Wednesday, October 18, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 18 October 2017

Morning high (7.02am): 14.7C
Forecast high: 28C; UV: 4
Three-day forecast: 19 October - Rain, 22C; 20 October - Sun, cloud, 24C; 21 October - Sun, cloud, 27C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): South 3 to 4.

Cloud set to dominate today. Stormy weather on the cards for tomorrow as the southerly air at present collides with a strong northerly.

Are Tourist Friends Electric?

For those of you who have ever paid the tourist tax, are you delighted at the results of the deliberations of the judging committee for the impulse of sustainable tourism? Sixty-two finalists had been hewn from hopefuls twice that number and with shopping lists worth more than four times the revenue on offer - for new projects, that is. And when the sixty-two aspirants were paraded before the judging panel, they were all given a prize. There are no losers in the tourist tax competition, except for the sixty who had been given the heave-ho in the prelims.

So, if you have, for instance, spent 49.50 euros (plus VAT) for fourteen nights at a three-star superior for a family of four (one child over sixteen, the other younger) in the past few months, are you satisfied that you may have contributed 0.001% to the cost of "electric mobility", otherwise known as charging-points for electric vehicles? You are satisfied? Well, good for you, and some time in the future you'll be able to use these charging-points when hire cars are all electric or you'll be safe in the knowledge that the bus taking you to your resort from the airport is fully powered by electricity. Gosh, isn't this impulse for sustainable tourism a great thing and a wonder to behold, if you can actually behold it.

All this electric mobility, thanks to the nature of its funding, should require charging-points across the isles (and I suppose we are talking plural because it's only Mallorca that is ever referred to) to have legends emblazoned on them which read "Electric mobility: POWERED BY ECOTAX". Thataway, just in case you have failed to be satisfied, you will become so. "Heavens, so that's where my money goes. Well done, Balearic government, God bless you and thank you. The world is being saved. If only it weren't for all that permafrost being defrosted."

It isn't only you, as tourists, who will be thanking the government. So also will be all those who have been agitating for a dismantling of the tourism economic monoculture. Most curiously, this is a purpose for the tourist tax. Not about tourism but about something else, the Holy Grail of economic diversification. The 4.6 million euros that the judges have decided to lavish on electric mobility will, we are assured, be instrumental in diversifying the economy. Will it be?

To me, this sounds suspiciously like replacing one thing with another. Replacement isn't diversification. The ministers for tourism, innovation and research, land, energy and transport (aka mobility), and industry, trade and employment all suggest that it is diversification. Well, they must know something that you and I don't. Are there to be thousands of jobs created to enable drivers to plug their cars in and which will allow restaurant waiters to abandon the terraces and earn five grand a month, thereby contributing to quality employment?

It's not, I hasten to add, that I am against electric mobility. Quite the contrary. Anything that provides green, clean energy is to be welcomed. But it comes with its own plug-in of spin, which is the case with much of the bull, righteousness, virtuousness and cliché attached in cable form to the sustainable tourism tax. The eco-credentials of the ecotax were being sounded long into the ozone of autumn air as the judges and recipients explained the tourist tax spending verdicts. And there is no greater credential than when "footprints" can be referred to.

Més compatriots, Barceló and Noguera, were both on the footprint trail. The numerous (62 plus eight ongoing from last year) projects, opined the tourism minister, will help to alleviate the eco-unfriendly footprint of tourism (or words to that effect). Quite right. For far too long tourists have been getting away with using petrol for hire cars and relying on coal to power their hotel (and private apartment) air-con systems. Not any more. Our tourist friends are electric, and solar, to boot. 

Palma's mayor, continuing with the narrative of indignation that had endured from the fact that the chief judge - Barceló - had failed to last year give the city any direct tax funding, appeared moderately satisfied. But he was engaged in a battle of the footprints. Palma's tourism footprint is bigger than anyone else's. It's still only getting around five million, some of it to be shared with the neighbours (Llucmajor), but it's better than the 2016 spending zero. How, though, is this giant tourism footprint to be addressed? The odd track in Bellver forest does, I suppose, involve some footprints, but another way is to restore the Torres del Temple. And what, pray, has that got to do with footprints? The place has been crumbling for decades because no one has bothered to spend any money on it.

