Starting again from my last article, “The right to employment” I would like to say a few words about the ways of re-appropriating urban spaces.

To occupy. Almost all of us know the meaning of this word but, in reality, do we really know what it means? I have repeatedly had doubts about the customs of this practice, as common as it is unknown, in the implementation procedures. My aim is to shed light on some equivocal points of squatting by helping me with a guide written by a French collective of squatters who have continued to update the manuscript since 1999 until it has become a reference text for squatters from all over the world. The guide, Le squat de A à Z, is available online and translated into several languages. However, I would like to start by giving you the definition of squat according to the French collective, to understand the starting point, the point of view that prompted the creation of the squat guide.

Squatting means occupying an abandoned building without having asked for permission from its “owner”. It is, in fact, not paying rent to landlords who own more than one property when we own none. Squatting is actually criticizing a system that wants the rich to continue to get rich on the skin of the poor. Squatting is also living in the true sense of the word: it is being free and responsible in one’s place of life. It’s being able to do whatever you want with it without referring to an owner who, in any case, doesn’t live there.

It is also a way of survival when one cannot, or can no longer, pay a rent (a way that can lead to questions about our ways of life, about work, family, collective life, the tram- daily tram, on the possibilities of living our ideas in such a society). Every squat is different. Everyday life largely depends on political, socio-economic, juridical, inter-relational contexts, etc… but every squat is “political”, to the extent that it overturns, even involuntarily, the social order and private property.

There are several clichés, according to which it is considered plausible to find yourself squatters at home after returning from vacation or that an occupied house brings with it an increase in danger in the neighbourhood. They are often news and information conveyed by the media, which tend to exaggerate the truth, creating a form of alarm among citizens. I do not hide my concern about this distortion of reality. Until now, the occupation has been an act that can be challenged by civil jurisdiction, that is, a conflict between two subjects, which will be resolved by the court without the risk of ending up in prison. It is the criminal jurisdiction that can cause the occupying subject to end up in jail: one can be incumbent upon it if caught red-handed during the operations of burglary and introduction into the building, or if you occupy an unsuitable building, such as a building containing valuables or furnished. It is therefore unlikely that when you return from the supermarket you will find the house occupied and even if it were to happen, the intervention of the police would be immediate and justified by criminal conduct by the occupants. The houses can be empty for various reasons: speculation, accumulation of properties, pending public or private project, progressive redemption of the house lots for a larger project, pending rehabilitation, unhealthiness, division over the succession, forgetfulness, absence of heirs, flight of the owner abroad following trouble with the tax authorities or the judiciary. It is therefore unlikely that when you return from the supermarket you will find the house occupied and even if it were to happen, the intervention of the police would be immediate and justified by criminal conduct by the occupants. The houses can be empty for various reasons: speculation, accumulation of properties, pending public or private project, progressive redemption of the house lots for a larger project, pending rehabilitation, unhealthiness, division over the succession, forgetfulness, absence of heirs, flight of the owner abroad following trouble with the tax authorities or the judiciary. It is therefore unlikely that when you return from the supermarket you will find the house occupied and even if it were to happen, the intervention of the police would be immediate and justified by criminal conduct by the occupants. The houses can be empty for various reasons: speculation, accumulation of properties, pending public or private project, progressive redemption of the house lots for a larger project, pending rehabilitation, unhealthiness, division over the succession, forgetfulness, absence of heirs, flight of the owner abroad following trouble with the tax authorities or the judiciary.

A squat is not, in fact, just the home of some disadvantaged people, but it represents the repossession of a right to live, it represents a form of collaboration between several individuals who have the same economic difficulties, the same social ambitions, who decide to occupy out of necessity places abandoned and unused by the owners. More often than not we have witnessed valid examples of occupations, examples of the creation and production of meaning, information and counter-information. La Otra Carboneria is a famous squat located in the Catalan capital of Barcelona and has a whole world to discover between bars, free magazines, dance studios, music workshops, film screenings, debates. But it is only one example among many, one of the brightest.