Several changes happened in Menorca over the last three decades that deeply affected the small island and changed it perhaps for the better, but not right now.
After Franco finally died. (Do you recall Saturday Night Live? ‘Franco is still dead!’) the middle class developed in Spain, the Spaniards discovered this quaint little place and began to travel to the island. Then with the Euro, and the flow of money, development started in earnest. Also, immigration to the island began, especially to the Balearic Islands, I’m told, where the laws weren’t as tight.
Now there are real problems, I told by Menorcan friends. Historically, Spain has always had higher unemployment rates. But today, one in four people of working age are without work, and that figure is exceeded on the island, and Menorca has the worst unemployment of all.
In Menorca, 13,500 are unemployed, and of these 5,600 now no longer receive unemployment benefits according to the local papers. Among the young people (16 to 25) the figure (worldwide) is 13%. But on Menorca the figure is over 50%, reaching 60%. At the start of the financial crisis in 2007 the figure was only 7% unemployed.
Add to that, the immigration problem. A recent socio-economic study of the Balearic Island showed that Menorca and Formentera are the two islands to show the most tolerate to immigration. (Ibiza being the least tolerant.) In 2008 60% thought there were too many immigrants and that figure today is 72%.
Deeper in the study it shows that 79% think that immigrants take work from the islanders and 87% think that if they lose their jobs they should be expelled from the country.
Only about 22% think that diversity is positive and think that immigrants have the same rights as the HCNs.
But there are bright spots and let me close off this trip down memory lane with one of the points of light in Menorca. Recently 11 farms from the island participated in a Friesian cow morphology contest held in Mallorca. Of the 24 prizes, 11 were won by Menorcan cows. A farm from Ciudadela had both the Champion and the Grand Champion winner. The vice president of the Balearic Friesian Association says that the only reason Menorca did not win all the prizes was the impossibility of transporting more cows to Mallorca. Menorca, in fact, had not participated for 10 years at the event, and of the 100 head of cattle in the competition only 20 were from Menorca.
And to top everything off, a cow from Mahon won the award for the best udder in the contest!
How can you beat that?
What a great island.