Still, the restoration will doubtless be welcomed by tourists because of its heritage value. Assuming, that is, they can find anywhere to park having arrived in Palma powered by ecotax.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 17 October 2017

Morning high (6.45am): 15C
Forecast high: 26C; UV: 4
Three-day forecast: 18 October - Cloud, 27C; 19 October - Cloud, 21C; 20 October - Sun, cloud, 24C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East-Southeast 3 to 4.

Expect another fine day and make the most. Tomorrow and Thursday looking cloudy with the chance of rain.

Evening update (20.00): Not bad. High of 26.1C.

It's Time For GOB To Shut Up

Four years ago, in marking the fortieth anniversary of the founding of the Grup Ornitològic de Balears, I concluded that GOB had "moved a long way from its original remit but that its relevance (was) stronger than ever". This was a conclusion drawn partly from the fact that tourism and population growth had been placing ever greater strains on Mallorca. There were reasons to praise GOB, such as its historical involvement with preventing development on the island of Dragonera or the work over the decades at the La Trapa biological reserve in the Tramuntana. There is a great deal to admire about GOB; it is an organisation that represents the environmental conscience of Mallorca and has been the island's environmental soul since the 1970s. I'm not a paid-up member of GOB but I often voice my support. However ... .

Two years before that article, I had spoken about issues in which GOB had involved itself but which had little to do with its stated objectives of the "conservation, dissemination and study of nature and the environment of the Balearic Islands". One issue was having leapt to the defence of the TV Mallorca radio and television station. A further was having been part of an anti-corruption platform established in 2010. Broadcasting can be valuable in conveying messages about the environment. Corruption can lead to development that is destructive of the environment. Neither issue was totally divorced from the GOB objectives but then neither was directly associated with them.

A bus station is to be built in Puerto Pollensa. It will make use of an existing development: a small plot owned by the municipality that was tarmacked in the recent past and made into a proper car park. The bus station is necessary, and one of its purposes will be to act as the terminal for a shuttle service to Formentor. The shuttle has been deemed to be a requirement to counteract the "saturation" of vehicles that go along the promontory's twisty road to the lighthouse. It is a sort of environmental solution.

GOB disagrees with this bus station. It doesn't disagree with the principle of the bus station, just its location. It would prefer it to be sited close to what has been described as the "green heart" of Puerto Pollensa, the small park of La Gola, with a lake that is the confluence of the torrent and of the sea. GOB's proposed site wouldn't be environmentally detrimental but it would nevertheless be in an area of greater environmental sensitivity than the site where the bus station will be built.

GOB's objection has to do with the Pollensa town hall general urban plan. The site for the bus station, the organisation says, can only be used for sociocultural, sporting or health care reasons or as an open public space. A bus station is therefore contrary to this plan. The town hall, and here one encounters semantics, says that it isn't a bus station, only bus stops. However it is defined is largely immaterial; GOB has been raising an objection that has nothing whatsoever to do with its objectives. The bus station is an urban planning matter, pure and simple.

Here is an example of where the organisation stretches the limits of its remit and indeed exceeds them, as was the case with TV Mallorca. There are other entities whose roles are to challenge matters such as a bus station: political parties, for instance. But it is here where the problem with GOB lies. It acts like a political party without having any of the responsibility. Its power base has grown enormously since it started life as a bird conservation organisation. It has become inherent to the political process to the extent that its representation on the tourist tax revenue spending committee equates to that of the federation for all the town halls in the Balearics (except Palma).

When GOB fired off a statement attacking the farmers and hunters ("the defenders of the rural world") for their recent protest over government environmental policies, it was seeking to make sure that the government didn't back track; a government it would hope to be highly receptive to its wishes. It is engaged in a battle for who owns the environment, when in fact it belongs to everyone, and that includes those who adhere to a rural way of life, such as the farmers.

