About a hundred people have gathered this afternoon at the headquarters of the area of Families, Equality and Social Welfare of the Madrid City Council, on Paseo de la Chopera, to denounce that hunger continues to ravage the city. Annoyed with the statements on Thursday by the vice mayor, Begoña Villacís (Cs), who argued that families who go to neighborhood pantries for food already receive help from the City Council, those present have hung cardboard plates at the door of the building, have demanded that the food cards promised by the council to families without resources be distributed at once and have chanted slogans against the local government.
“All the families that come to us have gone through social services and have the food exclusion certificate, the City Council has them registered and there is no possibility of repeating help anywhere”, defends Luis Yuguero, from the Carabanchel Popular Solidarity Network / Latina, for whom Villacís’s words “sow doubt” about the honesty of people without resources. “Anyone who comes to ask for something is presumed guilty, he is going to be a thief or a scammer,” laments the man, critical of the social services doing more of an “investigation” that all the papers are in rule and not so much “the real work of reinserting and empowering”.
His association gave food to 1,800 families in March, but, although the reactivation of the economy after the end of the confinement was a relief for those with greater job insecurity, the rebound in the epidemic again causes deficiencies. “Some have already returned because the situation is starting to get worse,” he says.
The first neighbors who have approached the place at noon doubted, at first, what to do with the dishes. Some brought them made of china, to make noise, but most have brought them made of cardboard, brown, white, even with Christmas motifs. Yes, there was harmony with the slogans: “My neighborhood is hungry”, “Where are the food cards?” or “More help, less flags”, the latter referring to the patriotic theme of the Christmas lights.
“Instead of saying that we are naive, they should reflect on why people still need to go to neighborhood networks to eat,” says Roberto Borda, from the Apoyo Association. “There are a lot of little benefits that do not solve poverty. Let Villacís explain to us how to make ends meet in Madrid with 400 euros,” he claims.
The concentrates, convened by a dozen neighborhood associations and NGOs, point out the problems of access to aid, such as the incompatibilities of the Minimum Insertion Income paid by the Community of Madrid with other benefits, the difficulties of the State Government’s Minimum Vital Income to reach its recipients or the months of delay of the municipal food card, which is not yet operational.
“The bottleneck in bureaucratic processes is real, but political will is needed,” says Paco Carazo, from the Social Rights Board. “To put lights with the flag there is money,” he laments. Rosa García, from the Madrid Exclusion Observatory, criticizes Madrid’s delay in making the European funds available to address the shortcomings resulting from COVID-19 compared to other municipalities in the Community such as Fuenlabrada, Parla or Getafe. “We are holding on too much,” he warns.
The spokesperson for Más Madrid in the City Council, Rita Maestre, and the regional deputy Mónica García have also attended La Chopera. “If you receive the insertion income from the Community of Madrid or you have requested the Minimum Vital Income, you are out of the aid of the City Council. It is a decree of Villacís and [el alcalde] Almeida, she should know, “says the councilor. García recalls, for her part, that” in 2019 they stopped spending 30 million euros “on the insertion income of the Community.” We have grown in wealth, but also in poverty “, denounces.
Luis Yuguero ends up reflecting on the danger of simplistic statements: “There are people who are given an easy answer and take it as a dogma, such as that whoever arrives by boat is given 850 euros as soon as they appear on the beach. It’s a crazy plot, but it is what it is. ”