from Eileen in Murcia, Spain: the Economic Consequences

April 9. Thoughts on Economic consequences of Covid-19 on this region.

South Eastern Spain’s economy is very reliant on tourism and agriculture. Therefore, this corona crisis is devastating for a lot for local people. As of the 13th of March when the lockdown was enforced 1000’s of people were immediately dismissed without any financial assistance. To make things worse, the employment laws make it very difficult to dismiss a permanent member of staff therefore most workers in the hospitality, tourism etc are on short term contracts giving them very few rights. In addition, many contacts state they are to work much fewer hours than is expected.

My friend Jose had a contract working in a restaurant which stated 3 hours a day. In reality, he was expected to work 12 hours. In normal times he would be paid for the time worked, though I know of others getting paid only the hours stated in the contract. Today Jose’s employer came to pay him the wages he owed to him before the lockdown. He gave Jose the money equivalent to the 3 hours a day stated in the contract and ignored his normal 12-hour shift. Jose had to accept what he is given and feels helpless to be able to rectify the situation!

There are many like Jose here and I think this area will be very hurt economically by this lockdown.

Agriculture on the other hand is roaring. The fields have been blessed with the wettest spring in years. Couple with the mild weather you can literally see the salad and vegetables growing. Daily men, mainly Moroccan immigrants, are working in the fields morning, noon and night. Most of these fields are leased by large English farming companies supplying British supermarkets. The produce is picked, packaged and labelled on the fields.

from Eileen P. in Murcia, Spain: No Semana Santo this year

April 9, Semana Santa (Holy Week) is the most important holiday in Spain. Despite Spain becoming more and more secular they still maintain their religious traditions. Most of Spain closes down for the week and all cities organise processions every night. The most famous processions are in Cartagena, Seville, Malaga and Salamanca. Brotherhoods are formed to prepare all year for the occasion.

Processions can last 3 hours and huge edifices are carried through the streets with bands and 100´s of penitents walking in between them. The penitents wear robes coloured in accordance to their brotherhood, purple, brown, black, white, green, with large Ku Klux Clan type headgear disguising their faces. The edifices can weigh up to 1400 kilos with 140 men carrying it on their shoulders with generators often trailing to provide the necessary lighting.

Each night has a theme according to the Easter story, Good Friday being the most solemn, with no bands only a sombre drum playing. Crowds line the procession route with restaurants renting tables and chairs and the City Hall lining the later part of the route with seats which can be rented, as it goes well on into the night.

Easter Sunday is the pinnacle of the week with a joyous theme parading during the day.