July 16, 2024

Cañada Real – Madrid’s dark secret?

This weekend its been snowing in Madrid.

Its up to the knees.

No-one can remember snow as deep as this in the city.

I’ve been enjoying look at pictures from El Pais and BBC

One thing caught my attention though – both articles featured photographs of people from Cañada Real.

They were burning things on the street to keep warm.

When I looked more closely I was shocked, Cañada Real is a shanty town on the southern edge of Madrid.

The news article called it the biggest shanty town in Western Europe.

I had a look on Wikipedia, which described the town as built up a road that stretches north south.

You can see the town on Google Earth.

You can even take a walk along it.

Its noticeable that the people who live there are worried that their houses are going to be destroyed by the government.

We don’t know where we’re going, but we do know what we want – our houses.
These houses are ours.

Various sources say that the place is dominated by drug gangs.

What I find curious is how Madrid’s middle class seem to pretend that Cañada Real doesn’t exist.

This is symptomatic of a tendency to pretend that poverty doesn’t exist in Madrid.

I’ve heard it said by people, who are well read, and left leaning, that Madrid doesn’t really have any poor people or districts.

In all the time that I’ve been visiting and talking to people to Madrid, some ten years plus, I’ve never heard anyone mention Cañada Real.

Its said that Spain doesn’t have a class based society in the way that England does. That’s probably true.

But it seems to me that the the absence of class consciousness in Spain helps hide the existence of poverty and shanty towns out of the minds of the middle class.

Out of sight out of mind?

Further Information

Spanish podcast on Canada Real, CadenaSer, 10th January 2023, from about 14 minutes.


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