The neighborhood struggle for decent neighborhoods that the quinqui story hid

In 1969 the most stolen car model by juvenile delinquents in Spain was the Seat 600 (4,354). And then the Seat 1500 and 1400 (1,947), Citroën (1,700), Seat 850 (1,545), Renault (1,158), Simca 1000 (862), Morris (498) and Seat Coupe (289). Vehicle theft by younger offenders totaled 15,745 vehicles in 1966 and rose to 30,667 four years later. In the sixties the population lived threatened by the lack of freedoms while two more Spains were being built: the one that had a 600 and the one that stole them. The brilliance of the promises of the emerging consumer society left a part of the cities in shadow and exclusion was born from it.

What happened next will not surprise anyone, because the criminal was mythologized and the neighborhood struggle for a decent life in those neighborhoods that the dictatorship inaugurated without basic assistance was ignored. This is how the quinqui became a pop legend and the associations disappeared from the sweet story of the stolen Seat 600, the chases, the jerks and the thugs. The shine of the knives hid a conflict greater than crime: that of the marginalized neighborhoods that were fighting to stop being so.

In those lots converted into flood zones, with buildings that are often compared to beehives due to the prison overcrowding that urban planning proposed for those who came from the countryside to the city, the broth of a failed generation was cooked due to the lack of opportunities, unemployment, crime and drugs. And stigmatized by the marginality to which it was condemned by the plans of the dictatorship, first, and of the Transition, later.

"The transition was not intended to transform the social and living conditions of citizens and, much less, of those who lived on the margins", explains Iñigo López Simón (Basauri, 1984), doctor in Contemporary History from the University of the Basque Country and author of The Forgotten. Urban marginality and the quinqui phenomenon in Spain (1959-1982), published by Marcial Pons. This book explains another of the stains that the Spanish democratic process has and that was pending. "A spit", as the author says, against the official story.

Of those years, the romanticization of the juvenile delinquent has hardly transcended. the quinqui. "The idealization of the past and nostalgia has caused a myth, which is reinforced from 2010. In their day they did not have as much appeal. The neighborhood kids lived in very problematic places and in the cinema they were presented as anti-heroes and almost anti-system" says Lopez Simón. The researcher says that the quinqui story is very easy to mythologize, much easier than that of the struggle of the neighborhood associations. "It was a very important movement. In Otxarkoaga they hijacked buses because they did not reach El Barrio and occupied the City Hall. They obtained assistance and attention by force. They were very well organized and ideologized neighborhoods. This was less comfortable than a quinqui", explains the historian .

In the investigation, he reveals how it has been easier for the system to praise a de-ideologized kid than a neighbor who fights for his rights and those of his community. "A criminal gives fewer problems. The criminal, in some way, wants to be part of the system and enjoy consumer goods that they could not afford. Most of them were 13-year-olds who suffered, but they did not serve in the military," he adds.

For López Simón, urbanism helped a lot to promote this exclusion. Once they were marginalized, they used the land as an element of distinction. His neighborhood was his territory and his identity. Everything occurred at the mercy of what the market was dictating. The working class did not interest the regime and the houses that were delivered had serious construction deficiencies. "It was not a fortuitous construction. They needed a country of owners and not of proletarians. They believed that by chaining them to a home and tying them to a mortgage they would already have the families worried about continuing to pay them. But in those neighborhoods the neighbors soon became aware of the situation in which they lived and were associated", assures the author.

In 1968, the same year in which the AFO of Otxarkoaga emerged, the Association of Heads of Families of the neighborhoods of Greater San Blas, Hermanos García Noblejas and Canillejas, on the one hand, and the Neighborhood Association were created in San Blas. of plot H, on the other. These groups managed to make structural changes to the buildings. In most of the suburban neighborhoods, the residents came together and organized to solve the different problems that affected their day-to-day life, both at an urban, social, cultural or labor level. The Coordinator of Neighborhoods in Remodeling had the objective of denouncing and putting in solution the great deficiencies of habitability in the public housing of the fifties, which in the case of the neighborhoods of the periphery "becomes marginal", says the historian.

The Franco regime knew that there would be problems of juvenile delinquency, that the lack of schooling would bring consequences of social order and gangs. The Vikings, Los Balas, Los Brujos, those from El Recio or young people who instilled fear just by naming them, such as the Potato or the Inchi. "They went to the pool halls and nightclubs in the area, such as the famous Argenta," says the historian who has done fieldwork with interviews on the street. The Argenta was in the middle of a vacant lot, a hundred meters from the subway exit and in the lower part of some old movie theaters. He had his golden age of fighting in the seventies. When they got bored they changed plans.

"What did we do? Well, we went to the posh ones, to Goya. Problem? That all the fascists were there. They beat us up, because there were more of them. Franco had already died, but there were the Guerrillas of Christ the King, New Force... It was their zone. Blue zone, national zone. They saw you with long hair and they already knew that you were not from there. There were no serious confrontations because they always caught a few of us, one or two. They limited themselves to making us sing the Cara al sol and things like that," one of the witnesses tells the historian López Simón.

This is the story of that population that was unable to access the goods that heralded the birth of a new capitalist country, which grew in luxury stores and vacant lots on the outskirts of cities like Bilbao, Barcelona and Madrid. Neighborhoods with unpaved streets, occupied by the hope of prosperity that the new citizens brought. The asphalt ended up arriving; the job, no.

In 1967, the tabloid newspaper El Caso launched a series of reports entitled "Ruleta de barrios", where it revealed the shortcomings of newly built Madrid neighborhoods. The first of this series was dedicated to San Blas (Madrid): "The Great San Blas, larger than Valladolid. 200,000 inhabitants without a first-aid house or police station. Schools, playgrounds and paving are lacking." Ten years later the same newspaper published a similar report again. The situation had not changed. There were no facilities for leisure or education. And the street was full of kids.

In San Blas there was only one public library and in terrible facilities. 0.11 books per inhabitant. The neighbors created their own leisure activities, because the neighborhood did not offer alternatives to the smaller population. There were 12 soccer teams. This accounts for the large number of young people there and the associative capacity of the neighbors. Another recreation was the cinema, with numerous theaters in those years. And in 1973 the first swimming pools were inaugurated inside the sports center. As it was not enough, the neighborhood initiative itself endowed the neighborhood with sports structures, located between García Noblejas streets and Guadalajara Avenue.

In Otxarkoaga (Bilbao), the last school was built in 1966. Prefabricated and with three million pesetas. On the ground floor there were three classrooms with 50 students each and two on the upper floor, which accommodated 147 students. Overcrowded classrooms and lack of seats. The result was school failure, not obtaining the graduate. For the 1974-1975 academic year, the percentage of students who did not obtain a school degree was 59%. The figure dropped to 41.4% for the 1989-1990 academic year. That same year the first public library was built, with capacity for 80 readers and an investment of 285,120 pesetas, according to historian López Simón.

San Blas and Otxarkoaga became controversial neighborhoods when the neighborhood associations became aware of the difficulties and shortcomings of the neighborhood and denounced them to the authorities. But that wasn't as cool as the chases in a Seat 600.

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