But more than this are the politics. There is a GOB youth wing. It has been intimately linked with the highly radical Arran and Endavant groups in attacking tourism. GOB itself was the main organiser of the "massification" demo last month. Its political nature has now become almost indistinguishable from a left-wing, Catalanist, nationalist or independence agenda.

In so doing it can alienate. The environment crosses the spectrum of political views. It is to be defended but not in such a partisan way. GOB's constant interference generates just this sort of alienation. It needs to know when to shut up.

Monday, October 16, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 16 October 2017

Morning high (6.56am): 16.9C
Forecast high: 26C; UV: 4
Three-day forecast: 17 October - Sun, cloud, 27C; 18 October - Cloud, 27C; 19 October - Cloud, 24C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Southeast 3 to 4 backing East.

Mainly sunny again. Outlook for the week - possible showers Wednesday and Thursday, improving into the weekend.

Evening update (19.45): Like yesterday. Cloudy and then the sun appeared and was very pleasant. High of 25.8C.

Rentals In Pollensa: Legality Full Stop

You do come across some strange snippets of suspect information. A recent example, in the form of a comment, said that a business owner with a large-scale apartment block (fully tourist) had told the person who left the comment that "responsibility for defining who can/cannot rent has been passed to the local mayor".

Firstly I wondered what this large-scale (fully tourist) apartment block could mean. One has to suppose that it is one of those buildings with a tourism ministry licence with an activity as tourist apartments - the AT designation. If so, then the rentals' legislation is irrelevant. But more importantly was the bit about the local mayor. Where does this stuff come from? A mayor, a town hall is in no position to make this definition. A mayor may be, will be consulted about provisions stemming from the holiday rentals' law, but it is the Council of Mallorca which defines where rentals will be (the zoning) and it is the tourism ministry which grants licences (or not).

If mayors really were in this position, then this week's meeting in Pollensa with Miquel Àngel March would have had a quite different outcome. The mayor and Tomeu Cifre Bennàsar (urban planning) met with the Puerto Pollensa and Cala San Vicente residents' associations, the Pollensa trade association, the Pollensa restaurants' association and the association for holiday villa businesses. The result of the meeting was a lemon. The mayor said that he believed that there will be few restrictions on holiday rentals in Pollensa, suggesting that Mercedes Garrido, the Council of Mallorca councillor with ultimate responsibility for zoning decisions, has intimated this. The mayor may be right, but he was making it clear - as if this were needed - that it isn't he who makes these decisions.

They got together presumably so they could lobby the mayor in making the strongest possible representations to the Council. The mayor, one assumes, is already fully aware that Pollensa's tourism economy has a high dependency on rentals. He would probably already have known, as the Cala San Vicente people pointed out, that this part of the municipality is particularly reliant. Rentals, the Cala San Vicente association said, are a question of "survival" for what is the "most depressed" area of Pollensa.

The mayor, it shouldn't be forgotten, is a former spokesperson for GOB, the environmentalists. They were the ones leading the "massification" demo in Palma last month. They are the ones who are agitating for limits. Rentals are intimately linked to the issues of massification and limits. But the mayor represents the whole of Pollensa, he is a guardian of municipal welfare, well-being and wealth. I wonder what he really thinks about rentals.

There won't be much zoning in Pollensa, said the mayor. Does he know this for certain? And the point with zoning is that even if there little of it, there is still the issue of the allocation of rentals' places. These have to be decided - almost 43,000 are available - for the whole of Mallorca: private accommodation and hotels. The amount is not great, if there is to be anything like some equality in distribution, while Pollensa - as we know - already has an exceptionally high number of legal rentals: the proportion is much greater than anywhere else.

It isn't just a fear that apartments won't be legalised in Pollensa. There is a further fear. It is raised by the following clause in the legislation: "It will not be possible to commercialise tourist stays in any dwelling for which a sanction has been imposed for a serious or very serious infraction of urban legality, so long as this legality remains unrestored." Has been imposed or could be imposed.

