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SPAIN: Under Franco and today

Hank Levin, who spends several months each year in Catalonia, sent a report on life there which WAISers reportedly found very interesting . Christopher Jones, who lives just across the border in what is French Catalonia, writes: "I agree and disagree with Hank Levin's picture of life in Catalunya. What is very surprising about Catalan living is the very competent Mossos d'Escuadra autonomous police force. They guarantee the basics and so have helped the Generalitat earn respect from the local population. The medizval (or Castro Cuba) nosey neighbour surveillance system has not helped the so called "urbanizaciones" -- real estate developments of separate houses which are grouped together. They are constant prey for criminals who rob homes, often accompanied by a six wheeled truck to help transport the booty. If anybody can put up with the incredible noise level of a Spanish village, that's the safest place by far -- if you can put up withe the IQ of the village gossipers that congreagte in the streets to talk about the irrigation system or the latest scandal. (Bu˝uel's inspiration for his dark surealism came straight from his youth time in Spain.) It is common for yougsters between the ages of 8 to ten to run wild in the streets until one o'clock in the morning without any parental supervision -- and then is it a wonder that Spanish kids were the worst performers in the PISA study? Under Franco, both the crime rate and the noise factor was very low because a "Pareja" of Guardia Civiles patroled the streets at around 23H00 with a flashlight, like the US cop on a beat. The picture in the cities is exactly as George Sassoon described it and then we haven't talked about local corruption, which destroyed one of the prettiest coastlines in the world and still has not solved the country's rubbish problem. (Note: if George had his bagpipe with him it would have been almost certainly stolen because a "gaita" is quite expensive.)"

RH: Hank sent two reports, the first, much shorter one, was less critical than the second one.

Ronald Hilton - 8/9/03