28-06-2020

Now, we all know who Juan Marín is. Don't we? Well, possibly we don't, because Juan wouldn't normally drift into our consciousness. This is because he's from Andalusia, where he is an extremely busy fellow. He's the minister for justice, regeneration, tourism and local administration. On top of this little lot, Juan also happens to be the vice-president of Andalusia, so his days are unlikely to ever be dull, given how much responsibility he has.

Juan is a member of Ciudadanos, who form the government pact in Andalusia with the Partido Popular. Andalusia, until recently, was solid PSOE land. It had been for all the democratic era until the PP and Cs, with the aid of Vox, came along and turfed PSOE out and thus raised the prospect of there being - at some point - a breakdown in fraternal relations with the Balearics. Or one might have called these sororal relations, as Susana Díaz had been Francina's PSOE counterpart in Andalusia.

A couple of weeks ago, Juan - wearing just one of his several hats (tourism) - expressed his concern about the decision to bring forward the opening of foreign borders. This shouldn't be done without there being "health guarantees", including tests on tourists in their countries of origin and a health passport. Nevertheless, Andalusia would be prepared for the borders opening.

More recently, as on Thursday, Juan had some words to say about the pilot tourism plan for the Balearics. It had been "doomed to failure". This was especially the case as "we had been entering a phase when we knew that the Spanish government was going to authorise the entry of international tourism without any health control at origin".

So, Juan was taking some delight in the fact that the pilot plan had in fact been reduced to just one week. This was because he'd felt that Andalusia had been discriminated against. "Not all regions have been treated equally," he stated, meaning that Andalusia hadn't been treated equally and implying - because the PSOE lot in Andalusia pointed this out - that the Balearics had received preferential treatment because Pedro Sánchez and Francina Armengol are from the same party.

In one sense, Juan was right in having pointed to failure of the pilot plan. It did become something of a fiasco, largely because it did only last a week and during that week they'd managed to make a cock-up with the authorisation of flights. In another sense, though, there was some faulty logic regarding the claim of discrimination. He had made clear that there should be health controls in places of origin, yet he had seemingly been content for pilot tourists to start landing in Malaga.

There was perhaps a further fault in the logic in that Andalusia attracts around one-fifth of all national tourists, who account for roughly 60% of all the region's tourists. In addition, and because it is such a big region, it has a very significant internal tourism. The make-up of tourism in Andalusia is, therefore, quite different to what it is in the Balearics. Also, at the time when Juan was first expressing his concerns about foreign tourists and health controls, there were reports to the effect that Andalusia had the highest level of summer holiday bookings anywhere in the world. And these reports certainly weren't being denied, with the national and internal tourism having been key factors.

The real problem for Juan, in terms of reaction in the Balearics to what he had to say, was the business with the apparent discrimination. This was, I'm afraid, bound to elicit the types of response that it did, which went along the lines of - if you're talking regional discrimination, then what about all the years during which the Balearics have been discriminated against by the Spanish government in terms of the regional financing arrangements? And, moreover, which region is it that is a net contributor to this financing and effectively subsidises Andalusia? Yep, the Balearics.

Oh, for the days of those sororal relations between Francina and Susana.


Death threats and the statue

Quite what a fellow member of Ciudadanos, former Balearic president José Ramón Bauzá, made of Juan's observations, one doesn't know. But he didn't think much to the Spanish government's earlier than expected opening of the borders and its impact on the Balearics. "How much damage has the government caused?"

This was perhaps exaggerating the situation somewhat, while J.R. had other things on his mind. One was defending Fray Juniper Serra in light of the toppling of statues and the vandalism. The other was reporting the fact that he has been receiving death threats from supporters of the Ortega government in Nicaragua. These threats have been coming for months, "ever since we got Europe to impose sanctions on the regime".

The now MEP reproduced some of the messages he has received. "You are going to die like a stray dog. We want you dead. Do not mess around with Nicaraguans. We'll look for where you live." He replied to one - "In Spain I have lived with coercion like this since the beginning of my political career. Save yourself the effort."

J.R. would presumably have disagreed with Sonia Vivas's take on the Juniper Serra statues. There was plenty of disagreement from other sources to what the Podemos councillor for social justice in Palma had to say. Which was to suggest that the statue in Palma should be removed. She never said that it should be toppled or vandalised.

There were calls for Mayor Hila to sack her. Hila said no, while firmly distancing himself from her Twitter petition for the statue to be taken down. It was her personal opinion. And indeed it was. Agree or not, she was perfectly entitled to it.

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