There is a political party in Spain which is dedicated to the protection and care of our four-legged friends, the animals. It's called the 'Partido Animalista Contra el Maltrato Animal en España' - or Pacma for short. Imagine just for a moment what would happen if these lunatics got into power. We are not talking about banning bullfights, or hunting, or euthanasia for abandoned pets, or eating meat; but having a Minister for Doggies, obligatory walkies and a regular inspection by a spotty-looking officer to make sure that the animals under your care are read to every night.

OK, it's a little silly, and of course the Pacma people are concerned about ecology too (oh, great!). But, with all this dewy-eyed stuff about our furry friends - none of whom can really tell us what they want (besides not wanting to being castrated - sorry fellahs) - what about another large, silent and forgotten group here in Spain: the four million foreigners? Who represents, or speaks for them?



‘Housing activists made a surprise visit this afternoon to the Irish offices of one of the world’s largest private equity funds (The Blackstone Group). ... Anti-eviction activist group ‘Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca’ has accused the New York-based firm, which spent €6.4 billion on Spanish home loans in 2014, of hiking rents and evicting residents in the Spanish properties it controls...’. Story at Yahoo News.

‘More than 365,500 homes were bought in Spain in 2014, a jump of 21.6% compared to 2013. While far from the record 955,000 properties sold nationwide in 2006 at the height of the boom, the trend looks set to continue, albeit at a steadier rate than before. In the first eight months of 2015, the number of homes that changed hands nationwide climbed by 12%, year-on-year...’. From an article at The Olive Press titled ‘It was the best of times; it was the worst of times...’.

‘How do you sell properties in bad locations and in terrible condition? You don’t, is the conclusion that Fitch have reached, with some 150,000 properties in mind. With an estimated 600,000 new homes on the market (new in this case means never previously sold), the 150,000 that Fitch describe as “unsaleable” represent a quarter of the Spanish new housing inventory, which largely now belong to banks...’. Report found at Mark Stücklin’s Spanish Property Insight. The story is also covered by LaSexta with a video here.

Various ecologist groups (Amigos de la Tierra, Ecologistas en Acción, Greenpeace, SEO/BirdLife and the WWF) have teamed up to berate the PP and PSOE for making it harder (‘almost impossible’) to demolish ‘illegal houses’ while ‘encouraging corruption to flourish’. Story here. A Reader say: ‘Victims should be appraised by adequate Land Registry and other publicity of the planning infractions, not doubly punished through the demolition of their homes. It is here that the efforts of the NGOs would be best addressed. Do these groups want innocent buyers to be left with no home and no money all in the interests of the environment?’. Indeed, the environmentalists seem to be in the wrong in this case (apart from the obvious subject of the huge loss to the Spanish economy). In all, 29% of Spain is a ‘Terrestrial Protected Area’ according to The World Bank.

Catral, Lliber and Montroy are three small Costa Blanca towns which are, like certain others, particularly in Almería and Málaga, notorious for all the wrong reasons: the issue of ‘illegal buildings’. While buyers in these Alicante towns should be safe, they should also take extra precautions (From a Reader, following from this letter): ‘My parents sold their home in the UK and moved to Catral ten years ago, to enjoy the weather and lifestyle that they had seen described and advertised on television in the numerous programmes made for this purpose. They employed legal representation and went through a reputable building company to secure this dream and for a short while they considered they had made the perfect decision. Now they feel they are trapped in a never ending nightmare of illegal builds and charlatans purporting to be genuine solicitors 'guaranteeing', for a fee, to resolve the situation. All they have succeeded in doing is spending lots of money they don't really have, and ending up in the same position they started. The latest attempt resulted in them finding out that there is a demolition order against their property, lodged in Valencia...’.



The Balear Government expects to earn between 50 and 80 million euros a year with a new tourist tax which should begin to operate by the second quarter of 2016. Overnight stays would generate between 0,50 and 2 euros, depending on the status of the hotel or apartment in use as well as the season. Story here. The money collected will be used to improve the environment or for tourist-related themes. The local business association, CAEB, is against the tax which ‘will not help to consolidate the recuperation of our economy’.



