Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Back Issue

9 February: A large number of Spanish municipalities are moribund... dying. According to an article here, there are 4,955 pueblos in Spain (out of 8,125) with less than 1,000 inhabitants. Worse still, 1,286 pueblos don’t even make it to a hundred. This is primarily because there isn’t much to do in these places, and the young ’uns move away for adventure and employment. Perhaps the authorities could re-populate them with refugees, or wealthy Northerners, but, you know. Fuck it.
In Almería, the picture is the same. Of the 103 municipios in this province, a full 51 of them are under the 1,000 mark, with the smallest, Benitaglia, having just 71 citizens in the census of 2014 followed by Alcudia de Monteagud with 140 . In 1950, there were around 362,000 Almerians. Now there are 704,000 – over double: but they/we live in the bigger municipalities, in Almería, Roquetas, El Ejido, Vícar, Adra and Huercal Overa.  8 February. Remember the enthusiasm for the Unión Mojaquera 10 - the political party run by Diego the Gas Station in the last local elections? All those pithy remarks on Facebook? Following the results, Diego and his Nº 2 promptly resigned from politics, leaving Lucas Mayo, third on the list, as the presumptive group leader and, together with 'La Peque' (who never appears at any plenary session), in charge of an uncertain program. Lucas has now quit the defunct party and is now an Independent ('concejal no adscrito'). We wish him well. 

3 February. The fellow from the Department of the Environment had the grace to agree with me after I told him how useless his bit of paper was. ‘But... it’s a job’, he said (Andalucía is a bit short of jobs – even pointless ones). I’d been to see him at the Mojácar police station, queued up, waited an hour gossiping with some impatient farmers, all to get a burning permit – good for a month. Permission from the Regional Government, in short, to be allowed to ring up the fire-station and tell them you intended to burn some garden rubbish. Of course and by the way, an address won’t do – it has to be the ‘catastral’ details.  But that was last winter. I later called the bomberos in Turre, told them I was ready to go, that I had my piece of paper... and they said fine. Go, why don’t you.  This winter, well, things were evidently getting too easy: never a popular situation in Andalucía. Yesterday, I took the lift up to the pueblo, went to the police station to find out when Chumley was coming. No sign on the wall, and the cop-shop firmly shut. Coffee-break, or perhaps out solving crimes. Today, I tried again. The lift.., walk again to the new policía local – a converted bar in the back of the village, as the old cuartel has been demolished – and found two police there. You have to go down to the Centro de Artesania at the Fuente, he’s there now, I think, said one helpfully. Back to the lift, down to the car park, drive round to the Centro de Artesanía (the sign outside says something else, but that’s what it’s called).  Anyone know if..? I asked in the café. He sits at that table, says the girl, but I don’t know if he’s coming today. I think he is, says a Spanish woman, the cops say he’s coming. Shouldn’t there be a sign, I ask, fruitlessly looking at the wall. There’s one outside, apparently, but it’s for January. We have a coffee and I read a magazine (never go anywhere that has to do with Officialdom here without reading material). Well, fuck it, the Spanish woman and I agree an hour later, as we leave, our bit of paper unsigned, our task unresolved, our morning wasted.   

2 February (Editorial at Business over Tapas):  ‘The Government aligns with the EU against President Trump but refuses to make any statements against the American leader. Rajoy and his ministers try to reject all of Trump's most contentious decisions but without drawing too much attention or by leading the European opposition to Trump’. Headline at El País. Spain’s foreign minister, Alfonso Dastis, is having to tread particularly warily as the new foreign policy of the USA is causing both surprise and concern worldwide; ‘of course we must worry’, he admits... the unwillingness of Spanish officials to criticise Trump too loudly is also covered in a story at The Olive Press, which says ‘The Spanish government has refused to condemn Donald Trump’s ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. A PP spokesperson said it wanted to avoid ‘shouting and being too strident’ in its relations with the new US president... However, as The Local notes, this reticence is not always being observed: ‘The mayor of Madrid has compared President Donald Trump to Hitler over his travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries and suspension of the arrival of Syrian refugees...’. We must accept that Donald Trump and his politics are going to continue to surprise the rest of the world for the next four years, and we also suspect that the new American president will not gladly allow insults or criticism of his policies from abroad. But provocation towards Hispanics there certainly is – beyond the current slight aimed towards Mexico. As the Eye on Spain reminds us, ‘the White House website's page, Twitter account (now returned) and Facebook site in Spanish disappeared within two days of Republican leader Donald Trump being sworn in as president, despite the USA having more Spanish speakers in residence than the entire population of Spain...’. Not, of course to say that all the Media in Spain is keeping their entirely opinion to themselves, as, for example, here at Nueva Tribuna with their report: ‘Ten days that shamed the World – Trump degrades the American Democracy’.   Interesting times then.  

 31 January 2017. As I figure out this new machine from the GoDaddy people, I must ask for patience. The old webpage crashed and burned (probably too many Russian hackers fiddling with it). Fifteen years of rubbish lost. 
Mojácar enters a new year and continues to promote (and apparently prefer) tourism over residents.  The Tourist Department has been busy, with a heavy presence both in FITUR (Madrid) and later in a cycling festival in Belgium called Vélofollies where much sausage and beer was no doubt consumed as the bonny lycra-lads booked passage for both themselves and their metal steeds. 
Meanwhile, we understand that many projects to spruce up our town are afoot, including - of course - the new viewpoint in the town square, absent following a successful demolition of the building underneath, an old car park built by an earlier mayor - no doubt with some substandard materials he had acquired locally. The new viewpoint will be ready along with the building underneath it by Easter (they say). 
Other projects include the extension of the 'ring road' - that secret route we boozers take to access either the beach or the village when the coppers are about and also the apparent extension of the beach promenade, largely taking the beach bars away in favour of a more healthy resort. 
News also appears to confirm the General Plan, a project to set in stone - more or less - our future growth for the next eight years, or until another 'plan' is generated. 

3 January 2017. A cringing article in La Voz de Almería is titled: 'Mojácar - Goodbye to the Beach Bars'. It's about how our Dearly Belovèd is extending the beach promenade, with its walkway, bicycle path, gardens (jobs for the townsfolk), sea-wall, steps, showers and sundry other attractions which would no doubt put Butlins to shame.
To do this, the pathway must cut between the beach bars and the sea, when there's room, or straight through them when there isn't. Coupled to this, the beach promenade would be built higher than the current beach bars, relieving them not only of their direct access and their sun-beds, but of their view. The new beach kiosks would be rather small and lacklustre affairs with little room for more than a bar and a barstool.
But Mojácar's technocrats decided years ago that they wanted a cheap n cheerful resort, designed around small apartments, featureless all-inclusive hotels, ajo colorao, fireworks, ribbon races and slightly embarrassing souvenir shops (just wait until the Chinese tourists get here, taking back home their newly acquired 'Made in China' treasures).
The beach is to become a bourgeois sea and sand resort, with little charm and less character. The village to be a sort of Disneyville. Somebody will be making money for a spell, and then later blaming the foreigners when the tourism begins to die...
The article in La Voz says that Mojácar wants 'family tourism'. Good luck with that.
Meanwhile, the Mirador in the Plaza Nueva has been demolished and work continues to turn it into a giant town hall building (with astonishing views). The new viewpoint, when completed, will be 50cms higher than the old one, and will feature on one side of it the housing for an elevator. We only hope there is enough room for the four cafés that currently claim space there.  

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