Yep, Valencia’s on the Map All Right
Yep, Valencia’s on the Map All Right
El País: ¡Ahora sí! Valencia está en el mapa
Editorial by Juanjo García del Moral January 10, 2012
We heard the mantra for years, but its real implications escaped us. They said it to us over and over, but we never saw it for what it was. I [García del Moral] am referring to “putting Valencia on the map”. It was the panacea to attract tourists, to bring in domestic and foreign investors, to awaken interest, urbi et orbi, in everything that was being done in the community. Nearly everything was for the sake of the paramount objective of “putting Valencia on the map”. It was, one might say, an infallible strategy to bring the world to our feet. We were going to be the European California, the envy of everyone, Paradise on the Mediterranean. Anything was worth doing for the cause, whether it was organizing the America’s Cup, bringing a Formula 1 race to the center of the city, building the Museum of Science, the Palace of the Arts, and L’Àgora, organizing La Luz de las Imagenes [The Light of the Images Art Foundation], building an airport without airplanes in Castellón, launching the Terra Mítica [Mythical Land theme park], La Ciudad de la Luz [The City of Light film studio], La Ciudad de la Música (The City of Music), La Ciudad de las Lenguas [The City of Languages], bending over to indecent extremes with the organization of a papal visit and proud laps around the Cheste [race track] on a Ferrari…it was all worth it, they said.
The years have passed, and now Valencia is “on the map”, but let’s be clear that it is not thanks to the megalomaniacal, spendthrift, sometimes useless projects which have marked Valencian history these past years, the majority of which, with very few exceptions, have not come to fruition, have disappeared, or have struggled amidst inanity, debt, corruption, and leaks. …Well, in a sense, Valencia is on the map now thanks to them, or rather their negative consequences.
Valencia is on the map because it’s the first autonomous community [province] that has had to be rescued from bankruptcy by the central government. Its unsustainable financial situation is the product of years of good times and propaganda which have brought Valencian bonds to the doorstep of reclassification as junk. Valencia is also on the map because it has the highest debt per capita in the country; because it has lost its principal financial institutions; because it doesn’t pay the pharmaceutical companies distributing the medicine its doctors prescribe in the public health system; because it has not met its commitments to dependents; because it owes enormous amounts of money to its creditors, many of which have been doomed to bankruptcy; because its educational system has the greatest known number of resource-poor classrooms in the country (they are now referred to as barrack huts); because it has the highest unemployment rate in Spain (and the national unemployment rate is above 20% -Translator); because it flaunts a record number of companies going out of business; because it has proved capable of condemning to irrelevance a scientific research center to which it promised a leading role (and whose construction required, naturally, an enormous investment, with corresponding and obvious diversions of money from its budget)…the story is extremely extensive.
But Valencia is also on the map for corruption. Because it has the dubious honor of having its ex-governor indicted for accepting gifts from a corrupt group that presumably financed the party that has governed us all these years. Because he allowed this same organization and some of its local protégés to profit from the Pope’s visit. Because a public water treatment company has been grossly impoverished while the politicians responsible have accepted as little of the responsibility as they can. Because of a group that has made off with money from a garbage company. Because the methods of the Alicante city planning division smell horribly fishy. Because Valencia City has been incapable of answering questions about a metro accident that took 47 lives in 2006 and has displayed inhumane insensitivity toward those affected by it.
But Valencia is also on the map for less tangible, albeit equally grave reasons. Because its regional parliament has accumulated such a great number of rulings contrary to democracy and the regulations regarding the rights (and obligations) of representatives of opposition groups. Because of opacity and obscurantism: it hid, literally hid, official information that belonged in the public domain. Because it permitted and encouraged a public radio/television network to become partisan and abandon its only reason for being (providing public service to citizens) in order to make itself a propaganda and manipulation machine that in addition to becoming a love nest of favoritism and, with some honorable exceptions, a producer of rubbish, accumulated an enormous debt; its awful management has plunged the Valencian AV sector into misery.
Because of all this, and other problems that are surely lurking in the background, here at the beginning of 2012, Valencia is finally on the map. Is this the map you wanted us to be on? Well, get us off it!
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