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In response to the crisis caused by the power cuts in Cañada Real (Madrid) and in support of the #NadieSinLuz Manifesto [editar]



Statement of the Fundación Secretariado Gitano (18.12.2020)

In the face of the crisis caused in sectors 5 and 6 of the Cañada Real in Madrid by the frequent power cuts occurring there since last 2nd October, the Fundación Secretariado Gitano (FSG), in our capacity as a social organisation whose extensive team of professionals has been working for many years with the families living in Cañada Real, and working even more intensively since the current crisis began, wishes to state the following:  

  • The power cuts are having serious consequences for the more than 1,200 families (4,500 people, among them 1,800 children) who live in sectors 5 and 6 of Cañada Real. These are people who are suffering from the cold in the month of December, who cannot use electrical home appliances or devices to communicate or carry out essential everyday administrative processes, who cannot even wash themselves properly during a pandemic in which hygiene is especially important. These people include children, who are suffering the consequences of this lack of power supply more than anyone due to their especial vulnerability. These boys and girls are seeing their right to education affected by their inability either to wash themselves in order to attend face-to-face classes, or to access online classes, do schoolwork or attend the educational support sessions offered by social organisations due to the lack of power supply. In some cases the people affected are ill or elderly and need electricity to connect respirators to supply them with oxygen, or tube-feeding pumps to supply them with nourishment.
  • We are concerned that this situation could worsen even further as temperatures fall. We have already seen a number of people, in many cases children, who have suffered gas poisoning and have ended up in hospital as a result. The people living in the zone, after more than two months in this situation, are suffering an emotional toll which is seriously affecting their mental health.
  • We have been informed, both by the authorities and by Naturgy, the supplying company, that the cuts are due to the existence of illegal plantations of marijuana. At the FSG, we understand that it is necessary to obey the law and fight crime. However, the search for solutions to the problems posed by the serious violation of basic rights cannot take second place to police and judicial action. It cannot be right that the majority of the people living in Cañada Real (many of them children) should be paying the consequences of the criminal activities of a minority.
  • We must remember that this situation represents an violation of many of the human rights of the people experiencing it, rights recognised both in the Spanish Constitution and in international and European human rights treaties signed by Spain. We are referring here to the rights to decent living conditions, to health, to housing, to education and to personal safety, and the right not to be subjected to inhumane or degrading treatment.
  • We also believe that an indirect form of racial and ethnic discrimination is occurring, given that a great number of the people living in the zone are either Roma or from a migrant background. We find it difficult to imagine a similar situation happening in a place whose inhabitants do not belong to these minority racial or ethnic groups. We are also concerned that some in the media, and even some political representatives, are taking advantage of this situation to criminalize the people living in the zone, blaming them for the situation, and often basing this assessment on racist and anti-Roma stereotypes and prejudices.


For all these reasons, we call urgently on all parties involved to approach this issue from a human rights perspective and based on the best interests of the child, appealing in particular to:

  • The Community of Madrid, the Government Delegation in Madrid, the relevant City Councils (Madrid and Rivas Vaciamadrid) and all the signatories to the Regional Pact for the Cañada Real of 2017, to fulfil in the short term the obligations they assumed to guarantee the supply of electricity and water. We also call upon them to accelerate and devote greater resources to the resettlement process, and to intensify the measures taken to resolve a situation in which the problems are only worsening with the passage of time.
  • The supplying company, Naturgy, to comply with their corporate social responsibility and the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights by collaborating with the responsible administrative bodies, so that together they can take measures to re-establish the electricity supply and find technically feasible alternatives for the installation of new power lines, allowing each house to have its own contract and meter.
  • The communications media, to show themselves capable of portraying the Cañada as an informal city, composed of working families and with a high proportion of children, diverse in its culture and its composition. We appeal to their code of ethics, asking them not to indulge in a simplification of the problem, in the generalization of racist and anti-Roma stereotypes, or in the criminalization of the Cañada’s population as a whole.
  • Citizens of Madrid and of Spain in general, to mobilise in support of the residents of sectors 5 and 6 of Cañada Real, in the understanding that the immense majority are families, comprising boys, girls and working people, who live only a few kilometres from the capital of Madrid and who are living through a situation which could be classed as a humanitarian emergency.
La situación de Cañada en Hoy por Hoy | Cadena SER 19.01.2021