October 31, 2008


As mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve been interested in U.S. politics ever since I lived in LA some years ago. During those 7 years, I avidly followed local as well as national election campaigns. And the current U.S. presidential election is no different.

Whilst I lived in the U.S., I took no particular side, leaning neither to the Democrats nor the Republicans. My interest, you understand, was purely impartial, non-partisan. I simply enjoyed and admired the exuberant tour de force that is American campaign politics. None of the polite, muted canvassing usual in British general elections. Instead you get there the full treatment of in-your-face, barnstorming razzmatazz. ‘Cheerleader’ delegates bullishly brandishing billboards marketing their candidate. Raucous muzak deafening all attempts at speech. Thousands of red, white and blue balloons and streamers cascading from on high.

However, since the arrival of Obama, I have found myself increasingly drawn to his presidential campaign of Change - as indeed appear so many others in the light of the incumbent’s record. So, it was with considerable expectation that I made my way to the American expat community of Andalucia to check out their political allegiances. However, it was politics of a very different kind that’s been preoccupying these ex-pats for the past year of the campaign…

Indeed, less than a month ago, the Nerja Chapter of the American Club held an emergency meeting and voted to break away unanimously from the mother ship - the rest of the organisation - and form a new group, the American International Club of Nerja. I must have looked more mystified than I realised since an official immediately launched into the ‘backstory’.

Apparently, thirty-four years ago a group of Americans used to meet partly for social reasons but mainly to be able to speak in English. Because they didn’t speak any Spanish, he added without the least hint of irony. The American Club (Costa del Sol), he continued, currently has several hundred members divided into five Chapters covering the area from Sotogrande to Salobreña with still some of its original members, now in their nineties, dating from the Franco era.

But why, I was curious to learn, did the Nerja Chapter decide to dissolve all ties with head office now?

Over the last couple of years, it seems, one of the American Club’s goals had been to attract more people and to modernise some procedures which had become outdated. The Nerja Chapter made proposals how the website and newsletter could be improved, how the site could include blogs and a RSS feed and all for less money by outsourcing maintenance.

Nerja was also interested in the philanthropic side of the organisation, keen to integrate and look for Spanish charities to support. This, too, went down like a lead balloon with head office...

So, what of the future?

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