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Editorial:

As we wearily say each year about this time – there must be a new record for the heat this year. While it’s a subjective reaction, the reality appears to be – yes, it’s getting hotter with, as The Olive Press says ‘abnormally high temperatures’.

Man-made Global Warming may be the cause (we won’t tell Mr Trump), but the excessive heat, dry winds and a chance spark can set off, and has set off, giant fires, hard to control, with – at least in the case of neighbouring Portugal – the most horrific loss of life. They say that a contributive cause for the devastation is the large number of plantations of eucalyptus trees in that country (used by the paper industry) and also in Galicia (here).

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Housing:

Spanish courts are on the verge of collapse under an avalanche of mortgage floor clause claims, and other claims related to property scandals. The Justice Administration Workers’ Union (STAJ) has warned that Spanish courts are on the verge of a ‘total collapse’ in the face of an ‘avalanche’ of claims against banks for illegal mortgage floor clauses that led to borrowers being overcharged to the tune of billions of euro. The union blames the lack of political interest in providing the justice system with adequate resources and personnel...’. From Marl Stücker’s Spanish Property Insight here.

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Tourism:

Hotels in Mallorca are booked solid up to November, says Preferente with satisfaction here.

But, can one ever have enough business? The hotel guild in Barcelona is worried about the Internet groups like AirBnb and Homeaway who are bleeding them dry. Well, almost. Luckily, the authorities are on their side, and the independents must be sure of carrying a proper registry number. To protect the clients, of course... The story at Hosteltur here.

Pet friendly hotels in Spain (by region). Thanks to Typically Spanish.

Magaluf - 64 things you won’t be able to do at the resort this summer’ – a timely article from The Independent here. Besides ‘balconing’, ‘The rules prohibit defecating in public places, having sex in public, and being naked in public, as well as littering, tearing branches off trees and playing music above 65 decibels. The list of banned behaviour is entirely reasonable, but may convince some British partygoers to head elsewhere in search of hedonism, to one of the various other good-time resorts usually found on Spanish or Greek islands...’. Preferente has the list for Spanish readers here.

Fake complaints and scams increase in the Canaries by 1400% thanks to crafty Brit holidaymakers, says Agent Travel here.

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Seniors:

From News3Edad: ‘Due to the arrival of summer and rising temperatures, the Spanish Society of Geriatrics and Gerontology reminds that those over 65 are at greater risk of suffering heat stroke, having a reduced sensation of heat and therefore of taking less preventative care. The advanced heat can also decrease the perception of thirst, causing a high risk of dehydration, especially in the elderly who suffer from a neurodegenerative disease, or who are overweight, have chronic diseases or are on medication. Then there are the cases in which physical dependence makes a simple change of clothes difficult, and changing the surroundings...’.

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Finance:

The bank bailout apparently cost Spain’s tax-payers 60,600 million Euros, but luckily, says Público ironically, the press hasn’t made a fuss about it... El Español has more on this here.

Spain is losing 26,000 million in tax-revenue due to fraud’, says El País in English here. The ‘underground’ economy accounts for around 16% of GDP, says the paper.

Keeping to the high figures, the ex-President of the Banco Popular, Ángel Ron, says that the BBVA offered to buy the stricken bank last year for 5,500 million euros. The story here.

Deutsche Bank is selling its Spanish operation. There are 200 offices and 2,600 employees. El Confidencial has the story here.

From The Economist: ‘Spain’s reforms point the way for southern Europe. Having tackled its problems earlier than Italy or Greece, Spain is now seeing results’. An excerpt: ‘...Now Spain is heading for its third consecutive year of economic growth of just over 3%, the fastest of any large economy in the euro area. It is creating about 500,000 jobs a year. According to Luis de Guindos, the economy minister, last month the country’s GDP surpassed its pre-crisis peak. Much of the credit for this recovery goes to structural reforms the government pushed through in 2012 ... Spain is now continental Europe’s second-biggest car producer and exporter after Germany. Tourism is booming, too. The country has diversified its exports into chemicals, pharmaceuticals, machinery and professional services. More than 150,000 Spanish companies export, half as many again as in 2007, according to Jesús Sainz of the Círculo de Empresarios, a think-tank...’.

