April 27, 2014, 2:06 a.m.

DAY #1 Survivors of corruption PART ONE

 

La ruta del despilfarro

 

In the morning we left Barcelona to travel to our first event in VALENCIA: la ruta del despilfarro. It is a guided tour through the city organised in particular, but not only, for tourists. This is not like any other route: instead of taking you to historic monuments and churches, it shows another face of this very beautiful city - one of corruption, waste of public funds, and also one of despair. It is not a route for the light-hearted.

 

The local guides Teresa and Miguel gave us a special tour and had arranged to meet some of the groups and people who could tell their stories about how corruption and 'despilfarro', the waste of public money, affect their lives. Driving through the city, the scale of corruption and waste of funds is impossible to overlook. A striking seven-building complex, the City of Arts and Sciences, constructed in a dried riverbed that features a planetarium, Imax theater, aquarium, opera house and interactive museums, looks more like a little world from the future with its humongous, bizarrely shaped constructions. The project broke ground in 1996 and cost four times its original budget at 1.1 billion euros (£866m). That is more than half the 2 billion euros (£1.5bn) Valencia has requested from Madrid in a bailout plea. It is also a constant reminder for the people of Valencia that their politicians invest in futuristic projects of little use to the citizens instead of primary schools, social housing or the protection of cultural heritage.

 

The first group we met were the victims of the metro accident of the 3rd of July 2006, Asociacion Victimas del Metro. It was the worst accident in the history of the Spanish metro. Rosa explained how she lost her sister in the accident. Now she wants to raise awareness of the fact that this accident could have been avoided. The Valencian Metro Railways, belonging to the Valencian government, knew about the works that needed doing on the metro line, but they did not act. Investigations into this matter called for by the citizens and the relatives and friends of the victims were never carried out and have been ignored until today. Every 3rd of the month the group meets in the Plaza de la Virgen to call upon the Valencian government to take responsibility for the death of 43 people and 47 wounded. Their demand to the European Union is the inclusion of suburban transport in the European Railway Safety Act. Rosa says that her sister will never return, but it is important that investigations are undertaken in order to be able to improve metro safety and avoid such accident from happening again. Europe should have the necessary legislative power to control the safety of transport and to introduce new regulation, regardless of whether regional or national governments are taking actions in this regard.

 

Next we visited the Association of Mothers and Father of the school 103 of Valencia, parents of a local school. Ulises one of the parents of the “school without name”, explains their situation. Although the European Union provided a large sum for the construction of a new school, the school is nothing more than a large shed made from metal, with rain pouring in through the damaged roof. There is no shelter against heat or cold in the simple courtyard for the children. The school is struggling to provide even the minimum provisions for the education of its children. Although the law requires that the Valencian government provides basic standards of safety and education, it is the parents who have come together to help out and pay for school material. This situation is not unique to this school, there are others who face similar troubles. In another school the roof came down, “it was only lucky that it was outside school hours”. The real frustration is that nobody knows where the money went, who took it, and how to make sure that it goes where it was supposed to. And this is also the question Ulises is asking in the name of the associations of parents: Why does the EU not follow up where its own money goes with the same vigorous examination of accounts as it demands of local and national administrations in terms of their accounts and deficits? All the while the struggle continues, the school children and their parents have a clear view on the City of Arts and Sciences situated just across the road, where the construction of one building cost the same as it would have done to build an entire primary school from scratch.

 

To be continued...

 

See also our cartoons of the day:

Evictions in "La Punta"

Low Cost Schools

Cabanyal Demolitions

47 + 43 = 0

1 Comments

lmx
Aug. 20, 2015, 1:34 p.m.

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