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 Alcover-Moll Dictionary

The Catalan language is a rather beautiful, often quite poetic language. Currently, there is much debate here in Mallorca as to whether Mallorquín as a language is a proper such language or simply, a dialect of the Catalan idiom from Catalunya on the mainland. I am not an expert in this matter but I know that there are experts of some consequence in linguistic issues. One of them was Antoni Maria Alcover i Sureda (1862-1932).

Although Mossèn Alcover’s first literary efforts were in Spanish, he turned to the Catalan language in 1879. From this date, he undertook to collect the Rondalles de Mallorca (fables and folklore of Mallorca), which he began to publish in 1880 in various journals under a pseudonym (Jordi d’es Racó). In 1886, Alcover was ordained and became the parish priest for Manacor, hence the title Mossèn. In 1888 he became a professor of ecclesiastical history at the seminary in Palma.

The first Congrés Internacional de la Llengua Catalana (International Congress of the Catalan Language) was held in 1906 on his initiative and under his presidency. He was named president of the philological branch of the Institute for Catalan Studies. His principal work was the Diccionari Català-Valencià-Balear (Catalan-Valencian-Balearis Dictionary), also known as Diccionari Alcover-Moll, which unfortunately he did not live to see completed. A first tome was published in 1926. The complete oeuvre was finished by his then collaborator Francesc de Borja i Moll and published in 1962, fifty years ago this year. The current edition is a lexicon in ten tomes, published in 1993 (see photo below).

Perhaps José Ramon Bauzá, the president of the Govern de les Illes Balears, should buy a complete set of this lexicon and actually study the language that he seems to so vehemently repress.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 14th, 2012. The time was 23:11:33. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of ca.wikipedia.org.

Moltes gràcies.

The Alcover-Moll Dictionary

Baleares Day

March 1st will be a holiday here in Mallorca, and all over the Balearic Isles, the annual Día de las Islas Baleares. A festive programme has been prepared by the Govern de les Illes Balears and the Ajuntament de Palma, starting from today and lasting until Sunday, March 4th. Programme details can be downloaded from the Govern website (Documents: Programa Mallorca).

Activities include a giant Scalextric race track in Jardins de s’Hort del Rei, a theatre performance of La Casa de Bernarda Alba (Federico García Lorca) at the Teatre Pricipal, performed by a cast of partly illiterate gipsy women, a Trofeu de tir de fona tournament in Parc de la Mar, a Petanca tournament at l’Estadi Balear, Open Doors at the seat of the President of the Govern de les Illes Balears at the Consolat de Mar (a must if you have not been there), Open Doors at the newly restored Llotja, a couple of horse trotting Trofeus de Trot at the Hipòdrom de Son Pardo, an art and craft market at Sa Feixina, Passeig de Sagrera, Drassana, Carrer del Consolat, Passeig del Born and in Antoni Maura, some Ball de Bot in Ses Voltes, 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, Museu de Son Marroig in Deià, Fundación Yannick y Ben Jakober near Alcúdia, Ciutat Romana de Pol·lèntia i Museu Monogràfic in Pollença, and a few things more, too numerous to mention here. Enjoy your day off.

The photo was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: November 12th, 2011. The time was 10:10:37.

Baleares Day

The Yo-Yo of Politics

Politics is a funny business. Actually, I don’t think it is funny at all. It just seems funny, or ludicrous maybe, to witness the yo-yo effect of some local and perhaps even national politics now that the conservative camp has swept to power, here in Mallorca, in the Consell Insular, the Govern Balear, and in Madrid.

Take Palma, for example. Two years ago, bicycle lanes were established along some stretches of the Avenidas. Within four weeks of the new city hall taking office, the bicycle lanes were eliminated to a large extent and an alternative route was chosen along some narrow back streets, causing confusion and traffic congestions. 200,000 € or thereabouts were spent to put in the lanes, and another 300,000 € or more to get rid of them and move them someplace else. But, money does not matter.

Or, let’s take Carrer Blanquerna as another example. After lengthy deliberations with the local neighbourhood associations, the small business patrons, taxi drivers and so forth, a decision was taken to convert Carrer Blanquerna into a pedestrian area. By about Easter 2011, extensive resurfacing and expensive redesigning was completed and the new pedestrian stretch was inaugurated. A few weeks after the political powers were reshuffled, local car traffic was allowed back in. Lots of Euro cents, but hey, money matters not a lot.

I’m not blaming any particular political colour for all that in and out. If you look further back, Plaça d’Espanya might come to your mind. A massive remodelling was undertaken some 12 or 14 years ago at a cost equivalent to seven million Euros. Six or seven years later, everything was dug up again, and a new re-construction was begun, putting the trains and a new Metro back into Plaça d’Espanya, only this time, underground. Never mind the vast expense.

Two years ago, Palma was officially called that, with the suffix de Mallorca being eliminated. Now, the new government in the Balearics wants to reinstate the full name Palma de Mallorca. As if we did not have more pressing matters to deal with, or rather, our politician had nothing else to consider, such as unemployment, social unrest, corruption, mismanagement of public funds, you name it. Financial prudence does not seem to matter.

