Spain Prime Minister to Halt Evictions Following Suicide

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will temporarily halt evictions of the most vulnerable families as the government devises measures to help people stay in their homes after a woman killed herself in Baracaldo.

The Spanish people are experiencing “terrible things and inhumane situations,” the premier said at an election rally in Lerida, Catalonia last night. The government “will defend the most vulnerable families affected by the evictions and act with seriousness, sensitivity and great humanity,” he said.

Amaya Egana Chopitea, 53, threw herself from the window of her apartment when representatives of Spanish bank La Caixa arrived with locksmiths to evict her yesterday morning, El Mundo reported. Egana and her husband’s mortgage debt of 164,000 euros ($208,640) rose to 213,000 euros because of charges and interest payments, while their home had been auctioned for 190,000 euros, the newspaper said.

Rajoy is searching for a formula that can help families that have fallen behind on mortgage payments without increasing the strain on lenders trying to clean up about 180 billion euros of bad real estate assets, the legacy of a 10-year building boom. Banco Popular Espanol SA today offered shareholders the chance to buy new stock at a 32 percent discount as it tries to plug a 3.2 billion-euro capital deficit.

Record Unemployment

The banking sector’s problems are already complicating Rajoy’s efforts to narrow Spain’s budget deficit and get the economy moving again. Unemployment reached a record 26 percent in September and the European Commission last week said Rajoy is set to miss his budget goals for the next three years.

The premier yesterday said he wants to agree on a plan with the opposition Socialist Party that will encourage banks to renegotiate loans and find ways for families to stay in their homes, according to the e-mailed text of his remarks.

“It’s a difficult issue but I hope that soon we will be able to give the Spanish people some good news,” he said.

Egana, a former city councilor, worked as a human resources director for the public bus company in the northern region of Vizcaya and her husband, Jose Manuel Asensio, had recently found work after a period of unemployment, El Mundo said. Asensio didn’t know the family was due to be evicted, the newspaper said.

A spokesman for La Caixa, who asked not to be identified in line with company policy, declined to comment on the eviction.

A man in the southern city of Granada killed himself last month as he faced the loss of his home, according to press reports.

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