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Outrage over Spain's debt town

posted 12 Mar 2012, 06:53 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 12 Mar 2012, 06:54 ]

The most indebted town in Spain, Peleas de Abajo, which translates to Down Fighting, has racked up a 4.6 million euro debt, proportionally higher than even Madrid's.

SPAIN-DEBT TOWN  - Spain's debt problems are well known but one town is almost drowning in it.

Peleas de Abajo is home to just 240 people.


But it has debts of 4.6 million euros - the equivalent to 20,000 euros per person.


Proportionally its debt is 10 times that of Madrid.


The town's mayor of nine months says his predecessor and her son are largely to blame.


PELEAS DE ABAJO MAYOR FELIX RONCERO SAYING:

"Money was totally squandered by her son, huge parties - he took over the management of the old people's home where over a million euros are moved a year and, of course, he spent it all on parties and other celebrations and absolutely nothing was done. He paid the workers but not the social security contributions, so over five years a debt of over 600,000 euros accumulated."


The former mayor and her son deny the accusations.


But either way the town has a massive bill to pay.


At the old people's home 20 employees now look after just 21 residents.


ADORACION ROMAN, DIRECTOR OF VIRGEN DEL CARMEN HOME FOR THE ELDERLY, SAYING:

"They pay me 50% less but I stick it out because I like working with the elderly, it's a job that fulfils me. There are things that are more important than money although it's true you have to make cuts,"

In recent years the town's dirt streets were paved and other public works carried out.


But many contractors were not paid and interests on loans piled up.


Banks now own most of the land and property.


The only buildings still run by the town are the old people's home, the town hall and the bar.


JOSE RAMON, TOWN BAR MANAGER, SAYING:

"I think it's a disgraceful, it's incredible a small town owes more than a big city. We still get the same four locals that have always come in here but before when the old people's home was full we had a lot of activity."


Residents too feel the situation is hopeless.


EMILIO RIVERA, 60, LOCAL RESIDENT, SAYING:

"It has been like this for years. If we don't get an administration, or the government, to help get out of this crisis it will be impossible."


It would take a high stakes card game to sort out the mess.

But Peleas de Abajo mean Down Fighting.


The current administration says if it can't recover it will least live up to the town's name.


Sonia Legg, Reuters

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