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Kukutza III in 2005

Kukutza was a gaztetxe (autonomous social center) in the neighbourhood of Recalde, Bilbao. It operated as a free space, occupied and self managed, between 1996 and 2011. It was used as a youth, unemployed and cultural center. In those 15 years it had 3 different buildings. The first one, Kukutza I, was used in 1996 and just for 3 months, then Kukutza II in 1998 and for 2 months, and finally, Kukutza III, which worked between 1998 and 2011 and had a large activity programme. It was set in an abandoned factory and stopped working in 2011 because it was violently evicted by the police.[1]

From the very beginning, Kukutza provided the neighbours of Recalde with cultural and spare time activities, which were not offered by institutions. In the case of Kukutza III, it was a meeting place for many local groups. Moreover, it had influences in the whole of Bilbao and even started being a reference point for artists from all over the Basque country.[2]

Kukutza I[edit]

In 1996, Kukutza I was squatted by the young people of Recalde, Irala, Indautxu, Basurto and Zornotza. It was the first "gaztetxe" in Recalde, and was a building that had been empty for 11 years. Three months later it was demolished, without any notice. Two days later the "gaztetxe" Mina del Morro od Santutxu was also demolished, and the same year the Mayor of Bilbao, Josu Ortuondo, also ordered the eviction of the "gaztetxe" of the old town of Bilbao.[3]

Kukutza II[edit]

Kukutza II was occupied in 1998 on Larraskitu street in Recalde. The Ertzaintza (Basque Public Guard) tried to evict from the first day onwards but they were unable to do so. In June, toxic substances were found and the place was closed provisionally. In June 1998, it was definitively evicted, with 4 people arrested.[citation needed]

Kukutza III[edit]


Kukutza III began August 6, 1998, with the occupation of the old factory Cerezo in Recalde. There were many legal problems with the building, and the neighbours of Recalde asked for it to be used as a cultural center. Although some institutions claimed that the building was perfect for cultural activities, the town hall did not give it any protection.[4]


The centre hosted many types of activities, such as dance and hiking groups, a library, a canteen, a pub, theatre classes. In 2011 its eviction was ordered with the excuse that they were going to build homes there, but up to now nothing has been built and shopkeepers have complained because the neighbourhood has lost life.[5] To protest the eviction, hundreds of users of the project made a ten minute lip dub.[6]

Eviction and demolition[edit]

Mass demonstration against the demolition of Kukutza in September 2011

September 21, 2011, the police helped the Ertzaintza in the eviction of the building, an action which was later criticised by the ELA union.[7] The police entered the building at 05:30 and fired plastic bullets at activists.[8]

The protest demonstrations resulted in many riots all over Bilbao for the next few days.[9][10][11] As a result of the riots, 810 rubbish bins were knocked over, and some of them were also burnt or broken. In addition, 10 vehicles were burnt and the batzokis (social center of the Basque Nationalist Party) of Recalde and the old town were attacked. The damages were measured to be of €140,000.[12] 64 people were arrested in the demonstrations [13] and 76 medical reports of injuries and 53 complaints for police brutality were recorded.[1][14] The mayor of Bilbao Iñaki Azkuna and the home affairs counsellor Rodolfo Ares defended the police action in these incidents.[15] Nevertheless, it was called to be disproportionate by the Ombudsman Iñigo Lamarca [1][14] Finally, the building was demolished on September 24.

Judicial processes[edit]

Although most of the prosecutions against the police were closed for the impossibility of identifying the implicated officers, one of them was found guilty and had to pay a fine and a compensation for assaulting a woman "unnecessarily".[16] He was filmed kicking her in the stomach.[17]

In addition, most of the people processed for taking part in the demonstrations were absolved.[18] Four teenagers were convicted for attacking a policeman. Two German activists were found not guilty.[17]

In February, 2015, one of the people arrested in the eviction was convicted to 3 years in prison for aggravated assault on officers.[19]


In October 2012, a factory outside Bilbao was squatted as a successor to Kukutza. It is called Txirbilenea.[17]

See also[edit]


  • Lutxo Egia (2011). Kukutza Gaztetxea. Ellos por dinero, nosotras por placer. Tafalla: Txalaparta. ISBN 9788481365474.


  1. ^ a b c La actuación de la Ertzaintza en Kukutza fue desproporcionada, EiTB, 24 May 2012.
  2. ^ "Gaztetxea "sortze fabrika" izan dela nabarmendu dute ehundik gora kultur eragilek". Berria. 24 September 2011.
  3. ^ Larrea, Andeka; Gamarra, Garikoitz (2007). Bilbao y su doble. ¿Regeneración urbana o destrucción de la vida pública?. Bilbao: Gatazka. pp. 22–23. ISBN 978-84-88455-70-3.
  4. ^ «El Colegio de Arquitectos Vasco Navarro elabora un informe sobre Kukutza», El Mundo, 23 September 2011.
  5. ^ "Kukutza, dos años después". El Correo. 12 September 2013.
  6. ^ Lipdub Kukutza. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  7. ^ El sindicato ELA-Ertzaintza critica su "utilización interesada en el desalojo de Kukutza" Archived 2012-06-29 at Archive.today, ELA, 23 September 2011.
  8. ^ "The Basque Country And A Peace Process That Spain Is Ignoring". AN SIONNACH FIONN. Ireland. 2011-09-26. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  9. ^ Disturbios en Rekalde tras el cierre de un centro juvenil, RTVE, 24 September 2011.
  10. ^ Continúan los disturbios en Rekalde y otras zonas de Bilbao, La Información, 24 September 2011.
  11. ^ Los disturbios por el derribo de Kukutza se trasladan al Ayuntamiento de Bilbao, El País, 23 September 2011.
  12. ^ Alegría, Arantza. «Los destrozos por los disturbios contra el cierre de Kukutza ascienden a 140.000 euros, Cadena Ser, 26 September 2011.
  13. ^ Los okupas de Kukutza pensaban que el edificio era de un narco que había huido, El Correo, 28 January 2015.
  14. ^ a b Goikoetxea, Agustín. El Ararteko pone en cuestión el violento desalojo de Kukutza III, Gara, 25 May 2012.
  15. ^ Igea, Octavio. Rodolfo Ares: "Kukutza fue un pretexto para arrasar Bilbao", El Correo, 7 October 2011.
  16. ^ Confirman la multa al agente que agredió a una joven cerca de Kukutza, EiTB, 6 November 2013.
  17. ^ a b c "Bilbao: A new squat and Kukutza courtcases". Squat.net. 2013-02-15. Retrieved 2019-04-02.
  18. ^ El abogado de los acusados denuncia que el solar de Kukutza sigue vacío, Naiz, 28 January 2015.
  19. ^ Solo un condenado en el ‘caso Kukutza’ Archived 2016-05-08 at the Wayback Machine, Deia, 8 February 2015.

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