Thursday, July 06, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 6.7.17

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain. 

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here.

Life in Spain:-
  • I'm thinking of starting a new section - Recycled Lists from The Local: Here's one I'm sure isn't new: 12 Signs You've Cracked the Spanish Language.
  • I felt a shiver of something when reading here that Spain's property market is booming again., albeit in respect of rentals. Allegedly, leases have risen 21% in the last year, even more in Madrid and Barcelona.
  • Elsewhere in this market, the major BBVA bank if offering c. 2,000 of its overvalued properties at alleged bargain prices. It prompts the question - Is Spain's banking industry still the country's largest estate agent/realtor?
  • So, Spain is Different is finally to be replaced in the world's consciousness by Spain is part of you. Maybe. More on this here, in Spanish. With a HT to Lenox of Business Over Tapas for this and other tidbits today.
  • Tourism is, of course, very important to the Spanish economy. Some even suggest it's a greater component than the official figure. So far this year, receipts have grown by 15%, to €28bn, in Anglo terms. Trouble is, the industry pays badly, offering salaries that few can really live on. The average salary is €22k a year, well below the national number. But actual wages can be much lower than this, for very long, anti-social hours. As low as €12-13kpa. or €1,000 a month. Or even as little as €800. Can't be right. Needless to say, much of this is paid as 'black money'. One irony is that the Spanish - by international standards - are very poor tippers. So, outside guiri areas, there isn't this compensation for low wages.
  • As mentioned, Spain recently celebrated 40 years of democracy, under the aegis of the perceived-to-be-wonderful EU. The ex king - who abdicated in disgrace - wasn't invited (by his son) to the official celebrations and is reported to be pretty miffed. No one else to blame but yourself, mate.
  • It's reported that 84% of Spanish voters believe the PP governing party is dragging its feet vis-a-vis its endemic corruption. Pretty easy to guess who the other 16% are.
Interesting developments up in restless Cataluña . . .  A member of the secessionist government there has been sacked for doubting the October referendum will take place. See The Guardian on this here. My own view is that the Generalitat is riding for a big fall and will all have resigned by the end of October.

The EU: Attached is an article from resident British observer, Matthew Bennett, together with Google's machine translation. Like me, MB finds the 'state funeral' of Helmut Kohl more than a tad disconcerting. Btw, Matthew . . . How many double letters does a man really need in his name?

Here in Galicia, our population continues to fall and is now down from 2.8m to 2.7m - despite the influx of foreigners. Real foreigners, that it. Not Spaniards from other regions, who are often given this label.

Finally . . . Here's a map of all of Spain's petrol/gas stations, with thanks again to Lenox. I believe the red ones are the most expensive and the green ones the least expensive. Quite a lot of red ones in the poor region of Galicia. One wonders why. But guesses at a cartel.

Today's cartoon:-



THE ARTICLE

El funeral de Kohl o Europa como proyecto elitista de hechos consumados: Matthew Bennett

Enterraron a Kohl. Con el primer "acto de Estado" europeo, en palabras del mismo Jean-Claude Juncker. La ceremonia tuvo lugar en el hemiciclo del Parlamento Europeo. El féretro estuvo cubierto con la bandera europea, con sus doce estrellas, y fue acompañado por soldados alemanes y soldados del Eurocuerpo. Se tocó el himno europeo, una adaptación de la Oda a la Alegría de Beethoven y Schiller. Y como no, en el Siglo XXI, se emitió en directo por Facebook Live. Hablaron los tres presidentes europeos—Juncker (Comisión), Tusk (Consejo) y Tajani (Parlamento). Kohl, dijo Juncker, "era un verdadero europeo".

No era, por lo visto, el funeral deseado por los hijos. Poco he leído sobre los últimos deseos del propio Kohl con respecto a la ceremonia. Quería que Viktor Orbán hablara pero no pudo ser: hizo declaraciones Merkel, la hija política "traidora" con quien el viejo Canciller estuvo enfrentado. Sus hijos no se hablan con la viuda. El hijo mayor describió los planes para el funeral como "impropios" para su padre. Querían que se hiciera una ceremonia religiosa delante de la Puerta de Brandenburgo, el gran símbolo de la división y de la reunificación alemana. Tampoco se le ha enterrado al lado de su ex mujer, la madre de sus hijos, en Ludwigshafen, sino en Speyer, como "expresión del amor de Kohl por Europa", según The Guardian.

a Unión Europea ya tiene actos de Estado sin ser Estado. El supra-estado como hecho consumado. Hemos presenciado un acto de gran simbolismo comunicativo-mediático. Se nos quiere animar como ciudadanos europeos a creernos más unidos y más europeos, resaltando un nuevo aspecto de una identidad común cuando ningún ciudadano del continente ha votado por la creación de un Estado europeo. Y los líderes nacionales ya pueden esforzarse por lograr un nuevo legado político-existencial: el de Gran Estadista Europeo. No sé si vendrá con cruz o medalla.

