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Spain Burns: The Price of Austerity (Videos)

Spain Burns: The Price of Austerity (Videos)
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Spain, stuck in a recession and with almost a quarter of its workforce unemployed, has experienced some of its worst forest fires in almost twenty years this summer with 24,710 acres of land left blackened. Cuts to rural firefighters are being blamed for a number of deaths and for the loss of forest landscapes.

As the Guardian notes, “several wet years, followed by a dry winter and hot summer” have created “perfect wildfire conditions.” But also bearing a huge part of the blame are “official negligence, rural population flight and disappearing herds of sheep and goats.”

Robert Rubio, a forester, ecologist and professional firefighter from Andilla, 12 miles from Alcublas in Valencia, tells the Guardian that only a tenth of the usual number of temporary local summer firefighters were hired this year (officials claim otherwise). Other regional governments, in northeastern Catalonia and northwestern Galicia, are spending 20 percent less than two years ago.

Even more, decades of people leaving the countryside and restrictions on using public land have meant that populations of sheep and goats that once kept grass and underbrush in check have dwindled. Rafa Casaña, a member of an Alcublas conservation group, says that there are now only 300 sheep and goats in the hills in his region; in the 1920s, there were 30,000. All told, 28 percent of Spain’s sheep and goats — seven million — have disappeared in just the past four years.

In July, a French man with disabilities, Pascal Couton, and his 14-year-old daughter, Océane, died when they tried to jump into the sea, where scores of people had fled to escape fires consuming a cliff-top road in Girona, in northeastern Spain. A rural firefighter and a forestry agent lost their lives earlier this month in fires in Torremanzanas, in southeastern Valencia.

This video shows the fires in Girona and another in Portbou that left three dead, many wounded and thousands of acres burnt.

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Photo by Mataparda

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3:26AM PDT on Apr 28, 2013

Barbara it is absolutely nothing to do with pride! It is to do with dignity and decency!

11:51AM PDT on Aug 25, 2012

Total disasters happening all over the world due to hottest , dryest weather on record - Climate Change is here!!! No plans were made in the case of this happening.
I would like to say that with the Big Banks, Big Corps ,Monoplies, Mortgage Frauds, Ponzee Scams and Sheer Greed have caused countries systems to fracture everywhere. Now with many countries crops failing the problem will be far worse. Hope the Greedy B*'s homes burn down and their businesses fail, and they may have to face what they have caused.

9:27PM PDT on Aug 24, 2012

So many unemployed - why can't they be trained up to be volunteer firefighters - In Australia we have a huge very well trained volunteer force and we have big bushfires..

7:21PM PDT on Aug 24, 2012


7:21PM PDT on Aug 24, 2012


6:18PM PDT on Aug 24, 2012

So the solution looks like to hire 200,000 sheep and let them run wild through the remaining forest to eat the under brush.

5:41PM PDT on Aug 24, 2012

Michael G. I am a nutritionist primarily into drinking water. Austerity measures in Europe are causing rioting. I am not against government use of resources to fight wild is very necessary. I am against graft, greed,and people who have an attitude of "what's in it for me." Governments tax us so they can provide services for the common good. Money needs to be available for these services. Since I was 8 years old, I learned how to earn money. I don'tt expect anyone to give me anything...and I wouldn't ask anyone for a dime. I know what it feels like to be hungry, but I would rather have nothing to eat than to eat garbage. Many people in other countries decline our food assistance...the foods we try to give them would make them ill.

5:14PM PDT on Aug 24, 2012

Austerity should not trump common sense and it doesn't make sense to let your country side and natural resources burn to ashes. When things are really important to politicians they always seem to be able to find the money, especially if it is an inquiry into the opposition.

4:24PM PDT on Aug 24, 2012

Barbara I am glad I am not sipping on the koolaid you're having too much of.

3:53PM PDT on Aug 24, 2012

Austerity measures? There were no programs in the thirties like there are today...and people did not have the entitlement issues that exist today. Nobody received money to pay for children's food.and shelter..and we somehow survived the many years of the Great Depression.. Give people a fish to eat and they feel entitled to the whole fishing boat. When my father took us to visit people and if they offered us food... he told us to say "No thank you...we have already eaten." We had no food. We had pride. People have no pride today. They have no real values.

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