It’s a chicken and egg question, isn’t it? Are cheats and criminals attracted to politics or does becoming a POLITICIAN corrupt?
Tenerife is divided into PRINCIPALITIES, based on the ancient Guanche kingdoms. They equate roughly to counties in England – subject to central government but with some autonomy. Each Principality has its own Cabildo (Council) and Alcalde (Mayor) and Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) and a council of elected representatives.
We live in Arona and as foreigners with Residencias we can vote in the local elections. The first time there was an election we studied all the bumph and voted as we thought appropriate. Since those early days we have learned it's not worth the bother, and smile cynically when the hoardings go up – huge things with space carefully divided between the PARTIES, lots for the biggies and tiny slivers for the also-rans.
There’s always a flurry of PRE-ELECTION activity – roads are repaired (or actually finished!) PUBLIC gardens get new PLANTS and trees, street lamps get bulbs. Then the candidates come round the bars and stand looking sheepish while a PR girl explains who they are. One year everyone got a free lighter.
Once we went to a nearby campsite where a candidate was hosting a free barbecue – great slabs of beef were cooking on old metal bed-frames over fire-pits, huge saucepans of Canarian POTATOES were bubbling, there was a token bowl of salad on every table, and barrels and barrels of wine. We even got to speak to the candidate himself, and he told us that he was in favour of English residents. We voted for him simply because he’d made the most effort – it was as reliable a way as any other of picking our man, though he was PROBABLY as corrupt as the rest.
Whole Councils have been sacked and/or PROSECUTED for corruption. Land designated as Agricultural land suddenly acquires a building PERMIT and you know there's a brown envelope involved. The first sign of any Cabildo PROJECT starting is a board telling us how much it will cost, to the last centimo. The work stops and starts, the contractors change,the PLANS are altered, and it all ends up costing ten times the original quote - if it's finished at all.
So a PLAGUE on all Politicians.
I read a remark by one British politician that included the PHRASE, “These rich expats living in their luxury villas, playing golf and drinking sangria.” That was his excuse for trying to deny us the same rights as “POOR PENSIONERS in England”. PERHAPS you agree with him?
Well, we’re not all rich. The OH and I live in an apartment in a block of eighty identical ones, in a small town composed mainly of such blocks. We couldn’t afford to play golf at €100 a round even if we wanted to, and we both hate sangria.
The truth is that we moved here because of a lack of money, not an excess of it. After a nightmare of debts in England we’re managing nicely now. There’s enough to PAY the bills, run a small car, eat out once a month, and drink cheap wine. And of course there's the sun - except in the winter months when we get a cold wind off the mountain and need our electric fire. The Tourist Board don't want you to know about that! :Last month the OH was wearing a jumper even in the sun.
Some pensioners are worse off than we are. Most of their income goes on rent – no housing benefit here – and they get their clothes from flea markets. They couldn’t afford a flight home to avail themselves of the Welfare State even if they wanted to.
Yes, we chose to come here, but that’s no excuse to regard us as deserters. We PAID into the British system – there are many PEOPLE still living out here who fought for it – and we are only asking to be given our due and treated equally.
PEPPER TREES are so PRETTY – here’s a PHOTO I took this week. It's laden with bunches of tiny pink peppers - the kind used to make a pepper sauce - millions and millions of them just falling to the ground to be raked up and dumped.
And this PLANT is a lantana. They come in a variety of colours, mostly two-tone. I have seen yellow and white, orange and yellow, red and orange, but this is pink, white and yellow. I took a cutting of one back to UK years ago and it grew to a sizeable bush – and it survived the English winter under a blanket of snow!