San Antonio Mayor Wants Riot Police On The Streets For Summer
Request Made To New Balearic Director of the State Roger Sales
Says The ‘Antidisturbios’ Are Essential For The Safety of San Antonio
San Antonio Mayor Pepita Gutiérrez asked the new Balearic Director of State Roger Sales for a unit of Spain’s Antidisturbios (Riot Squad) police on the streets of San Antonio during the coming tourist season. During the meeting on Tuesday, her first with the newly appointed director, Mayor Gutierrez said that the objective in deploying the specially trained police is “to increase public safety during the tourist season”. The head of San Antonio council went on to stress to the Director that the presence of the Civil Guard Antidisturbios in the town centre and in areas of tourist concentration was essential for the safety of San Antonio.
In the meeting, picturedabove, the implementation of the SATE agreement (Foreign Tourists Customer Services) was also discussed. The Mayor described the agreement as defining and strengthening the existing partnership between the Local Police and the Guardia Civil.
News of the request for Riot Police has caused considerable surprise, particularly amongst those working and with businesses in the areas of San Antonio likely to be targeted for patrol.
In that we support the interests of the British and Irish communities of Ibiza, and those of worker and tourist visitors, The Ibizan newspaper finds the Mayor’s decision quite simply baffling.
Such was our view that such a request would be incomprehensible that we sought confirmation from Spanish news desks that we had translated the mayor’s comments issued in a press release correctly.
This latest news comes just s few months after the aborted ’Don’t walk home alone’ campaign in association with the British Embassy, the backlash of which was seen as demonstrating a big political blunder, particularly with much opposition and criticism coming from within her own party.
Then, as will surely be the case now, the issue is that of the way such an initiative portrays San Antonio as a tourist destination.
The similarity of a town portrayed as one where you are not safe, to one where it is so unsafe as to routinely deploy a riot squad, must be seen to have the same damaging potential in adverse publicity.
There will also be considerable surprise that in light of the death of Luke Rhoden whilst in the regular Guardia Civil custody, and two further cases where British men are pursuing legal action against the Guardia Civil, the reaction is to adopt an even tougher stance in the policing of tourists.
Both the don’t walk home alone campaign, and Luke’s death, gained widespread negative publicity in the UK national press, publishing an image of Ibiza that will deter visitors – seemingly at complete odds with all the efforts and achievements at last week’s Fitur trade fair.
We asked for discussion with Mayour Gutiérrez today – though it was short notice to reach this week’s deadline.
On social media discussion was near unanimous in condemning the decision.
San Antonio businessman Martin Makepeace said “Incompetence on a grand scale & another PR disaster. What SA needs in my opinion is more local/tourist police trained to make sure that everybody behaves themselves & to solve problems not create them. This situation has come about because of zero police presence in previous summers allowing the situation to get out of hand so they are think a bulldozer is required when a screwdriver will suffice. It goes to show that even after all these years the ‘powers that be’ in our town still don’t understand tourism & the tourists who bring in the hard currency. Epic fail. “
There was some dissension. Robert Morris said “Before you castigate the Police for dealing with drunken English men, speak to people who have dealt with such drunken behaviour. It isn’t as easy as you think.”
In our humble opinion, the actions of the Police, be they good or bad, is not the immediate issue – we can worry about that when we get to it. The real issue, the unavoidable problem, is how this message will be conveyed in the British press. In the last year we have had page after page of tabloid exposé presenting Ibiza as the worst kind of destination possible. This latest news will only serve to feed that media frenzy.
In that respect it seems an absolutely baffling decision on the Mayor’s part, but we imagine the town’s businesses – already struggling with reduced opening hours, restrictive regulations and the endless bad press may have rather more to say about it than that.
We ask that Pepita Gutiérrez listens to our views and uses the benefit of our community knowledge. If the problem is one of hooligans and bad press, well you couldn’t come to a better place ;-)