The Catalonian referendum on independence, illegal or not, will (or perhaps won’t) be held on Sunday. The results may or may not give Carles Puigdemont the support to go ahead with his independence from Spain. They probably won’t be very conclusive, as the Spanish authorities are doing their utmost to put an oar in the proceedings and furthermore, not everyone who has an opinion will necessarily wish to vote in what is generally thought to be an illegal plebiscite.
Difficulties are mounting, with, for example,
Then again, he may be arrested in the next few days, becoming either a political prisoner or a secessionist traitor (depending on who you ask).
His police are now under the orders of the Guardia Civil (a military force nominally under the Ministry of Defence but in reality directed by the Ministry of the Interior). Many of the Catalonian Mossos d’ Escuadra are unwilling to take orders from their new bosses.
Odd things are happening: apparently, Catalonian farmers will be leaving their tractors parked outside the voting stadia from Friday – to stop other large vehicles from parking there... although the Senior Prosecutor’s Office in Catalonia has ordered the Mossos to close down all of the voting stations by Saturday... Many of the national police – anything up to 10,000 of them have been transferred from the rest of Spain – are staying on three Looney Tunes cruise ships until at least October 3rd: while the local stevedores refuse to supply the ships, and the owners, Warner Bros., insist on Tweetie Pie being covered with a canvas. The lowly panaderos meanwhile are said to be the secret distributors of the dreaded cardboard ballot boxes... as the Supreme Court bans the use of public buildings across Catalonia this Sunday.
The rest of Spain is generally enthusiastic about quelling these troubles which could easily escalate, not only in Catalonia, but also in the Basque Country. And for some one-sided propaganda on the issue, try El País in English here.
There are also a number of boycotts going on against Catalonian products – which raises the question: are the Catalonian people Brother Spaniards or not?
We should have a clearer picture in a few days time, but we have to say that, like Pablo Iglesias, we expect the weekend to end in riots, rubber bullets and tears....
From Property Wire: ‘The volume and value of property sales in Spain increased substantially in the first six months of 2017 with an increase in domestic buyers, new research shows. The number of transactions increased by 47% and the value of these sales was up by 55%, according to the latest report from Lucas Fox with sales to British buyers at 10%, slightly down compared to last year...’.
Buying a house means having savings of at least 20% of the price, but what about those who don’t have this money? El Confidencial warns that there’s a slightly risky way to go. The bank might agree to an 80% mortgage, plus a second one to cover the remaining 20%, drawn on the parents-in-law’s home. This is called a ‘double mortgage guarantee’. An article in El Mundo says that the number of mortgages granted by the banks have risen steeply, with July almost 33% higher than the same month in 2016.
From Mark Stücklin’s Spanish Property Insight comes the question: ‘Why are tasador valuations always wide of the mark? They are the bane of the estate agent’s and developer’s lives, and also, of course, the confused buyer who finds that he/she can’t get the mortgage they expected because of a low Tasador valuation and only Tasadores valuations are accepted by the Banks, Registrars and Courts in Spain...’.
Spanish Property Insight offers a review of the additional costs of buying a home in Spain. here.
A gloomy essay at El Independiente looks at the daily lives of madrileños who live in those apartment blocks acquired by the ‘vulture funds’. In short, these profit-driven funds don’t spend much on repairs...
A Canadian company is looking at bringing retired North Americans to some small forgotten towns in the province of Teruel to make their homes there. Now, there’s an idea! From the Heraldo: ‘... Vivaruralspain plans to bring American retirees to small towns in the province of Teruel with the lure of a quiet and safe life, in affordable traditional rustic housing, in charming villages surrounded by beautiful landscapes and where the cost of living is much lower than in their home country. Gary Bedell, head of the company and promoter of the initiative, who has already visited the province and contacted the Teruel Provincial Council, estimates that around 50 pensioners from North American countries could come to Teruel each year. He points out that some twenty municipalities have already shown their interest in receiving these new high-income settlers whose settlement would generate new jobs in the place of residence...’. More here.
From Teleprensa: ‘The president of AUAN Maura Hillen has said she was concerned about delays in granting AFOs to some municipalities of Valle del Almanzora (Almería) and particularly in the municipality of Cantoria. An AFO is a kind of regularization of the house, which allows contracting water and electricity, and facilitates the obtaining of a title deed...’.
An interview with Gabriel Escarrer Jaume, the Vice-president of Meliá Hotels appears in Agent Travel with this headline: ‘Tourism-phobic messages are having a disastrous impact on our international image’, says Escarrer, adding that ‘tourism activity, like any economic activity, must be regulated and planned’.
Ryanair have announced more cancelations between November and March which will affect some 400,000 passengers, says Europa Press here. The company says that 25 out of the 400 of its airplanes will be inoperative over the winter months.
