Bill is being paid in Spainby Farooque Chowdhury
THE broader society is paying bill for the speculators’ gamble in the kingdom of Spain. The desolate days are harsh for the people. The kingdom’s capitalist prosperity crash has created the context, severe and difficult.
Banks are on the charge after making a great deal of profit by tricking a lot in their speculation gamble. Senor bankers are hitting people hard, sending the young generation dubbed generacion cero to a place named lost, pushing up unemployment number, evicting people from their homes, cutting down health and education provisions. The musical chairs with bourgeois politics have brought the conservative Popular Party to preside over after pushing out the socialists on November 20, 2011. The conservatives are pledge-bound to strengthen banks while data and news from macro and micro levels expose real-life face of speculation crash and austerity measures in Spain.
With a section of ruling elites’ fascist background the bourgeois kingdom, the euro zone’s fourth largest economy, is now home to about 5.4 million or almost 23 per cent unemployed, highest in the present industrialised dominion. Unemployment in the country has tripled since 2007. The year 2011 found 1.6 million households without a single member holding an official job. The rate of 16-24 year olds without work, according to a report by the country’s National Statistics Institute, climbed to more than 51 per cent in December, which is more than double the EU average. In 2008 as the crisis began, the under-25 unemployment rate was less than 18 per cent. Within four years, it has almost tripled. Unemployment rate jumped to more than 40 per cent for 20-24 year olds. A university degree doesn’t guarantee employment in the country while cannabis, etc usage and drinking alcohol in public places among the younger generation is annoying. After a mind-shattering growth caved into recession, more than 11 million Spaniards are at risk of social exclusion.
More than nine million people live in extreme poverty in Spain while nearly one million are illiterate, according to a report in 2011. An Amnesty International study found that hundreds of thousands of families in Spain are at risk of losing their homes. In one case, in Valencia, a disabled solicitor having a master’s degree was forced to live on the street with her husband. Their home was repossessed after her redundancy meant failure in mortgage repayments.
One million ‘Valencianos’ live balancing on the poverty line, the European Anti-Poverty Network informed recently. It said: More than 20 per cent of the region’s population is in a state of emergency with more than 137,450 families sinking into poverty in just one year, the region is having the sharpest rise in the number of citizens at risk of falling into poverty with 208,555 more ‘Valencianos’ facing the breadline in one year. The affected households are forced to survive on income that is 60 per cent below the national average.
It is estimated that there are 300,000 people with no entitlement to free healthcare, and the jobless are among the worst hit. In February, a report exposed the healthcare situation: With cuts on medicines, technology and maintenance patient care is deteriorating. Cost per inhabitant has fallen 10 per cent over the past two years, waiting lists are getting longer, and a shortage of beds and a lack of payment to suppliers is more common. Supplies are being rationed. Unions claim there are hospitals that are rationing bandages. There are hospitals that no longer operate in the afternoons, and emergency departments are often saturated. Professionals and patients are noticing the cuts. Patients are being placed in overcrowded rooms. The amount owed to suppliers by hospital authorities has increased to €11.6 billion.
Many health centres in the Valencia region will be closed at weekends as part of cost-cutting measures, said a report. However, these will be kept open for an hour extra for five days to compensate for the closures. The union representing medical staff said: By increasing hours quality service to the public cannot be provided. Opinion of medical staff was not sought before introducing the cost cutting measure.
Last year, a public school in Huelva asked students to bring a roll of toilet paper and €5 for photocopies every month. In the face of protests the authority gave back the toilet rolls and money donated. In January, directors at a number of grant-aided centres requested donations from parents to help pay for utilities including electricity and fuel for heating.
Severe cash shortage prompted the Junta de Andalucía shelve three key public works projects. The budget for the projects was slashed by more than 60 per cent. In January, Ana Botella, the mayor of Madrid, called for volunteers to man municipal installations and facilities, ‘given the exceptional situation’ the city finds in, referring to the recession and the lack of money. Valencia City Hall experienced its power supply switched off on a February day because of unpaid electricity bill. Its workers remained in the dark.
