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Spain and the Shame of Murcia

Sat 10th May 2014
Spain and the Shame of Murcia

Sunday the 11th of May marks the 3 year anniversary of the Murcia Earthquake(s).

Shortly after 5pm in the afternoon the first earthquake, measuring 4.4 on the Richter scale hit to the North of the City of Lorca, with falling masonry causing 3 deaths almost immediately.

Barely an hour and a half later a further earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale followed, bringing the total number of fatalities suffered as a result of the events to 9.

In the following hours and days hundreds of properties were declared unsafe, causing many families who were unable to find alternative accommodation to seek refuge in hastily erected tents pitched on local Sports fields.

With Spain's Regional and Local elections just days away, all parties seized the opportunity to make promises (when in front of the cameras at least), and with assessors placing the financial cost of damage to properties into the millions, it was clear that a major strategy had to be implemented to assist the Town of over 100,000.

By August 2012 - more than a year after the event - the Ministry of Finance and Administration awarded the City of Lorca exemption from paying Property Tax (IBI) for cadastral receipts against the 43,973 properties affected by the earthquakes, to the value of €12.4 million.

In the weeks that followed, the Local, Regional and National Governments issued a Royal Decree of 35 different measures that agreed to a wide program of aid to the estimated total of €50 Mln.

However, as of May 2014, barely 5% of the families who lost their homes in the 2011 earthquake have been re-housed. A further 2 state schools, a health center used by a third of the city's residents, a sports center and a music school are still waiting to be rebuilt. More than 1,200 school students have to be bussed to colleges in surrounding areas every day.

The homeless families no doubt draw comfort from the fact that the Ministry of Public Works has paid out over €1 mln in restoring 2 churches, while the Ministry of Culture has spent a further €1.6 million on other religious buildings. (Why ? : I though Churches were owned by the Vatican ?)

The City is now divided : On one hand there are those unfortunate families, struggling to rebuild their lives and their properties at a time when Spain is already suffering financial difficulties, and in the face of promises that never materialised. Whilst the local food bank regularly hands out in excess of 700 Food Trolleys per month, 30 construction companies are fighting for lucrative contracts to rebuild the city.

And whilst local residents go homeless and hungry, educated and cared for in unsuitable environments, the Regional Government are busying themselves finding new ways to prop up a privately owned airport that nobody wants, nobody needs, is unlikely to be financially viable, and that no airlines has expressed an interest in flying to.

If you are not ashamed, Murcia, you should be.

Further Reading :

* Huge Earthquakes Hit Murcia

* The Lorca Earthquakes : 1 Year and Counting...

* Lorca Earthquakes : 2 Year Anniversary

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