Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Spanish government recently announced major new benefits for the disabled. One wonders how much analysis they’ve done of the UK scene, where it’s said that the incapacity benefit has been “abused and misappropriated to the point of travesty”. So much so, in fact, that it’s now acknowledged by all to be a racket. Indeed, data obtained under the UK’s Freedom of Information Act confirms that “an absurdly high number of claimants are receiving benefit for conditions such as obesity and vaguely defined ‘stress’”. Could this happen here? I expect so. But at least it will have the same beneficial effect of reducing the unemployment numbers, once people latch on to the possibilities of a lifetime benefit without strings. Or am I being too cynical about human behaviour?

Galicia’s saving banks [the Caixas] are traditionally involved in sponsorship of cultural events, possibly because they’re obliged to be. In fact, each of our two biggest Caixas has an impressive cultural centre in the heart of Pontevedra, dedicated to exhibitions and to regular events. Trying to book on line for one of these yesterday – with ‘trying’ being the operative word – I discovered at least one of these banks indulges in another Spanish tradition, charging you more for doing things on line than by phone. Can this be because they can’t or won’t make the overhead savings that would motivate them to offer you a net discount? Or is it just profiteering by not-for-profit organisations?

Up in the hills behind Pontevedra, a group of people belonging to a sect called Gnosis Samael aun Weor are having problems with the local council over six container-homes they’ve installed on land they bought a while back. A spokesperson insisted that the Barcelona dealer who’d sold them the containers had assured them they wouldn’t need planning permission to set them up as houses. Well, posibly not in Cataluña. And maybe not even here, in theory. I suspect the group will have to call on all its divine connections to get this solved. Including their celestial bankers.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been referred to – not unwelcomingly – as ‘Spain’s most prolific blogger’ and ‘the doyen of bloggers in Spain’. Yesterday, though, fellow blogger John in Barcelona labelled me ‘Old Reliable’. I’m sure he meant this kindly but, on balance, I prefer ‘prolific’ and ‘doyen’. Even if some of the insults hurled at me in Spanish and Gallego have been more entertaining.

7 comments:

Sierra said...

A question for your readers -

Why do gardeners in Galicia grow apples but never pick them?

There was a fine crop this year, but everybody just lets them rot on the trees. Hasn't the "apple a day" culture arrived here?

Xoan-Carlos said...

Maybe it's because farms no longer make cider, and now feed pigs cereals instead of apples, but the apple trees remain.

Colin said...

Yes, I'd thought about the cider aspect, though not the pigfeed factor. I think there is still some cider made here but it's much more prevalent in nextdoor Asturias, of course. It's the opposite with Celts . . . . .

Colin said...

Who don't grow on trees, of course. Anywhere in the world.

Colin said...

Xoan-Carlos,

See this article [you'll have to combine the 4 lines]. . .
http://www.elpais.com/articulo/
opinion/Federalismo/
autodeterminacion/elpepiopi/
20071102elpepiopi_9/Tes

I'd like to refer to it, favourably and provide a translation better than Google's. As I'm a bit pushed at the moment, any chance you could have a go at improving the latter? Which is [with one or two amendments so far]:-

