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A bit of Greece in Valencia

The police’s clumsy handling of student protests in recent days has brought an economically and politically punch-drunk region to a new low.


Even before the disturbances this week in Valencia, the city and its surrounding region laid claim to some pretty worrying badges of honour.

It’s the capital of Gürtel, the biggest political corruption scandal in Spain of recent times, and the home of Francisco Camps, the former Valencia regional premier who was absolved of any involvement in the affair after insisting he pays for his €3,000 suits in cash and doesn’t bother keeping the receipts. It’s also the most heavily indebted region in Spain, with a €20-billion deficit, leaving it perilously close to failing to make a debt payment to Deutsche Bank recently. It hosts Castellón airport, perhaps Spain’s most notorious white-elephant project, and one that doesn’t have any aeroplanes on its runway. It also hosts schools that reportedly lack central heating due to education spending cuts.

But as police baton-charged schoolchildren who were peacefully protesting this state of affairs earlier this week, this beautiful spot on the Mediterranean hit a new low. This was no longer a matter of clashing political ideologies, foolishly planned economics, or even cynical corruption, but rather a slide towards something altogether darker and more malignant. It was underlined by the pitiful sight of Valencia’s chief of police, Antonio Moreno, banging the table as he told reporters that “it wouldn’t be prudent to inform the enemy of our strengths and our weaknesses.”

The fact that a senior police officer sees peaceful demonstrators, many of them minors, as “the enemy”, is perhaps the most shocking addition to Valencia’s recent catalogue of shame. Whatever the central government’s austerity plans and reforms are for the coming months, it also has the obligation to remember that it and its security forces are at the service of Spaniards. Any other view will make 2012 an even more tumultuous, perhaps violent, year than it was likely to be already.

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Published: Feb 23 2012
Category: Iberoblog
Republication: Creative Commons, non-commercial
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2 Comments for “A bit of Greece in Valencia”

  1. I can’t help feeling that the comparison of Valencia with Greece is a bit unfair on the Greeks?

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