Such a mess in Catalonia. Following a document sent to the United Nations human rights committee stating that the Spanish government has “violated Carles Puigdemont’s right to participate in political life by forcing him to be in exile” (here), news comes that the UN has accepted the complaint and has asked Spain to answer. The whole performance could be dragged out for another twelve months. Puigdemont was arrested at the Danish/German frontier this Sunday and his car was found to have a geo-locator fixed to it by the Spanish secret service. This whole situation is understandably raising tensions in Catalonia.
‘From installing new locks to essential legalities and finding furniture to dealing with your local town hall, A Place in the Sun provides some tips for anyone who has just received the keys to their new Spanish home’. Here.
‘The number of Spanish home sales inscribed in the Land Registry was up by 24% in January, the biggest start-of-year increase since the recovery began, thought the market in Catalonia still shows signs of weakness. There were 42,745 Spanish home sales inscribed in the Land Register in January, and 47,289 if you include homes subsidised by the Government, known as VPO. Sales in the free market were the highest they have been since May 2008...’ From Mark Stücklin’s Spanish Property Insight here.
‘The Spanish administration is again seeking to demolish a property belonging to an elderly British couple in the region of Andalucía even though Christine and Noel Payne, a retired couple in their seventies from Sussex, built their house with planning permission from the town hall of Albox, Almería. In a sad case of history repeating itself, their case is not dissimilar to that of Helen and Len Prior whose home in Vera was demolished in 2008 when the regional government revoked the planning permission granted by the town hall. The Prior's received (some) compensation in 2018 after a decade of costly legal proceedings and continue to live in the garage of their former home’. A note from the AUAN. A piece in the provincial daily La Voz de Almería is titled ‘We are not going to allow the problem with our house to kill us’. The Anglo-Spanish lawyer for the family writes in La Comarca here about ‘The Kafkian world of Andalusian planning’.
Agent Travel says that tourist numbers in Spain will rise to over 120 million people in ten years from now.
The Guardian looks at the occasional anger against the overcrowding of tourists (an anger rarely shown by local businesses) in certain destinations: ‘...tourism bosses across Europe are frantically trying to implement new measures that will keep locals happy and economies afloat. “Someone said there is no over-tourism, only under-management,” noted the World Tourism Organisation secretary general, Zurab Pololikashvili, when asked how the industry could move forward. “What we are facing is the clear need to step up the governance of tourist flows on the ground, especially if we look at growing tourist numbers in general and growing flows to urban destinations.”...’. One solution from the experts is to tighten up the rules on private rentals (experts don’t rent out their spare-bedrooms). The World Travel & Tourism Council has warned Spain (which received in 2017 some 172,900 million euros from tourism) about turismofobia. Preferente has the story here.
Spanish airports must sell small bottles of water for no more than one euro. La Ser has the story here.
From El Independiente: ‘Spain wants to take control of Cuba's airports. Following the diplomatic and business fiasco that resulted in the loss of the Havana airport concession to France, work is now underway to manage the rest of the island's international airfields’.
‘A Costa del Sol hotel is set to receive a €150 million makeover. The Princess hotel in Estepona will be turned into an all-inclusive luxury complex after being bought by Ikos Resorts. “Ikos Andalucia will open its doors in May 2020, with the aim of becoming the best luxury all-inclusive resort in the country,” the company said, which will present the Ikos Infinite Lifestyle experience with this project in Spain...’. From The Olive Press here.
Headline from VozPópuli: ‘S&P raises Spain's rating to A- and expects "Catalonia will remain part of Spain"’.
From El Mundo: ‘National Public Debt increased by 37,000 million euros in 2017 to reach 98.3% of GDP, two tenths of a point above the target’.
Taxes: ‘The Ministry of Finance estimates that this year’s collection will reach a new record high of 210,015 million euros, an increase of 6% over last year’. Found at El Mundo here.
Customers for the ‘Golden Visas’ in Spain are growing fast, says El Diario here, with a current 41,000 foreigners (mainly Russian and Chinese) benefitting from the system. To apply, one needs to have 500,000 in property, or a million euros in stocks and shares...
‘More than 93% of German companies believe that the economic situation in Spain is ‘good’ or ‘satisfactory’, 25 points higher than two years ago, as reported by Reuters. This is according to the bi-yearly survey “German Companies in Spain” published this Thursday and prepared by the German Chamber of Commerce for Spain in collaboration with the IESE Business School’. An article from The Corner here.
Why is the electric so gosh darn expensive, asks Filosofía en una Lata de Galletas? Now someone has written a book one can upload as a pdf file asking this very question.
The story from last week – whether Cristina Cifuentes (the president of the Madrid Region) has got her degree or was it a porky – continues. Ms Cifuentes says, from a TV screen, that she is suing the director and the senior political journalist at El Diario who broke the story with a querella criminal (she is talking jail-time!). (A video from the editor is here). Meanwhile, the Partido Popular is itself now getting worried... As El Confidencial points out, if the story is true, then that’ll be the end of the Partido Popular for the region. Between the Cifuentes and the Catalonia situation, says Zona Crítica, Spain’s reputation is crumbling abroad.
