Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Perhaps erring on the side of caution, today’s protest was a clear example of them exaggerating the hazard. The police – both local and national – closed two of the largest, most-trafficked roads, Gran Via and Alcala, for about one mile from Plaza de Espana to Puerta de Alcala. As I climbed Gran Via I wondered what was going on. There were ambulances at the ready and dozens of police officers on the streets. It even crossed my mind that there had been some kind of car bomb or real security threat. Not so. It was merely a protest. When I finally reached the scene of the “action” I was surprised to find a mere 100 or so people with banners and whistles. They were surrounded on all sides by national police officers but no one, not the “protestors” nor the police, was overly concerned with the demonstration. People stood around chatting as if they were in a bar having a caña, and had it not been for the banners I would have thought they were a tour group.
Including the officers required to redirect the traffic, the ratio of police to protestors was at least 1:1 or better. Were that many police really necessary? Did they have to close the roads for a mile? Once I reached the point where the roads were open again I realized the true extent of the traffic jam. Cars were backed up for nearly another mile. I’m not against the public protests and I’m not against the police involvement in them but isn’t there a better way to do them? Close the roads for two miles if you are going to have a thousand protests, but for a hundred? The same goes for the protesting group – if you’re going to the trouble of organizing a protest, at least show up – physically and mentally.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
When my friend was visiting a couple weeks ago she kept commenting on how expensive things were. It’s certainly true when you look at American products like Special K cereal and Diet Coke (and with the weak dollar). But, those prices are probably offset by other things – like the pack of 15 Christmas cards I picked up for 50 cents.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Saturday night we went to the Spain-Sweden soccer match at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. They’re in the classification stage for Eurocopa 2008 and Spain lost the previous faceoff 0-2 in Sweden. In an effort to ensure a full stadium and reap every benefit possible from the home field advantage, the government decided to keep the game tickets as cheap as possible. It worked – the stadium was packed (at just 17€ that’s not a surprise), the crowd was energized, and the Spaniards pulled off a 3-0 victory. For me one of the highlights was the playing of the Spanish national anthem. Sports-infused Spanish patriotism was in full force and it really was an impressive sight – the singing, the flags, the cheers. (Not the best camera work, I know.)
I’ve always been amazed that the lack of words doesn’t damper the party. But after the scene at the soccer game (and especially after seeing the massive pre-game botellon [street drinking parties]) I’ve decided that the lack of words actually lets people sing out with more energy and complete abandon. Thinking of the Star Spangled Banner, I never sing with all my gusto. Who can hit that high “free” note anyway? If all I had to sing was, “lalalalala,” I would probably just let myself go.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Monday, November 5, 2007
Reading up on the topic makes me think of the immigration disputes that exist in the States over the entrance of illegal immigrants from Mexico and beyond. If I remember correctly there is even discussion of and potential legislation proposing construction of a fence along the border. Before proceeding, it would seem prudent for the Washington lawmakers to study the cases of Ceuta and Melilla. Would the construction of such a fence lead to similar tactics by the would-be immigrants? Attacks where people are trampled by the masses in a desperate attempt to reach the promised land? What exactly is the acceptable price to pay to keep people out of the “civilized” world?
Update: Today's news confirms that trying to hop the fence is the lesser of two evils.