Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Among many positives, there is one negative about Extremadura – the tap water is dreadful, tasting as brackish as anything I fancy American cowboys used to have to drink. This was the case in both Caceres and Alcántara but seems less true of Trujillo. Anyway, I wasn’t surprised to see an article in today’s local paper headlined – According to the latest analysis, the water is improving in smell and taste, albeit slowly.

It’s my experience that every Spaniard you meet – especially estate agents/realtors – is the most honest person on the planet but everyone they know is not to be trusted. So, as you’d expect, this is a country in which conspiracy theories flourish. And so it is with the El País attack on the economic management of Sr Zapatero, the man with eleven syllables in his name but apparently without any idea of even how to spell economics. The widespread view is that the paper was driven by government decisions on pay-for-view TV which went against the interests of the PIRSA Group which owns it. It all rather reminds me of something George Borrow wrote, along the lines that there never was a Spanish calumny that wouldn’t collapse under the weight of its own preposterousness. Or I’ve just checked . . . “But when did a calumnious report ever fall to the ground in Spain by the weight of its own absurdity?”

As for said mismanaged economy, the fascinating thing is that the bad news just keeps getting worse. I doubt there are any optimists around right now, just pessimists and super-pessimists. Among the latter ranks Edward Hugh, who here comments on the implications of what’s said to a total of three million unsold properties in the country, either finished or in process.

And here’s Edward on my recent theme of the forces working to loosen Sr Z’s grip on power. If you can’t face it all, here’s the nub . . . Certainly all the early warning signs are there, and no one can watch Spanish television news, or listen to the radio here without becoming immediately aware that something has now changed, and that he who was once all powerful is now, himself, in his turn steadily being subjected to that big squeeze of which he was, in an earlier epoch, such an admirable exponent himself. Basically I have no doubt that, whether the coup de grace comes later or sooner, Zapatero is now on his way out, and the only real outstanding question I have is whether he will in the end go before Christmas (the start of Spain's EU Presidency) or after June (when it finishes). The decision is I suppose in the hands of the Spanish people, and it is just a question of how much more unemployment they are willing to stomach before those inevitable "casserolades" start to break out.

Finally, if this works, here are the photos taken so far on the trip by my daughter, Faye. Including an (unflattering) one of me. That should stop all the contacts via Tagged.


moscow said...


Russian penchant for conspiracy rumours makes the Spanish look like a model in transparency. I do not believe much in them, and as much as I never thought the Pais is/was the government's mouth piece, I don't think it is now attacking ZP because of the TDT issue.

Note, the attack is almost personal, directed at ZP himself, not so much at the PSOE or the government itself. The perception is it is ZP personally who is the real bottleneck to reform.

One interesting personage here, is Salgado, who is keeping a rather low profile. I don't know why, but I had the impression she is quite a clever lady - maybe I am wrong and she happens to be as thick as her boss - and her underlings and advisers are all economists who have in the past or just recently expressed support for labour reform (the mother of all reforms, as a journalist once called it).

In any case, Spain is heading for tumultuous times. I have repeated to exhaustion that Rajoy is the wrong person to lead the PP. I don't like the PP's ultra-catholic wing at all, and neither do I like it's centralising tendencies and reactionary conservatism, but in view of the current situation, I am now hoping for something I never thought I would: a Rajoy government.....so lately I have had to swallow a lot of my former words and thoughts.

Even if I do not dislike ZP, and I even like many of the things he has done, it's the economy - what matters most - stupid.

Colin said...

Hola, Moscow. Yes, I fully agree. Though I can't say I have any impression at all of Salgado, never watching the TV news. Do you think there's a real chance Z will be gone before the year-end?

moscow said...


And what do you think? He is the PM. He has still has a lot of power. See how difficult it was to remove GB. All they need sometimes, these guys, is stubbornness. He could be there till 2012.

Colin said...

Well, I guess it may depend on how the party elders see their chances at the next election. The British Labour party has no chance of winning in the UK are so are confused as to what is best for them and `willing' to leave GB in power until after his certain (next) failure. Here in Spai, the PSOE may think it has a chance to win without their discredited ingenue. If so. he's for the chop. But I couldn't guess how and when. Certainly before the next election, possibly 12m before.

Troy said...

The water has been terrible lately, absolutely...but in the somewhat lame defence of the Canal Isabel (who for some reason has been once again given the contract once again to supply the city with water), it has been a particularly dry year, even for Extremaduran standards. I think that the reservoir is down to something like 30% which basically leads to a glass full of algae with a bit of water thrown in.

Come here (Caceres) sometime in winter and it is much better.

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