You have to hand it to ETA. When it comes to cheek, they can even outdo the IRA. A day after 13 of their members were arrested for extortion, they issued a statement demanding the Spanish government moves from words to action and insisting no legislation, judicial orders or constitutional changes be allowed to stand in the way of the implementation of the will of the Basque people. By which, of course, they mean the minority who support their ends. The government has said there’ll be no political price paid for peace.
Some Galician facts:-
- Fewer people [63%] claim to routinely speak Galician these days. This is doubtless a reflection of the depopulation of the villages of inland Galicia.
- Galicia is being increasingly urbanised. Between 1987 and 2000, urban development grew 20%
- Between 2006 and 2013, Galicia will receive 3.4m euros from EU funds, a drop of 7% over the previous 7 year period
- Although 63% of the population say they speak Galician regularly, only a small minority have anything other than Spanish on their tombstones. The local Nationalist party [the BNG] fears this will give the wrong impression to future archaeologists and say something must be done about it. I’m not sure what.
And some random Spanish facts:-
- 96% of Spaniards live in 50% of the country. Meaning, of course, a mere 4% live in the other half.
- A major US finance company says there are now nearly 150,000 millionaires in Spain. The Spanish tax office admits to only 30,000. But then the latter doesn’t take stock of overseas holdings and routinely undervalues domestic real estate.
- In 2005, Spain considered 5,254 claims for asylum and rejected 96% of them. I would guess, firstly, this is a much higher refusal rate than in the UK, and, secondly, that those denied asylum were not allowed to stay in Spain, legally or illegally. By the way, by far the highest number of claims [29%] came from Colombians.
Up in Catalunia, the government says it will ban bullfighting, which is very much a minority activity up there anyway. I almost said ‘sport’ but this is a major faux pas in Spain, where its aficionados consider it an art form. Albeit a rather sanguinary one.
I watched the wonderful Japan-Brazil match in the No Smoking bar tonight. The four card-players again sat in front of me but the necking couple were, fortunately, behind me. This time the distraction was one of those manic Hispanic commentators who force me to switch off the radio when I’m travelling of a Sunday evening. Basically, he doesn’t use one word where ten will do and sounds very much like how I imagine a gibbering gibbon would. I fancy I’ve even seen complaints about him in the Spanish press. Which shows just how bad he must be.