Super Barrio (in red) in a Rare Photo with Ecologista Universal vs Smog Infernal, Super Animal vs El Matador and Super Gay vs Homofobia
Where is Super Barrio When We Need Him?
Super Barrio (Spanish for ghetto) has always been my favorite masked action hero. With a barrio cave somewhere in Mexico City, he was little known in the US prior to 1988, when he reluctantly consented to a New York Times interview (http://www.nytimes.com/1988/08/15/world/mexico-city-journal-the-poor-man-s-superman-scourge-of-landlords.html). Said Super Barrio, “I can’t tell you how many evictions we have prevented. All I know is that having been thrown out on the street as a child, I wanted to do everything I can to defend peoples’ right to housing.”
In 2007 Super Barrio permitted filmmaker Arturo Perez Torres to make a documentary (Super Amigos) of his – and his thousands of followers – fight against evil slumlords and corrupt politicians, along with that of his comrades Super Gay vs Homofobia, Ecologista Universal (fighting pollution, clear cutting and nuclear power), Super Animal (fighting the cruelty of bullfighting and other animal rights abuses) and Fray Tormenta (fighting for neglected and abused children)
The Striking Absence of Organized Resistance
I find it both sad and disturbing that there seems to be no organized resistance in the US to an epidemic of mortgage foreclosures and evictions that shows no signs of letting up. This is in marked contrast to the militant, often violent resistance to evictions during the Great Depression – here in the US, as well as the rest of the industrialized world. In the 1930s neighbors, friends, and faith based and other community groups made sure dozens of people were present to greet the sheriff when he came to throw families into the street.
While they didn’t always prevent the eviction from occurring, they sent a clear message to both law enforcement and banks that no eviction would be quick and dirty. Like Super Barrio and his followers, they made it clear it would come at a cost, both in terms of law enforcement personnel to carry it out and jail processing and court costs related to any arrests that occured. And by upping the ante, they provided a clear incentive for banks and local authorities to seek some form of legal and or financial compromise with delinquent mortgagees.
At present there seems to be a growing eviction resistance movement in the UK. There is an international eviction resistance movement at www.habitants.org that seems mainly focused on the Third World.
Americans Can’t Be Bothered
In the US there is a small but ongoing evictions resistance movement in the war tax resistance movement (people who refuse to pay income tax to support US war crimes). The IRS eventually seizes tax resistors’ homes, and other members try to ensure there is a clear public demonstration of support, both at foreclosure auctions and when federal marshals close in to throw the family. Otherwise it seems that Americans can’t be bothered, and friends and neighbors who lose their homes just quietly disappear.
The Problem: We Don’t Know Our Neighbors
In my mind, the most obvious reason for the absence of organized resistance to moden day foreclosures and evictions relates to the overall breakdown in civic society. People don’t belong to church and community groups and for the most part they don’t know the people in their street who are losing their homes.