Spain is a country where no one appears to buy the press any more (the biggest newspaper is El País with just 96,000 copies sold daily). Perhaps we get our news online, perhaps we watch it on the telly, and perhaps we don’t tune in at all.
With this shortfall in information, it could be that many citizens either don’t know who represents them and what their rights are, or maybe they just don’t care about such things.
It’s certainly the case that the aggressive consumer associations who look after us have an uphill job. Both Facua (here) and the Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios (here) fight numerous campaigns in the consumers’ interest. Furthermore, we have institutional consumer offices (see your phonebook) and even the ombudsman, the Defensor del Pueblo (the national one is here). All of them are working tirelessly for our protection, no doubt.
But what happens if the consumers aren’t particularly interested?
It is of course true that we customers have the chance for ‘complaining sheets if we do so request for them’, but, and here’s the remarkable thing: no one ever does.
The cost of electricity is so high that just for the potencia contratada (the maximum power consumption allowed to a customer), we pay the equivalent of a monthly dinner for two (well, not exactly the kind of dinner that shareholders in the power companies are accustomed to). The water bill meanwhile is raised apparently arbitrarily (the BoT factura suddenly went up 50% last month!). Then we suffer from the absurd government policy regarding alternative energy (decided, evidently, by the power companies), the clausulas suelo, the bank rip-offs, the phone companies, air-pollution and so on...
Over in Granada, a doctor known as Spiriman puts up some spirited criticism of the Junta de Andalucía’s health service cuts (through a mixture of rage and comedy). See his latest video here. On the TV, El Gran Wyoming (here) uses comedy while Jordi Évole (here) sticks to hard research and preparation. All good, but still the consumer is slow to complain.
Here is Facua from their book ‘Timocracia’ on ‘The 39 fines that make it profitable for businesses to defraud consumers until they are caught’: we read ‘...In Spain, ripping off consumers is so low in risk that even an apprentice can be a successful bean-counter. After almost forty years of democracy, the DNA of the Spaniards still does not incorporate the culture of claiming their rights as consumers. The percentage of citizens who report fraud is very low, and most don't know what to do when the company turns a deaf ear or says no...’.
From The Leader: ‘Benidorm becomes fifth most searched-for location in the world for property’.
From The Olive Press: ‘Property prices continue to soar across Spain as Málaga and Balearics lead the way’.
‘13% of homes sold in Spain to local buyers are intended to be used as holiday-homes, according to a new report by the Spanish property portal Fotocasa titled ‘The Profile of Second Home Buyers in Spain’. Local demand for second homes is increasing as the economy improves after years in crisis...’. From Spanish Property Insight here.
The ‘New Balearic Islands Holiday Rental Law’ explained at Spanish Property Insight.
From Typically Spanish: ‘The Cabinet of Marbella Town Hall has regularised the situation of more than 2,300 homes situated in 14 different districts across the town, which were left without coverage when the 2010 General Urban Ordination Plan was annulled. Given the situation, the owners of these houses cannot obtain licences for making reforms or adding extensions to their homes. Also being regularised are 142 plots of land in the same districts which now are available for building licences. According to the Urban councillor, Kika Caracuel, is doesn’t treat homes which have been built irregularly, only in the areas where urban ground was consolidated in the PGOU of 2010, but not in the 1986 PGOU, which came back into vigour after the new plan was annulled...’.
The law appears to be swinging towards the property owner in the cases involving squatters, says La Información here.
From Mark Stücklin’s Spanish Property Insight, ‘Two thirds of Spanish holiday homes are on the coast’. A report ‘...reveals that more than six million Spanish households own a second home in Spain, of which 3.6 million are located in coastal areas of the Spanish mainland and islands...’.
‘Spanish consumer federation FACUA has criticised Ryanair's recently-announced hand-luggage policy changes and has called for a 'new rule reform in the air travel sector'. The Irish carrier, whose carry-on baggage allowance has become the most generous on the low-cost flight market, has now said only the second case measuring 35 x 20 x 20 centimetres will be permitted on the aircraft, whilst the larger, standard hand-luggage case will be checked into the hold at the gate, free of charge...’. From Think Spain here.
From Preferente, an opinion piece called ‘The ultra left and the future of tourism in Spain’ looks at ‘turismofobia’ here.
‘There’s little evidence of UK retirees panicking and returning to the UK, according to official data. Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show the number of UK citizens overseas in receipt of the state pension in European Union countries (excluding Ireland) has held steady post the decision to vote for Brexit. There are around 247,000 British citizens aged 65 plus living in other EU countries (excluding Ireland), and 85,000 people aged 65 plus from other EU countries (excluding Ireland) living in the UK...’. From an article found at the FT Adviser here.
Mundosenior Plus starts its sales for the winter season from today Thursday. All you need is to be over 55 years old. Imserso will follow soon. More here.
‘The Bank of Spain writes off 42,590 million euros of public money out of the 56,865 million contributed by the State to the bank bailout’. Headline from Público here. Even with these dismal figures (remember Rajoy saying it wouldn’t cost the tax-payer a céntimo?), much of the recoverable money still hasn’t actually been recovered. El Huff Post adds that not only is the money lost, 16,000 branches closed across Spain but also an alarming number of jobs – they say 82,000 – went with the fall of the banks.
