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How Spain became ‘Españistán’

Want to understand Spain’s economic rollercoaster ride since 1998? Forget the academia, Aleix Saló’s comic-book take on it will tell you all you need to know.


Españistán: A comic take on a sad situation.

Plenty of books about the Spanish economy have been published in recent years: on the black market, multinationals, the financial system, the effect of the global recession and much, much more. Many of these are scientific studies, and most of them are on the dry side. But fortunately, if you want a punchy, fact-based look at Spain’s current mess, you can find it in the shape of a comic book called Españistán by Aleix Saló.

A superb six-minute video gives a sharp summary of the book and gives us as fine a potted history of the Spanish economy’s last outrageous decade as you could hope for. “What a nice little squirrel,” we are told, as a furry mammal is shown on the screen. “Screw him!” continues the narration, as a gaggle of new houses are slammed down on his natural habitat and the joys of “liberalising” public land are illustrated.

A prologue written by José A. Pérez, sets the tone of the book itself:

“Welcome to the country with the best paid executives in Europe and the highest unemployment rate in the free world. The country where 65 percent of money circulates in €500 bills, the nation of nations with more languages, regional dances and cocaine per capita on the planet. The global capital of the curriculum vitae … and intermediate level English, proud inventors of the 50-year mortgage and the charming but asphyxiating mini-flat…”

It’s interesting how Spaniards are now expressing anger at the management of their country’s economy. The indignados took their tents into the cities to protest. Anti-eviction activists are stopping poor families from being thrown into the street by banks.

And now we have Saló’s book. A comic book of drawings and jokes, yes. But perhaps that’s the best way to look back on the tragedy that has been Spanish government real estate policy since 1998: with a sense of humour.

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Published: Jul 1 2011
Category: Iberoblog, Featured
Republication: Creative Commons, non-commercial
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