This is my land
Navalquejigo is a small town in the north of Madrid, with a population of between twenty and thirty people, rebuilt on the ruins of an ancient medieval village. The town was founded in the 11th century by groups of villagers from the city of Segovia, located on the plains of the ancient Realm of Castile, however the first settlements in the region date from the 3rd century b.C. Nowadays, it is an occupied land.
The occupation of Navalquejigo started in 1997, eight years after the previous villagers migrated to the big cities during the last rural exodus in Spain. Ten years after that, in 2007, police evicted the squatter community due to a complain by the owner of the land. However, the villagers filed a motion before a court of law, which revoked the order of eviction and allowed them to go back to Navalquejigo and start reconstruction of the village as people know it nowadays.
The variety of backgrounds among the villagers is the fist thing a foreigner will notice as soon as he puts his feet in the town, along with the welcoming and polite behavior of the villagers. All they want is to live in peace.
Libertad lives in her little house since 2013 but she knew the village since she was a little girl. “I spent most of my childhood in this town because I had friends here” says Libertad during our first meeting. She doesn’t like the people who go to Navalquejigo thinking that they are homeless: “They think we are barbarians or something like that, but we are just normal people who want to live in peace here”. She is currently studying Psychology: “When I finish my degree I would like to join an NGO”.
The story of Sasha is pretty similar, excepting for her profession: She is a circus artist. She lives with “Jule”, her boyfriend, who is a trapeze artist. They arrived to Navalquejigo in 2014 because the previous occupant of their house was leaving: “The only way you can enter in this community for living, is if one of the previous members introduces you, so the rest of the neighbors know you are trustworthy”.
Katell is the newest neighbor in Navalquejigo. She arrived to the village at the end of November of 2015 in her van from France, where she was involved with some activist groups. Now she is planning to spend a while in town. She asked to pose with a gas mask in her portrait: “It is for security, nobody wants to draw attention to the community”. However, she accepted to be photographed inside her van without any masks.
The last of the characters of this story is Akira, a 14-year-old boy who lives with his mother and three dogs inside an old cowshed. His mother, Celia, was part of a squatter community in London when she got pregnant. She gave birth and Akira spent his first three years of life in London before they moved to Spain. “I don’t even remember that period of my life, I was too young”.