Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The avalanche of African immigrants into the Canary Islands reached a new peak at the weekend, with over 1500 arriving on the beaches there. Nearing its wits’ end [and not getting much sympathy from its EU partners], the Spanish government has said it will soon initiate mass expulsions back to the Dark Continent. I rather had the impression most illegals were already being sent back but I guess this will now be more public. And perhaps more brutal. I wonder what will happen when the immigrants start claiming they’re political refugees and so - under the European Charter of Human Rights - can’t be returned to where they’ll be persecuted. Will Spain take a more relaxed view of this troublesome statute than the UK and its legions of ‘caring’ lawyers?

The President of the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands has said this problem is surely a matter for the state and for all the regions, not just his. “If the state can’t deal with this sort of thing,” he asked “why does it exist? Well, quite. But it’s interesting to see how much more relevant the state becomes – as in the case of the Galician fires – when a region can’t cope with a disaster.

Pressure for independence from Spain comes from within the regions, most particularly from Catalunia and the Basque Country. In the case of the UK, such pressure has traditionally been rather muted in both Scotland and Wales. Indeed, they’ve each got their own parliament/assembly and greater devolved powers only very recently. But they’re now beginning to use these to effect different policies from England. The Scots in particular have decided to give their citizens much wider and less expensive health care and tertiary education. Trouble is, the costs of all this are heavily subsidised by the English. This is beginning to stick in the English craw – especially since Scottish MP’s at Westminster vote on purely English matters – and there’s growing pressure to put an end to this largesse. Who knows, perhaps the small band of Scottish Nationalists may one day achieve their goal of independence. Not because the majority of Scots demand it [they don’t] but because the tight-fisted English thrust it on them. This, of course, is a nightmare scenario for the ambitious, thrusting Scots [Blair, Brown, Reid, Darling, etc.] who currently dominate British politics. And it at least partly explains why the Prime-Minister-in-waiting, Mr Brown, has been spouting about ‘Britishness’ for some time now. He doesn’t want to be thrown out at the next general election just because he’s a ‘bloody Scot”.

I very much doubt that independence would be welcome to the vast majority of Scots, who’d then have to be more heavily taxed. And I’ve previously compared this situation with that of Galicia. This drives the Galician independistas into paroxysms of rage, as nothing will convince them Galicia won’t become a mighty and prosperous nation once it’s liberated from the yoke of Spanish colonial oppression. So I’m happy to mention it again and now await the wave of insults from ‘independent’ adolescents sitting at their computers in a bedroom in their parents’ house.


Anonymous said...

Dear Colin

I have to agree with your remarks regarding the young nationalist crying for independence while living out of his parents.

Next step will be becoming a full time " funcionario"- the every spaniard dream.

We never have so much freedom in Galicia as today, freedom from tradition, freedom for politically correction, freedom to be anything we want to be. Despite so, we see young individuals living at home until 30's or more.

I cannot see a generation ready to take risk or lose in quality of life- renting low apartments, sharing flats, getting a second job- in order to get a full and indenpendent life. If this is the crow asking for an independent state.... cannot see the problem, they will leave with Daddy State until next generation.

As an old spanish saying " vive de tus padres hasta que puedas vivir de tus hijos"... Sometimes ideas could be really dangerous...


David said...

It is interesting to note that some African States have offered to accept back illegal immigrants on the basis that they receive 'aid'in return. So much for philanthropy!

An easy way to solve this problem is to treat all that arrive humanely then tow them back in their boats to the start of their national home waters. Cut them adrift, giving them oars with which to row to back to their country of embarcation. Even provide sandwiches to make their voyage enjoyable.

Alex said...

It is very infair when you say that about young people living with their parents so long.

The employment and housing circumstances in this moment in Spain are very diferent to that in oher eurpean countries and USA.

I see every year friends of mine that go to UK to work and most of them was able to get a job in less than 2 weeks. That's imposible in Spain, it's a lot more difficult to get a job here and the wages are a lot lower, even considering the lower prices.

Sure that the cost of life is lower but that is not true when you consider the current prices of housing in Spain. You see news about the high prices of housing every day in the media, why don't you also mention that?

I have a cousing that got a job (in Spain) and independized. He is full time co-manager of a supermarket, he earns 600€ a month, the same amount that cost renting his apartment, his girlfriend earns even less, so he often steal food from his own supermarket to get to the end of the month. Thats the reality for young people in Spain.

If you are university student, you can get a half-time job, thats 300-400€ at most. Renting an apartment is no less that 600€, even if it's shared it's a lot of money. Also it's the fact that allmost all universities have courses scheduled at any hour of the day, from 9am to 9pm (you know how strange the working hours are here), and that makes even harder (if not imposible) to get a job. And when you finish university don't expect to get more that 1000€ a month in your first job.

One of the reasons of the high cost of housing is that a lot of foreigners, mostly british and germans, are buying houses here (retirement, holidays, speculation!...) and they can afford to pay more so the prices of houses keep going up to levels that are hard to pay for the average spanish family, even more for the youngs.

If an average spanish family buys a house now, they will probably be the rest of their life paying it. For a young with recurring temporal contracts it's just imposible.

David said...

Dear Colin,

Your thoughts on immigration and nationalism were indeed thought provoking.

I have never been clear in my own mind, and frankly I do not think anybody else is either, as to what nationalists are attempting to achieve. One could of course answer power and ‘freedom or so called independence’. Perhaps in their own mind, this is to them the ‘Holy Grail’.

This goal is but a myth; it does not exist and can never be achieved. We are all inter dependent on others be it people or nations. No country that has achieved the Nationalists dream has achieved Utopia. In fact nobody has. Perhaps Nationalists are aiming at purity such as the ilk of Kim Sung of North Korea. In my book that is something to be avoided at all cost.

So one has to come to the conclusion that the Nationalists dream is about power and money.

In Spain the clamour for independence by Galicia, Catalonia and the Basque Country) at present - but watch this space – is curious. Do the politicians driving the Nationalist bandwagon forward not realise that to exist in our world you need to be large. To draw a parallel it is similar to deciding to set up a corner shop in opposition to a large Supermarket. There is simply no contest! Perhaps they hope that by being small they will receive handouts from the EEC. So much for self-esteem and nationalistic pride. What a proud Nation they will be.

The term ‘Nation’ would suggest that the areas were once kingdoms or countries. As far as I am aware this has never been truly proved in the cases above. If one takes other cases such as Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the kingdoms of Germany for instance, it can be proven that all these lands were once independent and thus have a case for Nationalism. They however also perhaps unpalatably recognise that they need some form of continuing cohesion with their parent nation in order to survive.

The development of regional parliaments in the United Kingdom may satisfy Nationalistic fervour but in my view achieves little except a very large bill which the tax payer has to underwrite.

I guess we have to watch this space to see who gets what and when. My bet is that once independence has been proved to be a fools gold there will be a headlong rush to reform old alliances in order to survive in this financially driven world.