Friday, February 09, 2018

Not Local: Petit Deià

Bel Busquets' minder scaled the protest ramparts in Deià the other day, these having been in the Joan Mas amphitheatre, named after the writer who was born in the village. Normally a location for a civilised summer string quartet, the amphitheatre heard the minder denounce a little Deià development that would affect Deià's littleness. There is little and there is little: Deià doesn't even run to 700 inhabitants.

Why would you want to build a little development (21 houses priced up to 1.6 million euros) in a little place like Deià? The answer's easy. It's a nice little place, potentially about to get less little, and someone would make a shedload out of some luxury gaffs that will be snapped up by outsiders. Not local!? One can hear The League of Gentlemen's Tubbs and Edward screaming into the Tramuntana skies.

So, the locals would have every reason to protest. They also have every right to protest, as the mayor, Magdalena López, has conceded. The only thing was that, according to the mayor, the locals were thin on the ground; indeed the protesters did not number the 200 (or was it 400) that had been reported. There were more like 120, and only a sixth of these were Deià persons. This is the mayor's version anyway.

Where did the other one hundred come from? López insists they were incomers from groups such as the environmentalists GOB. Not local. Some may have been chums of the minder, Lluís Apesteguía. Lluís is on an upward Més trajectory. A mere opposition councillor in little Deià, he was a councillor in the much bigger Council of Mallorca. He is now Bel Busquets' minder, her chief of staff at the tourism ministry/vice-presidency. Happy days for Lluís, a government post beckons, assuming Més make it past the electorate in 2019 and so do PSOE and Podemos.

It really doesn't harm anyone's eco-nationalist political career to have a cause célèbre that combines contentious issues of saturation, housing availability and resources, especially when it's in one's own backyard - Petit Deià, the development that drew the 120 (or maybe more) to the streets of little Deià the other day. Not that Petit Deià was all that the minder and the not locals were concerned about. There were also hotel developments and holiday rentals. Little Deià can't cope with all of this. It's a resources issue apart from anything else. Lluís will be among those who didn't mind Deià being coloured purple for saturation on the rentals zoning map.

But was it so wrong for not locals to voice their protest? Are they not permitted a say in the defence of cherished parts of the island? There have, after all, been other protests that reject some form of development or other. When, for example, a few thousand (estimates varied) gathered along the beach in Son Serra de Marina, constructed a human chain and declared their opposition to a beach chiringuito, these were most certainly not all locals. Hardly anyone lives in Son Serra in winter, which was when the protest was staged. The protesters weren't necessarily from the Santa Margalida municipality either. But why did they have to be? The beach is for everyone, and in the case of Son Serra it is one of the few remaining examples of a beach that can genuinely be described as unspoiled.

Locals or not locals, is it really the case that we wish to see gems like Deià further gentrified and taken over by not locals who might grace the village with occasional summer visits (if this is what Petit Deià would mean)? I can only pose the question. I am not local. I have no personal interest in the affair, merely an interest as an observer. And what of other locals? Perhaps there are those who are in favour of Petit Deià. Maybe their voice needs to be heard and not drowned out by the minder from the ministry.

Petit Deià is a further example of how political capital can be made, and not just by Més politicians who may have aspirations for higher things. There is GOB, there is Terraferida. There is the raggle-taggle army of associations and political agitators for this and that which gathered in protest against "massification" last September. The politics thus take over, as do the opportunities they present. But much though one can (and does) despair of the negative publicity that is generated by certain protests, one can also empathise with the sentiments. Petit Deià is a developmental branch line of the massification cause, of the opposition to ever more wounding of Terraferida's wounded land.

One can appreciate this, just as one can appreciate the politics. As Magdalena López has observed, Lluís Apesteguía was a member of the Council of Mallorca's historical heritage commission that voted in favour of Petit Deià. There's local for you.

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