Guardians of Spanish culture lay out election hopes and fears

April 25, 2019

MADRID (Reuters) – Her heels clacking impossibly fast, a dancer slides across a Flamenco stage in Madrid, while in a Catalan town a burly man in a faded red shirt helps anchor a seven-layer human tower topped by a tiny girl.

Guardians of Spain’s cultural heritage, Mariana Collado and David Tarrats view the future with some uncertainty as they prepare to vote in a national election that looks too close to call.

Collado, from the Flamenco heartland of southern Spain but working in the capital, has no time for political extremism – a far right party will enter parliament on Sunday for the first time in decades – and believes the next government should prioritize the arts.

“Life is full of a marvelous range of different colors and I think the extremes are not good at all,” she told Reuters.

“…I’m afraid that culture could disappear, because culture is the first thing that they get rid of when there’s no money in the country.”

Tarrats, from Vic west of Barcelona, uses his body like a construction block to perpetuate a 200-year-old Catalan tradition of tower-building rooted in skill, strength and, above all, trust – something that, as a separatist, he struggles to extend to politicians.

“I will vote for someone who defends the independence of Catalonia, my rights (and) my language, but it will be complicated because … politicians only want to defend their seat,” he said.

In Spain’s gradually depopulating southern countryside, a grower of its signature olive crop feels largely abandoned by politicians too.

Falling wholesale prices mean Agustin Perea, from the Andalusian village of El Burgo, is finding it ever harder to make a living and he fears for the next generation.

“There are many young people who like farming but they are unable to work in this sector because it demands considerable investment,” he said.

“…(The government) have to help us a bit, otherwise (these) small towns are going to become empty.”

(Reporting by Sergio Perez, Michael Gore, Jon Nazca, Jordi Rubio and Albert Gea, Writing by John Stonestreet; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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