Spanish activists up in arms over unchecked urbanization

This weekend, thousands of protesters took to the streets of Spain to voice their fury over … rampant urbanization. Yes, it’s true, residents of la piel de toro have had it with the bull. A building boom that started in the 1960s is overrunning rural areas and coastal cities, say observers, and corrupt politicians are only too eager to make illegal deals that can increase pollution and limit water supplies. “Too often, construction in Spain represents the plundering of a community and a culture,” reported a European Parliament delegation after a trip in March. Spain has the most homes per resident of any country in Europe; over the last decade, its population grew 5 percent and housing grew 26.3 percent. With high-profile cases putting shady deals in the spotlight and local elections approaching in a few weeks, activists hope a change is in the air. Spaniards, says one candidate, “are beginning to realize that they’re losing the landscapes of their childhood to these crimes of urbanization.”