Pollensa, as well as being known for its high number or rental properties, is now just as well known for its urban planning infractions. The anti-corruption prosecution service demanded documentation from the town hall. It has been handed over. The Council of Mallorca's Agency for the Defence of Territory will be interested. We are talking here about villas, and it is a question not of holiday rental legality but of legality full stop. The tourism minister, Biel Barceló, when explaining that existing rentals will be unaffected by the legislation did provide a caveat: so long as the properties are themselves fully legal. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 15 October 2017

Morning high (6.25am): 15.2C
Forecast high: 26C; UV: 4
Three-day forecast: 16 October - Sun, cloud, 26C; 17 October - Sun, cloud, 27C; 18 October - Cloud, 25C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East-Southeast 3 to 4.

And continuing in the same way ... . May be that there's some chance of showers on Wednesday and Thursday.

Evening update (19.30): Rather cloudier than expected early on. Got better - high of 27C.

Absolutely Fabulous: Parliamentary Fashion

You really can tell so much from fashion or someone's dress sense, can't you. Or you can be left entirely nonplussed by sudden transformations. What did we make, for instance, of our very good friend, Balti of the Balearic Parliament Presidency, having donned what looked suspiciously like a suit? Admittedly it was denim, but there was that rarest of sights in a Balti-style: matching top and bottom. Was this a sign of Balti edging towards establishment respectability? Can we anticipate him getting a haircut some time over the remaining period of the current administration? Or was it simply that the Felanitx charity shop had got some updated stock in?

The new Balti look was given an airing at the do for the Guardia Civil on Wednesday evening, when the atmosphere was so frosty between Sweet and Friendly Francina and the Witch of Salom that they should have all been togged up in scarves and mittens. The reason for this, what with Maria looking straight at Francina when accusing the government of undermining national identity, had something to do with a bit of a carry-on in Catalonia, whatever that was all about.

Balti wasn't alone in mystifying or intriguing keen political fashion observers. Earlier in the week there was a line-up of various parliamentarians who had gathered for a photo opp to publicise a highly worthy initiative, which is that next year will be the year of mental health in the Balearics. One stresses that this is a most laudable idea, but what sort of statements were some of our dear parliamentarians making in order to honour it? I mean, why was Marga Prohens dressed in some kind of Baby Doll frock and looking as though she was sweet sixteen? The contrast with the Podemos Boot Girl, Laura Camargo, couldn't have been greater. Laura was in a power black dress. She might have failed in her bid to become the Podemos Coordinator, but she was leaving the victor - Granny Mae - in no doubt as to who still wears the trousers, the boots and the black dress around Podemos. She has, after all, spent the past couple of years letting Alberto Jarabo know this.

But there was more. The Earth Mother, Patricia Gómez, had traded in the kaftan for a full-length black gown and white jacket. The health ministry must have been having a cocktail party to celebrate having reduced consultant waiting times by 0.47% this month. It was hard to think what other explanation there could possibly have been.

And then, ah yes then, there was Xe-Lo. Removed from the public eye for some months since having been dispatched to the Valley of the Fallen behind the PP in the parliament arena, Balti's predecessor was clearly determined to make a real statement and to confirm one's suspicions that she had indeed spent much of her time as parliament president developing the Xe-Lo range for the fuller feminist.

What a statement it was too. Black t-shirt on which was emblazoned in a sparkly silver on two rows - FABU LOUS. Well, you go for it, girlfriend. It must indeed be absolutely fabulous to still be picking up the parliamentary pay cheque, despite having been banished by Podemos. But while we're at it, what actually was it with the use of English? Does the government's linguistic "normalisation" police know about this? Maybe there should in fact be a government fashion normalisation department. No, forget that, they might actually think it's a good idea and put Balti in charge.

* Photo comes from the Partido Popular.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 14 October 2017

Morning high (7.06am): 13.7C
Forecast high: 26C; UV: 5
Three-day forecast: 15 October - Sun, cloud, 26C; 16 October - Sun, cloud, 26C; 17 October - Sun, cloud, 25C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): South-Southeast 3 to 4.

