Spain News Roundup of the Week(s): Feb. 11 – Feb. 24, 2012

Sorry for the extreme lateness of this post. Carnival happened this past weekend, and a post about that is in the works as well. Then I went on a trip to the north, visiting Bilbao and Santander. I am getting back on track with 2 weeks worth of news (but still only 5 articles). Here we go . . .


Item 1 is about “la crisis”, once again. I think I mentioned to my friends about Spain’s ridiculous unemployment rate before I left, and I am not sure that they believed me, but here is an article from the Washington Post discussing both the “recortes” (cutbacks) and the 23% overall unemployment rate, which jumps to almost 50% if you look at young people specifically. Everyone here talks about the crisis CONSTANTLY and the country as a whole has rather grudgingly cut back on lots of social programs and government positions. But the unemployment problem seems to be stuck. Here in Alcalá, people gather in the plaza and just chat, because they have nothing else to do. It’s probably worse here because there are not many jobs in such a small place, but I don’t really have anything to compare it to except the protests that go on in the bigger cities like Madrid, Valencia, and Barcelona. Doesn’t look like there will be much of a solution anytime soon either.


Item 2 is an interesting bit that I didn’t read from any of my English-language news sources and had never heard of before coming to Spain. It concerns a treasure-hunting expedition called “Odyssey Marine Exploration” which discovered a lot of gold coins, plates, utensils, upwards of 50,000 to be exact, off the coast of Portugal in 2007. The treasure hunters took the gold first to Gibraltar, and then to the US, probably thinking finders-keepers, except for the fact that the gold was recovered from a sunken Spanish ship and therefore belongs to the Spanish state. After some time in the US court system, the judgement is that the treasure does in fact belong to Spain, and it must be returned. The return took place on the 16th, and if you didn’t think that 500,000 gold pieces was a lot of money, you should take a look at this and this.


Speaking of Gibraltar (which we weren’t really), I have to admit that even though I find the fact that Gibraltar belongs to the UK to be a little silly, I never considered it anything but an established situation. Imagine my surprise when I read article #3 about the first meeting of Spain’s president, Mariano Rajoy, and the UK’s prime minister, David Cameron. One of the topics that Rajoy wanted to discuss was the “future of Gibraltar”, but Cameron just told him that “the future of Gibraltar is up to the people of Gibraltar”. Well, not to be rude, but the people of Gibraltar clearly want to stay in the UK, so of course that is what the Prime Minister would say. This isn’t the first time that the government of Spain has tried to open this topic, either.


On a lighter note, Carnival in Cádiz began on Friday the 17th of February with the choral competition, where groups of people sing parody songs about current events, famous people, etc. while dressed up as some sort of character. My good friend over at La Vida Alcalaína has written a great post about Carnival and the different groups in the finals. Item #4 is the announcement of the groups and the winners: first “El amanecer”, second “The Cádiz Gospel Choir”, and third “Bollywood”.


And something that I found quite interesting: Item number 5, which is about a recently-published novel about Cabeza de Vaca. Some of you may remember him from a long-ago history class in elementary school. He led the expedition through Florida and traveled through almost half of what is now the US before he reached California. He had actually come to conquer Florida, but of the 600 soldiers he brought, only 4 survived the sea journey. He pressed on with his task and met and “conquered” many indigenous tribes. Amazingly enough, he was eventually brought back to Spain in chains because he had become “obsessed” with indigenous rights – kind of a 180 from being a conquistador. The book is historical fiction, but I learned at least one thing new from this article: Cabeza de Vaca was originally from Jerez de la Frontera! Anyway I hopefully will be reading the book and putting it on my virtual bookshelf over there on the right side of the page. It’s by Juan Sánchez Galera and it is called “El último caballero: La Vida de Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, el español que descubrió la mitad de EEUU” (The Last Gentleman: The Life of Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, the Spaniard Who Discovered Half of the US).


Hásta la próxima!


2 Responses to Spain News Roundup of the Week(s): Feb. 11 – Feb. 24, 2012

    • I saw that on the news yesterday and thought it was so interesting!!! I didn’t have room for it in this post but I’m going back to a weekly post on Sunday so I’m going to try to include it then.

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