Lisbon: Building occupied by ALOX collective

September 15:

Number 69 of Marques da Silva Street is occupied. The action is born of an initiative by a group of people, without any institutional affiliation, united by the desire to give life to an abandoned building.

Over the last years, the right to inhabit the city of Lisbon has been the target of numerous attacks. In a scenario of economic-financial crisis and austerity, a change in the rental law by the previous government created new business opportunities for investment funds and other speculating entities. At the same time, the image of the city as sunny, picturesque and peaceful, promoted by the tourist industries, contributed to an increase in the number of people interested in visiting and living in Lisbon. The market, as well as prices, are on a high. Neighbourhoods in which formerly rents were minimally accessible have their values rise brutally. The destructive re-composition of ways of life in the city, now reserved for those who can pay the most, is illustrated by the repeated examples of evictions.

The municipal government of Lisbon, owner of this building (and many thousands more), holds great responsibility for this process … [The government’s program to build low cost rental housing] is far from being an effective response to the problem. Its objective is more symbolic than material, contributing to the legitimacy of a politics without initiative, that cheapens patrimony and is complicit with investment funds, including in the very definition of supposed social policies.

Before this scenario, we are interested in deepening a critical debate about the city and its transformations that is of consequence practically. In this sense, the occupation of this residential building is not limited to removing it from the meshes of speculation; we are desirous of making it a space of social use, whether for habitation, education or cultural activities. The possibilities for use remain open, and will be discussed and decided upon in a horizontal assembly, to take place on the 17 of September (Sunday) at 16:00. Everyone interested in participating in its reconstruction and dynamic are welcome.

September 17:

The changes underway in the city of Lisbon are the most recent expression of a political project that seeks to transform each moment of life into a business, that aims to translate in a neoliberal key all the instances of daily life. The process that began with the austerity measures of the last government continues apace, and now the ambition is to make every square metre of the city a source of income, such that all of the possibilities of life in the city concern themselves exclusively with generating more money.

In this dynamic, the housing question becomes central and a priority. The supposed “perfect storm” in the housing sector seeks to normalise what is in fact a concerted effort to transform the management of the city into something analogous with the management of a factory or a company.

Against the power of capital that undertakes to capture what is alive and effervescent in the city, the response cannot but involve the constitution of a collective and organised power that can oppose to it a common life project. Against the atomisation and gentrification of cities, it becomes necessary to oppose to this forms of organisation one that can serve to construct shared mechanisms and goods, that can serve to organise in the urban territory forms of life capable of combating the expansion of capital.

The occupation of abandoned buildings has always been a tactic of public appropriation of spaces removed from collective use. Over the course of the last decades, throughout the world, innumerable social movements appeared structuring themselves around the possibility of occupying: for housing, for the creation of cultural spaces, for common use. In Portugal, the movement was always too marginal. That does not mean however that it is impossible to conceive of the possibility of a vast and organised movement of occupations, in response to the advance of real estate speculation and the neoliberalisation of the city.

We will in this assembly seek to take the first steps in this direction, while at the same time deciding collectively what use to make of the building that we occupied … Everyone who wishes to participate in this process is welcome.

Taken from longer article here