‘Foreign investors have increased their leadership in terms of how many shares they own in Spanish listed companies. They held 43.1% of the total at end-2016. Their share has risen by seven-tenths of a percentage point and is the highest figure in the historical series, almost 13 points higher than in 1992. Proof of foreign investors’ confidence in Spain’s listed companies is that nine years after the start of the crisis (2007), their holdings has increased by 6.3 points...’. From an article at The Corner.
As revealed last week, ‘Senior Andalusian politicians have agreed to significantly reduce Spanish Inheritance Tax (IHT) in the autonomous region of Andalucía. This landmark tax reform is without a shadow of a doubt the most important tax milestone in the autonomous region of Andalucía in the last 35 years (since its inception in 1982). The change will mean 95% of inheritors in Andalucía will no longer need to pay inheritance tax on inheriting assets from their parents or spouse which is a welcome respite. These fiscal changes are in addition to those approved last year...’. From an article in Spanish Property Insight here.
‘Rajoy is to spend more than 6,000 million euros on F35s - the biggest fiasco in modern military aviation. Spain has already confirmed that it is negotiating the future purchase of the F-35 military jets fighters as a substitute for the Navy’s Harriers jets. It has been noted by the Spanish Navy that the government now admits that negotiations have been going on for years, coinciding with Trump's demand to increase spending to 2% of GDP...’. From Meneame here.
President Rajoy was in Washington on Tuesday to meet President Trump. According to a report at The Local, ‘US President Donald Trump said it would be "foolish" for Catalans to try to leave Spain, urging the country to remain united ahead of a banned independence referendum Sunday. "I really think the people of Catalonia would stay with Spain," Trump said as he offered support to visiting Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy at the White House Tuesday...’.
Fallout from the heavy-handed treatment of Catalonia is that the PNV, the leading Basque political party and a sometime junior supporter of the Partido Popular in Madrid, has withdrawn its support for the national budget for 2018 leaving the Government in a minority. This, says El Diario, tarnishes Rajoy’s reputation abroad.
In a fresh scandal for the Government, as related by Público, fake stories were created to discredit various enemies between 2012 and 2017: ‘Congress rules that the Government created a political police force to attack its rivals. The conclusions prove "with a strong documentary base" that the previous Ministry of Interior directed by Fernández Díaz used public resources to create false investigations against the Catalans, Podemos and the PSOE’.
The PP has called on Juan Carlos Monadero, Eduardo Inda and available members of the Venezuelan Government to explain in the Senate the bank accounts of Podemos. The story at El Diario here. Perhaps for balance, Unidos Podemos has called on Marcial Dorado, Oubiña y Feijóo to explain to the Senate the accounts of the Partido Popular (here). To explain slightly, Monadero is a founding member of Podemos, Inda is the editor of the far-right OK Diario and Marcial Dorado and Oubiña are two notorious drug smugglers from Galicia, from where they are rumoured to have a relationship with the Galician PP.
A (probably imprecise) map of Spain’s corrupt politicians by region here.
From The Guardian: ‘The view from Madrid: anger and sadness as Catalans prepare for vote. Beyond Catalonia, there are calls for Spanish unity and bitterness about claims that the northern region is footing the bill for the rest of the country’.
From the always slightly alarming Wolf Street: ‘It Gets Ugly in Catalonia’. An excerpt: ‘...Each time Prime Minister Rajoy or one of his ministers speak of the importance of defending democracy while the Civil Guard seizes posters and banners related to the October 1 vote and judges rule public debates on the Catalan question illegal and then fine their participants, a fresh clutch of Catalan separatists is born...’.
From Politico: ‘In Catalonia, Rajoy chooses to confront the separatists. Spain’s conservative leader has broad support for his showdown with the Catalans. But does he have a plan?’.
The Olive Press has the video of cheering crowds as the Guardia Civil leave town to go quell the rebellious Catalonians...
Jordi Évole interviews Carles Puigdemont on Salvados (Antena3) video here.
There are a number of anti-independence marches called across Spain for this weekend, mainly organised, says El Español, by the Extreme Right. The marches are ‘to defend the unity of Spain’.
More on Catalonia
by Andrew Brociner
Will the vote take place on 1st October as planned? With increasing pressure by the central government, it looks less likely than before. Catalan's police force, los Mossos d'Esquadra, have been told to take their orders from the Guardia Civil, part of the military, but the head of the Catalan police force has refused. With ballot papers seized, ministries raided and websites shut down, the central government has used force to halt the independence vote by any means available. Of course, this has produced a backlash of hostility and resistance, with pro-independence supporters taking to the streets and defiantly claiming that the vote will go ahead anyway.