The recent heat-wave in Spain has sent the demand for electricity soaring. Last Friday, there was another record registered in electricity demand for this month of June. According to the national grid REE, at 13:24 hours, 38.835 MW had been used. But the previous day, the threshold of 38.000 MW had already been crossed. REE flagged that the peak of 38.835 MW reached on Friday had not been seen since the middle of January when Spain, and the rest of Europe, was hit by a massive cold spell. On that occasion, demand reached over 41.000 MW. So there is still some room to go, but it’s almost certain that demand will be close to that level this summer...’. From The Corner here.

From El País in English: ‘The Spanish bullet train that will cover the Mecca-Medina route in Saudi Arabia reached a peak speed of 330km/h in a trial run held on Sunday. The high-speed railway link, a €6.7 billion project, is meant to improve journey times for travellers on the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca...’.

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Politics:

Following the PSOE Congress last week, with a strengthened Pedro Sánchez as the by now accepted leader, ‘the Government is now worried’ says the new party spokesperson Margarita Robles in an interview with El Mundo here. Mariano Rajoy, for his part, says ‘he can’t see any deals with the Podemos-leaning Pedro Sánchez’.

Alberto Garzón, the leader of the IU, the junior partner in the Unidos Podemos coalition, says that ‘something is going wrong, and we need to fix it’. The article comes from El País, whose war with Podemos has recently ratcheted up a notch after the party banned the newspaper from attending a press meeting (see Media below). According to a report over in El Español, Pedro Sánchez and Pablo Iglesias have just had a fruitful meeting and will be speaking again next Tuesday.

The incorporation of the concept of plurinacionalidad (“plurinationalism”) into the platform of Spain’s Socialist party (PSOE) during its 39th party conference last weekend has ended years of political fence-sitting by the PSOE on the issue of how to address the obvious differences of cultural and political identity among regions within Spain. It has also fast-tracked the issue into the centre of political debate in Spain at a time of heightened tension over the announcement by regional government authorities in Catalonia that they will move forward unilaterally with an independence referendum for the region after a breakdown of their discussions with the central government in Madrid aimed at securing a mutually agreed referendum, which is prohibited in Spain by the national Constitution of 1978...’. From Progressive Spain here.

From El País in English (June 15th): ‘The making of modern Spain. Forty years ago today, the country held free elections, and democracy was restored after the dark years of the Franco dictatorship’.

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Corruption:

The ex-trainer of Real Madrid José Mario Mourinho has been accused of owing the Spanish tax-man 3.3 million euros, says El País here. Cristiano Ronaldo, also charged with not paying 14.7 million in taxes, will be in court on 31st July in Pozuelo, Madrid (here). Unbelievably, there is even a public petition to let him off his tax-bill. VozPópuli notes that Ronaldo and Mourinho both used the same British Virgin Islands offshore investment company. Another footballer, Ángel di María, an ex-Real Madrid player, has accepted a fine of two million euros and a suspended sentence following a 1.3 million tax mishap (here).

A headline in El Español: ‘A reverse to Judge Alaya and the Prosecutor's Office following the acquittal of all the accused in the case Mercasevilla. The ruling, which does not affect the ERE, states that "there is no evidence" that the tender to adjudicate the sale of public company land was rigged’. The case had taken seven years and two judges to creak through the legal system...

A pact of silence’ says El Español, discussing the court appearance of several senior PP members currently in court over the Bárcenas Inquiry. Don’t expect much on July 26th when it’s Mariano Rajoy’s turn to be interviewed.

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Catalonia:

The Supreme Court is due to abolish the department and post of ‘Foreign Minister for Catalonia’ as it is unconstitutional, says El Español here.

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Gibraltar:

Spain's Foreign Minister on Monday dismissed the idea that his country would block a general Brexit agreement over possible disagreements about Gibraltar. Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis added that the discussion about the British territory on Spain’s southern coast would be bilateral between the two countries, according to news agency Efe. “I think no: this does not depend only on us, it depends on the United Kingdom and above all on an agreement being reached,” Dastis told a press conference, answering a question as to whether Spain would veto a general agreement between the EU and UK, for which negotiations began on Monday, because of Gibraltar...’. From The Local here.

