Dec 15, 2021 | Ibiza Blog | 0 comments

The Seige Of Punta Arabi Ibiza

Ibiza Blog | 0 comments

Written by Dan Kirwan

Just like the storyline from the famous movie, The Alamo, an under siege group of rebels are held up in a hotel complex home to the Hippy Market in Es Cana. Calling themselves “The Resistance”, the group of about 150 people have commandeered buildings, bedrooms and facilities at the privately-owned complex leased out to Azuline Hotels.

Trading as Azuline Club Cala Martina Ibiza, a popular, two-star, all-inclusive establishment for British and French package holiday tourists. It was operating as a Hotel in 2020 but remained closed in 2021, and during this period, squatters invaded the complex and made it their home. Roughly around the same time, The Resistance claims the Ibicenco owner transferred the lease to the Mij Hotel Group. The area has seen the nearby Me Hotel, Iberostar and Nikki Beach all upgrade from family friendly to adults-only luxury concepts. The Punta Arabi Resistance maintain that Mij Hotel Group plan to re-develop the property into a luxury resort polluting the area’s natural environment and threatening the future of its world-famous Hippy Market which is located on the Hotel’s grounds. 

Under Spanish law, incumbent tenants are protected, which extends to squatters. It’s one of the main reasons Ibiza landlords prefer renting to non-national tenants rather than National ones, as it’s much more difficult to evict Spanish tenants from properties. It involves a lengthy legal process open to appeal and can take years to finalise in many cases. Rather than go through a protracted litigious process, the squatters claim the new owners have hired the services of a private security company called Desokupa to harass, scare and intimidate them into leaving – water and power have been cut, and masked security guards block the entrance to the complex. From an original group of 150, the company reduced that number to 50 by reclaiming many apartment buildings. Desokupa claims they are present to prevent fixtures and fittings from being stolen and protect the property. 

The situation has developed into a stalemate between Desokupa and The Resistance. The local police and Guardia Civil have stayed out of the matter as legally there is no eviction order, and in the eyes of the law, both sides are currently not committing any crimes. The local sentiment seems to be on the side of the new owners, mainly because the property, unlike most squatted buildings, was never abandoned – the squatters moved in during the Hotels closed season. However, the security company’s heavy-handed behaviour strengthens the squatters claim that the new owners employ intimidating and bullying tactics rather than allowing due process to resolve the issue. 

The gentrification of Ibiza is an unstoppable train, and those that stand in its tracks are sadly going to get run over.

However, The Resistance has broken an unwritten golden rule of Ibiza by upsetting their neighbours, who claim that the squatters have attracted loud music and unsocial behaviour to the area. The Resistance has received support from Unidas Podemos, but the socialists have also sided with the neighbours, a clever move considering the political landscape in Ibiza.  The pro-business PP party has called for bigger fines for squatters rather than addressing the growing homeless issue on the island where the gulf between the rich and poor is growing. Another interesting postscript is that ex-employees of Azuline claim they have not been paid for working hours at the complex in 2020, which suggests workers rights violations, bread and butter issues for the socialists.

The whole affair has highlighted how much Ibiza has changed in recent years, from an island that valued diversity, individuality and freedom of expression, to one that now bends to power and money. The gentrification of Ibiza is an unstoppable train, and those that stand in its tracks are sadly going to get run over. If the new owners of the complex respect law and order, they should allow the courts to decide the outcome rather than using bullyboy tactics to remove people prematurely. A court ruling is expected to be fast-tracked in this instance and it will most likely favour the new owners. 

Security should have been employed earlier to prevent the current situation; instead they are closing the gate after the horse has bolted. The question is did Mij Hotel Group know of this before they signed the lease. The siege of Punta Arabi has highlighted several social, political and environmental issues that require answers, and the longer the Resistance survives, the more uncomfortable the situation becomes for those in power and those waiting in the wings. Follow daily updates from The Resistance on the Punta Arabi Facebook page.


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