‘Vulture Funds are moving from el ladrillo – building – to renewable energies’, according to El Mundo here. Both KKR and Cerberus are now investing in wind-turbine electric production, bringing cash and a policy of short-term investment to the table.

An article in El País in English titled: ‘Spain – A great place to live, a terrible place to work?’. The story (n.b. about Spanish labour, and not foreigners seeking work here) begins: ‘Spaniards sleep fewer hours and work longer days than their European neighbours, but are less productive. At the same time Spain fails to attract overseas talent, while tens of thousands of well-educated Spanish youngsters are heading abroad in search of work...’.



From The Local: ‘Spain must overhaul its labour market and education system and fight cronyism to seal its recovery, said an economic expert recruited by a key party in December's general election. ... Luis Garicano, a professor at the London School of Economics, told AFP in an interview on Thursday that deeper reforms are needed. "The patient has been stabilised but really the long-term recovery has not been achieved at all," he said separately, in a debate in Madrid organised by the Financial Times...’.

‘The Economy Minister Luis de Guindos claimed on Tuesday that the Spanish economy will have created 600,000 jobs this year and that this would reduce unemployment by about 650,000 people, thanks to a growth in the GDP above 3%. Two months before the general elections of December 20, the Minister figures that the fall in the number of unemployed will be "the most intense in the history of Spain." Despite recent improvement in finding work, Spain still has three times the average unemployment of the rest of the developed countries of the OCDE’. Story at El País here.

‘No problem has been too large or lethal for Rajoy’s deputy,’ says the Financial Times, in reference to the Vice-president. ‘...In the four years since Mr Rajoy took office, no problem has been too large (reform of the public sector), lethal (an Ebola outbreak), or mundane (Spanish flags and symbols) to be handed to his deputy. More technocrat than politician, with little grounding and no power base inside the ruling Popular party, Ms Sáenz de Santamaría has emerged as the undisputed number two in Spain’s executive branch...’. From the left-wing Público, does the FT suggest Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría might become the next leader of the Partido popular? Well maybe. She has the highest public rating of any Popular politician...

The main points of the program from the PSOE (less economic issues) are revealed here.

One of the pillars of the PSOE programme is to abolish brothels and to fine those who are caught with prostitutes. With the high unemployment we suffer in Spain, the continual threat of illegalisation of what might be considered distasteful jobs (whether whoring, bullfighting or teaching religion in schools) by different groups for political ends is, frankly, a little silly. From an exposé of prostitution in Europa Press: ‘... According to estimates of the National Police, in our country there are about 1,400 premises where prostitution is practiced, although this number does not include private rooms, that "are both evermore common and uncontrollable," according to the chief inspector of the National Police José Nieto. These figures (suggest) that Spain could have about 1,500 premises of these characteristics, with between 10 and 50 sex workers in each...’.

The President of the Basque Country, in keeping with the lingual traditions there, is known in Spain as el lehendakari. Usually the post has gone to the PNV, the nationalist Basque party, or sometimes to the PSOE, but a possible and perhaps even likely contender for this job could be currently languishing in jail, for promoting the illegal Batasuna Party. The star of Arnaldo Otegi may once again be on the rise as the... well let’s say ‘dean’ of Basque politics considers running as an Independent in the regional elections next year. Perhaps by then, between strong international pressure and a change from Madrid, he might even be free. Público has the story here.

The Government has given a place by decree on the board of the Council of Nuclear Security to Javier Dies Llovera, a member of the Partido Popular, thus bringing to three out of five of the board into the Popular camp, and at the same time breaking an agreement for parity with the PSOE and an independent. The post is for six years.


General Elections 20D


All four main contenders in the upcoming elections: the PP, the PSOE, Ciudadanos and Podemos, are looking for that enormous flock of uncommitted centre-looking voters, estimated as being as high as eleven million people, or 40% of the entire electorate. The analysis is at El País.

‘Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Saturday his government represented the "moderate and reasonable majority" in the face of rivals out to unseat his conservative Popular Party in a December election. "We are the party of the moderate and reasonable majority in the face of radicals and extremists," Rajoy told a meeting in the central city of Toledo...’. More at The Local here.

