A Candle

Sunday, November 20, 2016
By Martin Myall

spn-a-candleIt’s hard to write a piece on one particular death in Cataluña without bitterness, or without getting-on-your-high-horse, as some might see it.

The truth is that the BBC has managed to cover the death of Rosa PV without both, but its clinical coverage lacks acknowledgement of something that has been seething since 2011 – disgust; a rumbling sensation of disgust over how the governing party has ‘stopped the ship from sinking by flooding the sealed-off lower deck.’

I guess that’s what makes the BBC a professional international news service and this little more than a blog.

This latest lower-deck death, 81-year-old Rosa, came about as a result of smoke inhalation after a candle set light to her mattress whilst she was sleeping.

What was Rosa doing using a candle in a flat in the middle of a Spanish town, here, now, in the 21st Century? Her electricity had been cut off, despite it being November, because she couldn’t pay the bill on her miserly state pension.

This isn’t North Africa so a father setting himself on fire because he couldn’t afford the price of a loaf of bread isn’t going to start a bloody revolution. The hammering on the bulkheads from within the lower deck is getting louder, however.

Cataluña is not Andalucía; you can expect things to work there, or at least, get fixed on time, but in this case it might as well have been, because the Town Council and the utility company, Fenosa, are blaming each other over who didn’t inform whom concerning Rosa’s situation.

In the meantime, Rosa remains dead and another Rosa is waiting to happen because the fundamental problem will never be fixed: Spain is ruled by IBEX 35; i.e., banks, telecoms, construction companies and pharmaceuticals. Where isn’t, you point out.

It is because banks call the shots that people on the poverty line will always be evicted from their homes and saddled with an unpayable debt to the bank, to boot. Rajoy refuses to force banks to accept dacíon en pago (non-recourse debt or no-recourse loan). The present banking law on this dates back to the late 1800’s.

It is because utility companies call the shots that in the height of winter pensioners can be reduced to warming their hands over a candle in the semi-darkness, as this case proves.

And it’s because IBEX-35 calls the shots that it is precisely the most vulnerable sector of society; those with the least, who have suffered the brunt of Mariano Rajoy’s economic cuts.

Our PM floats around the power halls of Europe, receiving back-slaps whilst he is held up as an ‘example of doing things right,’ no matter that nine out of every ten work contracts are temporary or part time; no matter than one in every three children is in danger of social exclusion because of poverty.

Yes, of course more people are being employed, but what is also growing is employed poverty; i.e., you’ve finally got a job but it pays so badly that you can’t pay your bills.

We have too many politicians and superfluous administrative costs to be able to give them paying positions and if that weren’t enough, political corruption is stifling. So where do you make cuts? In public health and education, naturally – can’t touch the ‘jobs for the boys,’ after all.

No matter that just the amount stolen from the public coffers by the corrupt regional parliament of Valencia under the PP (15,000 million) is enough to make all further cuts to the national economy unnecessary.

But the PP is the most voted for party in the country, so he can’t be doing so badly, can he? Eight million people voted for him; 16 million didn’t and another ten million didn’t bother to vote at all. Put another way, whilst the PP received 33% of the votes, the fractured left (PSOE/IU/Podemos) received 43%.

No doubt this opinion piece could be dubbed as ‘populist;’ a vogue accusation at the moment, and maybe that’s right, if pointing out the obvious can be considered populist.

But here we are on Sunday the 20th of November, waiting for the Government to announce increases in taxes or further cuts: perhaps both, so that he can both please Europe and IBEX 35. However, he isn’t liable to get backing from the opposition for his 2017 Budget.

In the meantime, somebody, somewhere, is warming their hands with a candle…

(News/Opinion: Spain)

One Response to “A Candle”

  1. jamesmichael58

    Brilliant article Martin , but can you explain again to me, why if Spain is in such a financial mess amd the corruption that the P.P. party has been involved in over the past few years, why does the country keep going back for more of the same.
    I do realise Spain has been in limbo for the past year unable to form a goverment but again why is the oppostion parties unable to attact enough votes to form a goverment. It makes me wonder where Spain would have to be for it to vote, for real change.

    James Wright, Las Terrazas Carmenes del Mar


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