Wed, Jun 06, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Spaniards choose to fund bullfights over creating jobs

VOTING FOR FUN:Guijo de Galisteo residents opted to spend 15,000 euros on fiestas this summer instead of job creation, despite soaring unemployment

The Guardian, MADRID

The people of Guijo de Galisteo, a small municipality in eastern Spain, have turned their back on austerity and voted in a referendum for town hall money be spent on bullfights rather than jobs.

In a vote last weekend, residents in the three villages that comprise the region were asked to decide whether the town hall should spend 15,000 euros (US$18,700) on hiring bulls or paying local people to carry out odd jobs.

Socialist Mayor Francisco Javier Anton had decided to put half the money the town hall usually spends on its summer bull festivals to the vote. Although unemployment in Caceres Province is 31 percent, the bull option won by 242 votes to 181.

Batan and Valrio, two of the three villages in the municipality, voted overwhelmingly in favor of bulls, so Anton has set aside 10,000 euros for festivities there.

“That much money isn’t really going to create a lot of work, so I’d rather it was spent on bulls,” one resident said.

In Guijo, however, villagers voted for jobs — so Anton promised to spend the remaining 5,000 euros on hiring workers there.

“A lot of people here are on the dole, and they need the money,” a resident said. “You don’t need bulls to enjoy the fiestas.”

As with many towns in Spain, bull runs and bullfights are a central part of local summer festivals. However, the industry is in crisis because town halls are slashing their budgets.

The municipal budget of Guijo de Galisteo is 1.1 million euros — but it reportedly owes about 250,000 euros to its suppliers. However, it has a further 15,000 euros to cover any festivities.

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