Fiona Govan wrote a haunted town-story from Madrid as ‘modern-day ghost towns are rapidly becoming a familiar part of the Spanish landscape’ as ‘an estimated one million new properties left unsold and the number of foreclosure proceedings rocketing’ (‘The ghost towns of Spain: Images that are desolate symbols of collapsed property market’, The Telegraph, February 16).
She wrote: ‘With its empty streets, bricked-up shops and deserted playgrounds, the sprawling residential development of Sesena has become a ghost town and a desolate symbol of the collapse of Spain’s property market.
‘Once dubbed the “Manhattan of La Mancha” [it] was supposed to include 13,000 apartments to create a satellite town and suburban paradise for 30,000 people.
‘But just five years after work began only 5,100 of the properties are completed, less than a fifth occupied and construction of the promised infrastructure including schools and sport centres, have long been abandoned.’
Citing recently released data Fiona refers to the Spanish real estatescape:
‘Over 500,000 foreclosures were granted by courts in Spain in the three years leading up to September 2011 … Property in half finished developments across Spain is being offered at discounts of up to 50 per cent of their original prices as banks struggle to offload a glut of real estate.
‘Spain’s property boom was a key source of jobs and allowing the country’s economy to grow at a faster rate than the rest of the eurozone before the bubble burst in the second half of 2007.
‘People who did invest in properties at the new developments are now stuck living in half built complexes without any of the promised amenities.’
Fiona goes back to Sesena:
‘… marked by row upon row of empty commercial units where once it was hoped small businesses, shops and restaurants would thrive.’
Then, her narrative talks of the town of Yebes:
‘[M]ore than an hour’s drive from Madrid, 9,000 apartments and small houses were supposed to be built in an idyllic country setting next to a high-speed train station so workers could get downtown in less than 20 minutes.
‘But only 1,500 were finished before developers went broke, 3,000 people live there instead of the projected 30,000 and government officials never launched the train service.
“‘The station is built, the trains are bought but they never started running,” said Mayor Joaquin Ormazabal.’
In this world dominated by capital Spain is not exception now. It’s the global capital that puts its undeniable mark of misery, suffering, poverty, hunger, deprivation on all lands, from the east to the west, from the north to the south. It is capital’s mark of uniformity and regimentation, uniformed and regimented by poverty, suffering, by curtailed rights and opportunities. It turns difficult to differentiate a First or Second World poverty story from a Third or Fourth World one. Thus, with worldwide poverty and misery the humanity is paying bill for gambling capital’s greed.
Then, a news report from Spain depicts a dire life:
An evicted family was facing spending Christmas on street. There was a child, and the family was frozen, and the girl had purple hands. With a stroke of luck, the unfortunate family was housed in an empty shop owned by the council of Medina del Campo in Valladolid.
Had the child Christmas celebration? How was the cold? And, how was the festivity?
And, all after these sad tales, in this enjoyable world, there are ‘12 Night Luxury Wine Tasting Cruises visiting popular wine regions in France, Spain and Portugal’, ‘Itineraries include customised wine tasting events’, ‘Autumn Wine Tasting …’ (from advertisements). And, in this charming world, as a news report tells, a restaurant in Ribarroja, Valencia, is having packed hall three times a week with live midday strip show. In addition to the females offering a full nudity show, they also stage a mud fight in a pool with customers given the chance of getting in the pool with them in a game of bingo.
And, in this amazing world, imposing individuals lavishly spend money while ordinary folks own a lot of misery! And, isn’t this a face of bank’s free market that upholds bourgeois ethics, Berlusconi politics, Brussels dictation, and sells everything, from wine to poor females to human misery?
Dhaka-based freelancer Farooque Chowdhury contributes on
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