Felipe González dijo que Kohl quería "una Alemania europea y nunca más una Europa alemana" pero también señaló el engaño—me imagino sin darse cuenta—"nunca pensó que la dimensión social de la construcción europea fuera un estorbo para incorporar a Europa a la economía de la globalización". Merkel dijo que "ahora nos toca a nosotros mantener su legado". Es decir, el legado que le acaban de montar. Macron tuiteó—con una lectura algo selectiva de la historia—que "Europa es la historia de las mujeres y los hombres que han tenido el coraje de luchar contra los odios".

En enero, el primer ministro holandés, en pleno primer mes de la presidencia de Donald Trump, dijo que la Europa «cada vez más unida» ya estaba muerta, «enterrada». Se preguntaban por el rumbo de Europa, por qué era, exactamente, Europa, frente a Trump y al Brexit. El Ministro de Finanzas italiano, Pier Carlo Padoan les dijo a Bloomberg que «ese es el desafío que ofrece Trump y que ofrece el Brexit. Ellos tienen una visión, nosotros no».

En marzo, Jean-Claude Juncker presentó cinco opciones para el futuro de Europa. Es decir, admitió en el Parlamento Europeo que los países europeos no sabían qué era Europa, ni hacia dónde se dirigía. Las cinco opciones eran: seguir como siempre, reducir el proyecto al mercado único, crear una Europa de varias velocidades, intentar hacer menos con menos, o avanzar haciendo mucho más juntos.

Luego ganó Macron las presidenciales francesas y perdió autoridad Theresa May con sus desastrosas elecciones anticipadas. Parece claro que, con el funeral de Kohl, se va a apostar por "más Europa, más juntos, más centralizado todo". Y va a ser una euro-revolución desde arriba. Los pueblos no serán consultados sobre la jugada. Vamos a ser más europeos, nos guste o no, nos parezca sensato o no, funcione o no.

Sintiéndolo mucho por los lectores europeos convencidos, me parece más siniestro que bonito lo que acabamos de ver. Los líderes nacionales podrían haber presentado sus condolencias con el mismo respeto en una ceremonia de estado alemana, pero optaron por montarnos un show europeo. Parece claro que Europa tiene un nuevo rumbo frente al desafío del Brexit y mi escepticismo no se arraiga, en este caso, en mi condición de ciudadano británico. Me causaría el mismo estupor si, en estos años de desconexión, pidiera la nacionalidad española para seguir siendo europeo.

No obstante la decisión del Reino Unido, no estoy convencido de que "más Europa" sea el camino correcto para los europeos, no así, no con esa falta de legitimidad. Otra cosa sería si los ciudadanos de los 27 estados miembros hubiesen decidido todos juntos—mediante referéndum, por ejemplo—intentar crear ese Estado europeo. En ese caso, nada diría en contra. Pero el último intento en ese sentido—refrendar la Constitución europea en 2004-2005—fracasó. Las naciones europeas, en su conjunto, no la querían.


The funeral of Kohl or Europe as an elitist project of accomplished facts: Matthew Bennett

They buried Kohl. With the first European "act of State", in the words of Jean-Claude Juncker himself. The ceremony took place in the Chamber of the European Parliament. The coffin was covered with the European flag, with its twelve stars, and was accompanied by German soldiers and soldiers of the Eurobody. They played the European anthem, an adaptation of the Ode to the Joy of Beethoven and Schiller. And of course, in the 21st Century, it was broadcast live on Facebook Live. The three European presidents - Juncker (Commission), Tusk (Council) and Tajani (Parliament) spoke. Kohl, Juncker said, "was a true European."

It was not, apparently, the funeral desired by the children. I read a little about Kohl's last wishes regarding the ceremony. He wanted Viktor Orbán to speak but could not be: statements Merkel, the "traitorous" political daughter with whom the old Chancellor was confronted. Her children do not talk to the widow. The eldest son described the funeral plans as "improper" for his father. They wanted a religious ceremony to be held in front of the Brandenburg Gate, the great symbol of German division and reunification. Nor has he been buried next to his ex-wife, the mother of his children, in Ludwigshafen, but in Speyer, as "an expression of Kohl's love for Europe," according to The Guardian.

