Friday, May 05, 2017

The Movement Of Andalusia

In a study of the municipality of Calvia at the turn of the millennium, it was shown that of residents with mainland Spanish origins, 42% of them were from Andalusia. The city of Granada had itself provided 17% of this Spanish group; 6.5% of the entire municipal population.

There may well be more up-to-date numbers, but I'm guessing that they won't have changed markedly. Otherwise, have social attitudes moved on over the intervening years? The question is asked because the author of the study, Miguel Ángel Miranda González, pointed towards social issues caused by immigration into Calvia. The tourism boom and the urban developments of the 1960s fostered the migration. The original Mallorcan population was and is comparatively tiny because of inward migration, and not just that from Andalusia.

Miranda observed in his study that the Mallorcan people as a whole, and so not only Calvia, have been unable to integrate waves of immigrants into their social structures. As a consequence, these groups maintain their interests distinct to those of the Mallorcan people. The observation is interesting if only because it offers a different take on the normal integration debate. Immigrants struggle to integrate because the means of doing so are unavailable.

I would suggest that this has changed to some degree. Calvia of course has institutionalised "foreigners" at town hall level. Other municipalities, if not having gone as far as Calvia, now have councillors with responsibilities for foreigners, and by foreigners, one means anyone not from Mallorca (including perhaps people from the rest of the Balearics).

The Andalusians were foreigners. Nowadays, and perhaps also as a mark of greater integration and acceptance, there are various Andalusian associations. Different town halls have welcomed their active participation in colouring the local cultural mix. The Feria de Abril* is the best example of this. Palma's is now in its 27th edition. Other municipalities also have an April fair, based - more or less - on the traditions of Seville.

They came because of tourism and construction. The association with tourism is still very evident. Many mainland seasonal workers come from Andalusia, and they've been doing so for years. They are re-engaged by employers who find in them a reliability and appetite for work that belie a long-held image: the lazy ones from the south (of Spain).

The emigration had started, though, before the great boom of the 1960s. Andalusians did not initially arrive in Mallorca in great number, although the Balearics was to become one of the main regions for Andalusian migration. They went mostly to Catalonia. In 1949, a newspaper referred to "authentic troglodytes", people from "underground settlements" in provinces such as Jaén and Granada. They were looked upon with suspicion by the authorities and by workers: employers could get away with paying them less. The authorities were to take action. Some 15,000 Andalusian immigrants were expelled from Catalonia between 1952 and 1957.

But still they came, the so-called "trains of hope" carrying them from a region which, for all the wealth of its great cities and of its own tourism, was historically poor and grindingly so. In certain respects it still is: Andalusia receives the biggest handout of state funding through the system that in the Balearics is considered to be so iniquitous (for the Balearics). In 1930 there were 70,000 Andalusians in Catalonia. The great migration, and it was enormous, increased this number to 840,000 by 1970.

Andalusia is curious because of its politics. It is the only region of Spain to have had an unbroken socialist government since the establishment of the regional democratic communities. That socialism, one has to assume, is a reflection of enduring difficulties in one of the country's poorer parts. The politics of Andalusia played a significant role in creating the regional communities and autonomous governments. The drafters of the 1978 Constitution originally intended to establish autonomy for Catalonia and the Basque Country. It was the Andalusians who led the objections. All regions were to gain this autonomy.

But what was it that made the Andalusians fight for this autonomy. Partly it was a sense of Andalusia's own unique circumstances and history, but just as important was the deep-rooted animosity that has existed and still does between Andalusia and Catalonia. The aspirations of an independent Catalonia encounter no greater opposition than in Andalusia. Catalonia, it has been suggested in Seville circles, wishes to create an apartheid for Spain.

The one-time president of Catalonia, Jordi Pujol, once wrote that the Andalusian is not consistent, he is anarchic and he is harmful. This can be taken as an indication of a xenophobia said to reside within Catalan attitudes. It is also an indication of the fact that Catalonia, more than the Balearics, objects to the financing system. And there is also that historical migration. The trains of hope which led to Barcelona and to the ports and so to Calvia.

* Palma's Feria de Abril concludes tomorrow, while Cala d'Or's runs from today until Sunday.

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