Evening Reads: Spain Run AmokPosted: September 25, 2012
I am coming down with a cold so I will just be posting a few links on world news tonight…specifically Spain.
Samuel Aranda for The New York Times
In Spain, the unemployment rate is over 50 percent among young people.
On a recent evening, a hip-looking young woman was sorting through a stack of crates outside a fruit and vegetable store here in the working-class neighborhood of Vallecas as it shut down for the night.
At first glance, she looked as if she might be a store employee. But no. The young woman was looking through the day’s trash for her next meal. Already, she had found a dozen aging potatoes she deemed edible and loaded them onto a luggage cart parked nearby.
“When you don’t have enough money,” she said, declining to give her name, “this is what there is.”
The woman, 33, said that she had once worked at the post office but that her unemployment benefits had run out and she was living now on 400 euros a month, about $520. She was squatting with some friends in a building that still had water and electricity, while collecting “a little of everything” from the garbage after stores closed and the streets were dark and quiet.
Such survival tactics are becoming increasingly commonplace here, with an unemployment rate over 50 percent among young people and more and more households having adults without jobs. So pervasive is the problem of scavenging that one Spanish city has resorted to installing locks on supermarket trash bins as a public health precaution.
According to a recent report…
…Catholic charity, Caritas, said that it had fed nearly one million hungry Spaniards in 2010, more than twice as many as in 2007. That number rose again in 2011 by 65,000.
As Spain tries desperately to meet its budget targets, it has been forced to embark on the same path as Greece, introducing one austerity measure after another, cutting jobs, salaries, pensions and benefits, even as the economy continues to shrink.
Most recently, the government raised the value-added tax three percentage points, to 21 percent, on most goods, and two percentage points on many food items, making life just that much harder for those on the edge. Little relief is in sight as the country’s regional governments, facing their own budget crisis, are chipping away at a range of previously free services, including school lunches for low-income families.
For a growing number, the food in garbage bins helps make ends meet.
Perhaps that is the reason behind this article about the riots taking place in Madrid (snark): Spain Protesters Encircle Parliament
The pressures facing the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy mounted on several fronts on Tuesday, as thousands of demonstrators besieged Parliament and Spain’s two largest regions took steps that underscored their deepening economic troubles and displeasure with his austerity plans.
The developments unfolded as police officers and protesters clashed before the Parliament building and as Mr. Rajoy comes under intense pressure from investors and his European counterparts to clean up Spain’s banks and public finances, particularly at the regional level.
The problems in the regions, both political and economic, appear to be intensifying, as Catalonia’s move showed Tuesday, two weeks after a huge pro-independence rally in Barcelona.
“The voice of the street needs to be moved to the ballot boxes,” the president of Catalonia, Artur Mas, told lawmakers at the regional Parliament. “We want to have the same instruments that other nations have in order to develop their own collective identity.”
Following the Sept. 11 rally in Barcelona, Mr. Rajoy called on regions and their politicians to avoid raising tensions and instead to close ranks and help Spain emerge from its economic quagmire. Last week, in an unusual political foray, King Juan Carlos I also published a letter urging national unity.
“Mas has been under intense pressure to calm things down, even from the king, but what we now see is that far from taking any step back, Mas is in fact seeking a fresh mandate from voters to move things forward,” said Josep Ramoneda, a Catalan political commentator and philosopher. The result of the vote, Mr. Ramoneda added, “will determine exactly how far and fast Catalonia moves toward independence.”
Economists warned that the call for a Catalonia election added yet another element of uncertainty for Spain.
And from the Christian Science Monitor, the question is: Will the Occupy movement dissolve Spain’s parliament? (+video)
Spain‘s government was hit by the country’s financial crisis on two fronts Tuesday as protestors enraged with austerity cutbacks and tax hikes clashed with police near Parliament while the nation’s borrowing costs increased in an auction of its debt.There have been clashes between police and anti-austerity protesters in Madrid. Al Jazeera’s Simon McGregor Wood reports from Madrid.
More than 1,000 riot police blocked off access to the Parliament building in the heart of Madrid, forcing most protesters to crowd nearby avenues and shutting down traffic at the height of the evening rush hour.
Meanwhile, Madeline Albright is supporting Obama in an email sent out today, you may even have gotten one.
In this time of global turmoil, do we really want Mitt Romney speaking for our nation?
We may shake our heads at Governor Romney’s inept comments about important events and our allies overseas, but can you imagine the damage to our nation’s foreign policy that might be caused by a President Romney?
Just the possibility makes it hard for me to sleep.
Makes it hard for me to sleep too!
This is an open thread…