A Spanish Tale of Two Cities
The Spanish city of La Linea is located next to British governed Gibraltar. As Spain’s economy slips into depression–unemployment is at 23 percent and 50 percent among youth–this border region is quickly becoming an experiment in comparative governance.
This frightening article from Der Spiegel offers a window into the diverging fortunes of these two adjacent cities:
The residents of La Línea de la Concepción are leaving, like rats deserting a sinking ship.
They’ve been crossing the border by the thousands since early morning, first the cleaning women, nannies and construction workers, and then the smugglers. They all want to get out of Spain, if only for a few hours. There is work across the border, in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, and work spells hope for a better life.
By around 11 a.m. on what promises to be a hot early summer’s day, the traffic jam on the Spanish side already stretches from the border, across the coastal road and back to the town hall, where Mayor Gemma Araujo is holding down the fort in her office on the second floor, which has a view of the caravan of commuters. Araujo is 33, a Socialist and the first woman in her position. It’s not exactly the most rewarding job in Spain. A “crisis tsunami” has reached La Línea, says Araujo, and the situation is more serious than ever before. “Our city isn’t bankrupt, but it’s close.”
The city hasn’t been able to pay its employees eight of their last nine monthly salaries. On this morning, the mayor found a sign posted opposite her office door with an unmistakable demand: “Pay or resign.” Her house was pelted with eggs and besieged by protesters, and the mob set fire to her secretary’s car.