The name Ada Colau has become familiar in Spain in recent years as she has taken the lead in the movement against the evictions carried out on increasing numbers of people as a direct result of the economic crisis. She is currently the spokesperson for the PAH organization (Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca – Platform of Mortgage Affected People) She has become a fearless and somewhat controversial figure with her political enemies accusing her of anything from communism to terrorism.
Ada Colau is a philosophy graduate who comes from a middle-class background in Barcelona. She began her career as a social activist in the early nineties during protests against the Gulf War. She has also demonstrated at G8 summits and is linked to anti-globalization movements. In 2006 she participated in the (Movimiento por una Vivienda Digna) Movement for Decent Housing.
It is her involvement with PAH which has really brought Ada Colau into the public eye as she has been outspoken both about the circumstances of eviction by banks and the fact that people are saddled with life-time debt as well as losing their homes. From the beginning the movement has called for the mechanism referred to “dación en pago” meaning that, having reclaimed the home, the banks release evicted people from a debt they have no hope of ever repaying. PAH has joined forces with other social movements such as “Real Democracy” and the 15M movement which are generally labeled as “anti-system” by the current government.
In February 2013 Ada Colau was responsible for presenting, on behalf of various social movements, supported by 1,402,845 signatures, a popular legislative initiative designed to change mortgage laws. As well as “dación en pago” the proposal called for the creation of social housing using the vast amount of property now in the hands of the banks. Although the measure was admitted for debate and made some minor alterations to current law, Colau stated that the changes were entirely inadequate in stemming the violent act of eviction and its consequences. In March 2013 the case was taken to the European Court of Justice which determined that the Spanish laws on evictions did not guarantee citizens sufficient protection against unfair mortgage terms.
In 2013 Ada Colau was awarded a “Social Rights Defender” award by the “Human Journalism” movement and also the “Women in Union” award by the Actors Union. She is the co-author of the book “Mortgaged Lives “published in June 2012.