Now, according to Wolf Street, another bank – Liberbank – is ‘starting to teeter’. The article notes that ‘...Liberbank, Spain’s eighth largest lender, was spawned in 2011 from the shotgun marriage of three failed cajas (savings banks), Cajasur, Caja de Extremadura and Caja Cantabria...’. Like the Banco Popular... (‘The fear is understandable. Spanish investors are still smarting from Santander’s hurried takeover and bail-in of Banco Popular. For the first time since the Global Financial Crisis, shareholders and subordinate bondholders of a failing Spanish bank were not bailed out by taxpayers. Speculators were shocked and appalled’) ...a solution will need to come from the private sector...
Despite her apparent leadership in the economic recuperation of Europe, Spain is the European country where wages have lost the most in purchasing power according to an article in El Confidencial here.
‘The National Court has annulled the sanctioning resolution of around 120 million euros that the then National Competition Commission (CNC) imposed in 2012 on the three telecommunications operators Movistar, Vodafone and Orange for abuse of dominance position by applying excessive prices to wholesale services for termination and access of SMSs and MMSs...’. Público reports here.
‘Amazon will open a new research and development centre in Barcelona, where over 100 scientists and software engineers will work. According to the company, the installations will be dedicated to machine learning, a discipline which comes within the framework of artificial intelligence (AI). The centre will offer support for SMEs in southern Europe and will start to be operational during the first half of 2018...’. From The Corner here.
The PNV has warned the Mariano Rajoy not to overdo his actions against Catalonia if he expects the Basque party to support the national budget presented by the Partido Popular More at El Boletín here.
From Infolibre: ‘The Spanish Government declares all military information concerning Saudi Arabia to be secret. The BOE (the State Bulletin) published on Wednesday an agreement between the two countries for the mutual protection of classified information in the field of defence. Between 2013 and 2016 Spain exported arms to Saudi Arabia for a total value of 1,361 million Euros’.
Headline from The Guardian: ‘One million Catalans march for independence on region's national day. Streets of Barcelona became a sea of estelada flags as pro-independence supporters turned out en masse ahead of referendum on 1 October’.
A comment (from Reddit on this here): ‘Tone down the propaganda a bit. Depending on whom you ask, it can be a million or a few hundred thousand. But the most important thing is that yesterday was the yearly Catalan holiday. So who was celebrating and who was demonstrating for independence is anybody’s guess. It is pretty clear though those independence supporters have taken, and now abandoned, what used to be a great celebration day for the Catalans. It will be back to normal next year, when all but the most stubborn indeps eventually wake up to the fact that independence is another word for impunity of the deeply corrupt local politicians we had the disgrace to have for the last thirty years or so’. El Mundo has a piece on the Diada saying ‘it was less people than last year’ (It fell on a Monday in 2017).
Background from Wolf Street: ‘...Catalonia accounts for almost one-fifth of the nation’s economic output, but for years it’s been locked out from the capital markets and unable to issue its own debt, which is in deep junk territory. As such, it depends on the central government’s national liquidity fund (FLA) for about 60% of its funding, while the central government depends on Catalonia’s tax revenues to keep meeting its financial obligations. This mutually dependent relationship has been under heavy strain ever since 2010, when Spain’s highly politicized Supreme Court, at the urging of the People’s Party, then in opposition but now in government, decided to annul many of the articles of the new Statute of Autonomy signed in 2006 between Spain’s previous Zapatero government and Catalonia’s regional government, effectively stripping the agreement of any meaning...’.
The Spanish authorities and the media are whipping up anti-referendum hysteria. You would almost think that the ‘stayers’ would lose in a straight vote. The police and Guardia Civil have been instructed to confiscate anything that looks like a ballot box or any other voting paraphernalia says El Huff Post here. The latest is to bring in for questioning any Catalonian mayor that has shown to be in favour of the referendum for October 1st ‘or to face arrest’. El País reports here. No doubt the Catalonian people will take all this with equanimity. There are 712 mayors in Catalonia who say they support the referendum (out of 947), according to El Español here. The CUP mayors (the anti-capitalist people) say their mayors won’t be attending!
From El País in English, an opinion piece of little value: ‘The silent majority opposed to independence in Catalonia. Doubters and opponents of referendum are faced with hordes of flag-waving separatists’.
From The Irish Independent: ‘The Spanish prime minister has promised to "stop at nothing" to prevent Catalonia's independence referendum, as he asked Spain's top court to block the vote and his attorney-general prepared to prosecute Catalan leaders. In a blistering address yesterday, Mariano Rajoy accused Catalonia's parliament of an "intolerable act of disobedience" in passing its referendum law, insisting it violated the Spanish constitution. "The consultation is not going to happen in any case," he said. "We are defending national sovereignty, the principle of legality and the institutions. We are defending the rights of all citizens, above all of the Catalans."...’.
A blog written by an American resident in Barcelona is called The Catalan Referendum.
