dimarts, 17 d’abril de 2012

Spain’s king hurt in elephant hunting trip while his kingdom suffers from high unemployment rates

Spain has a 50.5% of unemployment among young people—just five months ago the Spanish king said he was so worried about this that he could not even sleep at night. One in five Catalans are unemployed, and the kingdom has a record 4.75 million unemployed. Catalan public workers have seen their wages reduced by 15%, while Spanish public workers have maintained their wages. Hospitals have been forced to reduce their services, taxes have increased heavily, and public services have been reduced, especially in Catalonia. As a result, the king recently asked that his subjects be prepared to make big sacrifices. The royal house reduced its budget by 2%. The Catalan budget has been reduced by 10%. Official figures show that Spain spends more money (8.2M €) on the Royal family than on the whole railroad network in Catalonia. 
On April 14th Spain’s king Juan Carlos was wounded in an elephant hunting trip in Botswana. This is the king’s fourth surgery in almost two years. Elephants are protected all over Africa, and hunting them is forbidden since 1990, but apparently he had a permit. The 74-year-old monarch used a special chair to hunt, which came at an extra cost too. All in all, his hunting trip cost around 40.000€. Compare this to Bostwana's shocking statistic of an infant mortality rate of 48%. And last but not least, had he not fallen, nobody would have known about the incident because the royal family does not have to report on their “private” activities.

This is not the first time the king's obsession with guns has spelled trouble. In 2006, he was accused of shooting and killing a previously fed bear called Mitrofan while on holiday near Moscow. Mitrofan was drunk with honey and vodka before he was killed. The Basque newspaper Deia published a satirical piece about it, and after that the office of the public prosecutor accused its journalists of insults to the king. The king's family shares his love for weapons as well. Just a week before the Bostwana incident, a 13-year-old grandson of the King shot himself on the foot with a rifle, and he’s now at the hospital. The figure of the king, or his family's, cannot be questioned in Spain. As recently as 2007, a cartoon on the satirical weekly El Jueves ended with its headquarters being raided by police and shut off.

The most tragic incident occurred in 1956 when Juan Carlos fatally shot his 14-year-old brother in Portugal. This incident alone should have been enough to not let him be near a gun ever again. Three years ago, the Spanish queen, who was in Greece at the time of the Bostwana incident, had requested that the Barcelona Zoo improve the living conditions of the elephant Susi. Moreover Juan Carlos is the honorary president of the Spanish branch of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature. A petition to the World Wide Fund for Nature can be signed to change this.
Maybe you will ask yourself why there is no popular outcry against this chain of strange events. The answer is fear. Franco’s dictatorship was a highly efficient machinery at stopping dissent, and even nowadays, if you express any form of criticism, you could be charged with a crime, judged, and imprisoned. One example: both the website and facebook page of Rann Safaris, the organizers of the “killing trips” to Bostwana, where closed yesterday. Who was responsible for this?

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