During recent conversations with several Spanish people, who had started to rave about the city of Orihuela and about how fortunate we were to be living in Orihuela Costa, I pointed out that I had lived in the great town of Orihuela Costa for a long time and far from being fortunate I felt that we live in a ghetto, that was totally segregated from mainstream Spanish society. It is not the paradise Orihuela Costa likes to portray.
I then went on to explain that the basic services which all Spanish people take for granted were missing from our area. This resulted in a very long discourse that I should feel privileged to be residing in an area with such a historical and cultural heritage, but they were still missing the point that Orihuela and Orihuela Costa are two different entities.
That provided me with the perfect opening to point out that I was not complaining about Spain, that I had made a very real choice to live here along with many others who made up the large expat community living on the coast, 117 nationalities in fact. I stated that non-Spanish residents had contributed heavily into the Spanish economy when they bought their homes and continue to contribute substantially into the economy on a daily basis.
I then listed some of the differences between Orihuela City and Orihuela Costa. The lack of even one library, the lack of youth facilities, the lack of any cultural centre, music society or cultural programme accessible to coastal residents, the lack of any social and welfare services, day centre or residential accommodation for older people, the lack of a cemetery for burying our dead etc.
I could have amplified every one of the points and added several more but felt that I shouldn’t overload them with negatives, however, I did point out that all these were basic services provided throughout Spain.
I then took great delight in pointing out that Orihuela Costa residents and businesses provided over 60% of the overall revenue of the Orihuela municipality, and that effectively every coastal resident is heavily subsidising the very lifestyle enjoyed by all the inhabitants of the municipality of Orihuela, including the one they raved about.
What really concerned me about this conversation was that most of the residents in Orihuela have no idea about the total neglect of their coastal area.
They are also under some misguided impression that the large influx of immigrants who purchased homes and have made their life in Spain are some kind of drain on the Spanish economy.
Many have little comprehension of the large amounts of money that is brought into the country by way of pensions received from overseas and the resultant very large economic benefits derived.
There was no awareness that every European Union pensioner receiving a pension from outside Spain and who had not paid into the Spanish Social Security and Health system had their health provision fully paid for from their country of origin.
It was even suggested that (the town hall) should raise the IBI (property tax) on the coast so that we can have the services we deserve.
In short, this great town of Orihuela Costa is the life-blood of the municipality of Orihuela, and it’s a burden that we shouldn’t have to shoulder alone.
Equality delayed is equality denied.
Partido Independencia Orihuela Costa (PIOC)