The protest in Alcudia's Plaça Constitució. | Moviment Alcudienc


Alexandre Cuéllar's book Cafè de Plaça was published in 1965. Set against a background of the arrival of tourism, the cafe in question was in Alcudia's Plaça Constitució. Cuéllar highlighted what he described as the "blessed laziness" that the patrons of this cafe typified. A Mallorca of sixty years ago, a dramatised version of the cafe's "records" for Alcudia's Via Fora has always been well received for its portrayal of this one-time society.

I was reminded of Cuéllar's book by the so-called anti-tourism march which took place last week. Held in Plaça Constitució, there was no march as such, as this would have been nigh on impossible given the 'saturation' of the square. Had the fifty or so protesters been freely marching, this would rather have undermined the message and the choice of the square - the occupation of the public way by terraces is great, and this occupation was a theme of the protest.

There will have been those - were those - critical of individuals (mostly youthful) who appeared to wish to send Alcudia back to the days of Cuéllar's blessed laziness. Where would they be without tourism? What alternatives do they have? Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. We've heard it time and time again - the words of the protesters and the words of their critics.

I don't know if the organisers, Moviment Alcudienc, were aware of the symbolic resonance of the choice of square. Symbolic it was, as Cuéllar had viewed the early years of tourism from a cafe in the square, and here it now was at the centre of a protest against a tourism that Cuéllar could never have imagined. He could never have imagined there would be the numbers of tourists. Of course he wouldn't have been able to. Apart from anything else, when he was writing the records of the Cafè de Plaça, there had yet to be definitive approval of the grand plan that was to catapult Alcudia into a touristic stratosphere - the City of Lakes.

The occupation of public space, one of Moviment's main charges, is hard to deny. Plaça Constitució is indicative of this, but then it has long been a square of bars and restaurants, while it isn't that large a square. It is the nucleus of the old town (and not just a touristic nucleus), but if one really wishes to object to the occupation, then go to the smaller square to the side of the town hall - Plaça Verdures is one single terrace for different establishments.

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Do they, Moviment Alcudienc, have a point? Well of course they do, as do all other groups who protest against an economy so totally beholden to tourism. Ideally, this wouldn't be the situation, but ideal situations rarely exist, while the prescriptions are always the same - vague in their proposals, as with Moviment, for a different economic model and so therefore a different model of Alcudia. Yes, but what?

I defend Moviment Alcudienc for their desire to create debate, which was taken a step further with a gathering at the Casa de Cultura on Tuesday, but where I - and I daresay others - run into an issue is with the seemingly inescapable political overtones. This has always been an organisation that is leftist, Catalanist, republican. It now wishes to be less of a youth organisation than it was, but the politics remain the same. They can therefore be off-putting, when some of what may be being said has quite wide support.

Having been moribund for a few years, why have Moviment Alcudienc now resurfaced? I would suggest that this may have something to do with political change at the town hall. Back in March 2019, there was a bit of a fuss when Moviment drew attention to businesses associated with Vox. And Vox are now part of the coalition. But without wishing to re-emerge with a direct political assault - there was passing mention of the extreme right - the choice for attention was tourism in the full knowledge that it would have attracted attention.

This all said, certain pertinent issues have been identified, such as a loss of traditional shops; the explosion in holiday lets, legal and illegal - with legal now accounting for 17% of all homes; and saturation of beaches. But where beaches are concerned, don't let's go too hard on tourists. Take note of the vehicles entering Alcudia at the weekend; they most certainly aren't all hire cars.

There is obviously scope, should be scope for debating the type of Alcudia that is wanted. And there should be scope for citizen participation within the framework of political debate. But at the same time, don't let's go confusing a protest of fifty or so people with a hankering after a return to Cuéllar's "blessed laziness".