The Balearic Constitution Day

Almudaina Palma Mallorca_

Spain is politically organized into a total of 17 comunidades autónomas (autonomous communities), plus 2 ciudades autónomas (autonomous cities), Ceuta and Melilla. The Balearic Islands are one of the 17 autonomous communities having been accorded such status thirty-two years ago today, on March 1st, 1983.

Every year, the Día de les Illes Balears is commemorating the Estatuto de Autonomia Balear (Statute of Balearic Autonomy), or, in other words, the Constitution giving the legislative framework for regional law making. A range of festivities will be held today in Palma and elsewhere, and have already been held for two or three days. In celebration of Balearic Autonomy, March 1st is a public holiday, but this year the holiday happens to coincide with a Sunday. Oh, well.

Each of the four main islands organises a number of festive and institutional events on this day. For Mallorca, a PDF file with the programme of activities can be downloaded in Catalan from the Govern de les Illes Balears website.

Activities include a Trofeu de tir de fona tournament at Sant Carles, Open Doors at the seat of the President of the Govern de les Illes Balears at the Consolat de Mar, Open Doors at the newly restored Llotja, Open Doors at Castell de Bellver and Palau de l’Almudaina, Open Doors at nearly all the museums and galleries in Palma and the rest of the island, such as Es Baluard in Palma, Museu de Son Marroig in Deià, Fundación Yannick y Ben Jakober near Alcúdia, Ciutat Romana de Pol·lèntia in Alcúdia, plus a few things more, too numerous to mention here.

Enjoy.

The Balearic Constitution Day

The Fortification At Es Fortí de Cala Llonga

When I last visited the cliff top fortification at Es Fortí de Cala Llonga in Cala d’Or, some twenty years ago or even longer, it was in a pretty bad shape; one might have called it a ruin. The origins of the fortification may easily go back a couple of hundred years or even more. It might have been built during the 1730s. At that time, surveillance and custody of the coast was a matter of great importance. In an inventory of the year 1832 the military fortress weaponry was listed as consisting of four cannons, a fact that clearly shows the importance and strength Es Fortí de Cala Llonga once had.

Nowadays, the small old fortress stands in good splendour; well, almost. The Military sold the fortress by way of an auction in 1878 and it became private property. In 1992, Es Fortí was acquired by the Fundació Illes Balears who slowly and carefully restored the erstwhile stronghold. It is now open to the public and serves as a venue for occasional festive events, concerts and other cultural and social gatherings. The views over the cliffs towards the coastline of Cala d’Or and the open Med are as good as it gets.

The photos were taken in Cala d’Or, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 6th, 2012. The time was 14:01:11, 13:57:34 and 13:45:16, respectively.

The Fortification At Es Fortí de Cala Llonga

The Port Authority in Mallorca

Ports in Spain and the Merchant Marine are managed by state-owned institutions called port authorities, ultimately a section of the Ministerio del Interior in Madrid and the Spanish government, depending on the Ministry of Public Works and Economy. The Autoridad Portuaria de Baleares (Port Authority of the Balearic Islands) is assigned to the management of the ports of Palma de Mallorca, Alcúdia, Mahon, Ibiza and La Savina (Formentera).

The Port Authority of the Balearic Islands is about to move into new headquarters at the Moll Vell in the harbour of Palma. A new construction has gone up on the site of the former Trasmediterránea building, busy up to some twenty years ago but abandoned since the late Nineties. For generations of visitors to Mallorca, the old Trasmediterránea building had been a landmark acting as a meeting point and forwarding station for messages, mail and communication, not unlike the American Express office in Paris during the Forties and Fifties. The new Port Authority headquarters were built, integrating parts of the old construction and its modernist façade, to an estimated budget of 18,000,000 Euros but seem to have finally come in at a total sum of 20,472,223 Euros, if the official figures are to be trusted. That’s quite a lot of money, don’t you think?

The photo (top) was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 4th, 2012. The time was 17:52:27. The photos (centre and bottom) were borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es (centre) and portsdebalears.com (bottom)

Muchas gracias.

The Port Authority in Mallorca

Till Death Us Do Part

Death comes to all, but now, at a price.

The recently announced hike in the rate of Spanish IVA (Value Added Tax) will affect some more than others. School books in Spain, for instance, were taxed, and continue to be, at a low rate of IVA of 4 % (superreducida). School material such as papers, rulers, pencils, crayons, erasers and so on continue to be levied at the reduced rate of IVA, but suffering an increase from 8 % to now 10 %.

It’s worse if you have a death in your family. Funerary expenses in Spain also used to be taxed at 8 % and the cost of funerals should have now gone up to 10 %, being so far a matter within the band of the reduced tax rate. But no. The band of reduced tax rates no longer applies to funerals or cremations as of September 1st, here in Spain. Dying now will be a matter affordable only to the affluent. Funeral expenses will now be charged at the full rate of 21 %, whereas this week and until the end of this month, they are still levied at 8 %. The new regulation will make Spain the most expensive country in Europe for the family of the deceased from next week, tax-wise, with the possible exception of Sweden.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 12th, 2012. The time was 18:26:09.

Till Death Us Do Part

Pneumatic Rubbish Collection in Palma

A pneumatic rubbish collection was installed in Palma some ten years ago at a cost of 23,000,000 Euros. Subterranean tunnels would normally suck the waste to central collection points from where the basura is being transported to the Centre de Tratamiento in Son Reus, the massive incinerator plant just north of Palma. Alas, all is not well with Emaya‘s pneumatic collection system; a number of technical and electric breakdowns seem to have occurred over the last few months. Currently, some 380 pneumatic rubbish collection bins in Palma’s historical centre have been sealed off and were rendered unusable. Emaya Empresa Municipal d’Aigües i Clavegueram S.A. is the municipal water and waste refuse company in Palma, currently in debt to the tune of some 35,000,000 Euros.

Whilst the pneumatic collection system is inoperable, traditional waste containers have been brought out of retirement and dustbin lorries are now sent out periodically to visit the pneumatic bin areas and collect the rubbish from the deposit bins, to ensure that rubbish does not accumulate in the streets.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 7th, 2012. The time was 14:15:12. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es and the photographer, Lorenzo.

Muchas gracias.

Pneumatic Rubbish Collection in Palma

The Bench of the Lazybones

Outside Palma’s Cort building (Ajuntament de Palma; Palma town hall) there is a beautiful hard stone bench inviting passers-by (and tourists) to sit down and have a break from the rushing around, or seek some shade on a stifling hot day such as yesterday. The bench is commonly called Banc dels vagos (bench of the layabouts) by the locals, or Banc de Sinofos, from the expression si no fos per… (if it weren’t for…), referring to the capital’s affluent heirs who had the means to not be obliged to work. Of course, this mockery originated during the 19th century when plenty of rich layabouts were living in Palma but, the term is still being used today, often in reference to the civil servants working at the town hall.

The photo was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 1st, 2012. The time was 15:21:46.

The Bench of the Lazybones

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.

The Other Half