The European Union already has acts of State without being a State. The supra-state as a fait accompli. We have witnessed an act of great communicative-mediatic symbolism. We are encouraged as European citizens to believe in a more united Europe, highlighting a new aspect of a common identity when no citizen of the continent has voted for the creation of a European state. And the national leaders can already strive to achieve a new political-existential legacy: that of the Great European Statesman. I do not know if it will come with a cross or a medal.

Felipe González said that Kohl wanted "a European Germany and never again a German Europe" but also pointed out the deception - I imagine without realizing it - "never thought that the social dimension of European construction was a hindrance to incorporate Europe into the economy Of globalization ". Merkel said that "it is now up to us to maintain its legacy." That is, the legacy that you have just assembled. Macron tweeted -with a somewhat selective reading of history- that "Europe is the story of women and men who have had the courage to fight against hatred."

In January, the Dutch prime minister, in the very first month of Donald Trump's presidency, said that the "increasingly united" Europe was already dead and "buried". They wondered about the course of Europe, why it was, exactly, Europe, in the face of Trump and Brexit. Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan told Bloomberg that "this is the challenge offered by Trump and offered by Brexit. They have a vision, we do not. "

In March, Jean-Claude Juncker presented five options for the future of Europe. That is to say, he admitted in the European Parliament that the European countries did not know what Europe was or where it was headed. The five options were: to continue as usual, to reduce the project to the single market, to create a multi-speed Europe, to try to do less with less, or to advance doing much more together.

Then Macron won the French presidency and lost authority Theresa May with his disastrous early elections. It seems clear that, with Kohl's funeral, he will bet on "more Europe, more together, more centralized everything". And it's going to be a euro-revolution from above. The villages will not be consulted on the play. We will be more European, whether we like it or not, whether it seems sensible or not, whether it works or not.

Feeling much for convinced European readers, it seems more sinister than beautiful what we have just seen. The national leaders could have presented their condolences with the same respect in a ceremony of German state, but they chose to mount a European show. It seems clear that Europe has a new course in the face of the challenge of Brexit and my skepticism does not take root, in this case, as a British citizen. It would cause me the same stupor if, in these years of disconnection, I asked for Spanish nationality to remain European.

Notwithstanding the UK decision, I am not convinced that "more Europe" is the right path for Europeans, not so, not with that lack of legitimacy. Another thing would be if the citizens of the 27 member states had all decided together - by referendum, for example - to try to create that European state. In that case, I would say nothing against it. But the last attempt in that sense - to endorse the European Constitution in 2004-2005 - failed. The European nations, as a whole, didn't want this.

7 comments:

Maria said...

Salaries in hostelry can be even cheaper. I once knew a girl who was paid €500 a month for working in a bar officially from 7 pm to 1 am. But most days she was working from 4 pm to after 2 am. Granted she was only 18 and had just completed school, still, that was the salary for anyone else who applied for it. No wonder young people stay with their parents until well into their thirties and sometimes forties.

Alfred B. Mittington said...


If you absolutely must post a Google translation of a Spanish article, could you kindly, for us mono-linguists, correct the mistaken pronouns and the idiotic lexical foul-ups??

I mean: what in the world is the Eurobody?? (except Mr Kohl's corpse??)

Why do Merkel's children (of whom she has none) refuse to speak to Mr Kohl's widow?

How is it that Mrs Merkel insists that we must maintain the legacy of the economy of globalization (assembled or unassembled)?

How come Mr Macron lost the authority once wielded by Mrs May by his disastrous electoral victory? (and here I thought he won….)

Then what kind of say, pray tell, do the European (?) villages have in the matter of Ever Closer Union, or not?? (I mean: my own village has not yet been consulted!!)

And bloody finally: WHAT IN THE WORLD has Mr Willy Brandt to do with all of this ????????? The poor man's been dead for 25 years, and does not get mentioned anywhere in the Spanish or the sort-of-English text!!!

And you correct and criticize MY writings????

Some men have no shame!

Yours, CriticAl

Colin Davies said...

Your 'writings'? Pray, tell. What were these?

Alfred B. Mittington said...


Really? Is that your only defense??

ABM

Colin Davies said...

I don't know what a 'defense' is? Do you mean 'defence'?

Alfred B. Mittington said...


Blame the bloody google spellcheck which you told me to turn on!!!!

Colin Davies said...

Your usual DEFENCE. One would think you could have mastered the spellcheck option by now . . . . Despite your advanced years and creeping dementia . . .

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