Tuesday, July 12, 2016

See No Evil: Magalluf crime

The July-August 1989 issue of a publication devoted to Palmanova and Magalluf offered its thoughts about Magalluf. The publication was "Entre Tots". The main article had to do with "everything being in a mess". There was building work going on in the middle of summer. The then deputy mayor was quoted as saying that the town hall (Calvia) was wanting to "beautify" Magalluf. The plan was for a transformation into green areas with a boulevard of fountains, new street lighting, more trees, more benches within three years. That would have meant 1992.

It may not have escaped your attention that there has been a transformation in Magalluf. It started to take place nineteen years after the previous one was meant to have been completed. You surely have to know about this transformation, because it is constantly referred to. The town hall and hoteliers, a mix of public and private sector, have brought into being the "new" Magalluf.

That same edition in 1989 also featured an interview with the local police. There was a reference to there being a "restructuring of the force". Sounds familiar? Yes, because there's now another one. This restructuring, as with the current one, was in response to specific needs. In 1989, these were identified, inter alia, as illegal street selling, the activities of PRs ("tiqueteros"), night-time noise and public order and security on the beaches. The police would not be engaging in "repressive" action, it was said, but with "preventive" action.

Twenty-seven years on, and what has changed? Well, as part of the transformation into "new" Magalluf, bylaws and commands are issued with regularity. Together with police restructuring, these will deal with anti-social behaviour and the sort of petty illegality, such as street selling, that had existed well before "Entre Tots" was talking about it in 1989. Bylaws are made. Enforcing compliance is another issue.

There have been big changes since the late 1980s. Back then in what was still a pre-internet era, there were no videos of sexual activities to be disseminated via YouTube and other social networks. There was no specific talk of the phenomenon of "balconing". If there was prostitution, then it was prostitution as it was described on the tin: selling sex and that was all.

If you consider these three aspects, you get a clear impression of how the "new" Magalluf is working, or isn't working, and of what the main messages from the town hall (and others) have focused on and are focusing on. One of the latest attempts is "#Magalive". How to be responsible (young) tourists, how to have fun without getting totally bladdered or totally off the head on drugs or both. Well intentioned enough, but there will have been those not knowing whether to laugh or cry.

The petty illegality is as it was in 1989, but since then something very much more sinister has emerged. Everyone knows what it is, and yet the town hall (and others) bang on endlessly about anything but. Behind the campaigns to stop the use of laughing gas or people falling off balconies, there is the very much darker side - the muggings, the violence, the drugs.

I once wrote that there was a situation of the three wise monkeys' see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil in Magalluf: a situation of heads in sand, hoping that no one pays any heed to people being assaulted by violent prostitutes and others. Amidst all the campaigns and notices that have emanated from the town hall in recent months, where have been ones addressing the prostitutes and the other attendant sinister aspects of the resort? Three wise monkeys. The question is: who are they?

There is a new Facebook page (see how things have changed since 1989). It is called Calvia Crimewatch. Essentially, it is Magalluf with some Santa Ponsa thrown into the mix. Since being launched last Friday, it has at time of writing (Sunday lunchtime) almost 500 group members.

It would be easy for me to simply quote from this page, but to do so would not do justice to the overwhelming sense of outrage and to the numerous anecdotes related to violence, theft and more, or to some of the photos that are appearing and the threats targeted at those who attempt to photograph acts of criminality. No, it would be far too simple. You can see for yourselves anyway. So can the town hall, were it of a mind to. So can foreign media. So can police, so can the national government's delegation to the Balearics. So can anyone who might want to actually gain an appreciation as to realities in "new" Magalluf.

We've heard the excuses, we've heard the announcements of action to be taken which seem rarely or ever to materialise. Excuses, reasons are no longer acceptable. What does it take? People to get killed?

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