The national budget for 2018 (Presupuestos Generales del Estado) were, pending the support of the PNV, presented on Tuesday after the Partido Popular obtained the support of Ciudadanos. The ABC says that the Government expects to create 500,000 new jobs in Spain this year, bringing unemployment down to 14.7%. Growth is now expected to reach 2.7% this year. The newspaper quotes the Ministry of Economy that ‘the relief of the Catalan crisis after the application of Article 155 has been key in this new revision’. The PNV (the main Basque party) says however that they won’t support the budget unless the Article 155 against Catalonia is lifted (here).
Albert Rivera, the Ciudadanos leader, says that for Spain’s Youth – the political choices today are between Ciudadanos and Podemos, not PP/PSOE. He may be right.
Joaquín Estefanía, writer and ex-editor of El País, says in an interview with El Diario that Spanish politics is getting extreme – or as he puts it ‘reactionary’.
The Hogar Social is a Madrid charity that only provides for Spaniards (and not immigrants). It is run by a far-right group which is now looking to make the leap to a political party says Público here.
‘Why do they vote for los corruptos?’. CTXT is asking Paul Preston, the British writer on modern Spanish history. He says - ‘It is known that practically everyone is accused sooner or later, there are new cases of corruption discovered almost daily, and even so the people continue to vote for the PP or, if it is corruption in Catalonia, they continue to vote for Convergència, PdeCat or whatever they are called now. I think it's amazing that people are voting for the corrupt party, whatever it is, the PP, the PSOE, Convergència...And why are they doing it? It's because they're so used to it.... I think that the Spanish, because of their history, are a cynical race. And that's not a criticism. It seems to me to be an act of intelligence, because after centuries of bad governance, social injustice, totally corrupt politicians or incompetents or both, I am not surprised that they are cynical. If all or many of them are corrupt, well, it doesn't matter, we vote for them anyway. I don't know, maybe you don't agree...’.
To sum up a complicated and worrisome week, here’s Tim Parfitt: ‘...From my point of view, nine Catalan politicians are in jail and seven others are in exile for one simple reason: Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, refuses to accept the results of the Catalan elections that he himself called on 21 December last year, after also applying article 155 to Catalonia. That, again in my opinion, is a disgrace. It is even more of a disgrace that the EU Commission has turned a blind eye to it. This doesn’t need international arrest warrants. It needs international mediation. And it now needs it urgently’.
From the BBC: ‘Puigdemont's arrest in Germany sparks mass protests’. Here.
From The New York Times editorial ‘The Catalonia Dispute Ensnares Germany’. ‘...Madrid’s relentless and heavy-handed response to the Catalan independence movement, starting with the riot police deployed to forcefully, and sometimes violently, disrupt the referendum last October and continuing with charges of rebellion (which in Spain means actual use of force and carries a penalty of up to 30 years in prison) against Mr. Puigdemont and 12 other leaders of the independence movement, is hardly the way to win the hearts and minds of the Catalans or the support of other Europeans...’.
The position of the European Commission (video).
Madrid sees the likelihood of fresh elections for Catalonia in July, says VozPópuli here.
‘Will Brits in Spain be able vote in municipal elections? Politicians and diplomats are vague about post-Brexit voting rights of some 300,000 British expats’. From El País in English. An indifferent article. What about ‘standing for office on local party lists? Not mentioned. Also, if we are to have the right to vote (as non-EU citizens), we may have to re-register six months before the election is held. No doubt they’ll tell us after the event.
Excerpt from a Costa News story regarding a visit to Palomares (Almería) by the British consol, Charmain Arbouin: ‘...On the issue of voting in Spain, Ms Arbouin told this paper that she was “not confident at all” that expats would be able to vote in the forthcoming May 2019 local elections. Despite being hopeful both countries would be able to strike a bilateral deal following the EU’s announcement that it would not get involved in the issue of voting rights in member states, she said it was doubtful this would happen in time for next year’s local polls, meaning expats now faced being disenfranchised both in the UK and in Spain...’.
Not that anyone tells us anything. From The Guardian: ‘Britons in Europe 'entirely in the dark' over post-Brexit status. Campaigners say there has been no direct communication from EU members to British residents’.
From The Huff Post (opinion): ‘How does Theresa May plan to get a good Brexit deal for Britons abroad? Two million and more of us have been no more than rubbish to be trampled on in the rush to 'take back control'’.
Young European of the Year - Madeleina Kay, also known as Alba White Wolf. Video here.
Fake news is everywhere, says Público here. A useful site for checking suspicious looking Spanish stories is Maldita here. Our favourite fake news story this week comes from a site called Hay Noticia: ‘Two choirboys fill the thurifer (the huge incense swinging-jobby) in the cathedral with burning marijuana. The entire flock is grateful and sees visions’.
Silly BoT items find their way to Hard Spanish News on Facebook here.
‘The electricity bill will go down again in March because of the rains but, above all, because of the wind. Hostile weather conditions will again have a positive impact on the electricity bill in March. The main focus has been on wind energy, which is setting historic production highs, even above those recorded in 2016’. More at VozPópuli here.
