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The Other Half

The other day, a commemorative act was held in Portocolom to mark the 90th anniversary of the foundation of Spain’s first civil school for amphibian planes, the Escuela de Hidroaviación Civil. The occasion was reason enough for the President of the Consell de Mallorca, Maria Salom Coll, to descend upon this Eastern harbour town together with a few mandarins in her entourage. The festive act with self-important speeches by the political class was marred by a cacophony of ear-piercing whistles, shouting and booing by up to a hundred mostly young protesters. The audience attending was clearly divided into two groups of pretty equal numbers. The scene was a fair mirror image of today’s society in Spain and more to the point, Mallorca. La Crisis in Spain and here on the island seems to be affecting one half of the population whilst the other half happily pursues a routine of daily life as if everything were normal. I was shocked to see how seemingly far removed the political class present in Portocolom appeared from half their populace. They were all smiling and irritatingly cheerful, totally ignorant of the motives of the protesters who appeared to belong to the 21.3 % (24.6 % in all of Spain) of unemployed, or rather, 48 % in the case of youngsters under the age of 35, which seemed about the age range of the whistlers.

Massive protests have been seen frequently over the last six months wherever the president of the Govern Balear or his counterpart at the Consell de Mallorca made public appearances, either in Sa Pobla, Inca, Felanitx, Sóller, Andratx or Muro. Political decisions effecting cuts and changes in education, language, the health system, paired with effects of inflation, unemployment, taxation and dispossession have caused a lot of ill will amongst many citizens that the ruling body shrugs off without any further discussion. The argument goes like this ‘We have been elected with a majority and will now do as we please‘. A pity though that half the adult citizens did not vote Conservative and seem to feel utterly misrepresented.

It appears only fitting that just two days earlier, the government in Madrid had set up a new Departamento de Seguridad Nacional (Ministry of Homeland Security). I think that sooner or later the street protests in Spain will not be restricted to mere whistling.

The photo was taken in Portocolom, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 25th, 2012. The time was 19:27:48.

1 reply »

  1. Oh dear, a Ministry of Homeland Security; shades of the US where that institution increasing encroaches into the private lives of the people. Shudder. I was shocked to realise, only yesterday, that such a huge percentage of Spanish youth fall within the unemployed. Clearly, and not only in Spain, rampant austerity measures are not working; perhaps it is time to consider the Kenysian philosophy that, in prolonged recession, a government actually needs to spend money on public works in order to improve the economy.

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