El Cabanyal is a neighborhood in the maritime area of Valencia that until recently was threatened by an ambitious urban project, now suspended, that would have involved the demolition of several houses, occupied by people with few resources, mostly of Rumanian or gypsy origin. In this district there are around 300 families belonging to the Gypsy ethnic group (200 Spanish and 100 Romanians, approximately), with an average composition of 5 to 7 people per family nucleus. thus representing about 7% of the total population of the neighborhood.
The building known as El Clot (the hole), standing in the strip of land separating the turistic seafront from the rest of the neighborhood. At present, of the 168 apartments that make up the block, approximately 50 are owned by privates, some of the others have become public ownership, some boarded up, others rented or even occupied. In this context, its inhabitants, mostly gypsies, began to claim themselves as a compact, active and positive community for the neighborhood.
A young boy living in El Clot, a massive building with hundreds of popular apartments, mostly occupied by families with low or no incomes, paying a visit to a Rumanian family in the area.
A young girl standing in front of a ruined houe in the neighborhood. The houses deteriorating with the passing of time is leading to an increasing detachment and indifference of the inhabitants towards their own neighborhood, creating a sort of vicious circle.
A Rumanian immigrate playing with his children. The lack of resources often leads families to organize their daily lives as they can, sharing small spaces and dividing the small daily tasks with all the family members.
A crossroad in the ’ground zero’ area of Cabanyal, the group of blocks in the neighbourhood involved in the urban plan to extend a city avenue directly to the sea.
The ground area separating El Clot from the streets of the Cabanyal district. El Clot is a huge concrete building built in the sixties for the workers of the port, which rises impressive in front of the beach, containing more than 150 housings slated for demolition, mostly occupied by gypsy families.
A gypsy family of Spanish origin in their livingroom. With the crisis and the absolute lack of mechanisms of representation, the Roma population of the neighborhood has been mostly disaffecting to their own living conditions.
The saefront promenade of Valencia, extending just a few hundred meters from the ‘ground zero’ area of El Cabanyal, is an attraction for any kind of tourist and hosts many trendy bars and a famous five-star hotel.
A group of Rumanian women spending time together with their children. Among the gypsies, the family clan has a tremendous force as a social backbone, and women are the ones who support the family group and keep it together.
Many gypsy families, mostly of of Spanish origin, spend their time at any hour of the day on the sidewalks of the ‘ground zero’ zone. The financial aids that the municipality of Valencia has already approved for the reform of El Cabanyal do not involve the houses in this area, because they now almost exclusively belong to the municipal assets, and are occupied by families with no resources.
A Rumanian woman living in a small apartment in Cabanyal. All Romanian families in the Cabanyal district live in rental houses, scarcely equipped, in many cases paying exorbitant prices and with abusive clauses.
Marta and her brothers with their mother. Roma and Rumanians families have always been the main actors of the neighborhood. Among these families, most of them are deeply rooted and integrated in the district, but there are also some who have illegally occupied abandoned homes, who frequently traffic in drugs, those who sometimes do not take their children to school and those who generate problems of coexistence.
Rumanian girls during the pentecostal mass celebration. Among the groups of Spanish and Romanian gypsies there is no mutual recognition of their gypsy origin. The Spaniards do not speak Romani, and the Romanians do not speak Spanish nor, according to the Spaniards, have the same customs.
Adriana, a Rumanian girl, looking out the front door of the house where she lives with her family in the Cabanyal district. It’s been a year and a half since Rita Barberá is no longer the mayor of Valencia, but no signs of improvement could be perceived after twenty years of progressive degradation. Neighbors are living this evolution between the disbelief and hope of having their neighborhood finally rehabilitated, along with the fear of a real estate speculation.
One of the streets in Cabanyal neighborhood with many abandoned and occupied houses. The families settled in the area are not part of an homogeneous community, but they belong to many different ethnic and social groups, being Rumanians emigrants one of the largest group. Some activists defending the rights of El Cabanyal gypsies community say it’s important to stop observing them with that homogenous look, based on the idea of rejection, which is cause of prejudices.
