Spain News Roundup of the Week: Feb. 25 – Mar. 3

Back to something of a routine. This week brings a few articles that I was alerted to by readers. Yay, readers!


Let’s just get la crisis out of the way first. Last week we talked about how the economy and the recortes are affecting unemployment figures negatively. This week I have some news about how the economy and the recortes are not helping Spain pay off its debt. Despite all the talking and the action on austerity measures, Spain still won’t make its 2012 target. That is pretty severe, considering that we practically just started 2012. If you know already after 2 months that things aren’t going to get better in the next 10, there’s just no way to sugarcoat that. More info at article #1.


More bad news in article #2: Jerez de la Frontera, a town less than an hour from where I am, is about to run out of money. This isn’t an isolated incident, but it has been going on for quite some time in Jerez. The bus lines, in particular, have been on strike on and off since October. It just boggles my mind that these people have been working for 2 months with no money. Some of the auxiliares have been going without pay for that long, on and off, which is similarly ridiculous, but at least we have a plan of last resort: we can go back to the US and look for a different job, where we are legally allowed to work and the unemployment isn’t so bad. The people in Jerez can’t just immigrate to another country and start working, and as we saw last week with the unemployment figures, there aren’t a ton of “different jobs”.


OK, enough with the doom and gloom. Article #3 is about a pueblo in Cataluña (where Barcelona is) that has decided to start growing marijuana as a way to raise money to help in these difficult times. It is legal to do so here in Europe, as long as the marijuana is for personal use and not for selling. It just so happens that there is a cannabis club (a phrase I never thought I would type in my life) in Barcelona that is leasing the land to grow the weed. The club pays the town for the use of the land, and everyone wins! I actually saw this story on the 24 hour news channel one morning, so not only foreign news stations find this story remarkable.


Article #4 is about student protests at public universities. These were all over the news here, much like the Occupy protests were back in the US. There were lots of shots of police in riot gear facing off against huge crowds of students. Classrooms stayed empty while academic buildings held groups of students participating in sit-ins. I always thought it was interesting that here in Spain, you can strike even if it is a job you are not being paid for, like being a student. However, faculty and staff also participated in the protests. Towards the end of the week the coverage of these often violent clashes tapered off, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that anything has been solved. I’ll try to keep up on this for you guys.


And last, another article (#5) about protests. This one is also pretty remarkable. The CCOO and the UGT, two general unions, are going to hold a strike on March 11th to protest the labor reforms that are going down under the new Spanish government. Sounds pretty run of the mill, right? Until you consider that March 11th, or 11-M as it is called here, is the anniversary of the terrorist bombing of the trains in Madrid’s Atocha station in 2004. It would be like a group of people deciding to hold a strike on September 11th in the US. The article reports on a letter sent from a government representative to both unions, asking them to change the date of the general strike. Another article from La Libertad Digital (no real info on what sort of paper this is, or any biases, sorry!) reports that according to the CCOO and the UGT, the date was chosen on purpose, but I am not sure how a strike against labor reform is a way to honor victims of a terrorist attack. That sounds like a really weak reason, so my personal opinion is that either a) they picked the date because it was most convenient and didn’t really care about it coinciding with 11-M, and then the media coverage blew up, or b) they picked the date because they knew the media coverage would blow up and therefore draw more attention to their grievances against the labor reform. I’m going to go with b).


Hasta la próxima!


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