More of the same. Sunny.

Evening update (20.30): High of 27.5C.

Tourism Ministry's Work: Good Or Bad?

How does one assess the performance of a government minister? Who does the assessment? What is it that is being assessed?

I'll leave these questions hanging, so that you can mull them over while considering that the tourism minister Biel Barceló has said that he has been doing "good work" at the ministry. Another question is raised therefore. What constitutes "good"?

He was saying this while at the same time deflecting typical reproaches from the Partido Popular - these ones to do with the Més contracts affair and the PP's consequent demand that he resigns. To define how well he and the ministry have been doing, he drew attention to having gone beyond the "agreements for change" with Podemos (which underpin the current government). These agreements hadn't included establishing a limit on the number of tourist places or having a moratorium on new holiday rental licences (until the zoning for rentals has been determined).

So, it would seem that the Barceló self-appraisal of achievement hangs on these policies, both of which might be characterised as being de-tourism (and he didn't specifically mention the tourist tax). It is an oddity of government - this one anyway - that its ministerial aims include more medical professionals (especially if they speak Catalan), more jobs, more teachers, more finance, and more innovation and research (which is also a Barceló responsibility). Tourism, on the other hand, appears to be about less, notwithstanding the more tourists that the government believes it can shunt from the summer to the winter. Only the tourist tax is a clear policy for more.

The Balearic approach is really what some commentators mean when criticising radical tourism politics in Spain; Barcelona falls into the same bag. One recent article spoke about a "totalitarian" attitude. It highlighted in particular the attack on Gabriel Escarrer Julià of Meliá after he had taken issue with the tourist tax during his speech at the opening of the Palacio de Congresos. Seeking to deny Escarrer the freedom of speech was an example of this totalitarianism. I don't think it was. The row was completely pointless and the freedom of speech angle was frankly blown out of all proportion. If this was radical tourism politics displaying totalitarianism, then a better example was needed.

Some of what this government has been doing in terms of tourism is justified. The tourist tax doubling no, but then I disagree with the tax anyway, especially the way in which it has been manipulated to disguise a general revenue-raising purpose. The rentals issue has not been that well handled - it's too complicated and it is too restrictive - but the government was left with little choice. And it isn't the only government which has been faced with such a dilemma and felt the need to legislate. As a hypothesis, I wonder what the Partido Popular would have done had it been in government. Given its track record on rentals, it's highly unlikely that it would have been any more liberal. And despite what the PP say now, Carlos Delgado, when he first became tourism minister in 2011, did speak about the possible need to reduce numbers and he was mainly referring to hotels. Limits can make sense.

So are Barceló and the government particularly radical? I'm not sure that they are. They do admittedly have Podemos firmly in a de-tourism camp as well as some members of Més, but overall ... ? The problem perhaps is one of perception and one of tone. We can be sure that had it been the PP they wouldn't have appeared to equivocate over condemnation of anti-tourism sentiment.

But to come back to the question of who does the assessing, ultimately it's the voters. And surveys suggest that on issues such as the tourist tax and limits there is support. Good? Bad? I leave it you to decide.

Friday, October 13, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 13 October 2017

Morning high (6.16am): 14C
Forecast high: 26C; UV: 4
Three-day forecast: 14 October - Sun, 27C; 15 October - Sun, 25C; 16 October - Sun, cloud, 25C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): South-Southwest 2 to 4, temporarily East 3 in the afternoon.

Still all very calm, clear and sunny.

Evening update (19.45): High of 28.7C.

Everyone Forgets Menorca

In the eighteenth century it was of significant enough strategic importance that it meant a British admiral being executed for failing to "do his utmost" to prevent the French taking it. A three-nation tussle, with Spain the third, ensured that control was periodically passed. Ultimately though, the importance was not so great. The bargaining chip of Menorca was minor compared with the jackpot of Gibraltar. Spain was allowed to have it: Menorca, the minor island.