Two young Romanian women while doing some houseworks in the house they share along with their husbands and children. Many people living in the area of Cabanyal do not have enough qualification for other jobs rather than scrap recycling and the unemployment rate in the neighborhood is around one-third of the active population. Such statistic is compounded by a very significant unemployment rate among young women.
A car crossing the ground area near El Clot. At present, some of the social housing areas in the maritime district have been rehabilitated but many of them continue to be stigmatized as associated with episodes of urban and social conflict, and seen as a problem of difficult solution that is not worth facing. Among the inhabitants of the area, it’s common opinion that the abandonment of the neighborhood over the last years has been a strategy of the government, who did not impede and even promoted the degradation process of the district, in order to trigger a sort of self-destruction process.
An apartment furnished with the bare minimum, occupied by a gypsy family.
Marta climbing the narrow stairs leading to the apartment where she lives with her Rumanian family, including her uncles and cousins. As most of the families which came to Valencia from Romania to work, they face enormous dificulties to integrate within the Spanish society, mostly because of widespread prejudices. The European joint program ROMED II is trying to improve local and national policies for better inclusion of Roma people, especially children and students, at all levels of education, based on participation and respect for human rights.
A couple of rests along the street with their few-months baby.
Two teenagers walking down the streets of the neighborhood at night.
A typical house in the center of the former fishermen district. Despite the efforts of ‘Salvem El Cabanyal’, the platform that led almost twenty years of resistance against the eviction and the destruction of the neighborhood, the ‘ground zero’ area of El Cabanyal district is still an amalgam of semi-ruined houses, occupied houses (by families with no resources) and abandoned lots as a trail of demolitions of yesteryear.
Young children left on their own to roam in the streets of the neighborhood.
Angelica came from Romania with her family to Valencia, and settled in a small apartment in Cabanyal district, along with other families in the same conditions. In spite of the advances in the process of integration of the gypsy community in the Spanish society, the majority of them live below the average standards of life of the rest of the Valencian citizens and suffer from a problem that prevents them from leaving their situation of exclusion.
A woman dressed in mourning, belonging to the gypsy community, discussing with a boy in the courtyard in front of El Clot, a few dozen meters from the seafront and its luxury hotels.
A young girl during the mass celebration in the pentecostal church, a salon obtained in the ground floor of a tpical house in the district. The pentecostal church is regularly attended only by the Rumanian community. The coexistence of the Spanish and Rumanian gypsies is another issue for the neighborhood, as they are totally different groups, being the Romanian one in turn divided into smaller groups, with different traits and characteristics.
One of the intersections that delimit the occupied area of El Cabanyal: the road separates the residential area from the touristic waterfront.
A Spanish gipsy woman, known as ‘la pantera’. Spanish gypsies tries to take the distances as much as possible from the Romanian population, as there is a clear stigmatization of Romanian gypsies among the Spanish society. Relations between the two groups indeed are not very good, although they share the housing areas, especially located in the ‘ground zero’ area of the district.
A young Spanish guy preparing lunch in the apartment he’s renovating with his partner while his daughter is playing in at the entrance.
One of the many emptied lots where once stood a dilapidated house. These empty spaces scattered along the roads of the neighborhood are spaces exploited by everyone for various activities, from adjusting a car to hanging out the laundry.0
The side of a building in Calle dos Pescadores, in the ground zero area of the neighborhood, where a former entrance has been walled up.
A large family of Rumanian immigrants occupying an apartment in the ground zero area of El Cabanyal
A group of teenagers running in the open space beside the only building that still stands in the disappeared sea district of El Clot, in the middle of Cabanyal.
A Rumanian woman posing with her children in her house.
Adriana leaving home to take to the streets in Cabanyal.