Demolition which there has been has proceeded very slowly, | Pere Bota

At some point, the Son Banya shanty town in Palma is due to be history. The bulldozers first arrived in July 2018, three months later than they had originally been due. In early 2020, the town hall raised a tender for the demolition of all 95 dwellings which existed by that time. The contract was for a period of 45 months. At present, some 60 or 70 are still standing, there having been evidence that some have been rebuilt.

The demolition was ordered primarily because of Son Banya's notoriety. It has been dubbed the drugs supermarket of Mallorca, home to clans whose fortunes have periodically been exposed by police operations. Not everyone in Son Banya, it has to be said, is linked to these clans.

When the town hall first announced that the shanty town would go, there was much discussion as to relocation of the families. Carlos Cortés, 'El Charly', the patriarch of Son Banya, now says that "institutions and politicians have been deceiving us and we can't take it anymore". "As of now, we are breaking off negotiations for the dismantling of Son Banya. Not one more house is going to be knocked down until all of this is sorted out."

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There is agreement between the town hall and the federation of gypsy entities in the Balearics regarding the dismantling of the ghetto. This agreement includes relocation and financial assistance, but El Charly insists that the town hall has not complied with the agreement. "We, on the other hand, have complied with everything. We feel cheated because if the town knew that they did not have enough housing for all the families, why did they make an agreement with us?"

He says there are some 700 people still living in Son Banya, around 200 of them children - "living poorly with rats and filth". "It's a major disaster. There are no pipes, and light and electricity only sometimes."

He is clear as to the real reason why it has been so difficult to relocate the Son Banya gypsy families. "There is of course an issue with racism. No one wants to have gypsy families as neighbours. We cannot understand this, as there are houses for foreign immigrants but not for Spanish gypsies."

So long as there is no real agreement with the town hall, the Balearic government and the Council of Mallorca, "no one is going to knock down a single house in Son Banya". "If necessary, we will take to the streets and demonstrate, but the cranes will not enter."