Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Battle Of El Cabanyal

The timing was perfect. On the day that media attention in Spain was almost entirely focused on the release of the evidence in the Gürtel case, Valencia's town hall sent in the bulldozers to demolish houses in the historic barrio of El Cabanyal. It was an act of open provocation, there is still an unresolved dispute between the Valencian regional and city administrations and the national government over the plans to demolish a significant part of the Cabanyal. Although the demolitions were not inside the area covered by the government's protection, the intention was clearly to shift the balance towards destruction of the area by turning parts of it into a wasteland.

The residents of the area and their supporters protested against the sending of the bulldozers and the response was brutal on the part of the police sent in to protect the demolitions. Despite police claims that they faced aggression from the protestors, television footage has clearly shown people sitting on the road being beaten by police batons. Some of the victims of this violence have already lodged legal charges, and even the government is for once investigating the police actions. The situation is strange, the government is opposed to the demolitions yet much of the police violence came from the national force who are not under the orders of Valencian politicians.

The Valencian administration hopes to turn El Cabanyal into the latest construction based "pelotazo", once they get those awful old low-rise houses out of the way. The profits may not go to the Gürtel companies in this case, but there are other friends to take care of. The government has referred the issue to the Constitutional Court, but in the meantime the Valencian administration will seek to achieve what they want through facts on the ground.

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