If I were Artur Mas, the Cataluñan President, I'd be a tad concerned that almost 4,000 companies have recently moved to other parts of Spain. And that foreign investment fell 16% in 2104, against an increase of 9% in Spain as a whole. However, Sr. Mas seems blithely unconcerned about these early warning signs of adverse reaction to a unilateral declaration of independence. One observer (Don Quijones) comments astutely that these figures are already an irrelevance, as reason is absent from both sides in the "simmering war of words and gestures" which is taking place betweer Barcelona and Madrid. "The issue of Catalan independence" he writes "is no longer one based on pragmatic realities; as tensions have festered, it has become an almost purely emotionally driven issue. Instead of a reasoned national debate, all that now exists is one almighty shouting match between diametrically opposed nationalists who refuse to listen to one another. And now that the wrecking ball is in motion, stopping it will be a tough task, especially with neither side willing to give an inch.
Spain's President Rajoy is more than happy to perpetuate this dynamic: by adopting a belligerent line against Spain’s internal enemy (Cataluña), he keeps his party’s core constituency of fervent Spanish nationalists on board while making other parties that favour dialogue appear weak. The twin blowbacks of rising regional tensions and economic instability are a price worth paying to bolster his embattled political party’s electoral prospects.
This is a government that lied on just about every one of its election manifestos to get into power (including its infamous pledge that it would not give a cent to the banks before awarding them the biggest bailout in Spanish history). Imagine what it is willing to do to hold onto power? In the last few months alone it has passed a law that effectively criminalizes most forms of political protest; it has announced its budget for 2016 half a year before 2016 has even begun, just so that it can entice gullible voters with the promise of guaranteed tax cuts and spending rises, despite the fact that the IMF has already said that Spain will probably have to tighten the austerity screw after the elections; it has even created a new electoral law just months before the general elections to make it easier for the People’s Party to take control of hung parliaments in future local elections.
Its latest move was to pass control of the party’s apparatus in Cataluña to a xenophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-separatist former mayor of a satellite city on the edge of Barcelona. The party believes that his populist appeal has the best chance of taking votes from the rising anti-independence party, Ciutadans. In putting its faith in this man, Rajoy’s government sends a clear message to the people of Cataluña: it is not interested in healing any wounds or bridging any gaps. All it wants is votes – and at any price. If that means throwing even more gasoline on the fire of Catalonian independence, so be it."
Back in Galicia, it's good to hear that our Xunta has launched "a pioneering project for developing and using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for civil purposes and in different areas of public services." Drones, in other words.
New reader Fer R has kindly provided this lovely example of how a picaresque attitude to life can be helpful in Spain:- Related to our argumentative tendencies and our obstinate individualism when we face authority. Plus our exquisite ability to apologise for our conduct. I remember I've always been able to get lowered a fine or not be fined by a traffic warden only using the Verb[talking?]. The latest, driving my scooter few yards in the wrong direction, I said to the wardens who faced me: "I didn't know you were there but, if I had known I had committed my offence despite all, because I was plenty conscious of the illegality and, hence, I didn't act with irresponsibility. Very on the contrary, I knew it was the time when children go to school [there was a school on the corner], and I drove extremely carefully because I know I was driving in the wrong direction". And It worked.
My friend Eamon has kindly improved on his revised beach scene. It needs no comment from me:
Finally . . . Thanks to a major leak - wonderful when you have 6 guests and 2 more about to arrive - I now know I have a new water meter. It's a snazzy, bright yellow thing that has only one defect when compared with the old one - it's installed upside-down. Making it hard to read the numbers. Intentional?
REQUESTS FOR HELP
Every year, my garden is taken over by a new type of weed. This year it's this bloody menace. Anyone got any idea what it's called?
This, of course, is a set of taps. Almost. The bit on the right is really from a hose connection, put in place while I try to find a replacement for the real thing. Without success. Everyone tells me they can't do anything without the brand name, which is nowhere to be seen. Anyone got any ideas? Roca??