Just after we were able to taste the first
fresh figs figas-fló (the first kind to
appear around Sant Joan in the last week of June) I intended
to start a series of two or three articles about another of
the symbolic trees of the landscapes and the culture of the
Pitiusas Islands, the fig-tree.
We have been receiving in the last few months,
personally and also to the editorial at Ibiza History Culture a good
number of e-mails from our readers from all parts of the Islands
and some from other countries, from residents with property
here that they use only temporarily.
They are astonished to see the amount of
negative changes they find every time they come. They see
many irregular works and buildings being done
all over, such as deforestation in protected areas, the closing
of ancestral ways to the seaside or the opening of new ones
just for private use.
They see where people have been building
walls and fences on public ground to use the soil for private
business, perforating and using new private wells without
any licence just to water their grass and exotic gardens.
In Ibiza Town they still have to drink salty
water this summer.
Meanwhile there are people removing earth
and sand to be sold, creating new illegal sandpits, changing
completely and drastically the landscape of entire areas,
building villas and blocks of apartments, even complete urbanisation
in what are supposed to be very restricted, protected areas.
In the great majority of these cases, this
activities means, with no doubt, the breaking of the actual
laws about ecology, a clear and real crime against the environment,
condemned by the local, national and international environmental
laws. And always for the profit of a very few, always for
the same ones.
But why? Why are all these crimes allowed?
Is it because the ecological laws are considered to be second,
or rather third class laws? How is it that these laws can
be so easily broken with the complicit partnership of some
of our politicians and tribunals?
I would love to be able (if Im capable),
to answer all these e-mails publicly, because I think this
is the only way that it can have some practical effects upon
the problems that we are all denouncing.
Opening a public debate on them (only the
denouncements that reach the front page in local newspapers
seem to get any timid answers there may be from the soft political
opposition). And also because now, at this time of the year,
after working hard - at least ten hours for seven days a week
in my regular job - apart from writing these weekly articles
as well as other responsibilities as a family man, there is
very little time and energy left for me to answer personally
to each one of them.
Everybody, including all the political parties,
says they recognise and agree about the extremely urgency
to face and work out our ecological problems. They involve
residues, water, black-water treatment, energy, uncontrolled
and anarchic building, etc., They are still there, despite
everybody knowing the total impossibility of carrying on building,
growing and developing like in the past years, trying to ignore
and avoid those more-than-obvious problems, without a sustainable
plan, without a clear and accepted definition of our obvious
limits. The real truth is that these problems just keep getting
bigger and bigger, becoming chronic, and condemning us and
our childrens future.
The political and the legal situation towards
these problems in our community have reached the summum
of the absurd and the maximum inefficacy in practical terms.
Or maybe everything is so obviously clear
and it is really scary just to see how much perfidy and greed
there is in the hearts of some of those who say they do all
for the best of the Islands and its inhabitants. (The ones,
who say that the power should be for the people, really want
the power for the ones who say that the power should be for
the people. I remember reading that somewhere!).
Oh yes, there is plenty of bitter debate
on these problems, in every political session. Kafka could
have beaten his own absurd records just by writing about the
political news and the contradicting declarations of the politicians
appearing daily in the local press.
Lets take for instance a singular
case, a private urbanisation by Port des Torrent
in Sant Josép. This urbanisation was being built two
years ago (just before and during the building moratoria declared
by the Consell Insular to try to stop - without
success - the chaotic building situation).
It was twelve metres away from the beach
and the seaside (I went there with some neighbours to measure
it). The National Law on the Coast Line says,
and also said at the time, that no buildings can be built
within two hundred metres from it. The neighbours association
presented a denouncement to Sant Josép Town Hall and
to the local government Consell Insular, advised
and backed by GEN and Friends of the Earth,
Eivissa for what they thought was a clear case against
the actual laws.
The response of the Consell Insular
proved the neighbours right and sent the orders to Sant Josép
to stop immediately all the building works. Nothing happened.
The response of Sant Josép was that
this area was declared as already urbanised, as it was part
of Sant Josép downtown, seven kilometres away! But
to declare an area as urbanised means that all the infrastructures
are already built on it (water and energy supplies, sewerage
system completed and working, pavements and parking areas,
roads and accesses open, etc).
Nothing of it was even started then (!!).
The answer of the building company was to start building the
trenches for all those needed services. To do so - to make
a trench of more then two kilometres long by almost two metres
deep and one metre wide in solid rock - the most heavy and
noisy machinery was used. Caterpillars with huge compressor
hammers among others. This was happening by the end of June
and it went on all through July, August and September, in
an area with more then two thousand tourist beds, as well
as several hundred residents in a radius of less then four
hundred metres and twenty metres from Port des Torrent beach,
one of the most crowded on the Island.
The national laws, as well as the Balearic
Community, including Sant Josép laws, are very clear
about building in the tourist areas: any and all building
activities have to stop completely from the 15th May until
the 15th October, especially in tourist areas, or near by
the areas that are being used as tourist relaxation areas,
such as beaches and public parks; nothing that can disturb
the relaxation of the tourists who have paid their good money
to be able to rest and enjoy their holidays(!!!). More denouncements
came from the neighbours, from all the ecological groups,
from the Consell Insular and from private tourists,
taking the case in to the tribunals.
The response of Sant Josép was that,
in some cases, if they considered it was a priority and an
event of public interest (?) they can vote a new
local law and give the licence if they consider it convenient.
But the law also says that no local laws can derogate a national
law without a voting of the National Courts. So what on earth
is all this?
The debate was opened and bitter discussions
started. The carousel started turning, speeding faster and
faster as the discussions around the problem were getting
spun more and more. The arguments were speeding around the
problem, but the problem itself, as with the axle of the carousel,
didnt move a single inch.
But what I really wanted for this week was
to speak about the figs and the fig tree.
The fig tree is the favourite tree of the
painters, as the almond tree is the favourite of the poets
and photographers. The figs twisted and long branches,
forming like an umbrella with its supports, are an excellent
drawing exercise and it decorates beautifully the paintings
of our countryside.
The fig tree is also a mystic tree; Buddha
was illuminated meditating under a fig tree. There is definitely
an aura around the fig tree, as I can remember as a child,
after the Sunday celebration lunches, where we use to eat
the fish that my father, and later my brother and I use to
catch the same morning to be eaten with the rest of the family,
at my grandparents farm. After the lunch, in the hottest
hours of the day, I remember my father and mother going to
get fresh figs from the tree as dessert. They warned the children
not to molest them, because they would have a little siesta
under the trees lovely and cool shade after eating.
I know since then that there is something very special with
this tree, when I remember their faces after the siesta,
normally with a serious and hard look, then they was radiant,
relaxed and happy, like coming back from Nirvana.
The apartments in Port des Torrent have
been for longer than a year already on the market for sale.
You can see the publicity blurb (apartments for sale in Port
des Torrent, ten metres to the seaside) in the Diario de Ibiza.
The denounces? Goodness knows! The results of this Kafkaesque
affair: A lot of energy, time and resources wasted. The Rights
of a lot of citizens ignored and frustrated. The Truth and
the Justice insulted and violated. All and anything for the
money. (Of a few, of course).
This is like reading Kafka upside-down,
speeding around on a carousel, trying to eat figs at the same
time (I have a headache).
Even so, I will try to continue for a few
weeks, just to try to understand something of it myself. I
hope to have the help of Hazel Morgan, president of Amics
de la Terra, Eivissa and also from Joan Carles Palerm,
president of GEN-GOB, Eivissa-Formentera. Meanwhile,
I will carry on eating figs. (Do you have any aspirins left?
José P Ribas