An 81-year-old woman died in a fire in her flat in Reus, Catalonia in the early hours of Tuesday, November 15. The fire was caused by a candle she kept by her bed. Two months ago, the electricity company had cut off her supply as she was unable to pay.

17 November 2022

This tragic incident reveals the barbarism of a system which puts private profit above the needs of the people and highlights the brutal impact the crisis of capitalism is having on millions of families in Spain.

The company which cut  the electricity supply to this woman’s house is Gas Natural Fenosa, a Spanish multinational company operating in over 30 countries and whose main shareholders are La Caixa and Repsol. Gas Natural is the third largest supplier of gas and electricity in Spain and had profits of over €1.5 bn in 2015..

The Spanish electricity market is notoriously dominated by a handful of giant companies which hold consumers to ransom. Electricity prices have gone up by 52% for households in the 2008-14 period, double the average increase in Europe, making Spain the country with the fifth most expensive prices in the EU (see graph). As a result of the capitalist crisis, which has hit Spain particularly hard, over 28% of the population is now in risk of falling into poverty and social exclusion. 3.5 million are in a situation of severe poverty. “Energy poverty” - that is, families who find it difficult to pay electricity bills - now affects 17% of all Spanish households (about 7 million people), a 47% increase since the beginning of the crisis. Five million people are unable to properly heat their homes. It is calculated that energy poverty causes 7,000 deaths a year.