Federalism or Self-Determination

The articulation of Spain into a 'symmetrical' federal state or self-determination of communities seeking independence are options to be faced but today seems unthinkable
1. The unresolved problem of the nineteenth century Spanish was articulating a real nation state. Therefore - and by the failure of 1898 - the Catalan, Basque and Galician nationalists defined Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia at the beginning othe 20th century as two nations that are part of the State, which denied the nation to Spain . And we need to also add that Catalan, Basque, Galician and Navarran nationalists have won today, in their communities, the cultural battle thanks to their control of the educational system.
2. Separatists? Separators? Who threw the first stone?. No matter. Approaching is the moment of truth and we must define the respective positions to find a way out, and not from the kind of perspective that provides a shared project, but from the strict angle provided by respective interests.
3. Thus, it should be based on the idea that the piece of land that extends from the Pyrenees to Finisterre and the Price Cap Creus-margin Portugal can only theoretically articulated four ways: as a unitary state and that centralist cuajar did not and never will be, as an asymmetrical federal state, which is not possible in fact, since no State endures several bilateral relations, in which many other communities dealing with the central heart to heart, almost as if a confederation concerned. As a federal state symmetrical, which is the State Autonomous embryo and that it is a unitary state, ie a single legal system articulated on the only ethical principle of universal validity is not metaphysical: the general interest of all prevails - in certain matters - on the particular interest of the parties. And finally, as several independent states -various systems legal.
4. In practice, these options are reduced to two: state or federal symmetrical exercise of the right of self-determination for those communities that aspire to independence.
5. Symmetrical federal state gives the kind of relationship that binds all States federated with the central power is identical. It supports bilateral relations-the partners shared sovereignties, pacts with the Corona-looking setup a privileged status and particularly for some of the federated states. Another thing is that supports asymmetry regarding the extension of the powers of each federal state, as are various budgets that each party in the area of language itself, civil law, taxation concert ...
6. Not reject the asymmetrical federalism -thou relationship to tú - by conceptual grounds. It can work. Sosa Wagner contends that Kakania was chaos; Ernest Lluch thought that it is a model to follow. But in Spain it generates an irresolvable gibberish because, given the fact that Catalonia Mimetic exerts on the rest would be several communities that they would opt for also for a heart to heart with the State, and there is no state that can tolerate this .
7. The federal state option requires symmetrical or self-determination to be effective, affordable constitutional reform only after a pact today unthinkable- between the ruling party and the first party in the opposition (PSOE/DB or PPd/ PSOE). A pact that should be open to the nationalist parties, but that should be brought without them, precisely because to them, those who do not accept symmetric federalism - them would be out of the self.
8. Many Spaniards think that's crazy - or a betrayal – to admit the possible secession of parts of Spain. But without prejudice to the membership warm to the idea of Spain and precisely because of it, we have to look at the reality and assume it. And this reality tells us that, in Catalonia, Basque Country, Navarra Galicia and the citizens want to secede. This is not because of competence, money, infrastructure, historical debt, and so on, but purely and simply the absence of a shared project that attractive. You might want to leave those who are most, it may not, but we must know. And, in any case, which should never do is structure the constitutional framework of coexistence with the sole aspiration to be those who want to go, because if this is done, will be those who want to leave and those who end up going is State will be destroyed her.
9. A minimum decency requires us to contemplate the serious objections can be made:
A) It is giving in to ETA blackmail. No: the challenge is the most serious nationalist Catalan in Catalonia and there is nothing comparable to ETA.
b) B) The status that would, in the event of secession, the Spanish Basque Country and Navarra. It is a tragic objection, in front of which there is no argument. One can only add that perhaps not better their current situation, since the ultimate goal of nationalism is basque-nationalization "vasquización" - Spaniards living there, with independence and without it.
C) The opposition of Spain Spanish closed to the admission of self-determination. There are nationalists peripherals including cultivados- submitted to the Spaniards as some types -half lit, half interested defending insufferable arrogance with a unitary concept of Spain, who praised rhetoric huera and living with greed prosaic. But is that the current Spain?
D) The State's economic infeasibility without Spanish Catalonia. It is true that the Catalan participation in the Spanish GDP is close to 20%. It's real contribution of the effort to develop tax Catalan Spain. It is also certain that the counterparty has meant for the Catalan companies, the existence of a captive market for decades Spanish. But if the only reason for maintaining the relationship between Spain and Catalonia seemingly unsatisfactory for both parties is the economic expediency, we are going wrong. It lacks a future.
10. Therefore, Spaniards, Catalans, Basques, Galicians and Navarre have to assume their responsibilities and ask what they want. And an end to this situation of uncertainty and disorder, that hurts everybody, to prevent the serious issues facing our time.
11. Now is the time to call truthful. Politicians have to speak frankly and openly. But just as war is too serious to leave to the military, politics is too important to be left to politicians. And precisely for this reason, people have to say what they really think, without fear of breaking the canon dominant, arguing in public that said the same thing in private. Only the word free will make us all free.
12. It is thought that with the dilemma federal state or self symmetrical rush the disintegration of Spain. Not so for these reasons: a) What would be lethal half-term follow concessions particularizadas, dragged into a bilateral discussion with the communities vocation of independence and without an overall plan, b) From the very moment that is admitting the right of self-determination, the problem would cease to be a problem for Spain to become a problem in the community who want self-determination, which is divided into two opposing sides c) It is hard for me to an old state, with a lot of history on their backs, admits the right to secede from one of its parts, but any state that recognizes such a right reinforced by a ground out: no longer will never again subjected to blackmail continued in that community cranking advantages and achieve a situation lien, under pressure from that, if not given what we ask, they will.
13. All the above seems today madness. But the day will come when that will regret not facing it when there was still time.
Juan-José Lopez Burniol, is a notary, and a member of Citizens for Change.

Xoan-Carlos said...

Colin I might have a go at this before the end of the week.

Regarding Cider, from what I understand it was almost as popular in Galicia as in Asturias until around the 1960s (at least that's what my father tells me) and Estrella Galicia relaunched a brand of the stuff that you can get in quite a few places called "Sidra Galega" a few years ago.

Colin said...

Many thanks,X-C

Yes, I've had bottles of Galician cider over the years but mostly you get Asturian stuff now. I had an Anglo-Irish visitor a couple of years ago who wanted to revive cider-making here - he used to make it near Bristol - but nothing came of his dream.