Saturday, March 29, 2008

The big news in Spain is the Mari Luz case. Down in Huelva some sex pervert kidnapped and murdered a little girl named Mari Luz back in January, and they just found her body a few days ago. The perv has been arrested, and here's the fun part: he had two prior convictions for child sexual abuse, once on his own daughter, and they never bothered actually putting him in jail.

The judiciary is being seriously questioned over this one, since the pervert never should have been anywhere near this child. Jail is made for sick bastards who go around sexually abusing kids, not for people who smoke pot or write bad checks. Spain, by the way, does not have a register of sex offenders, though it does have one of woman-beaters, and there is no law requiring that people be informed if a sex offender is living in their neighborhood, either.

Mari Luz was from a gypsy family that is integrated into society, while the perv seems to be a lower-class payo. The Huelva gypsies are understandably very angry, and they've tried to lynch both the perv and one of his brothers (who is almost certainly innocent, though the perv's wife might have helped him cover up the crime).

This guy would be a clear death penalty candidate in the US, and I'd have no problem voting for it if I were on the jury.

So the Zap government has blocked the proposed transfer of water from the Segre to the Llobregat, thereby showing who is really running things in Catalonia, and it ain't Montilla. Lleida province is happy, while the city of Barcelona is not.

I am not sure whether this is a good idea or not. Spanish teenagers, especially in the south, like to all get together in the street and drink till they puke; this is called "el botellón." So in Granada last night the city government cordoned off an area and told the kids to go to it. 12,000 teenagers showed up, and they're still there as I write. Four of them have been hospitalized for alcoholic poisoning so far. (By the way, the legal drinking age in Spain is 18, but nobody pays any attention.)

On the one hand, some consequences of drinking are kept under control, since there were 200 municipal cops there, and so there was no fighting, vandalism, or drunk driving, and anybody who got sick could receive medical attention. On the other hand, officially permitting botellones is effectively giving them society's approval, and it must cost the city an enormous amount of money both to pay the cops and clean up the mess.

By the way, these gatherings are almost always organized by Internet: some guy says, "Hey, let's have a big old botellón," and he e-mails and SMSs all his friends, and they do the same, and it snowballs, and next thing you know there are 12,000 drunken teenagers sprawled out all over the streets.

I do think Spain's attitude toward adolescent drinking is preferable to America's, since it's not treated as if it were a deadly sin here. There are a couple of complications in the US that don't exist here, though: 1) teenagers in the US usually have to drive home after drinking parties, while in Spain they don't; 2) many families in the US consider drinking to be sinful for religious reasons, meaning that kids have to hide their drinking, while this is not true in Spain; 3) there's a binge drinking tradition in the US that hasn't existed here until recently with these botellones.

However, the Spaniards can please stop bitching about tourists drinking in the streets, since their own kids are pretty good at it themselves.

So they got three hundred people out in Madrid to protest against Chinese repression in Tibet, just 0.005% of what they could have gotten if they were protesting Uncle Sam again.

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