The Gaztetxe of Vitoria-Gasteiz

The Zapa Cultural Association was born in 1986, around Zapateria Street, organizing concerts, exhibitions, protests, ... After the troubled summer that occurred in 1987, it began to gather a self-libertarian young small group with the aim of reflecting the situation that young people in Vitoria-Gasteiz was suffering. They discussed about the ideas and they achieved two conclusions and motivations:
#One The repressive step of the Vitoria-Gasteiz Municipal Police when working with the National Police.
#Two The need to organize themselves in situations that directly affected the small part of the society which was formed by young people.
The high cost of housing, which precluded the possibility of getting a local by youngsters.
The lack of having a self-managed local, movement that had just started in the Basque Country.
Youth Assembly of Vitoria-Gasteiz
At first, the idea was propagated only among close friends, but later the participation of any type of person was promoted. Warning through posters, they began to hold meetings every Saturday at six o'clock in the afternoon at the local of the board of the unemployed in Zaramaga. This is the way the journey of the youth assembly of Vitoria-Gasteiz started. After several weeks of assemblies the number of participants in meetings increased.
Pre-occupation activities
They immediately felt the necessity of taking their grievances to the streets by the media. After that work, they began to consider measures for complaining and awareness:
#Send press releases continuously to the different mass media.
#Informative lectures
#A passacaglia was made the 13th of February in 1988 demanding the need of a gaztetxe in Vitoria.
#The Gasteiz Txiki neighborhood association was occupied in a symbolic way.
#The youth assembly of Vitoria was officially presented the 14th of February in 1988.
#Due to some letters that were published in various media, the assembly raised the option of submitting a motion at the City Hall. Claiming that each neighbourhood had a local district with free run, self-managed, open to different groups, without timetables or manage without any political class.
Due to several problems with the motion, it was decided to bring forward the idea of occupation and we started to compare different locals.
The birth of Gaztetxe Gasteiz
On 28 April 1988, San Prudencio, some little posters attracted about 250-300 people that gathered and began a rally in Fariñas and finished with the squatting of what we know today as Gasteizko Gaztetxea. That day 250-300 people joined to work, clean, ... in the gardener´s house owned by the Bishop of Vitoria- Gasteiz. Hundreds kilos of trash were removed and different systems of internal resistance were created. The first few weeks 20 people stayed to sleep at night at the highest risk of eviction. The first month, meetings were held every day. Police visits were daily but because of the amount of people united the did not take any action.
Four stages
The first stage
In the first half year many activities were conducted daily, such as concerts, exhibitions, talks, .... But it was a rough time in the old part of Vitoria -Gasteiz (as in all the Basque Country), largely due to heroin among young people. In the assembly seen that the drug was not only a personal problem but a social problem, they decided to create a commission against drug trafficking in the old part, as the situation improved considerably, residents of the neighborhood began to look favorably the Gaztetxe.
The second stage
As time progressed assemblies became increasingly contentious as there were people with more individualistic view points, it was then when they started arguing about whether Gaztetxe was a squatted house or a room for the different groups. Despite internal conflicts that could have been due to issues related to politics and culture, they did not stop working. In the end about 30 people left the assemblies due to these internal conflicts.
The third stage
At this stage the situation calmed down and the transition began: some people who had left two years earlier turned and a great work and effort was made with new people, olders gave explanations on the functioning and organization for the young people who began.
At this time there were several contacts and meetings with the City Hall to discuss the intentions they had. Where the squat was located, they wanted to make a car park and for this, they had to tear the house down. They were offered another place in the Correria street and it was then, that began long internal discussions in which two groups differed: those who were willing to give everything for the Gaztetxe and those who believed that the City Hall had all the means needed to evict them. This last idea was the most supported, so they agreed with the City Hall to get another room, but when it seemed that everything was ready neighbors began to complain. That's why Mayor Jose Angel Cuerda announced that they were going to find another place but things remained as they were. Finally remark that through these contacts with the City Council they obtained water in the Gaztetxe.
The fourth stage
This last step is just around 1994, with the input of a new generation the City Hall seems to have forgotten them without neglecting the dynamics that were carried daily. They also chose to work in other areas such as the struggle of the prisoners. In recent years, work is divided into two fields: on the one hand, maintenance of the house and on the other hand, socio-political and cultural work. Despite some obstacles that have been put, such as PERI (project by Mayor Alfonso Alonso) in 2013 the Gaztetxe turned 25 years old.
The official owner of the building is the City Hall, the terms were not accepted so currently, they do not maintain any relationship with the government.
Gaztetxea offers a wide range of planning. It is a place in which different collectives get together and the plans are usually for weekends. The aim is to open it during the week and to have a wide range.
To contact
Fray Zacarias Martinez street
01001 Vitoria-Gasteiz (ÁLAVA)
Se also
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