Image via El Pais.

Only 15-minutes from the posh center of the Spanish capital Madrid, Cañada Real Galiana is a stretch of urban deprivation that is Europe’s largest agglomeration of poverty in an urban center. It is an area without government and largely maintained by its own residents – lacking paved roads, garbage service, or urban organization. Approximately 30,000 people call this place home and its populace is largely comprised of legal immigrant Portuguese, Romanian, South American and Moroccan communities. Aside from its shabby surroundings, Cañada Real Galiana is also a well-known center of the drugs trade with some 90% of Madrid’s illicit drug trade believed to pass through the shantytown. The central government’s presence and desire to intervene in the tragic social situation is limited – both by resources and willpower. One solution that is poised to move forward is the division and demolishment of the shantytown by 2013 because the area has lost its recognized status as a “drover’s trail” by the government. Even after shacks are bulldozed away, many residents rebuild them. In fact, many want to leave the shantytown but cite the lack of jobs or opportunities elsewhere as reasons they do not leave.

 

[The Independent]