For a time Menorca had been flagged up on the Mediterranean geopolitical map. With the signing of the Treaty of Amiens in 1802 it obtained a sense of comparative normality, marked with a legacy of European powers' ambitions in the form of infrastructure and borrowed language: English lurks within the Menorquín tongue. Its burden, in a way, lies with toponymy. It has been saddled with the title of being minor. Geographically it obviously is. But culturally it has been made aware of its place. The major island to its south has always dominated.

They say that it is the oldest island in the Balearics, with a geological history starting some 410 million years ago. Some also say it is the oldest in civilisation terms. Maybe, maybe not. Archaeologists and anthropologists will argue that case until the final herd of autochthonous cows is brought home and provides the raw material of its famous cheese, though the cows are arguably less famed than the hens. Menorca's capital has (perhaps) given the world a generic product: mayonnaise. Not even Palma can boast that.

The minor island naturally attracts fewer tourists than the major island. And the stress is very much on the fewer. According to numbers in the Balearic Tourism Agency's yearbook, the total number of tourists in 2016 was 1,440,036; Mallorca received just under eleven million. This total shows a very different profile in terms of country of origin. The Spanish and the British accounted for very similar proportions of the tourist total - both around the 36% mark (523,216 in the case of the British, fewer than a thousand more than the Spanish). British representation in Mallorca was 21%; Spanish only 11%. By way of further comparison, Menorca's total visitor number in 2016 was only 48% of that of Ibiza and Formentera combined.

Menorca doesn't shout its existence or have it shouted on its behalf. There are no salacious headlines. There is no Magalluf or Playa de Palma. There are no tribes of international DJs flocking to its shores as they do to Ibiza's. Menorca is easy to overlook, which will be why many of the 1.44 million like it, one imagines. But being overlooked can mean being forgotten.

Towards the end of January 2012, Spanair ceased operations. By April of that year the president of the island's hoteliers association, Ashome, was holding talks with the Balearic government about the airline's "disappearance". He said at the time that Menorca had been all but cut off from Madrid because of Spanair's collapse. Other airlines were to take up the slack but they were attracted mostly by that 36% of Spanish tourism, mostly all of it crammed into three to four months in the summer. Did the talks with the government achieve anything? Well, no.

In percentage if not real terms, Menorca has higher hotel occupancy than Mallorca in October. The island's small-scale tourism does quite well from its October trade trade. So the collapse of Monarch is going to make a significant difference. The airline was more important to Menorca than it was to Mallorca: the second highest carrier from the UK and the seventh highest in all. Ashome reckons that the collapse will leave an economic hole of at least 800,000 euros, to which some more will be added because hotels haven't yet quantified the losses.

This may not sound like a vast amount, but for the island's October business it is still something of a disaster. An airline going bust isn't a natural phenomenon, but an airline - one as important as Monarch was to Menorca - is a source of general economic well-being. When Mallorca's potato fields are flooded, the calls for aid go out and there are worries about exports and Mallorca's balance of trade. Does Menorca not deserve a slight consideration because of manmade wreckage? All that one hears from the Balearic government is "concern" at the Monarch demise, and this is despite the transport minister, Marc Pons, being Menorcan.

The government hasn't as yet come to a definitive decision on the doubling of the tourist tax in winter. Més in Menorca has called for a freezing because the island can do with all the help it can get in the off-season. There should be a decision to freeze the tax, even if it is just for Menorca alone. Were there to be, then it might demonstrate more than just the easily expressed "concern". Menorca is too easily forgotten.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 12 October 2017

Morning high (6.53am): 13.4C
Forecast high: 25C; UV: 4
Three-day forecast: 13 October - Sun, 26C; 14 October - Sun, 26C; 15 October - Sun, cloud, 25C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Southwest 2 to 3, occasionally Northeast.

Happy National Day. Sun all the way, quite possibly also in Catalonia.

Evening update (20.15): High of 27.6C.

