More and more signals appear that the Spanish economy has made the turn out the recession. Last week it was communicated that unemployment fell twice as fast as analysts expected in April — with a massive plunge of 118.923. Spanish real estate values have risen 3.3% on average in the last year, the latest index revealed.The PM Rajoy raised the government’s 2015 growth forecast to 2.9 percent from 2.4 percent in February and said he expects the economy to expand at a similar pace next year.
But what day to day impact did the crisis have on ordinary people? Last summer, various Madrid residents met their demise in a rather unusual fashion: They were killed when rotten tree branches fell on top of them. In June, a 38-year-old man was wiped out while visiting Retiro park with his two young children. A 72-year-old man was the victim of a falling branch in September. As Spain’s English-language publication The Local notes, the period in between these two incidents played host to “20 other tree-related accidents that have injured Madrid residents in central city streets – including a seven-year-old girl … and have smashed cars, terraces and other property”. The article mentions that Madrid’s right-wing mayor Ana Botella had come under fire from opponents “for slashing public spending on street and park maintenance”, although the fatalities have prompted a different kind of cuts: Botella has dispatched “a team of specialists and foresters to chop down ‘suspicious’ trees in Madrid’s emblematic (Retiro) park”.
Of course, tree branches are far from the only existential hazard facing the inhabitants of austerity-afflicted Spain. Pervasive public spending cuts have spelt acute insecurity – a typical by-product of the process of securing countries for foreign capital.
Soaring unemployment levels – over 26 percent at one moment- and home evictions are also mainstays of the new landscape. The BBC News Magazine reported earlier this year that “across Spain … some 350.000 families have been forced out of their homes since the property market crashed in 2008”.
And while tumbling tree branches may emphasise the physical perils of austerity measures, the less visible ones contain even graver implications for the nation’s future. in the autonomous Spanish region of Catalonia in 2012 there were no less than 15.6 million prescriptions for anti-depressants (an average of more than two per person).
So the tide may have turned, the beach is far from dry yet.