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Madrid is absolutely ready for the beginning of “Jornadas Mundial de la Juventud” (World Youth Day). Streets are clean and shut down and pilgrims are waiting for Benedict XVI to arrive to the city.
Even before his arrival, the polemic is already there. Is it worth it to spend 50 million euros for an event that will generate only 100 million, especially in a worldwide crisis context?
In a non-denominational state like Spain, all Madrid’s citizens will be faced to an enormous traffic diversion and a virtual collapse in the city.
Half a million people are expected to be a part of this 7 day event, but is it really profitable?
Pilgrims who checked in the JMJ, will get special discounts for public transportation, food tickets and housing for only 210 euros. A really good offer for those who are coming to see Benedict XVI.
Considering this, and also knowing that the average age is 22, how much money will the pilgrims spend in Madrid?
Other events, like annual Gay Pride counts with an austere budget, only 500.000 euros, and generated, this year, more than 110 million euros. A considerable difference if we compare it with World Youth Day.
A secular demonstration is also organized for this Wednesday. Madrid’s mayor, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon, believes that this is unacceptable, considering the possible conflict with other religious events.
After several discussions, the demonstration was finally accepted and will coincide with the pilgrims in Puerta del Sol, an strategic hotspot for World Youth Day.
As usual, Spain is divided.
From bullfighting to gay marriage, Spain has two strong views: left and right-wing. We are not talking about politics, but rather people.
Strong points of view are exposed with this international event: from college students to nuns, in favor and again arguments come up easily in Madrid’s streets… and also on the Internet.
Twitter has an enormous roll these days. Hashtags like #MadridSinPapa (Madrid with no Pope), #Madrid11 or #JMJ are used to express from one side and the other, all thoughts related with Benedict XVI and World Youth Day.
Humor aside (people can be really original with their comments), taking a look into these hashtags we can see phrases like “We are totally ready for this incredible experience” and “We are strong and the world will see it”.
But a huge current of comments like “Not with my taxes” and “Spend that money in Somalia” is also coming up with the same force as the others.One thing is for sure, the respect, first of all and from all sides, religious and secular, in this kind of massive event, is the most important matter to emphasize.
In a particular coexistence of each view lies what really turns a society into a tolerant and democratic region.