Cover of Guidepost 29 April 1983 issue
A GUIDEPOST Reprint
29 April 1983
By Greg Block
Madrid… Thousands of posters, billboards, leaflets and advertisements bearing the promises and initials of Spain’s numerous political parties and alliances marked the opening of the municipal elections, to be held May 8th. Voting will commence in some 8,000 municipalities where citizens will select their future mayors and Ayuntamiento staffs. Municipal elections began in 1979 and are celebrated annually.*
The election results carry an important message ranging from approbation to disapproval for the present national leadership who must entrust its municipal counterparts with the execution and administration of the federal government’s local programs. The importance of this relationship was recently illustrated in France, where Mitterand’s Socialist Government suffered debilitating losses in the local elections inducing an internal shake-up and policy re-evaluation. Early indications in Spain, however, do not forecast reversals of such magnitude.
Presently, over 70% of Spanish population is governed on the local level by the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE). Numerous less powerful organizations, in order to avoid exclusion from the government and to form a common front against rival organizations, allied with the PSOE in 1982. The fiercely individualistic nature of regional politics in Spain complicates these pacts immensely.
Political analysts have been quick to recognize a turn away from orthodox political conventions and rallies in favor of presenting candidates at public celebrations and meetings. El Pais reports that campaign managers have decided that a candidate’s presence at a public festival is now “more important than their speeches.” This shift away from traditional campaigning could provide a colorful and creative month of politicking.
Madrid… Over 400 priceless surrealistic works by Salvador Dali are presently being shown at the Madrid Museum of Modern Art. The exhibit will remain in Madrid until the 29th of May when the collection is destined for Barcelona.
The exhibition truly received a King’s welcome as the inauguration was attended by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia, Prince don Felipe, President Felipe González and the President of the autonomous government of Catalonia, Jordi Pujol, among others. Although Dali was unable to attend the ceremony due to his fragile state of health, he registered his satisfaction by claiming that he could not be happier, and that the inauguration had indeed taken us back to the glory of the Renaissance as it was “inaugurated by a Prince (Prince don Felipe)”. Having been informed the previous day that Prince Felipe might not attend the opening due to his obligation to go to his chemistry class, Dali quipped, “If the Prince can’t attend the exhibition, this will be a historic day for chemistry,” Dali concluded with some declarations broadcast over Radio Nacional de Púbol alluding to the prospect of the State inheriting a number of paintings from his private collection.
Zaragoza… A coalition of concerned ecologists succeeded in taking a major step towards saving and preserving a natural nature reserve known as El Galacho, located near an estuary of the river Ebro, less than 10 kilometers from the city of Zaragoza. The land tract, though relatively reduced in size, (approx. 3,458 of flora and fauna which makes its territory comparable in variety to some of Europe’s richest reserves and national parks. A temporary injunction prevents hunting, fishing or cultivation on the land until its final disposition is decided pending the coalition’s efforts to obtain the land for the district in order to convert it into a regional park.
El Galacho supports over 200 types of vertebrae ranging from fish to mammals and including significant numbers of reptiles and tortoises. However, it is the tremendous variety and quantity of birds which brings the marshland its local notoriety. Serving as a rest-stop and water hole for migrating birds, El Galacho hosts thousands of feathered creatures offering an oasis of life in an otherwise barren and arid region. Ornithologists have already banded some 20,000 birds, many of which are considered rare in Europe. Recognizing the worth of such a refuge, one optimistic resident commented, “The rescue and conservation of El Galacho could constitute one of the greatest ecological successes ever achieved by local administration in Spain.”
Before the present negotiations conducted by the Ayuntamiento of Zaragoza, more than half of the designated land had been threatened due to its sale to a neighboring estate owner who began to plough the land, eventually intending to dry it out and cultivate it. Officials must now edit and approve a specific plan assuring the legal transfer of the lands as well as guaranteeing the financial obligations of any acquisition, before the reserve can be converted into a public park.
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