Responsible drinking?

October 1st, 2007 | Uncategorized
Spain can be a country of contradictions – sometimes between Local and National Governments. I do not comment on many of these simply because they have no connection to the wine trade, but on this occasion, as it relates to alcohol, I feel compelled to comment…..

Last year, whilst explaining why we chose to opt out of the annual Albariño Festival (see August 2006), I mentioned a worrying phenomena that continues to grow here in Spain – The Botellón. Basically these are organised street-drinking parties that take place every weekend in nearly every city, town and village throughout Spain.

Young people take to the off-licences and supermarkets to stock up on spirits and mixers, on the pretext that they cannot afford to drink in bars and discos. The result being that public areas in cities, towns and villages throng with drunken young people well into the early hours of the morning as they openly swig from their bottles. (And when I say young, they start as young as 11, 12 and 13, simply asking their elders to buy the alcohol for them). The areas that they frequent are left littered with debris and empty bottles, and I will not detail some of the other sights and smells! I guess that the only saving grace might be that they do not appear to resort to any violence (as yet).

The Spanish Government has acted by printing the brochure above, stating that one in every three children between the ages of 14 and 18 gets drunk at least once a month, and then it goes on to warn parents that excessive alcohol can cause irreversable brain damage. Bravo! I may hear you say, there is at least one initiative….. but wait, how does Local government chose to back this National scheme?

Reported, quite incredibly, in the local Galician press, is a meeting between a member of the local Xunta and representatives of the young people. Their agenda? To discuss ways to prevent this under age street-drinking? Well, no, but actually to find alternative locations around the city of Pontevedra where they might re-locate their Botellón to create a little less disturbance!!!

Apparently the local Government believes that it is easier to accomodate the young people and find them a nice location, rather than to confront them and address the underlying problem…..

Is this a tale of ‘political correctness’ gone mad?

N.B. At the meeting, the young people turned down the alternative locations as unsuitable, so they will continue to party in the historic old town centre of Pontevedra. Heaven help the local residents….

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