I have written widely in recent weeks about the crisis that is looming across the border from Gibraltar in the town of La Línea where at least 10,000 people are jobless and many receive no benefits whatsoever.
This situation recently took a chilling turn when the social services stepped in to take into immediate care the three children of Rosana Bautista Vázquez. She is jobless and homeless so has lived with her youngsters at the home of her mother. The children’s grandmother complained to the social welfare service in La Línea that she did not have the resources to care for them all – so instead of stepping in to help – the children were taken away.
On Saturday some of the 640 people signed a petition in the family’s support that was taken round the town in the morning by friends and neighbours supported by Prodeni Campo de Gibraltar – an NGO that protects the rights of children – and “Los Parados” the local unemployed action group. The petition calls on the Andalucía Ombudsman, José Chamizo, to intervene in this family’s plight.
What has angered local residents is that no sooner did the grandmother make her situation known than the 4, 8 and 10 year olds were rushed in to care in Chiclana – around 100 kms away. There was no attempt to see what help could be given locally in terms of social worker assistance, food aid, housing or other measures. The town hall is strapped for cash so with indecent haste the three mites were bundled off to the Andalucía Government who have put them in a home far away from their family and friends. Even if Rosana could afford to travel to see them there are bureaucratic obstacles put in her way.
Rosana has documentation from the regional government after an investigation in to her case. She is said to care dearly for her children, they are in good health, there is no evidence of domestic violence, they had not been abandoned – her one crime is she is poor.
Prodeni is demanding to know why the dreadful situation Rosana finds herself in could not have been settled locally in La Línea by the town hall. More worrying still there are thousands of families in the border town in the same plight. The parents are on the dole and facing the same crisis as Rosana without money, housing, food and dependent on their children’s grandparents. So will they too have their children snatched from them? Prodeni warns that future generations will speak of “Los niños de la crisis del 2010” –another unwanted black spot in Spain’s social history.