The latest reversal seems to have sprung up, concerning ports and marinas in the Illes Balears. Latest media reports have it that the Balearic Government is planning to authorize the extension of 12 marinas in Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca, something that the previous Govern Balear has vetoed and rejected. Now, the Asociación de Clubes Náuticos de Balears seems to have found open ears with the new political mandate and their ambitions now seem to have found the willing support of the Dirección General de Puertos y Aeropuertos in Palma. Four or five of the planned extensions of existing marinas are said to be in Mallorca. There is also talk of the construction of three or four completely new nautical facilities in the Balearic Islands. Prepare yourself for some hefty tax hikes, I’d say.

If you ever walk round any of the major Clubes Náuticos in Mallorca, you will find untold numbers of largish yachts for sale. You can come to your own conclusion as to where the wise men are. Not here in Mallorca, I don’t think.

The photo was taken in Portocolom, Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: November 30th, 2011. The time was 15:26:40.

The Yo-Yo of Politics

Salvem Portocolom

Many regions of Mallorca have been changed beyond recognition by the unholy alliance of avarice, concrete, development and growth. Only a handful of areas were saved in time, mainly thanks to civil unrest and the peaceful protest of some courageous citizens, such as Mondragó, Sa Dragonera, Es Trenc and the Serra Tramuntana.

Portocolom, the harbour town of Felanitx and its commercial expansion, have been a topic of contention for the last twenty years or longer. Portocolom is one of the last few unspoilt resorts in Mallorca but, nothing lasts forever. The Spanish national harbour authority and its Balearic branch (Ports de les Illes Balears) is currently undertaking a study evaluating possibilities and necessities for future expansions of the maritime facilities of the port of Portocolom. Local residents argue in contra of any such expansion plans, saying that neither the harbour authority nor the Govern Balear nor the Ajuntament de Felanitx publicly say or demonstrate what the aim of the current study is, or what the purpose of its possible outcome might be. There is no transparency in the planning process nor any public scrutiny. It is argued that currently there are 800 moorings available in Portocolom, including 260 newly created moorings over the last ten years. When will big enough ever be considered sufficient?

The Portocolom citizens movement, Plataforma Quin Port Volem, has scheduled a human chain for today, November 26th, at 11h00, to demonstrate their massive opposition against the political bias in favour of a mafia of speculation and greed. If you read this in time, you might want to participate, of course purely depending on your personal leanings.

Miquel Barceló, the Felanitx-born artist, painter and sculptor, expressed his support for the protection of Portocolom’s natural beauty in 1989 by designing a poster under the heading Porto Colom Perill de Mort (Porto Colom in danger of dying). More recently, he has not voiced much opinion about topics relating to Felanitx or Portocolom, other than designing menus for a Portocolom based seafood restaurant or labels for some vi negre (red wine) of a Felanitx bodega of international repute.

The photo (top) is a screenshot taken from my computer, courtesy of sigpac.mapa.es and the Gobierno de España/marm.gob.es. The poster (centre) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of forumdefelanitx.cat. The image (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of miquelbarcelo.info.

Muchas gracias, and

moltes gràcies.

Salvem Portocolom

Take The A Train

The incoming government discovered a few weeks after taking office that there was no money left in the coffers. On the contrary, the Comunidad Autónoma de les Illes Balears is presently said to be in debt to the tune of 5,587,000,000 €. That’s not quite as much as the National Debt of the USA (14,354,208,667,449 $ as of July 31st, 2011) but still, it is a frighteningly large sum of money. In the Illes Balears, as per June 30th, 2011, the annual budget, i. e. the difference between the annual revenue income and the annual current expenditure, is in deficit by 575,000,000 €.

As a consequence of doing the numbers, one of the big projects of the previous government has now been cancelled, the train-tram between Manacor and Artà. The budget for this ambitious mobility venture had been publicized by the Consellería de Movilidad y Medio Ambiente of the previous Govern as being the proud sum of 120,000,000 € but, on the actual building site in Artà, a panel quotes the even heftier amount of 190,000,000 € (see photo top). Whatever the actual figure might have been, the train will now not be extended beyond Manacor, at least not for the foreseeable future. At a guess, I would have thought that half the budget has been spent already on excavation and earth moving and so forth over the last four years since the project began. But, that money is probably still owed to the subcontractors and should be included in the overall debt figure quoted above, or shouldn’t it?

The photo (top) was taken in Artà, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 18th, 2011. The time was 13:32:58. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of picasa.google.com and alternativaaltren.

Muchas gracias.

Take The A Train

The Sala de les Cariàtides

The Parlament de les Illes Balears will hold its last session of the current legislature tomorrow, March 28th. After that, the Balearic parliament with be adjourned due to the upcoming regional elections being held on May 22nd, 2011.

Parliamentary sessions are usually open to the public, subject to prior registration. Seats are limited, however. During the Summer recess, guided visits will be on offer, most likely in May when the anniversary of the Balearic constitution will be celebrated.

The parliament is housed in what used to be the Círculo Mallorquín building, a club for the upper-class social circles of Mallorcan society during the 19th and early 20th century. When the Illes Balears gained autonomous status in 1983, the building was acquired to house the new autonomous parliament. The erstwhile Salón de bailes y conciertos (ballroom) of the old Círculo Mallorquín is now the plenary assembly hall, a beautiful space which was originally designed by Mallorcan artist, Ricardo Anckermann Riera. The room also used to be called Sala de les Cariàtides in reference to the exquisite marble statues shown in my photo.

I would suggest you visit the splendid building if ever you have the opportunity.

The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 23rd, 2008. The time was 14:58:08.

The Sala de les Cariàtides