The Brits can be pretty cold blooded, as this story shows: ‘Operation Tracer: The Secret Plan To Bury Soldiers Alive Inside The Rock Of Gibraltar’ from Amusing Planet. ‘...the Second World War, the British Army dug a dizzying maze of tunnels at the base of the rock to defend this strategically important military hold against enemy attacks. More than 50 km of tunnels permeate this massive monolith, and they were once housed with guns, hangars, ammunition stores, barracks and hospitals. After the end of the Second World War, a myth began to circulate that within the Rock there is a secret cave which was meant to hold six men, sealed from the outside. The men were expected to survive and observe the activities of the Germans for a period of one year or more, should Gibraltar fall to Nazi forces...’.

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Brexit:

From The Guardian: ‘The British government is preparing to announce a registration process for the estimated 3 million EU citizens living in the UK, as a first step towards regularising their legal status post-Brexit. It is understood ministers will unveil plans inviting all EU citizens to officially “register their interest” in acquiring documentation allowing them to live and work in the country after 2019 when Britain is scheduled to leave the European bloc...’. Will they have to wear stars?

From The Daily Express: ‘...I may have to go out of the country every 90 days like my American friends do and get my Visa stamped. There is a whole raft of regulations, that in the worst case scenario could be coming my way...’. A British businessman in Spain.

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Media:

Who runs El País? The Izquierda? Certainly not. Video from Revista Mongolia here.

The Madrid Association of Journalists’, says El País, ‘deplores the veto against the press by Podemos’. Podemos had invited the press to a meeting, but had listed six news sources as not being welcome. These were El País, the Cadena Ser, El Periódico de Catalunya, El Independiente, VozPópuli and the notorious Ok Diario. Story here. Indignant editorial here.

Change just one note on a Beethoven symphony, and you have a new piece. Then, get the SGAE to help you charge your musical rights to the piece. Cool, huh? This is what some TV producers have been doing... Story at VerTele here. The Ministry of Culture knew about this fraud, says El Diario here, since at least 2013 and chose to do nothing. The scam was worth at least fifty million euros a year. !8 people have now been arrested (here).

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Various:

The higher temperatures also lead to less water in the reservoirs. With more consumption through tourism and agriculture, Spain is drying out, says El Independiente here.

And what if all those reports of robberies were false, and the alarm companies were trying to increase sales? Bad form, says El Diario here.

Family members of the Opus Dei, the owner of Naturhouse, Pau Gasol, the University of Navarra, Antonio del Valle from the Christ’s Legionnaires and other people of note, listed by El Diario as being share-holders in the doomed Banco Popular.

From Sur in English: ‘She is one of the 8,753 female officers in the National Police, but as a black woman, she is sometimes treated with suspicion’. An interesting portrait of a black police officer.

Bad behaviour from a German ‘Nazi’ gang called the Hammerskins. It seems that these creatures consider Mallorca to be a ‘German Protectorate’. The group has been illegal in Spain since 2009, but, evidently, they’re back. El Español takes a look at them here.

Emigrants who return to Ireland often face great difficulty entering back into Irish society because they feel unwelcome. That was the key finding of a survey and report produced by the Crosscare Migrant Project, which stated that “reverse migrant shock,” where emigrants had a hugely difficult time on their return, was widespread. “Mentally it was tough. At times, it felt like the country I was born in was making it as difficult as possible for me to move back,” one respondent wrote...’. An article from Irish Central: that probably applies to more than a few of us (Thanks Antonio).

A Picasso ring designed by the artist to appease his angry lover is expected to fetch more than €500,000 at auction this month. The Malagueño artist made it for fellow painter and muse Dora Maar after she tossed her own ring into the River Seine during an argument in the 1930s. Picasso had chided her for persuading him to swap an art piece for a ruby ring, so she ripped it off his finger and tossed it into the water where it may well remain to this day...’. From The Olive Press here.

Thirty children ended up in hospital with dermatitis after bathing in the waters of the Mar Menor, says La Crónica del Pájaro here. The children were all reported ‘fine’ the next day. The worst beach in Spain, however, and according to El Español, is one called La playa de Arealonga, en Redondela, Pontevedra, thanks to its high fecal content.

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Letters

Many thanks for the latest BoT; very interesting as usual. I was a bit surprised to see enchufismo listed under Corruption though. We are in Spain after all. In my days back in England we used to call it "the old boys/girls' network". Maybe now it's just LinkedIn...

Saludos Jake

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Finally:

Shakira - Suerte (Whenever, Wherever). YouTube here.

 

Business over Tapas 22 June 2017 Nº 214

A digest of this week's Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners:

With Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner. Consultant: José Antonio Sierra

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