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Chronology for Roma in Spain

Publisher Minorities at Risk Project
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Minorities at Risk Project, Chronology for Roma in Spain, 2004, available at: [accessed 23 May 2023]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Date(s) Item
Jun 1990 About 100 Polish Gypsies arrived in Spain claiming political asylum.
Nov 13, 1990 During a prison uprising, about 100 relatives of convicts, many of them Gypsies, gathered outside the jail asking for the names of victims and threatening to block access if no details were released.
Dec 11, 1990 A European Community survey showed that the Spanish are among the most racist and xenophobic people in Europe with 59% believing that the presence of foreign children in schools brings down the quality of education. A report also mentioned "scandalous" cases of discrimination with the country's Gypsies suffering the most discrimination.
1991 The municipal government of Madrid began a program to relocate Gypsy families living in shacks on the outskirts of the city to housing projects in established communities. The program was terminated in 1993 due to funding problems. In various parts of Madrid, thousands of demonstrators demanded the halting of work on housing projects for Gypsies and the eviction of those Gypsies already sheltered in the area. They also protested against the enrollment of Gypsy children in local schools and accused them of drug trafficking.
May 20, 1991 After the death of a townsperson in a barroom brawl, a massive assault was launched against Gypsies in the town of Mancha Real in the southern Andalusian province of Jaen. Police said citizens assaulted Gypsies' houses and destroyed everything they found inside. The attack followed a demonstration organized by the town's mayor who called for the expulsion of the Gypsies from the town. Town authorities justified the failure of police to intervene by claiming everyone in the town believed that the Gypsies had abandoned their houses in fear of just such an incident. Gypsies claimed they were forced to sleep on the streets because armed neighbors prevented them from returning to the town and local hotels refused to accept them as guests.
Sep 1991 Some 1,300 schoolchildren were kept home from a local school in Mancha Real by their parents in protest against 4 Gypsy children attending the school. A similar "copycat" event occurred in the northern Catalan province of Lerida.
Oct 1991 The mayor of Madrid decided to rent houses "only to those Gypsies with no crime record." The security director at the Interior Ministry publicly declared that most small-time drug dealers are Gypsies.
Oct 5, 1991 Four houses belonging to Gypsies were burnt down by an arsonist in a racially motivated attack in Salamanca. The arsonist had previously announced that he intended to burn down the houses of all Gypsies.
Dec 19, 1991 The Spanish Human Rights Association blamed the rise in Spanish racist incidents, violence by skinheads and pogroms against Gypsies on the Spanish government. They accused the government of practicing a xenophobic policy.
May 30, 1993 Spanish Gypsy organizations, for the first time in their history, have forged a common position ahead of the upcoming general elections and have issued an implicit appeal to their supporters to vote socialist.
1994 The 1994 US Department of State Human Rights Report said that Gypsy Presence, one of Spain's largest Roma organizations, had been protesting the City of Madrid's policy of relocating Roma to designated residences. The group complained that the city has put up fences and police checkpoints which make the Roma communities resemble prison camps.
May 1994 Three hundred Roma in Madrid were ordered to relocate to an open field. The group's complaints that the area lacked basic services have found support in non-governmental organizations and the press. Madrid's government denied any anti-Roma bias in the act.
May 18 - 21, 1994 Spanish Queen Sofia opened a three-day congress of European Gypsies intended to promote their integration into modern society. More than 200 delegates from the European Union, Eastern Europe and the US attended. Spanish Prime Minister Gonzales, while closing the conference, said that Spain must try harder to integrate the Gypsies and not discriminate against them.
Jun 1, 1994 Reuters reported that among the candidates for Spanish representatives to the European Parliament is Juan de Diaos Ramirez-Heredia, president of the Romani Union. He was first elected to the European Parliament in 1986.
Feb 2, 1998 According to a study by the Spanish Education Ministry and Madrid's Complutense University, about a quarter of schoolchildren aged from 13 to 19 felt that Gypsies and North Africans should be made to leave the country. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 2/2/98)
Feb 25, 1998 Emilio Ortega was sentenced to 27 years imprisonment and 20 million pesetas (130,000 dollars) compensation for the murder of Andrea Arenas. Both were Gypsies, and the murder had sparked a feud between their clans. Spanish officials contemplated moving Ortega and his clan to another part of the country, for fear that Arenas's family would carry out the death penalty for the murder, which was illegal in Spain but allowed under "Gypsy law." (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 2/25/98)
Jun 18, 1998 Hundreds of neighborhood residents, including many Gypsies, attacked police on the Spanish island of Majorca, injuring more than 20 officers. The violence was sparked by a police inspection in a slum where drugs were seized. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 6/18/98)
Jul 8, 1999 Police bulldozed a Madrid slum housing 600 Romanian Gypsies and expelled them from the capital. Local authorities said they ordered police to cleanse the site of car wrecks and garbage, but police demolished the slum dwellings as well. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 7/9/99)

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