Jerez is officially Spain’s most indebted city. The city government owes €4,600 for each of its inhabitants and is cutting services and jobs just to be able to keep its head above water. Its total debt stands at almost 1 billion euros. Many public workers in Jerez, even if they have jobs, haven’t been paid in months so, employed or unemployed, it’s often the same.
Since the last election, Jerez has been controlled by Spain’s centre-right Popular Party (PP) and, yes, just like everywhere else in Spain things are even worse than when the previous party was in power. Jerez started off the economic crisis in trouble but it’s unlikely, even in its government’s worst nightmares, did it ever think Jerez would be Spain’s most indebted city.
Of course, the PP has been putting into effect a plan whereby local governments like that of Jerez will be offered low interest long-term loans if they have large debts. The money is expected to be used to pay off the city’s subcontractors that, in many cases, haven’t been paid in months or even years.
That makes sense, doesn’t it? Lend local governments more money when they already can’t pay off the loans they have. It’s no wonder public debt in Spain is now around 80 percent and rising.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of the residents of Jerez are living from hand-to-mouth, or have been evicted and are staying with family members, at charitable organizations or on the street. This, of course, is negatively impacting businesses throughout Jerez in a classic snowball effect as, when few people in the city have money, they can’t afford to buy clothes, eat a meal in a restaurant, go to see a movie at the local theater or, in many cases, even afford to buy a cafe con leche.
Unfortunately, as long as this economic crisis continues in Spain and particularly in towns like Jerez, so does the economic crisis besetting the rest of Europe. And, with no end in sight for the residents of Jerez, and things likely only to get a lot worse before they begin to get better, it’s anyone’s guess when this will end.
Not soon, that’s for sure.