Friday, August 04, 2006

I may be very wrong [and/or naïve] but I get the impression Spanish justice is winning its battle against local corruption. The latest case in the media is of a mayor in La Rioja who promoted the building of a 4-storey block of flats - when only houses had been approved - and then sold the flats through his estate agency.

Cambados is a Galician coastal town, the centre of one of the region’s two great Albariño wine growing areas and famous for its wine festival every first week of August. For reasons utterly beyond me at least, this year they chose that imposing figure of the wine world, Samantha Fox, to inaugurate it. Perhaps she was just passing through and a thing or two about her caught their eye.

I read this comment today – Spain has a lop-sided constitution with big powers for the Basque Country, more modest devolution for Catalunia and relatively little for Castile. This asymmetry is tolerated in part because the most devolved areas are the richest parts of Spain and, thus, paymasters of the rest. Conspicuous by its absence from this short list is Galicia, even though it also has a privileged position. This is because it’s one of the poorest parts of Spain and, as I have said, represents much less of a go-it-alone threat to the rest of the country. The Galician ‘nationalists’ who write to upbraid/insult me find this comment hard to accept. But they would, wouldn’t they?

Galicia Facts

The rest of Spain is said to regard Galicians as rather stupid and stubborn. This is unfair, though if you’ve tried to buy property up in the hills here you might not think so. And you might just want to add ‘greedy’ to the list. But I digress. Before the new traffic regulations came into force in July, a surprisingly high percentage of Galicians said they didn’t think they’d change their driving habits as a result. This can’t have helped their nationwide image. But even more damage must have been caused by the statistics of the first month of operation. Galicia was the only place in Spain where road deaths didn’t fall at all. And now the Department of Traffic is to introduce a ‘Special Plan’ to deal with those recalcitrant Gallegos. One can only hope it is successful, whilst one is still alive and capable of expressing an aspiration.

No comments: