S. Maldonado reports in the 5 June issue of Granada
how the city has fallen 147 places on the list of top world congress
venues from position 49 in 2002 to 196 in 2010. I trust there is no connection,
but 2002 is the year when I, as President of the Granada English Teachers’
Association GRETA, moved our annual conference for cost reasons from the
Congress Centre (Palacio de Congresos)
to the University Campus at Fuente Nueva.

it could have been worse, because in 2009 Granada actually hit rock bottom, at position
288, trailing relatively modest congress-holding cities such as Krakow, Lyon,
Dakar, and Johannesburg. [Source: ICCA.] But the decline is evidently part of a

We have
already noted how the International Airport has shed half a million passengers
since 2007 and fallen from 21st to 25th busiest, in which
time it was overtaken by Jerez de la Frontera, among others. []

Added to
these discouraging tendencies, we must consider Granada’s rating as a City of
Culture, reported in Granada Hoy,
also by Guadalupe S.Maldonado, back in March. There, an entity called the Observatorio Cultural de la Fundación Contemporánea ranked the city as 17th most cultural Spanish city,
behind cities such as Santiago de
Compostela, Málaga, Murcia, Valladolid, Santander,
and Oviedo, to mention but a few. With regard to ‘cultural innovation’,
occupying position 16, Granada lags behind, among others, La Coruña, Córdoba and
Cáceres. It must be said that the above ratings refer to the cultural programme
offered by Spanish cities, and not the entirety of its cultural historical
‘package’. Nevertheless, while 11 cultural experts do mention Granada as an
outstanding city of culture, this figure compares unfavourably with, for
example, Seville (33 mentions), or of course Madrid and Barcelona (87 and 82).

also bears witness to another indication of Granada’s decline: the number of
the province’s natives who have left to live abroad. This time she quotes the Instituto de Estadística de Andalucía in
telling us that in 2010 a total of 36,367 granadinos
were making a livelihood in other countries, some 6.7% more than in 2009. In
all, 11,800 are in Argentina (about a third), 6,313 are in France, and 4,485 in
Brazil. Fourth largest host to granadinos
is Germany with 3,543, followed by Switzerland with 1,863. The three continents
of Africa, Asia, and Oceania account for fewer than 1,000 emigrants from
Granada. So wanderlust is definitely not a prime motivator behind this trend. Nor
is it Erasmus students, Guadalupe assures us, who account for this increase in
the number of voluntarily exiled citizens, but economic emigration.

statistics remind us that emigration has long been an important social and
economic factor in the history of this traditionally impoverished region which
one had hoped was being overcome in Spain’s post-Franco boom years. Around 30%
of Granada’s emigrant population is now over 65. 38% are in the age range 40 –
64. It seems likely that the brunt of last year’s increase was made up of the
youngest sector of economically active population which now accounts for a
third of all emigration and is reasserting an old familiar pattern.

increase in emigration underlies the appalling situation on the labour market
for young men and women in Granada, as in Spain in general, causing the IMF, on the eve of the 15 May
protest movement across the country, to warn of the prospect of ‘a lost
generation’, the consequences of which will be a waste of ‘human capital’ (the
IMF of course is more concerned about the capital than the humans involved),
leading to ‘a threat to social cohesion’ (civil unrest). In Granada youth unemployment
stands close to 50%.

course, the job situation is worse in Andalusia than in Spain in general, and
it’s worse in Granada than in Andalusia in general. When I lived there, I used
to say Granada has all you could wish for – except work. Sadly, the once-aspired-to
convergence – the catching up with the national average – belongs to the past.
Only Seville and Almeria equal the national average in terms of employment, and
Granada, fourth of the eight Andalusian provinces in 2005, has sunk in 2010 to
second from bottom, ahead only of Huelva.

general decline is reflected in the increase in the number of poor in the city,
measured in terms of those seeking help from the charity organisation, Cáritas.
There were 14,540 in 2010, up from 9,850 in 2008, a 40% increase. [Belén Rico,
Granada Hoy, 17 June 2011.]

all this gloom and decline, it is cheering to observe that this downward trend
has been reversed in one important area: football. I am pleased to report that Granada
Club de Futbol has managed to return to the first division of La Liga, after 35
years’ absence. The Club reached its nadir in 2002 when it was relegated to the
third (really the fourth) division for failing to pay its players’ wages. This
was after a dozen or so years in the Second Division B (really the third), to
which it was relegated in 1988. It languished down in the Southern section of
the fourth division until 2006, after which it ascended rapidly, gaining
promotion in 2010 to the second division proper (22 years later), and today, Saturday
18 June, after an agonising draw in the second leg of a play-off against mighty
Elche, Granada CF actually succeeded in winning a place in the top flight of
Spanish football, where it played its last match in 1976. I find it galling
that, after living there nigh on 20 years, it was only after I left that the
team made this miraculous recovery.

Images. 1: Airport. 2: Palacio de Congresos. 3: Demo of indignados (disaffected youth). 4: Granada Club de Futbol (with a link to an interesting article about the relationship between Udinese and Granada CF by Eric Beard).