Sunday, August 31, 2008

¿Qué pasa?

What on earth is happening to Spain? We've seen the cruel demolition of a British-owned house in Vera by the authorities back in January (the man who ordered the demolition, the 'delegado provincial' , since promoted, has just signed the go-ahead for the POTALA for the same area of eastern Almería – the Junta de Andalucía’s insane plan to build 35,000 homes in the boonies!). We've seen the institutionally approved land-grab - which despite European-wide criticism - continues to this day. We read of town-halls taking Europeans arbitrarily off the padrón (especially before elections). We 'residents' have had our 'tarjetas de residencia’ removed in favour of some meaningless and worthless piece of paper to be carried around together with our passport and a NIE identification (so much for the la union europea) and now those non-residents who have bank accounts here can discover that they have had them 'frozen' in a kind of grotesque 'cash-grab' to do with tax matters! How do you pay the utilities when your bank arbitrarily freezes your account? By the way, according to my bank, all you need to do if you live in foreign parts is toddle along to your nearest Spanish consulate every two years...
Don't they want us anymore...?
But now, as September swings round and the politicians and bureaucrats go back to work, things may be changing. From the European Court we hear that Spain is being sued for the flagrant and cynical land-grabbing in Valencia (a pisser this, as Madrid is PSOE and Valencia is its biggest PP thorn). Meanwhile from the European press the message remains loud and clear… don’t buy in Spain. While I don’t particularly share the British media’s view of Spain, or indeed its reasons for attacking this country where we have chosen to live, it is at least encouraging that the sometime mistreatment of the Northern Europeans who are, let’s be clear here, pumping money into Spain, is worth the occasional banging of a saucepan with a stick.
The politicians may be responding… perhaps even with some gesture towards the foreign community. Luís Caparros, he of the Vera demolition, now says (according to the Spanish press, this is) that he is willing to consider legalizing all illegal homes except those built in the nation’s ramblas (I have to say here – can you imagine some local mayor absently fingering his brown-paper envelope while watching as an urbanization takes shape in his town’s dry river-bed?). The provincial press also assures their readers that Caparros is in contact with ‘the foreigners’ and will meet with them/us. Hands up anyone who’s had a call from this man. But, of course, it’s only the beginning of the month and many things could still happen.
One thing that will happen, as the Britons living in Almería start to harden in their opposition to this general mistreatment, is more confrontation. We know of several truculent groups of property owners that are ready to ‘join battle’, such as the AUN and AULAN, but another group, the Cantoria Residents Association (there’s 23 ‘illegal’ homes in Cantoria with final demolition orders on them), has called for a peaceful demonstration. Join them in front of the old railway station in Cantoria (next town inland after Albox) at 12 noon on September 18th.
Well fine, you don’t live in Cantoria and your house isn’t under threat.
Are you sure about that?

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