From La Opinión de Almería: ‘Another fake news story about our agriculture’. The French have made a video called ‘Ne Mangez Surtout Pas de Tomate en Hiver!’ (YouTube here). Don’t eat those tomatoes from the Spanish plastic farms for, let’s see, a dozen reasons. All lies, says the article. The video is watched by the El País staff as well.
From Almería Hoy (bad timing...) comes ‘around three thousand people live in shacks in Nijar, Almería’. Most of them, says the article, are ‘irregular immigrants working for peanuts in the plastic greenhouses’.
Are Spaniards tolerant of foreign settlers? An article at RRHH Digital says that ‘...Spain is ranked in the Top ten of European countries that treat immigrants the best according to the exhaustive ranking prepared by Spotahome, an online platform of rental bookings for medium and long term stays, which measures the level of equality in Europe according to different official sources from a total of 36 countries and 33 cities...’.
The Spanish flag flies at half mast from Thursday through Sunday at all military barracks together with outside the Ministry of Defence. It’s to do with the Death of Christ. Seriously!
‘An entire island has been bought by a Luxembourg family for €18 million. S’Espalmador, in the Balearics, was on sale for months but the regional government ‘could not afford it’, saying they had no support from Madrid. The island is a protected nature reserve, and the family have been warned they are prohibited from any type of construction under the law. S’Espalmador was first bought by a Briton in 1932 for just €255...’. From The Olive Press.
Our friend Spiriman (Dr Jesús Candal), often featured in BoT for his videos against the Andalusian heath service (he has made over five hundred of them here), has found support from the Podemos leader in the region, Teresa Rodríguez. More at Digital Sevilla here.
Caballo (heroin) in Spain is apparently mainly under the control of a few gypsy clans, says an interesting exposé in El Español here.
‘ITVs get tougher: Details of new regulations out in May. A Toughening up on compulsory vehicle inspections, known as ITV tests, is coming into force this May and will mean more stringent measures to improve safety on Spain's roads. A new Bill of Law, or Royal Decree coming into force on May 20 means ITV stations will be equipped with tools that detect emissions fraud, or software installed to mask CO2 and NOx output...’. Nothing to do with getting us to go and buy a new car of course. The story at Think Spain here.
El País has fun with those who only have one apellido (surname). Here, you would be John Smith Notengo, they say jocularly. Those of us who have been, for example, to hospital are most aware of being called by their middle name – and who remembers the middle name of a friend during visiting hours? (‘There’s no Johnson here, but there’s a Mr Kenneth...). Anyhow, if you take out Spanish citizenship, you’ll need another name for your second apellido (which no one will use, except your slightly confused fellow-foreigners).
‘How Black Markets Preserved Spain’s Artisanal Cheeses. Some of the world’s best cheese was illegal for decades’. From Atlas Obscura (in English).
Megan Maxwell, Spain’s best-selling author, is in fact a young woman from the Madrid barrio of Aluche, real name María del Carmen, who writes what used to be known, pre Fifty Shades of Gray, as ‘bodice-rippers’. Her most famous oeuvre to date is Pidame lo que quieras, also available in English as ‘Tell Me What You Want’ (Amazon here). More on this literary phenomenon at El Confidencial here.
‘I work 12 hours a day for 700€ a month and they're going to cut my electricity but I'm proud of Spain because they've arrested Puigdemont". One of those bitterly comical pieces from Público.
A commercial site here says it can get you a ticket to the Alhambra anytime, or show you the bits you don’t need a ticket...
‘The ‘Star Wars’ legend opens new Gibraltar Skywalk. Actor Mark Hamill, of Luke Skywalker fame, used his famous light sabre to inaugurate the all-glass lookout point located inside the Rock of Gibraltar Nature Reserve’. El País in English has the story here. Meanwhile, there’s a pleasant visit to Gibraltar to meet the Mayoress with El Mundo here.
From an interview at El País in English: ‘Christopher Wylie is the brains behind Cambridge Analytica (CA), the data analytics company that is being investigated for its role in the Donald Trump election campaign and the Brexit vote. The 28-year-old “gay Canadian vegan,” as he describes himself, put the most effective data mining machinery at the service of politics, but was shocked by how it was abused. Wylie has since exposed CA and Facebook for secretly mining the personal information of millions of Facebook accounts. After serving as a source for The Guardian and The New York Times, Wylie sat down with a small group of European journalists to talk about privacy, the failure of Facebook, and political interference.
‘...Q. What is the most serious thing you have revealed?
A. First, the fact that there is a company that is a military contractor and also an advisor to the president of the United States. In modern democracies, the military is not allowed to take part in elections: why would we allow military contractors to, or for them to act as advisors for some of the most important politicians in the world? When a company with military clients creates an enormous civilian database, some of it collected illegally; there is a serious risk that the line between domestic surveillance and conventional market research will be blurred. People and lawmakers need to get up to date with technology and understand what these companies, Facebook and others which make money from personal data, really mean. It is important for people not to see it as something abstract but rather as something with a tangible impact...’.
(Many thanks to those readers who wrote about BoT now being 250 editions old...)
You poor chap Lenox, I had no idea that you had gone Teetotal 250 Editions ago!?