Spain’s in trouble. In the midst of its worst economic crisis in decades, we are keeping our eyes on at least 4 current events. More than anything, we want to be up on what’s going on because we care about our friends and our brothers and sisters in the church. These events only indirectly touch us but they have a huge impact on the people to whom we minister.
As with all challenges, there is a fine line between over-exaggeration and presenting the reality. My goal isn’t to cross over any lines or enter into hysteria; the plain fact is that the greater majority of Spaniards are keeping their heads, at least for now. The purpose of this post is to simply let you in on a few of the challenges this country has ahead.
1. The general populace is losing patience with the current right-wing government that was voted in almost 2 1/2 years ago (PP). Unemployment has only now levelled off and dropped just a smidge under 24%. The national debt has soared to new heights. There has been something of an exodus among the younger 20 somethings who cannot find work. But most of all, more and more Spaniards are “fed up” (indignados). Just a couple of weeks ago, the man in charge of fixing the economic mess, the minister of finance, left a meeting in Catalunya and was met by protestors ready to act out violently. Thankfully for him enough security got him out unscathed…barely.
2. The king has stepped aside and his son, prince Philip, is set to be sworn in a few days. The day of the king’s abdication, thousands of young and more radical left-wing groups took to the streets to demand the end of the monarchy. Perhaps most disconcerting for some were the republican flags waving in the streets, the same flags that flew proudly before Franco marched into Spain in the 30’s to start a savage civil war.
3. Some estimate that more than half of the population of Catalunya, or the providence home to Barcelona, wants out of Spain. They would like to be able to vote on ceding from Spain and forming their own government. In fact, the president of their communidad autonomo or region, Arthur Mas, is dead set on taking an illegal vote this November as one more step towards complete independence. Most estimate that the economic impact on such a process would be catastrophic. Think Texas pride on steroids.
4. Last week Spain voted in new European representatives for the EU. A political party that less than 8 months ago did not exist (!) managed to win 5% percent of the popular vote. It’s called podemos (we can). Here are some of the policies they espouse: a) a minimum salary of 35-40 thousand euros, b) a maximum salary of 60 thousand euros c) higher pensions for everyone starting at 60 years of age d) a foregoing of paying all debts to Europe. That would certainly be interesting!
We are thankful that we can rest in God in the midst of these turbulent waters.