Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain
in the Autumn for a month or so

'Fair and softly goes far' - Miguel de Cervantes

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Protest scheduled this Friday evening in Puerto de Mazarrón

(Please see UPDATES at end)

A protest against the policies and actions of the local government team of Mazarrón Mayor Fransisco Blaya Blaya is being organised for this Friday evening (14th August at 21.00/9pm) in the Paseo de Rihuete in Puerto de Mazarrón by the Associations of merchants and residents, trade unions and three of the left-of-centre political parties (IU, PSOE, PAREMA); Mayor Blaya is from the 'other side', the PP.

Whist the protest is a general one against the local Mayor and his team, it will apparently focus on the following main issues:
- the disproportionate increase in IBI between 2008 and 2009 of 120 per cent and that whereas traders and visitors/residents pay 1st rate taxes, they receive 3rd rate services;
- the disproportionate rise in water and garbage charges, for which a 'lousy service' is provided in the areas of Bahia, Playagrande, Camposol, El Alamillo, Bolnuevo and parishes;
- the removal of the current market area and the campaign of 'abusive' traffic tickets.

The organisers of the protest are critical in addition of "the abuse of power against freedom of speech" and that local police are impeding the distribution of publicity leaflets for the protest whilst municipal employees are systematically removing posters announcing it.

PS/ The reason I include this report is twofold:
- some may wish to be aware of the protest and may perhaps even wish to join in;
- some may on the other hand wish to avoid the disruption which is likely to occur this Friday evening in the area around the Paseo de Rihuete.

UPDATE: (Friday 14AUG09 08.17 BST) Mazarron Council has taken the unusual step of issuing a 13-point rebuttal of the claims made in support of a demonstration against the Council and its policies, scheduled to take place this evening. A principal contention of the Council in its rebuttal is that the demonstration has largely political motives and that it is being led by the Partido Socialista de Mazarrón (Socialist Party of Mazarron) which it is claimed has manipulated trade bodies and residents associations into participating by distorting facts; whatever one may think about the merits of holding this demonstration, it is clear that its calling has struck a very raw nerve within the Council.

2nd UPDATE: (Saturday 15AUG09 08.10 BST) There's another blistering attack on Mazarrón mayor Blaya today, although it seems to be based on earlier information, rather than details [yet] of what transpired at last night's protest meeting. However, it does add quite a lot of information (mixed in with the polemic) about the alleged 'extravagance' of the way Mazarrón Council conducts its affairs:
- Mayor Blaya draws total salary of 84,000 Euros a year, not far short of what President Zapatero earns (91,000 Euros) or the amount earned by Vice President Vega (86,000 Euros). Seven Councillors earn around 45,500 Euros. NB/ I have no idea whether these salaries are excessive when compared to what Mayors of other towns in Murcia or the rest of Spain earn, or whether the remuneration of Councillors elsewhere is comparable either, but the implication of this news report seems to indicate they are not.
- Mazarrón Council employs over 600 people who absorb over 70 per cent of the budget. Mayor Blaya has ten confidential staff.
- The linked article in this UPDATE links to a very interesting local 'protest' blog article, with the main blog page here. The blog has been set up to protest the move of the market square businesses to another location and for future reference I am adding it to both my feed readers and blogroll.

3rd UPDATE: (Sunday 16AUG09 08.20 BST) Claims and counter-claims continue to fly back and forth. According to this latest report, at least 2,000 people participated in the protest march against the local government's policies under its present leadership, whereas the Council for its part says its claims that the protest was politically-motivated by socialist parties stand and says that a number of the trade and neighbourhood bodies who were to have participated in the protest have instead written to the Council stating that they do not support the protest and had never agreed to participate and that they support the Council's policies. Who knows who is telling the truth in this murky affair. Another report says there were in excess of 6,000 participants in the protest (the largest ever in the town), all calling for the resignation of the Mayor and saying that even though he may still legally be the Mayor, he no longer has the right to hold the position and should go - there's a nice photograph in this article, too.

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