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Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain

Random thoughts from a Brit in the North West. Sometimes serious, sometimes not. Quite often curmudgeonly.

Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 11 November 2020
11 November 2020 @ 12:05

Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.  

- Christopher Howse: 'A Pilgrim in Spain'*  

Covid 

Good news from Spain.     

Living La Vida Loca in Galicia/Spain

My thanks to María for confirming you are allowed to lift your mask to eat and drink in the street. She also endorses my thought that this is being done by folk who previously didn't go home during the 2-3 hour 'midday' break but resorted to a menu del día. And will continue to do so from one of the restaurants - not so many - offering take-aways. I do wonder where we'll all sit when it's raining . . . 

I'm now confused around the normativa about shops. Can 'non-essential' places stay open? I ask because I noted those shops open yesterday included barbers, sweetshops, ice-cream parlours and clothes retailers. Plus, of course, cake shops. 

Here's María's Falling Back Chronicle Day 56.      

And here's a defiant - and cheesy? - video on the Galician response to the virus. Several Pontevedra city scenes therein. As there are here. A reminder - It isn't actually raining at 2.38. They used a hose.

If you're not sated yet, there's a short (adulatory) Economist article on our region below. Long time readers of this blog will be familiar with everything in it. Including my added comments . . .

The USA

TV networks are paying less and less attention to the Trump campaign’s allegations that fraud robbed him of election victory. Even Fox, who cut away rom a press conference in which Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, alleged widespread fraud.

English

Current linguistic fads:-

- Exponential

- Tipping point

- Baked in

- Inflection point - Probably meaning: turning point; tipping point; crossroads; pivotal moment   

THE ARTICLE  

Us Gallegos : Galicia shows how devolution can work: An idiosyncratic region that remains comfortable in Spain      The Economist, Nov 7 2020

It’s a place apart, a land of mists, forests and long Atlantic rías (inlets); of pilgrim routes to the vast medieval cathedral of Santiago de Compostela; remote from almost everywhere, its people famous for their caginess. 

Today Galicia stands out for two other reasons. The first is that since democracy arrived 4 decades ago, it has progressed from being one of the poorest regions of Spain to enjoying an income only slightly below the national average. Its second peculiarity is that like Catalonia or the Basque Country it is a cultural nation but, unlike them, it is one that is comfortable in Spain. Separatism is the pursuit of a fairly small minority. 

Its economic success is broad-based. Apart from Europe's largest fishing industry, shipbuilding, dairying and timber, Galicia has two industrial mainstays: Inditex, based near A Coruña, has grown into the world's biggest provider of fast fashion through Zara and its other chains. A vast Citroen plant near Vigo anchors 30,000 car-industry jobs. The regional government has invested European funds in motorways: it is still six hours to Madrid, but it used to take twice as long. A high-speed railway link should be completed by 2022. 

TThere are other factors behind Galicia's success. A tradition of dividing farms among all children led to rural poverty (and emigration) but also to a culture that values private property, the leira (homestead) and hard work. 

Alberto Nunez Feijoo, the president of the regional government since 2009, highlights Galicia's political stability. Mr Feijoo is from the conservative People's Party, which at national level has become increasingly centralist. In Galicia it has adopted a strong regional identity that Mr Feijoo calls Galleguismo. "We have defended Galicia as a place that has its own language, culture, heritage and special characteristics," he says. This has "halted nationalism". [Not in Pontevedra city, it hasn’t]. At an election in July, Mr Feijoo retained his absolute majority of seats in the Galician parliament, another rarity for Spain. 

Critics complain that he has failed to halt an exodus of talent, as young professionals seek opportunities abroad. In fact, Galicia has seen more immigrants than emigrants in this century. But it is an ageing society. The dynamism of the coast contrasts with a depopulated interior, prone to forest fires. The Covid-19 pandemic, although mild in the region, may expose flaws in the Galician formula (with cases rising, on October 30th,Mr Feijoo restricted movement into and out of the main towns). "The economic model gave priority to cement over knowledge," says Xose Manoel Nunez Seixas, a historian at the University of Santiago de Compostela. 

Galicia suffers the vices as well as the virtues of Spanish devolution. It has 3 airports, where 1 would do [To say the least]; Gallegos cross the border to Porto in Portugal for many international flights. Politics features localism. Abel Caballero, the mayor of Vigo since 2007, has made a successful political career out of battling Mr Feijoo. He wants the high-speed train to go straight to his city, rather than via Santiago. That would cost €2bn to save just 15 minutes, says Mr Feijoo. 

A nationalist party came second in the election. Its leader, Ana Pontón, wants Galicia "to take our own decisions" on energy, infrastructure and taxes and "the right to decide" on independence. She also wants 50% of teaching to be in GaJlego. But most Gallegos seem happy enough with what Mr Feijoo calls "cordial bilingualism" rather than the language war of Cataluña. The nationalist vote seems to have a ceiling of about 25%. "The Gallego has ambitions to lead Spain," says Miguel Conde-Lobato, an advertising man in A Coruñaa. "We're more interested in captaining the ship than capsizing it."  

 

* A terrible book, by the way. Don't be tempted to buy it, unless you're a very religious Protestant.

 



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