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Murcia : A month in focus

Fri 10th Jun 2011

The eastern region of Murcia has perhaps received more newspaper column inches than any other this last month.

Tomorrow will mark one month to the day since the town of Lorca was counting the cost of the destruction that blighted the town during the late afternoon. The two earthquakes, minutes apart registered first 4.5 and then 5.2 on the richter scale and resulted in 9 lives being taken, hundreds of buildings being destroyed beyond repair, and thousands of people being made homeless.

The worst earthquake in over 50 years resulted in a special aid package being drafted by Royal decree, which allowed 24'000 Euros to help with rebuilding costs, together with 106'000 for those whose homes had been destroyed completely. A Special benefit of 6,671 was also created to allow with rental costs for those who found themselves homeless for the next 2 years.

Just yesterday the town was awarded the Gold Medal of the Region of Murcia. The award was made on the Regional day of Murcia to commemorate the 29th anniversary of its Statute of Autonomy, and was given to the town in honour of the 'solidarity of the people'.

Although Lorca is still struggling to return to normality, the community remains unbroken and there is little doubt that the residents will succeed in rebuilding their Town.

Barely days after the earthquake struck and Real Madrid football club visited the town to comfort those affected and hold a charity fundraiser match. The amount raised was inconsequential - the people were grateful for the show of support, the boost to morale, and the fact that the team had helped to raise awareness that help was still very much needed.

The earthquake made headlines internationally, as did the announcement that the Paramount Pictures Theme park would be due to be officially opened by 2015, which brought with it speculation that the region was due for some kind of a renaissance following being hard hit by the property crash of 2008. Owners and Investors in the Region's ill-fated Polaris World resorts hoped that this would help to promte a healthier and more bouyant property market.

However, this positive news was soon countered by suggestions that Murcia's new Corvera airport may not actually open at all. This was in spite of the Regional Minister for Development boldly claiming that it could take as much as 30% of business away from the nearby Alicante airport. Analysts had questioned whether spain needed yet another airport, when just 21 of the country's 46 airports were unable to make a profit, and the new airport was located just 19km away from the nearby San Javier airport and less than 80km away from Alicante airport.

Then the 'cucumber crisis' hit the headlines - with Germany pointing the finger of blame at southern Spain's farmers. They even singled out one particular farm in Murcia, reported to have carried the e.coli infection. Later analysis revealed that not only was the bacteria at totally different strain to the one in question, but that the load of produce had not even left the farm when the first case of e.coli poisoning had been reported. The Farm in question was later totally exonerated, but by that time the damage had already been done. Latest estimates put the financial damage to Spain at over 500 Million euros, and the EU have already agreed a 210 Million compensation package.

Finally, the month ended on a much needed high. News came that the Arab Investment Forum would be held in the region at the Intercontinental Hotel at the La Torre resort toward the end of June. The informal meetings cover 2 days and have invited a reported 70% of the Middle-East's most important and wealthiest investors with the specific objective of promoting investment within the region.

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