‘Rajoy looks to save the faithful against an expected drop of fifty seats in the next Parliament’ says El Mundo, noting that the Partido Popular must make its lists accordingly.

‘As the general elections approach on December 20, many in the ruling PP party have already recognized that they may not win a clear majority to stay in power. The latest polls show that Prime Minister Rajoy might need the help of the up-and-coming centre-right force, Ciudadanos, if he intends to govern for a second term...’. Story at The Olive Press.

The UPyD is a small party originally led by Rosa Díaz, who had left the PSOE in 2007 disturbed by its corruption. Now, some years later, a senior UPyD politician has left the ‘going nowhere’ party to join the PSOE. Life in circles. Irene Lozano will be Nº4 on the PSOE list for Madrid, despite some misgivings from senior party members – particularly the President of Andalucía Susana Díaz. Ms Díaz will be remembering Lozano’s recent comment on a chat show that ‘Andalucía is a perfect dictatorship of the PSOE’.

A slightly eccentric yet refreshing debate, held in a nowhere poor-man’s café in Barcelona, with LaSexta’s Jordi Evole on the Salvemos program, hosting a chat between Spain’s two freshest politicians: Albert Rivera from Ciudadanos and Pablo Iglesias from Podemos (clips here). The event is well summed-up by El Español here. The program on Sunday night was watched by a record 5.2 million viewers. Who won? El Mundo readers were more sympathetic to the Centre-right Albert Rivera (80/20%). While the interview was carried in most newspapers on Monday, the subject failed to raise a space on the TVE news (and, on the Monday political news summary, as usual: no mention of Podemos whatsoever). On the ‘censorship’ of the RTVE stations, the Vice-president of the council for news of RTVE says: ‘We have now reached an impossible level of manipulation’. Indeed, when the second public channel news La 2 Noticias attempted to report the censorship on public TV, it was itself censored...




Down in Andalucía, the parliamentary commission dominated by the PSOE, the PP and Ciudadanos has come to an agreement to drop current enquiries into the job training scandal, during the election period. Story here.

‘...Police detained the treasurer of the Convergence party, Andreu Viloca, along with at least three businessmen in the province of Tarragona as part of an ongoing corruption probe, a police spokesman said. A total of 10 arrests were expected as part of the operation which involves searches of about 20 homes and offices, she added...’. From The Local.

‘Ten scandals in Andalucía that no one wants to talk about’. Good stuff found at a blog called Sur Comunicación. According to the site, The Junta de Andalucía pays the 1,300€ monthly rent for the home of the President of the Superior Court of Justice in Andalucía. Some commercial dog food is made from the remains of destroyed animals (the Caso Dasy) and so on: small stuff, but spicy...



The Madrid-controlled Catalonia High Court called on Artur Mas to explain the illegal public consultation on independence last November. Here’s Wolf Street: ‘...If the court case is, as Mas and many other Catalans contend, a political show trial, then what it shows above all is the incredible obstinacy and ineptitude of the central government. Prime Minister Rajoy’s refusal to treat a political problem with political tools, such as, say, dialogue and negotiation, and instead use Spain’s already deeply compromised judicial system to repress and criminalize a purely peaceful pro-independence movement has done nothing but backfire...’.

‘Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría on Friday criticized Catalan premier Artur Mas for not responding to a prosecutor’s questions after he was called into court to explain his involvement in the organization of an informal referendum on independence for the northeastern region last year. “I think Mas believes he is the sole defender of democracy, but I say democracy involves following the law and respecting the judiciary,”...’ she commented. Story at El País in English.




The Express brings us: ‘The Tory leadership hopeful Boris Johnson dismissed dire warnings about the economic consequences of a so-called Brexit, saying the UK could easily go it alone without European meddling. His remarks will come as a timely boost to campaigners hoping to get Britain out of the 28-nation bloc, with opinion polls showing a small majority of Britons now favour severing ties with Brussels...’.

‘Six months ago the chances that Britain would leave the European Union—Brexit—were remote. Today, largely because of Europe’s migration crisis and the interminable euro mess, the polls have narrowed. Some recent surveys even find a majority of Britons wanting to get out ...’. From The Economist.

So far, no one has shown any interest in the future of the British residents in Europe, following a Brexit. Those in favour of staying are more interested in exports than expats.



