Has the Balearic Government gone over the top with its support for Galicia?
What I feel is sadly missing in Spain at the moment is a feeling of solidarity with the rest of the nation. The growth in nationalism everywhere from the Basque Country to Catalonia and to a lesser extent Galicia and the Balearic Islands means that Spain doesn't have a feeling of one nation, one people. But the sinking of the Prestige and the environmental disaster which followed is an absolute nightmare for Spain as a whole. One of the reasons why the central government in Madrid organises a monthly flag flying ceremony is to bring the nation together under one banner. The leader of the Balearic government, Francesc Antich, has attempted to boost awareness of the disaster in Galicia. He has encouraged volunteers from Majorca to go and help clean the beaches, organised fund raising events and has even visited Galicia himself. Now, we all know that Galicia has great political importance and the Minister for the Environment Jaume Matas, ultimately responsible for the disaster, will be fighting Antich for the post of Balearic leader at the next local elections. Whatever Antich's reasons he has really put Galicia on the map and in some ways is helping Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's drive of a one nation state. Antich should be congratulated for bringing this issue to prominence here and perhaps other provinces in Spain should have been encouraged to follow his lead.
The Spanish state government, ruled by the conservative Partido Popular has been under fire from opposition parties, particularly the socialist Partido Socialista Obrero Español and the Galician National Party, ever since the sinking of the tanker, Prestige in November. This is really only to be expected since they would naturally criticise any steps taken by the ruling party, hoping to boost their own electoral chances ahead of the general elections and the Galician autonomous elections, both to be held next year. But what is amazing, is the absolute bravado of the Balearic President, Francesc Antich, who has travelled to Galicia where volunteers from Majorca have been working. Antich, accompanied by 20 reporters, allegedly visited the area to offer advice on tourism and also to give support to his volunteers. Apparently the Balearic Government, led by Antich, has decided to spend some million euros towards helping Galicia with their problems but they have decided not to do so in the way that the President of Galicia, Manuel Fraga, has requested. Fraga had asked the Balearics to contribute towards a Foundation which would centralise donations destined to help resolve economic problems caused by the effects of the oil slick, but Antich did not consider that the most opportune thing to do. Instead the money will be used to finance the trips, expenses, insurance, and upkeep of the Balearic volunteers and experts who will be going to and from Galicia until June. Can one suspect, also, that what Antich wants to do is to further snub the Spanish Minister of Environment, Jaume Matas, who was the previous Balearic President? This is obviously a petty war between two politicians. But surely this is not surprising, since probably in no other province is the presidency at stake in an imminent election, with the incumbent socialist President doing everything in his power to rake in his pickings to combat a national minister who will probably be a candidate against him in the Balearic local elections.
The President of the Council of Majorca, Maria Antonia Munar, has said on countless occasions that there was a danger that Majorca would be flooded with immigrants and all that we (Majorcans) hold dear would be put at risk. An awful statement which I have highlighted on many occasions. Don't get me wrong, immigration is a major issue and there should be an open debate but speeches of this type only cloud the issue. I thought of this infamous speech when I was out on Friday night celebrating San Sebastian in the Palma square next to my home. The wise people in my barrio decided to celebrate San Sebastian on Friday night so we had a rain free time. These days Palma has a cosmopolitan mix and my area is no different. But everyone was out celebrating, cooking their sobrasadas on the open fires and enjoying themselves. There was a strong sense of community even though I would say that the majority of people there had not been born in Majorca. This was integration at its best. A group of people who have made Majorca their home, enjoying a Majorcan tradition and who are contributing plenty to the island. I wish our illustrious leader of the Council of Majorca had been there and she would have been able to share a glass of wine and a slice of sobresada with Majorcans, mainlanders, other Europeans, Africans and South and Central Americans. So if she thinks that everything Majorcans hold dear is at risk then she should think again and try to help foster this new spirit in Majorca. We have all made Majorca our home and we want to enjoy its traditions and be made to feel at home. If she thinks differently then perhaps she should get out a bit more.