Lucia Benavides/The World"
No political party won a majority in the nation’s general elections in April, and parliamentary negotiations to form a new government remain at a standstill. If a new government can’t be formed by Sept. 23, Spanish voters will go back to the polls in November for another general election, in what would be the country's fourth in four years.
One of the many projects on hold is Spain's “ecological transition” — a push to close all of the country’s coal mines and transition to renewable energies, like wind and solar.
People in Spain’s northern region of Asturias are anxiously waiting to see how things play out. They’ve been mining there for 150 years. But today, the industry is almost dead.
During a recent weekday at the San Nicolás coal mine, dozens of miners — mostly young men — walked out of their shift around 2 in the afternoon, in a hurry to get home and eat lunch. The underground mine is located in a valley, surrounded by lush, green hills. At its peak, the mine employed around 2,000 people — today, about 200 work there. It’s the last working coal mine in all of Spain.
Gorka Peña, 36, has been working at San Nicolás for nine years. He says his father was also a miner, and he didn’t expect to end up in the trade himself.
“There’s no future here, no youth,” Peña says. “The towns are becoming more depopulated, its residents are getting older. You don’t have anywhere to go, so you have to migrate.”
Last October, the leading mining union struck a deal with Spain’s Socialist government to funnel 220 million euros ($246 million) into the region over the next decade, which would include retraining programs and investment in new industries.
“In Asturias, what we’re asking for and what we need is for this 'ecological transition' to be exactly what it says it is,” says José Luis Alperi, the union’s spokesperson. “That is, that no one be left behind.” "
Read more from Lucia Benavides article at PRI here.