A rule of good conduct has been issued by the Spanish Secret Service. In short: be discreet, be efficient and be honest. This from the Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (CNI). There are 3,500 ‘secret agents’ employed by the CNI, according to El País.

Spanish wine and olive oil, sold in bulk, is often relabelled as being French or Italian or from somewhere else, or is blended with foreign produce and erroneously labelled. Why is this, asks Magnet. In short, it’s all about the low Spanish bulk prices and clever marketing.

All the bottled water sold in Spain contains traces of hormonal contaminants, according to tests carried out by the ‘Instituto de Investigación Biosanitaria de Granada’ and reported in El Ventano. The contamination is – apparently – in the plastic bottle itself, although smaller amounts of these hormones have been found in glass-bottled water. The report recommends the use of tap water, where the quality is potable, and to avoid re-using plastic water bottles to refill from natural springs or fountains.

From November, Spain will have the most expensive electric in Europe, says a site called Indígnate.

‘Chief Minister Fabian Picardo has blasted the United Nations for ‘consistently thwarting’ Gibraltar’s fight to be removed from the list of non-self-governing territories. In a fiery New York speech, the Rock’s leader warned the UN that the Spanish were acting like the ‘last colonists of Europe’ in ignoring Gibraltarian wishes...’. Story at The Olive Press.

Formación Profesional is student job training. Now, there’s a new subject for those looking to get ahead... bullfighting. Even for Spain, this is thought to be a trifle odd (see here), but, in its defence, the Ministry of Education also offers FP in things like ‘Sonido y disc jockey’.

The USAF had an accident while refuelling a B52 over Palomares (Almería) in January 1966 and four unarmed thermonuclear bombs fell to the earth. The local rumour is that one – the one that fell in the sea – was never located. After a famous photo of the American ambassador together with Franco’s tourist minister Manuel Fraga Irribarne bathing in the sea off Palomares (generally thought to have been photographed off the far safer nearby Mojácar beach), not much happened. The Americans took a load of topsoil from the area, and built a desalination plant (which was later disassembled for scrap), and life moved on. Later though, Palomares stopped being an obscure farming village and turned into an upmarket residential area, so a little more effort was made to check the residual radioactive readings. Now, America’s John Kerry and Spain’s Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo have agreed to ‘rehabilitate the area and haul more topsoil from Palomares to the USA. Sometime soon. To finish this report, Ideal here makes the ‘worst case’ story of ‘a thousand suns’ (includes period photos).

‘The long weekends’ (‘macropuentes’) are back in 2016, despite Rajoy’s promise to remove festivals to the nearest Monday... For example, December 6th and 8th are both holidays in Spain – next year, they’ll fall on a Tuesday and a Thursday – so we shall all take that entire week off work.

Goya is best known for his dark subject matter but a groundbreaking new portrait exhibition at the National Gallery in London shows a lighter side to the famous Spanish artist. The Olive Press has the story.

A hundred observations about Spain...


See Spain


The Tapas dictionary here. Today (Thursday) is World Tapas Day (link in German here)



Dear Lenox, Hate to rain on the parade of those reporting on the uptick in the Spanish housing market, but it’s fairly clear, more so by the month almost, that those who buy into Spanish property with a view to residing in the country are at serious risk of falling into a HUGE tax trap. The fact that Spain won’t meet its EU debit commitments for this year and next is just emerging, not even considering what the country may have to pony up for bailouts of other EU states, Greece and Cyprus. Plus bank defaults. Beyond that the true debt picture, regions, cities, etc included almost beggars belief - at least an unsustainable 120% of GDP. All that sets up a situation barring miracles that when things get nasty, it will be politically expedient for a Spanish government of the current or more leftist stripe after the upcoming national elections to go after the “low hanging fruit”- i.e. the soft target expat for resources. Just as in the famous land grabs of recent memory. Similar moral concept - if we need or want it and you have it, it’s ours. A bit like the highwaymen of yore, for which Spain was renowned.




Andy García with Federico García Lorca’s ‘A la Cinco de la Tarde’ Youtube here (Wow!).{jcomments on}

Business Over Tapas

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