Flying Flags: National Day

Today, 12 October, is a national holiday. It is Spain's National Day, a celebration rooted, oddly enough, not in Spain but in Argentina. In 1913, there was the first Fiesta de la Raza - the festival of the race, the Spanish race. This fiesta grew out of what was already a celebration in Buenos Aires for Columbus. Today is symbolic in different ways - National Day, Columbus's discovery of an island that he thought must have been near China, the day of the Virgen del Pilar (Spain's female patron saint) and the day of the Guardia Civil. Given events in Catalonia, you couldn't conceive of a day that is more symbolic.

The old festival of the race became the Día de la Hispanidad - a global event in honour of Spanishness, with all its faded imperial glory. The 1913 fiesta was fifteen years after the terminal blows to Spanish imperialism that were inflicted by the Americans. The Caribbean and The Philippines would never be the same. One hundred and four years on from that first fiesta, it might be argued that this imperialism is once more faltering - Catalonia (some of it) wants away.

Amidst all the angst, posturing and navel-gazing surrounding Catalonia and its desire to leave the Spanish Empire, there is a subtext of a race nature. The Catalans, and it isn't the other way round, have been characterised by some commentators as racists. One should qualify this by saying that some Catalans have been characterised in this fashion, those who seemingly - so the argument goes - consider themselves superior to the Spanish. Racism and xenophobia have been allowed to consume the secessionist tendency: racism and xenophobia directed at an inferior race, the Spanish.

Where do such notions spring from? To an extent they are manifestations of a moral superiority founded on centuries of victimhood. Yet curiously, the same victimhood does not reveal itself in demands for independence in the likes of Aragon or the Balearics (despite what Més might think). If any region really has a claim, then it is Aragon, which did after all hold the crown of which Catalonia was once a part.

It also comes from perceptions of greater culture, greater sophistication, greater entrepreneurialism. Catalonia was fundamental to Spain's emergence as an economic power. It was not a region lumbered with idleness. It is not an Andalusia, with which there has long been an antagonism and one which, for a good period of the twentieth century, had strong racist connotations.

The Catalans, those who identify squarely with Catalonia as opposed to those who do not, are therefore a race apart: the un-Spanish Spanish. The Fiesta de la Raza is someone else's national day, someone else's race.

Yet really it's all about regional rivalries that extend way back when. History, to be honest, can at times get extraordinarily tiresome. But Catalonia and the Catalans aren't the only ones to perceive themselves as different. What is this Spanishness within Spain that is celebrated? Like other countries, it is a combination of old cultures, such as the Basques (who've been doing a reasonable job at keeping their heads down just lately) and the Galicians. Spain and Spanishness are thus historical accidents, conveniences, contrivances. But the same can be said for most countries.

While most of Spain will wave its flag today and line up against the treacherous Catalans, in the Balearics there is the mini-me of Catalonia. Independence-driven Catalans look upon the Balearics with a patronising and wonky Oriol Junqueras eye. The Balearics are good Catalans, when of course the great majority are no such thing. But the Balearics are cousins (inferior? cousins) for the fomenting. Division with Spain needs an outlet beyond the borders of Catalonia. The Balearics provide an outlet. Or at least a small minority might believe so.

There is of course division. We've witnessed it on the streets. On Saturday there was the unedifying but somewhat bizarre sight of a one-time Partido Popular president of the Balearics defending his stall with Mallorcan sovereignty literature. Cristòfol Soler is now a supporter of independence. The stall was attacked by Joan Font of Sa Fundació Jaume III: "We are Mallorcans, we are not Catalans." Mallorcans but also Spaniards.

Font has caused a bit of embarrassment for the university because he's a teacher there. The university wishes to declare its neutrality, which was why the dean of the philosophy and letters faculty, Miquel Deyá (a one-time director of universities for the PP), took down two independence flags, only to then be branded a fascist. Deyá was part of the education ministry when schools placed Catalan flags on buildings in defiance of José Ramón Bauzá. And now, Ciudadanos, whose leader has been willing Rajoy to adopt Article 155, are denouncing indoctrination of an independence nature in Balearic schools.

Division, but in truth only small. Which flags will fly in Mallorca today?