The stage of La Vuelta in the Region serves to make visible the protests over the state of the wetland on the sixth day in a row in which thousands of dead fish and crustaceans appear
Those spontaneous and loud applause from the audience must have been for the arrival of the first cyclists to the finish line. But no. Those who provoked the first great ovation from the respectable were the members of the SOS Mar Menor Platform, who won the first positions of the last section of the stage of the Vuelta Ciclista a España in the Region of Murcia dressed with flags, umbrellas and black t-shirts in a sign of mourning for the battered ecosystem. A wetland on the wire that yesterday vomited thousands of dead fish and crustaceans for the sixth consecutive day and without permission from the propaganda and the sporting event on duty. The drivers already thought that it was an impossible mission to find a free parking space between the Entremares hotel and the port of Tomás Maestre. And that was when the human being came up with the idea of putting a stage of the Cycling Tour of Spain up to kilometer 10 of that narrow and over-squeezed tongue of land that, according to the Police informed the members of the foreign teams that run La Back, “there is no exit to the north” towards San Pedro del Pinatar.
The collapse of traffic yesterday around La Manga was notable, since the only access to the most important tourist center in the Community was completely cut off for more than six hours as a result of the cycling stage. Although he already wanted that collapse, punctual and controlled, the ecosystem of the salt lake, whose delicate situation yesterday sneaked into the houses of half the world by the work and grace of cycling and that same human being who never imagined that a sporting event of This magnitude could coincide with the most serious environmental crisis in the Region in its recent history. «I have liked cycling since I was little. But I don’t care who wins today’s race. What matters to me is the future of the Mar Menor and that people know that it is dying ”, explains Roberto from Madrid, who chose La Manga to spend his holidays more than ten years ago. “When the water was crystal clear and we saw seahorses. I no longer bathe or let my children bathe, because water is like oil, and the bottom is a quagmire, ”he illustrates. Agustina and Manuel are also from Madrid and are also protesting the situation of the sea next to which they bought their second home a quarter of a century ago. “We ask that you please listen to us and take measures so that my children and my grandchildren can bathe here in 20 years,” Agustina claims. «It is very good that La Vuelta comes and that everything wants to come. But this, right now, is a mousetrap. There are many things to do here and we pay a lot of taxes for it, ”laments the husband.
“My soul broke when I had to leave the beach with my daughters because they closed it due to contamination,” laments a neighbor from Cartagena
The protests took place at various points along the coast, from Los Alcázares to La Manga, passing through Los Urrutias and Los Nietos. On several occasions, the ‘black shirts’ threatened to invade the road on which the race was running, although the strong police presence avoided it. “Mar Menor alive!” they launch proclamations in favor of the cyclist on duty. Where before the Perico and Indurain were cheered and now the Valverde and the Luisle. Spaces dominated by the yellow jersey of the Tour de France and the red jersey of La Vuelta a España, jerseys that accredit the provisional leader of the classification. But yesterday’s slogans were not directed at cyclists. The unanimous desire to save the salty lagoon was reflected in the throats of the tourists and even on the banners of the apartments, which seems an increasingly distant utopia in the eyes of some neighbors. Eyes that tend to fill with tears after a brief walk on beaches that previously wore the blue flag and that today are dressed in the black ‘jersey’. Shores where there used to be sand castles and which have now become “cemeteries for sea bream, sole, mullet, sea bass and prawn.” Joaquín is 43 years old, he is from Cartagena but he spends his summers in the area for as long as he can remember. He comes out of the Los Alemanes beach “totally decomposed”, drenched in sweat but also in sadness. «It is the first time in my life that tears have escaped me over the Mar Menor. My soul broke when I had to leave the beach with my daughters because they closed it due to contamination. I believe that this no longer has a solution. Is dead”. Yesterday the Cartagena City Council closed all its Mar Menor beaches in La Manga.
“Summer is over”
The Madrid-born Rosa and her granddaughter Rosita also put their feet in dust when they realize that the Los Alemanes beach was still closed to bathers. The grandmother so calm sunbathing while the little one collects fish carcasses in the sand. “Get out of the water right now and call your mother to come pick us up,” orders Grandma. “This is a shame,” he protests as he shakes the towel.
“Today, with the beach empty, billing will drop by 50%,” Andrea, who works as a waitress at the Patapalo beach bar, calculates a few meters away. Another exquisite corner of La Manga, the Cala del Pino, is also closed to the bathroom and there are many more flies eating dead fish in the sand than customers tasting the steamed mussels from the chiringuito, which only has three of the twelve tables occupied. “Summer is over,” laments the owner.
The cleaning services of Cartagena and San Javier yesterday erased graffiti on the roads that read “SOS Mar Menor”
“It is a disaster and an injustice”, defines a family that had also “lost their way” when accessing this beach. All of them join the cry for help for the lagoon that yesterday sneaked into many corners. And this despite the arduous work carried out by the cleaning services of Cartagena and San Javier in their desire to erase the graffiti on the roads – very characteristic of cycling rounds – in which the “SOS” moved through the Mar Menor . The same message, by the way, that a few hours later was posted by President Miras, as a Twitter profile photo. Social networks yes; asphalt, no. The stage was won by Fabio Jakobson.