Cosas de España/Galiza
An admirable chap called Faustino Calderón is on a mission. He has a blog called Los Pueblos Deshabitados, dedicated to Spain’s dying villages. The London Times this week had an article on this problem and on the establishment of a new party – España Vaciada – which aims to revive villages denuded of young folk who’ve fled to coastal towns and cities. This threat to Spain’s creaking bipartisan political system will, says The times, face its first test in the Castilla and León regional elections on February 13.
I guess this is the Spanish version of Boris Johnson’s ‘levelling up’.
Two more of my foreign friends setting up their own businesses have discovered how low business ethics can be here and how much short-termism pervades operations. I went back to Vincent Werner to check what he says about the latter in his book It is not what it is: The Real (S)pain of Europe. Here’s a bit of what he writes: Short-term vision translates as ‘cortoplacismo’. Spaniards are aware of having this character trait. They’re not offended when you point it out to them and many of the older generation relate it to the Franco era, when one was never sure of one’s possessions (which could easily be confiscated) and there was a general scarcity of goods. People were living from week to week, from day to day. At the start of the last crisis , apparently there was no scarcity and Spaniards thought they were rich. Everybody was living ‘la vida loca’ as if they were on vacation, spending more money than they had and not realizing they were actually poor. “Why save money for a rainy day when you live in a land of sunshine?”, was and is the general train of thought. Not everyone will agree with this, of course.
I suspect no Spanish companies demonstrate cortoplacismo more than the banks. Hence the move cited yesterday towards those which don’t impose annual maintenance, administration and ATM fees. And the widespread closure of previously over-manned offices around the country.
Point of detail, yesterday’s VdeG told us that Galicia has lost 38% of its bank branches since 2015.
In this week’s general elections, the far right party, Chega, increased its share of the vote from 1% in 2019 to 7% and its seats in parliament from 1 to 12. These votes were cannibalised from the existing right-of-centre vote, leaving the socialist Partido Socialist in power. Portugal had been the last country in Europe without a significant far-right party.
Richard North on the PM today: Yesterday in Parliament, Johnson displayed the true hallmark of the sociopath. Only a congenital liar who’s made his reputation as someone whose only reliable characteristic is his propensity to lie could claim that he has the trust of the nation.
As RN adds, today Johnson is off to Ukraine to put a stop to WW3. Though he never got to have his promised chat with Putin yesterday.
Artworks satirising China’s attempts to gloss over human rights abuses will be displayed in several Czech cities this week in a provocative gesture on the eve of the Beijing Winter Olympics. The 5 posters depict an ice-hockey player bludgeoning a Tibetan monk and a Chinese curler releasing the coronavirus instead of a stone. Others feature a figure skater slicing up a red orchid flower, the symbol of Hong Kong, a snowboarder astride a CCTV camera and a biathlete preparing to execute a bound and blindfolded man wearing the symbols of the Uighurs, a persecuted minority in the western province of Xinjiang. The posters are already on display in Los Angeles.
The Way of the World
You probably already know that: Students at Royal Holloway, University of London are to be given a trigger-warning before studying ‘Oliver Twist’, on account of its scenes of “child abuse”, “domestic violence” and “racial prejudice”. And why not? Everyone’s feelingss – however stupid – deserve to be respected. Well, perhaps ‘respected’ isn’t the right word.
Finally . . .
Among foreigners here in Pontevedra, Venezuelans – at 467 – currently outnumber everyone else.There are said to be 72 Brits here but I confess I know very few of these. No expat associations, societies or clubs here. Though there’s always Facebook, I guess.
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