El País newspaper has sparked a national discussion about the current state of affairs in the nation’s capital as the city’s problems, from its drop in tourism to the cleanliness of its streets, were laid bare in a lengthy news piece.
The popular broadsheet offered almost no glimmer of hope to a city which according to journalists Rafael Mendez and Alvaro de Cozar had shone bright as a global cultural hub in the post-Franco years.
The sharp drop in tourism numbers – 22 percent in August – were in stark contrast with the rise in visitors across the rest of Spain during the summer months.
El País talks of Madrid as a “dirty” city, where the streets are strewn with an increasing amount of litter due to drastic cleaning cuts (16 percent in three years).
Road and street maintenance, everything from potholes to broken street lamps, are said to be a more common sight than ever as a result of budgets being slashed by 46 percent, the Spanish daily reported.
The finger of blame is being pointed at the city’s politicians, whose alleged fixation on holding the Olympic Games in Madrid as a means of resuscitating the capital as Barcelona 92 did for the Catalan city has led to a “mammoth” debt of €7.4 billion.
Even city mayor Ana Botella’s “relaxing café con leche in Plaza Mayor” comment during the Olympic bid has been called into question as the iconic square has become the centre for dozens of homeless to camp out for the night.