could not be seen as part of the old town of Tauro, where some old warehouses and houses, built many years ago, still stand. Despite this, it is in no way clear how long the dwellings had existed or indeed how many individuals or families occupied them.
Herminio Acosta, president of the Tauro Neighbours Association, criticised the evictions having been carried out without previously notifying the occupants and “through intimidation.” The demolition machines came accompanied by a group of men who “acted like bodyguards”, wearing Tshirts displaying the logo Desokupa.
Desokupa are a highly criticised organisation reportedly staffed by body builders, boxers and mixed martial artists, some of whom have alleged links to far right groups in Spain. They first hit the headlines in 2016 for using unsavoury tactics, and operating within grey areas of the legal limits of the law, to essentially intimidate unwanted tenants out of their homes, in exchange for being paid large sums of money by landlords and property owners with whom the tenants were in dispute in the Barcelona area. Founded by an ex boxer, Daniel Esteve, who has spent more than 20 years working in the security industry, their tried and tested tactic is to show up unannounced with several burly, well built, threatening looking men and suggest that the tenant might want to chose to leave before anything else happens. They claim a more than 95% success rate, with many of their “jobs” resolved within 1 hour! For this service they charge many thousands of Euros, and in this case seemingly in the contractual employ of the Santana-Cazorla owned Anfi business, in partnership with hoteliers Lopesan, who just two years ago bought half the overall business from the family of Anfi’s founder Bjorn Lyng.
“The company has managed to relocate the people who lived there and we have found money for them. Many people have attacked us for removing the shacks, but the town hall had a demolition permit because the land is private.”a Desokupa manager told Spanish language daily Canarias 7 after controversy arose due to people who opposed the evictions “We are a legal company, which carries out all work in a peaceful orderly manner. We appreciate the support of the Guardia Civil and the local police during our work in the south of Gran Canaria”.
The Tauro Neighbours Association argue that at least one of the occupants of the demolished houses was properly registered in it, possibly having lived there for years, and had grave doubts that these lands are private, because, in his opinion, they are in the bed of a public ravine. Acosta added that the people who carried out the demolition threateningly announced that further demolitions will continue next week.
Progressive Barcelona mayor, Ada Colau, has publicly stated that the city council has denounced Daniel Esteve, due to – according to the mayor – “his violent practices” that she has described as “bullying”. To add to the controversy surrounding this fighter turned fight promoter and specialist in house evictions, a video emerged apparently shot by one of the Desokupa thugs, with the company founder Esteve himself saying to camera “You have been warned, Desokupa is not to be played with, your shacks or we’ll take or your ass” seconds before a demolition excavator rips into one of the shanty dwellings on the beach.
The Tauro Residents Association say “We do not think it’s acceptable to use these intimidating methods that seek to frighten, saying they’ll be back, shacks out,”
Tauro beach has been ‘officially closed’ to bathers for two years. despite the fact that bathers can be seen there daily enjoying the illegally imported pristine sands. The Ministry for the Environment paralysed the development works of the company Anfi Tauro back in 2016 due to alleged irregularities in the execution of the project, which led to the immediate dismissal of the then head of the Demarcation of Coasts of the Canary Islands, José María Hernández de León. The Provincial Prosecutor’s Office of Las Palmas opened a trial against Hernández for the alleged crimes of falsehoods in an official document and administrative prevarication in allowing the works on Tauro beach to go ahead, despite certain legally binding restrictions being in place, including a requirement for Anfi to produce documentary evidence that they had ownership or express permissions over the lands they planned to develop, they could not produce proof of ownership, yet Hernández de León green lighted their project anyway, and then allegedly tried to falsify the record when he was reported by an engineer who refused to sign off the project. Now prosecutors are demanding a penalty of three and a half years in prison and 10 years disqualification from the exercise of employment or public office.
Meanwhile, the Tauro beach project has been crippled, with moves being made to try and remove Anfi as the preferred concession holder for the development. It seems Anfi may well have other ideas, and they may have brought in a little private army to prepare the ground… we will keep you posted as we hear more.
Are we really going to allow unsavoury meat head muscle-marys to be flown in to force evict families from shacks, in order to protect the projects of multimillionaire developers? Is this mayor of Mogán really sure that those shanty homes are as recent as she claims? Did the town hall really know nothing about this exercise? Where is the due process?
Are we going to vote for people who care about any of these things? You need to register to vote before the end of this year…