Saturday, July 09, 2016

What's The Left's Problem With Fiestas?

Mancor de la Vall, as noted here on 2 July, is not the only village or town where issues have arisen with the organisation of fairs and fiestas because of the actions of left-wing town halls. Mancor's had to do with the lack of a licence for music concerts at the rooms used by the cultural association Arrels. Before a last-minute agreement was reached, it had looked as though last November's Esclata-sang mushroom fair would not go ahead, the Més-led administration having refused to give permission for the concerts.

There are now two further cases. In Calvia village they celebrate Sant Jaume each year (25 July). The residents' association has long organised the fiestas, the agreement dating back to the days of PSOE mayor Margarita Nájera (in office from 1991 to 2003). This agreement was subsequently ratified by the two PP mayors who succeeded her: Carlos Delgado and Manu Onieva.

Responsibility for fiestas at Calvia currently lies with one of the deputy mayors, Israel Molina. He is from Si Se Puede Calvia, a version of Podemos in the municipality, which is part of the administration headed by PSOE mayor Alfonso Rodríguez. Molina has decided to break the agreement, one by which the residents' association had been receiving 28,000 euros each year to organise the Sant Jaume fiestas and others, such as the Christmas market.

Molina's argument is that there needs to be an open tender to decide who organises the fiestas. The residents' association says it won't enter the tender contest because it fears there won't be the same level of budget as previously. It notes that other associations in Calvia have said that they won't enter the contest either because they accept that the residents' association is the organiser. The consequence - unless some other solution is reached - is that the town hall will have to assume responsibility for organisation; otherwise there won't be any Sant Jaume fiestas.

In Port Soller, the cultural association has expressed its annoyance with the town hall over arrangements for Sant Pere (now finished). It says that it won't be organising the fiestas in future, citing lack of support from the town hall: the association has identified an absence of financial assistance and failure to grant permissions. The councillor in charge of fiestas, Laura Celià of Més, says that fiesta organisation has to meet with demands under law. One of these demands may well explain the fact that the fireworks were missing this year.

This is not the first time that Celià has been at the centre of a rumpus over fiesta arrangements. It was she who insisted to changes for the May Moors and Christians (Es Firó). These entailed the closing of bars in the main square during the climax to the battle - the bars had to open stalls in another square - and limits to numbers in the square (identified by wristbands).

Do these examples all point to anti-fiesta policies by some left-wing administrations? The first thing to say is that PSOE doesn't appear to have any issues. It is the further left that does. A second point to make is that, as the Arrels association in Mancor had believed, it might be thought that a grouping like Més with its Mallorcan nationalist identity would be all in favour of fiestas and their traditions.

The fact is that they may indeed be all in favour, but the four cases - Mancor, Calvia and the two in Soller - indicate a rigorous application of rules. For Més and Podemos offshoots there can't be any even hint of flouting rules, of favouritism, of not going by the book: that's the sort of thing that the PP (and PSOE) have been doing for years. These rules relate to the fastidious insistence on tenders and to health and safety, the latter being something that has rarely been diligently observed in the past.

The Calvia case has echoes of a different reason for a tender: licences to operate a business activity. It therefore is not dissimilar to the Gelats Valls ice-cream kiosk issue in Puerto Pollensa. A left-wing administration has gone by the book in saying that permission cannot just be simply rubber-stamped and extended year by year, as has been happening. The left wants to be seen to be working to the letter of the law, even if it angers the locals.

Might there be other examples of fiestas being affected? Quite probably. There are numerous local associations who essentially run fiestas, or parts of them, for town halls. There are also the health and safety and indeed animal welfare issues. If the regional government ever gets round to definitively approving its reform of the 1992 animal protection legislation, might fiestas such as Pollensa's Sant Antoni be jeopardised? The use of the cockerel at the top of the pine is currently permitted because it is a tradition that is over one hundred years old (the definition for use of live animals during fiestas under regional law). But if it is deemed to suffer under the reform, then what?

No comments: