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Spanish suicides point to worsening crisis

Jan. 4, 2013 at 4:18 PM   |   Comments

MADRID, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Suicides by economically hard-pressed Spanish individuals accentuated the Iberian country's financial crisis as eurozone leaders warned of more trouble ahead in 2013.

Spain's troubles, fueled by a real estate crash in 2008, are still tied to housing and property as banks face rising popular outrage over foreclosures and evictions of people in debt to the financial institutions.

A jobless man in the southern Spanish city of Malaga was the latest fatality in a string of skimpily reported personal tragedies that have multiplied amid the country's continuing financial crisis.

The 57-year-old unemployed male apparently set himself ablaze after financial problems, only two days after a 63-year-old was found with self-inflicted burn injuries, the El Mundo newspaper said.

Earlier reports cited several cases where Spanish citizens were found to have killed themselves in response to mounting economic problems.

At least 350,000 families have lost their homes after being evicted by banks but after a recent outcry the banks announced they would suspend evictions for the next two years for the most vulnerable people.

Critics say they aren't reassured by the banks' announcement as evictions of those affected by the crisis are likely to continue despite appeals to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to prevent further hardship. Critics say the banks' definitions of the most vulnerable are willful and vague.

Earlier in the week a 53-year-old Spanish woman facing eviction died after jumping from her fourth-floor apartment in northern Spain.

Another man who was about to lose his home in Granada, Andalusia, committed suicide, news media reported.

Spanish Finance Minister Luis De Guindos said the government would continue to look for a solution to the problem of evictions, which has inflamed Spanish communities and pitted them on the path of confrontation with both banks and the government.

"The government is aware of this and all of us -- the government, the opposition, all the social forces -- must make an effort so the most vulnerable families, the families in trouble because of the crisis, don't lose their homes. We're all in this situation together," De Guindos said.

An activist group called Platform for Mortgage Victims has intensified its activities and tried to block access to houses marked for repossession by banks.

Support for reforming the laws has also come from the European Court of Justice but critics say the response is too slow and often too late for victims of banks' actions.

Europe has committed itself to a banking union but critics remain skeptical of its impact on Spain's immediate crisis of people hit by the recession losing jobs and then losing their homes.

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