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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Risking their lives to stop the High Speed Train

Four people have become human shields to stop the Basque High Speed Train (AHT-TAV) work. The four ecologists have entered an abandoned mine at Itsasondo in the Gipuzkoan highlands near where the development companies are carrying on prospections by means of continuous explosions, which could destroy the old mine nearby at any time.

Above: the four nonviolent activists at the press conference where they announced their action. I am quite sure. in spite of the low quality of the pic and the lack of names in the source, I know personally one of them (Jaxo, the second from the right) and probably all four. No big surprise: this is a really small country. Guess I'll feel emotionally obligued to go to demo this Sunday.

And sure: I feel even more worried.

The High Speed Train is a waste

Not only it is enviromentally hostile, it is a total waste: a bottomless pit for public money and a relevant factor in the public deficit that so problematic has become.

It is not me who says that, it is a big business speaker: the president of the Spanish Association of Spanish Concessions of Highways, Tunnels, Bridges and Toll Roads (ASETA), José Luis Feito declared yesterday at a major university that this type of train is useless for the low population density and rugged orography of Spain, that the existing trains (between Seville, Madrid and Barcelona) can't pay even the 30% of the costs. To offset this, he admits, the ticket price would have to be at least tripled but that would mean that nearly nobody would use them.

He instead proposes to build freight railroads, which are almost non-existent in Spain, what means that most cargo traffic goes by road, crippling them.

He acknowledged that the high speed trains in Spain are one of the causes of the growing public deficit and proposed that something will have to be done about it.

5000 euros of debt to every Western Basque

The Basque High Speed Train is projected to cost 4900 euros to each Western Basque citizen. And as the Spanish government has, in an unprecedented act of pragmatism, removed its support for the Basque HST, that means we are going to have to pay that in full (Southern Basque territories are semi-autonomous in tax collection and allocation - it has been that way since the Castilian invasions of 1199 and 1512, except partially for the fascist interlude).

For that reason there is now a campaign going on to stamp or write down on the bank notes a short message denouncing the unduly high cost that the HST is having for us. This major financial argument may possibly persuade the indifferent after all because everybody knows how hard is to gather those 4900 euros.

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