Amateur film-maker causes stir with anti-construction video

LAST UPDATED: 12 Nov, 2007 @ 14:27
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Thousands see footage likening Spain to Palestine

A MUEZZIN offers his call to prayer as the camera pans across a wasted desert landscape. In the background stand the shells of homes with piles of rubble and pools of stagnant water to the fore. At the bottom of the screen appears a one word question: Palestine? This is followed by another: Beirut? Then appears the answer: No, this is Spain.

Immediately the soundtrack switches to Black Lace and ‘Viva España.’ The camera momentarily zooms in to stationary high-rise cranes, before focusing on unfinished apartment blocks, cars driving through sewage and rubbish discarded among cacti.

The scenes of desolation come to a sudden end as does the pop of Black Lace. In their stead sounds the melancholy sound of a lone guitar with the logo of political group Partido Popular.

On screen appear the words: Welcome to Orihuela Costa. The Worst Municipality in Spain.

It is apparent this is no tourist promotional video for the Levante resort, but a stinging indictment of a construction policy that has seen 100,000 new homes built in the town in recent years – many of which stand empty.

However, under the government’s draft of intent to rid the coast of homes built illegally after the Coast Law of 1988, around 2,000 homes could face demolition in the resort.

More than 6,000 viewers have seen this video since it was added to popular website YouTube at the end of October by its maker – the mysteriously monikered Puffin 2206.

It has even featured on Spanish national television, with Telecinco including it in a news broadcast in early November.

The inspiration for the video was born out of frustration that a “dictatorship” of cement reigns in the town, claims the maker, who used a hand-held video camera and a simple computer editing software package to make the three-minute film.

“I bought a resale property here 18 months ago. I enjoy walking in the countryside and have recently been perturbed to realise all the green space in the town has been designated for development.

“I am sick of building rubbish being dumped illegally and housing developments left unfinished. The developer is king in Orihuela Costa,” Puffin 2206 told the Olive Press.

Not all agree with the image of Orihuela Costa portrayed in the video. Although he admitted building in the resort has been rampant, an estate agent in Orihuela Costa dismissed the video as “a load of crap.”

“I have been here for five years and it is a beautiful place,” Ryan from New Horizon Property said. “But all the construction of the past three years has turned the place into a bit of a ghost town,” he added.

According to reports, a lot of the new houses and apartments were bought to sell on once prices rose.
However, the market for new builds in that part of Spain has been stagnant.

“The resale market has been quite healthy for houses older than five years, but not so for new constructions,” Ryan told the Olive Press.

“Prices have not risen as expected so people are just sitting on their investments. This means there are lots of empty properties,” he added.

The video has also been criticised by the town’s ruling PP council. Besides dismissing the claims of corruption that the film’s maker levies at the town hall, a spokesman said: “The images of Orihuela in the video are from years ago.”

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