Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Cemeteries feel the crunch: families are not paying for their 'nichos'

Algeciras, the old cemetery
ALGECIRAS (Agencies) The financial crunch is taking its toll on the families of those who have been interred at either of the two cemeteries in Algeciras, according to the Marcos Lo-Iacono, the manager of the cemeteries' concession company. He says that he had sent a list of 'payment pending' names to the Town Hall two years ago. All the official requirements were met (there is considerable paperwork involved, see below) but, says Lo-Iacono, "people must be aware that, unless a nicho is bought, it is a rental that lasts five years." PLEASE BE AWARE THAT ITEMS SUCH AS THIS MAY BE SUBJECT TO SUBSCRIPTION IN THE FUTURE but you can make a donation NOW, too! Please click here for more information on how to help us continue. (This item was translated, researched and edited, taking almost two hours to produce )>>>
A nicho is a niche - or a 'shelf' where a coffin is placed in above-ground cemeteries. These can be bought outright, or rented. Usually included in the cost of a funeral, the first five years is paid for. After that, rental is due for another five years. Failure to pay can lead to the removal of the body to an ossuary, although this is usually the last recourse for the cemetery owner or concessionary. Before that happens, though, there are a number of requirements:

  • Every attempt must be made to contact the family of the deceased. The 'family' is defined by whoever signed the original 'contract', often through the funeral home.
  • Failure to contact leads to the publication of the family name in the Boletín Oficial de Provincia (the official provincial bulletin).
  • Given a stipulated amount of time after publication, sometimes running to months, the body can be exhumed, classified, coded and taken to a 'general area'. Once there, they can not be recovered.
  • Some of these steps can take several years, but financial pressure is currently on Town Halls all over Spain to raise money. And the Councils own the cemeteries.
Apparently, similar problems are arising in Los Barrios, where, according to press reports, the cemetery is run directly by the Town Hall, not a concessionaire, and in Jimena, where Prospero was asked recently for the addresses of the families of several nicho occupants.
(See also: Living and Dying in Southern Spain for the procedures, customs and traditions that refer to death in, you guessed it, Southern Spain.)

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