Parts of a Madrid slum were suddenly torn down Tuesday morning under orders from the city's planning board, leaving 34 people homeless.
The neighborhood of "El Gallinero," nine miles away from Madrid's city center, is mostly occupied by Roma people who live in makeshift structures without running water or proper sewage systems. The community has an estimated 700 residents, many of whom survive by begging or collecting garbage.
A spokeswoman for Madrid's department of urban planning told El Pais that the demolitions were conducted under court order and that the families in the now-demolished homes previously rejected social assistance (including temporary shelter) from the government. The city government also says that the remaining non-residential buildings demolished had no inhabitants.
Witnesses have countered that the city demolished some of structures that did not fall under the court order. According a report in El Publico, several volunteers working with families in El Gallinero say that each of the nine demolished structures had people living in them. These volunteers also told El Publico that it's common for the city to issue a demolition for "one or two slums" but then take down more.
El Gallinero was cordoned off by the police early Tuesday morning as demolition crews drove in. Riot police contained residents who tried to return to their homes marked for demolition. Soon after police and crews left, those who lost their homes were seen building new ones.
Below, via Reuters, a look at yesterday's demolitions in El Gallinero:
Leon removes belongings from his family's roof before their home is torn down on June 18, 2013. (REUTERS/Susana Vera)