I am writing to you to protest at the proposed tourist tax being introduced by the Balearic government.
I have been living in Majorca 26 years, the whole of my life, and I love the island. Over those years I have spent thousands of pesetas which has helped the island economy.
I think this tax is unfair because it is an insult to the Majorcan people. Why? Because we have to have the integrity to listen to things about our island that make us unhappy, things like the letter from Mr and Mrs Beebee, in yesterday's Bulletin.
Because this is an island, we have to look after it, and this means that we need money to carry out projects. Tourists come for two weeks, they make millions of tonnes of rubbish and then leave, leaving the Majorcans to resolve the problem..
I have enough money to buy a flat anywhere else in Spain but I haven't enough money to do so in Majorca. Why? Because tourists increase prices, and because constructors prefer to build hotels. At the end of the day all this because of the tourist.
Do you really think that we like what we see in this island at the moment? Of course not.
I would like to see Majorca clean and beautiful but I won't see it until the island attracts tourists who are willing to pay a few euros to help the island. This is my protest, I protest because the tourist tax is far less that what this island is worth.
Without tourism Majorca would have practically nothing. Yet water shortages, road congestion, rubbish tipping, environmental decay, overzealous building projects and so on are all blamed on tourists, as if we visitors are some unwelcome plague of locusts. Let me put it bluntly without visitors to the island, many of the locals would still be riding donkeys instead of driving cars, living in oneroomed singlestorey buildings instead of luxury houses and apartments, and working from dawn until dusk on subsistence smallholdings. Tourists are not responsible for bad planning, the Majorcan authorities are; please stop blaming others.
Milosevic faces his accusers
A great deal hinges on the United Nations war crimes trial of Slobodan Milosevic which opened in The Hague yesterday. Milosevic refuses to recognise the legality of this International Criminal Tribunal, on the rather flimsy grounds that it was created by the UN Security Council and not by the General Assembly of all member states. But the charges against him are clear enough - that he was the instigator and controller of a decade of Balkan ethnic cleansing in the 1990s during which 150'000 people died and four million were made homeless. Specifically, he is charged with responsibility for genocide in Bosnia and Croatia and crimes against humanity in Kosovo. Opening the case against the former president of Yugoslavia yesterday, the chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte said that he was responsible for medieval savagery.
The trial will probably last for two years. Many harrowing stories will be told in evidence by survivors of the Balkan atrocities. There is no doubt that these took place but the prosecution's task will be to show that Milosevic himself had direct responsibility for them. He has declined to use the defence lawyers available to him and as a consequence will presumably conduct his own defence to the extent that he thinks it appropriate to do so. Even so the prosecution faces a formidable task especially since many key witnesses, including former military and civil aides to Milosevic, are reluctant to give evidence.
Although most people will hope that Milosevic is eventually found guilty, the important point is that the trial, the first of its kind since Nuremberg in 1945, is taking place - and setting a precedent for the future.
Succession in Rome
Although discussion about the succession to Pope John Paul may be distasteful to some Catholics, it is difficult to avoid such speculation when even those who admire him most cannot avoid wondering, each time they see him, how long he can continue his mission. Furthermore, for a wider international community that stretches beyond the Catholic Church, it is of keen interest to know whether Pope John Paul is likely to be succeeded by a Cardinal in his own conservative image or one more likely to be committed to reform. Those hoping for the latter outcome received a setback last week when Cardinal Carlo Maria Mantini, the popular and liberal-minded Archbishop of Milan, announced that he would be stepping down immediately and undertaking a more contemplative life. Ironically, his decision followed the discovery that he is suffering from an early form of Parkinson's disease, similar to that affecting the 82-year-old Pope.
Cardinal Mantini's progressive position on a number of social and sexual issues and his repeated calls for greater Church democracy had made him the natural leader of Catholic liberalism for the past two decades and it is by no means clear who will prove to be his natural successor. His withdrawal from consideration will strengthen the position of Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the 70-year-old Vicar of Rome and Head of the Italian Bishops' Conference, who shares the Pope's doctrinal views and is constantly seen at his side.