‘Red, white and proud. Gibraltar celebrates its National Day and the 50th anniversary of the first sovereignty referendum’. Sur in English was in Gibraltar on Sunday September 10th.
From El Español: Here's a British woman who has done well allegedly conning others. 'Laura Cameron, the Englishwoman who cleans up in Mallorca with the diarrhoea scam. She and her group were able to convince tourists to claim money from hotels for alleged cases of the runs. To convince them, they used agents, who caught the vacationers in the bars offering them free vacations. The scam amounts to 50 million euros. Laura, the plot leader, was arrested this week...'.
The public prosecutor is seeking ten years prison for two Carabanchel police who transferred the finger-prints of prisoners to crime scenes to ‘solve’ cases in 2013 and 2014. The story at El Confidencial here.
From something called Politics Mean Politics, ‘Extending full EU citizenship to UK nationals especially after Brexit’. There’s a legal view that points towards this here.
British pensioners who live in the EU will continue to see their state pension payments increased each year after Brexit, the Government has indicated. There had been fears that millions of expats who live in Europe would see their pensions "frozen", meaning their value would be steadily eroded over time. This is the situation in countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand, where British state pension payments to expats are not increased each year in line with inflation. But an official update, published quietly last month, confirms that the British government intends to continue increasing state pensions to expats in the EU after the UK leaves the EU in 2019. The update showed that Britain and the EU had the same position on annual increases: that they would continue to be made as now after Brexit... From The Telegraph here.
‘They won’t accept an ID card for a passport and they will limit the stay to two years for low-skilled immigrants while putting problems towards the reunification of families. The British Government is preparing strict immigration policy measures following the exit from the European Union, according to a report by the Home Office prepared last August and published last week in the British press. The 82-page document provides a detailed survey of the Government's plans and presents a poor picture for Europeans wishing to go to work in the UK...’. Story at Expansión titled ‘The UK to put strict controls for the entrance of Europeans following Brexit’ here. A similar story comes from The Conversation: ‘What new barriers can EU citizens expect in their daily lives after Brexit?’. A comment from a Spaniard reads – ‘well, I hope they reciprocate in Spain against the Brits’. Indeed.
‘While British ambassador Simon Manley has been trying to put out the fires of health insurance, pensions and the falling pound, no one wants to talk about the British residents in Spain and their voting rights in the Spanish local elections of May 2019. Will they be able to vote then? Will they be able to put forward candidates? Without the British, will the Town Halls concern themselves over the remaining foreign residents? Will Spain and the UK make a special bilateral agreement on local elections (allowing Spaniards to vote in the UK and Brits to vote here)? Is anybody talking about this? Is anybody listening?...’. From Lenox’ blog Spanish Shilling here.
‘Gracious’, says Público, ‘can anyone find the missing 40,000 million?’. Like something from Where’s Wally, there’s nothing much in evidence on the front pages of any on Spain’s leading dailies regarding the missing millions from the bank bailout. Instead, they have other fish to fry.
VerTele has an interview with journalist and TV anchor Ana Pastor who says ‘I won’t work with a TV which doesn’t allow journalistic freedom’ (referencing the Spanish national TV).
‘Sky TV España is born for 10 euros a month with 10 channels, cinema and complete series. They will sell you a Sky TV Box to connect to HDMI TV loaded with applications. Another new streaming TV is here to compete with Movistar+, Netflix, HBO, Amazon, Rakuten or Filmin. Sky will be launched at €10 a month with "hundreds of movies, 10 of the most watched pay-TV channels and complete TV series" ... Channels include Fox, Fox Life, History, TNT, TCM, Comedy Central, Sy-Fy, 13th Street, National Geographic, Nickelodeon, Disney XD and Disney Junior. The series includes all of The Walking Dead, the latest seasons of Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory or Grey's Anatomy...’. More at El Español here. The homepage for Sky España is here (programs presumably in castellano with the possibility of switching to English). Media-tics takes the larger view of the new ways of watching the television here.
Spain’s position in the World’s health stakes has fallen precipitously says 20 Minutos here. The Lancet has dropped Spain from the 7th to 23rd position thanks to the high consumption of alcohol and cigarettes, together with childhood obesity. Singapore is the best scorer.
‘Shedding some light on Spanish secret societies’. An interesting piece in The Olive Press.
Six cars ‘Made in Spain’ that are something special. Found at El Mundo here.
Inside the Ritz-Carlton cruise ship being built in Vigo. Vozpópuli shows us around here.
Desertification in Almería – a video in German called Kampf ums Wasser (with Spanish subtitles) from Arte here.
Some remarkable cave paintings have been found in four different caves in Cantabria. The paintings are said to be older than the ones at Altamira, at between 20 and 30 thousand years old. The story is at 20 Minutos here.
Hi Lenox (BoT Opinion on Facebook last week),
I know where you are coming from, as I have said before in many ways our minds think alike. Sadly it seems than many of us humans exhibit "The herd instinct" which now is greatly enhanced by technology. Oh and another trait "Taking the moral high ground!"
Best regards, John
Discriminatory songs – a few videos here.
Business over Tapas September 14 2017 Nº 224
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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