Today has been extremely eventful news day in the Valencian Community. Here’s a quick rundown of the stories which are front-page news around town.
Franco’s Final Farewell
A statue of Francisco Franco was removed from a captaincy in the city to a military warehouse in Bétera, providing a striking image which even made the New York Times’ Pictures of the Day (#7). The statue had already been hidden from public eye in 1983, but lived on in an interior patio of the captaincy as a cult object. It’s now in a warehouse, in a metal container, visible to nobody. I don’t understand why it hasn’t been destroyed. I’m sure there are people who’d volunteer for the task.
The Battle of Cabanyal
Yesterday, destruction began on 5 buildings in the seaside neighborhood of Cabanyal, in advance of the controversial prolongation of Avenue Blasco Ibáñez. Though the buildings weren’t among those protected by an emergency governmental declaration, the destruction set off major protests and led to the arrest of dozens of citizens and politicians. Violence was avoided but just barely, if the pictures are any indication! The battle lines are clear: neighbors and the central government vs. business interests and the city government. Tensions are extremely high, and I’m afraid this fight still has a long way to go.
Tightening the Belt
But the biggest news — not just in Valencia, but around Spain and the world — was the new developments in the Gürtel corruption case. The Times of London is now calling it “one of the country’s biggest political scandals since the return of democracy in 1978”. There’s really no room for rational doubt anymore, the corruption sinks deep into the power structure of the Partido Popular, and some of the accusations are stunning. Heads are going to roll, although the Valencian public doesn’t seem to care much about the corruption of its ruling party. With every new revelation, the PP seems to become even more popular.