On the Ground: Spain

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By Lily Porter, Third Year, Philosophy and Spanish

The Croft Magazine // In our third pin drop, we go on the ground in Madrid with Year Abroad student Lily Porter, currently working at a school. Spain is expecting King Juan Carlos (who abdicated in 2014) to return home.

I’m working as a teacher, and the kids don’t hesitate to correct when I get my Spanish wrong… which is quite embarrassing but very entertaining! I work during the week but come back home and have siestas in the afternoons (I’ve been quite enjoying that tradition). I think the majority of British students here are on 90-day tourist allowance at the moment and are hoping to get their applications through. When I visited the consulate, it was absolutely overwhelmed… it was chaos really. I hope that’ll start to improve. This obviously is the guinea pig year, so fingers crossed for everyone still trying to get through.

King Juan Carlos left last year due to allegations of tax fraud. He was the king from 1975 to 2014, which meant he led their transition from their dictatorship under General Franco. He’s living the life of luxury in Abu Dhabi, which doesn’t seem too bad, on the island of Zaya Nuri I think. He has handed in a total of €8m to the tax agency to regularise any undue payments and settle difficulties, so there are rumours he’ll come back for Christmas, and I think he probably will. The public seem surprisingly in favour, given the allegations. There was another article that came out about him having hormones altered to quell desires that weren’t suitable for a king. Despite this constant publicity, Socialist leaders and politicians still say he should be treated with respect because of the key role he played in the transition period after the Franco regime. He’s also costing Spain a lot of money by living in Abu Dhabi, for security etc. So I think, ultimately, he’ll be allowed to return and live out his days in Spain. But, at the moment, he’s not allowed to live in the palace. So, difficulties remain.

Carles Puigdemont is an interesting one. In 2017, he also had to leave Spain. He was prime minister of Catalonia and held a referendum to ask firstly if Catalonia should be a state, and secondly if it should be an independent state. The result was 90 per cent ‘yes’, but not even half the population voted and there was lots of disruption. Despite that, he declared Catalonia independent, which was illegal under the Spanish Constitution. In the constitution, it stresses the indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation. He went into exile in Belgium and Germany, and recently travelled to Italy where he was arrested, then released, but not quite pardoned. He’s allowed to travel, and a decision has been delayed about what’s going to happen to him. It seems like he’s carrying on with his separatist motivations, continuously criticising the Spanish government in the press, so I think it’s likely he’ll be brought to justice and punished for the declaration.

I’ve definitely been hearing a lot in the news about the people on La Palma. It’s a massive tragedy for the whole of Spain, and reading about it you hear of the massive numbers of people who’ve had to be evacuated, which is becoming increasingly difficult as, with the ash cloud, they’re having to cancel flights. Economically, it’s going to majorly cost everyone who lives there. They’ve not only lost their houses, but their plantations. They’re families are being dispersed and they’ve lost their water I food supplies.

Featured Image: Epigram / Lily Porter

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