Spain’s economic crisis turns middle-class families into illegal squatters

TERRASSA, Spain — Ana Valderrama and Tony Cortes do not look like squatters.

The suburban apartment they’ve illegally occupied since December is free of clutter. Its stone floors shine while two poster-sized pictures of daughters Jennifer, seven, and Ariadna, 11, hang on gleaming white walls.

Twelve months ago, life was very different.

Valderrama, 36, and Cortes, 38, had both been out of work for more than two years. Unable to maintain payments on their 102,000-euro (around $128,000 at today’s exchange rates) mortgage, the couple lost their home in this commuter town about 12 miles north of Barcelona.

“I was very depressed when I realized I may be on the street with my two girls,” Cortes told msnbc.com. “It’s a depression the whole family feels, a sort of Chinese torture.”

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