One of the numerous protests last week - this one on Tuesday in Barcelona.

03-10-2017Susana Vera

Catalonia and Balearic independence
There was little mistaking what the main news story was last week. Events in Catalonia drew mainly condemnation in Majorca for the actions of police and the Spanish government. This condemnation wasn't of course universal. It did rather depend on political point of view. The Partido Popular, including therefore the national government's delegate, Maria Salom, took the view that police had acted in accordance with judicial order. President Armengol, not in favour of the independence drive, offered her condemnation at the same time as preaching the need for dialogue, so there was no surprise there.

Otherwise, there was growing speculation as to what those events will mean, and the greatest speculation was reserved for the relocation of CaixaBank's registered office to Palma. This proved to be just speculation. Meanwhile, the Catalonia case for independence appeared to spur on Balearic aspirations for independence; those held by Més at any rate. We analysed this Més ambition and highlighted the findings of opinion surveys. A wish for independence in the Balearics is extremely low, while in terms of identity, people on the individual islands identify themselves with their islands far more so than with the Balearics as an entity. There is no evidence of any popular desire for Balearic independence.


Més controversies
Més were at the centre of gathering controversies, with the tourism ministry particularly involved. Pilar Carbonell, not a member of Més but a Biel Barceló appointee, was of interest to the judge investigating the affairs of the Cursach Group and police corruption. It appeared that she, the director-general of tourism, had shown some favouritism towards Cursach, an allegation that was strongly denied. The director of the Balearic Tourism Agency, Pere Muñoz, who was also appointed by Barceló, was one of five people cited by the anti-corruption prosecutor investigating contracts awarded to Jaume Garau, the one-time Més "guru".


Barceló's assurances
As a result, we suggested that the knives were being sharpened for Barceló once more, with the PP and Podemos doing the sharpening. The tourism minister could have done without all this controversy as he prepared for the first of the big tourism fairs - London's in November. As part of this preparatory work, there was his interview in the Bulletin, in which he gave an assurance that relations with the British had never been better. Later comment in the paper wasn't wholly convinced. His explanations of, inter alia, the tourist tax and anti-tourism sentiments had the jaw "dropping lower and lower", "I'm sorry, Biel, that really will not wash you know".


Monarch collapse
The other major story last week was the collapse of Monarch Airlines. Although it came as a shock, not least to passengers and holidaymakers, it really wasn't that much of a surprise, albeit a sad one. The airline has of course had a very long and happy relationship with Majorca and the Balearics. Nostalgia and appreciation were expressed. One contributor to the Bulletin website said: "I just hope all the wonderful staff at Monarch have a good future and thanks for all the help and support they have given us. THANKS."


Fight for the rural world
Hunters, farmers and others came to Palma last weekend to demonstrate against certain government policies, taking particular aim at an ecologist and animal-rights minority. GOB, Majorca's ecologists in chief, fired back, insisting that these policies "guarantee the true rural world", an outright dig at the organisers of the demonstration - the defenders of the "rural world". The battleground for who understands this world best was thus being prepared by GOB, just in case the government might be inclined to back track and take greater account of the views of the hunters, farmers and their companions.


In other news the first Chinese travel agency in Majorca opened its doors; researchers at the University of the Balearic Islands' Relativity and Gravitation Group made the rector "super proud" for having contributed to the Ligo instrument project and the Nobel Prize in Physics; and wholly unnecessary fascist graffiti was daubed at Montuiri cemetery where archaeologists ultimately failed to find any remains of murdered Republicans.

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