Rajoy has a lot at stake. If Spain loses Catalonia, the wealthiest region, it would plunge into serious financial difficulties. Taking away 20% of GDP would make the debt unsustainable, even leading to eventual default and perhaps even bankruptcy. There would be no way to fund Spain's other regions which rely on Catalonia's contribution. Catalonia, on the other hand, would have an economy on par with some already existing EU ones. Rajoy once threatened Catalonia that, in the event of independence, it would no longer be part of the EU and that it would have to begin again. This empty threat was not confirmed by the EU itself. Ironically, it is more likely that an independent Catalonia would remain in the EU and that Spain, through debt defaults, would be forced to leave the eurozone.
Not all Catalans are for independence, of course. Some are Spanish mother-tongue and they in fact make up the majority. Not only are many people in Catalonia against separation, but they, indeed, want a more pluralistic region in which Spanish is more accepted. The core pro-independence supporters represent perhaps 30% and some of these have their own motives. The leaders have a political one. Puigdemont would see himself becoming, not the head of a region, but the head of a state. There are clearly personal reasons behind the independence drive and much of the claims about the language and the history of the region are spurious. But, whatever the reasons, there are much better ways to deal with the current situation than by the use of force, escalating tensions and producing counterproductive results.
On a smaller scale perhaps, but there has been rioting in Murcia following the plan to build an overpass as part of the AVE’s entrance into the city, a construction which would ‘isolate over 200,000 inhabitants from the rest of the city for around three years as the building of the overpass continued’. Poor planning indeed. The story at El Diario here.
Another fine against Telefónica has been struck down on appeal. This time, the operator has saved itself 25,780,000 euros. The story here.
‘Bremain in Spain ( http://www.bremaininspain.com ), a group campaigning for the rights of British citizens in Spain, responds to Theresa May's Brexit speech that took place last week in the historic city of Florence, Italy, in front of an audience largely comprising local dignitaries, UK cabinet members and the press, with a noticeable absence of EU policy makers...’. Here.
El País in English and the story of ‘a surprising number of Spaniards living in the UK who back Brexit’ is here.
From The Olive Press: ‘Brexit Update: Assessing its Impact on the European Economy’.
From the EuroCitizens blog: ‘We meet Ambassador Simon Manley for a frank and open exchange of views’.
From the EuroCitizens blog: ‘How to Apply for Spanish Nationality’.
The six largest Spanish newspapers sell, between them, less copies than El País was selling ten years ago. The story is at El Español here. That’s just 316,288 copies sold daily in August between El País, El Mundo, ABC, La Razón, La Vanguardia and el Periódico.
From El País, an article on bilingual children: ‘...With what it costs us adults to learn a new language... and the ease with which the youngest develop in a second language. We are still a long way off from understanding how learning to communicate really works, but neuroscience is studying the subject and we now know a little more about how the brain works in bilingual children, the benefits of speaking two languages and the cost of this in other skills...’.
The largest shanty town in Europe is the slum outside Madrid called La Cañada Real. It’s a well-known nest of criminals, drug vendors and the truly poor. There are now plans to remove this dangerous and illegal settlement once and for all, says La Información in an article and video here.
El Mundo claims that there are over 850 illegal wells (albeit long permitted by the Junta de Andalucía) within the confines of the Parque Nacional y Natural de Doñana, which, inevitably, are contributing towards the wetlands’ demise. Meanwhile, most of the European funding (FEDER) for La Doñana, ends up in the Palacio de Las Marismillas, the publicly owned holiday residence for presidents and ambassadors. El Mundo says that 3.6 million of the 4.1 million given by the FEDER between 2006 and 2016 ended up in maintenance at the palace.
The drought is intensifying in Spain despite the recent rains, says 20 Minutos, with water reserves worrying low.
What will happen with English, as the usual language of the EU, when the British leave, asks El Español with some justification? We are reminded that, until 1973, the working languages of the EEC were French, German, Italian and Dutch.
‘El Rocio is Spain’s strangest town. Nestled on the edge of the wild lagoons and marshes of Doñana National Park, the town looks like a film set from a spaghetti western. This is the place where the wild west of Spain gets wilder… where you’ll discover a strange history of pilgrimages, brotherhoods and wild horses.,,’. From Tammy Tour Guide here.
From The Guardian: ‘El Greco to Goya review – tears, shackles and anguish in dark dramas from Spain Wallace Collection, London. Ecstasy and self-loathing abound in this show of masterpieces and an exquisite selection of other paintings from the ‘best place to see Spanish art in Britain’. At the Wallace Collection, London, 27 September to 7 January.
Hi Lenox, You haven't being able to recline your seats on a Ryanair flight for approx five years now. They are fixed in the upright position. Richard.
Does he want them to vote for independence? He is doing everything to ensure this.... Valerie.
A well-presented video called ‘Spain's Economy is Growing, but Leaving Most Spaniards Behind’ (the sound could be better). From The Real News on YouTube here.
Business over Tapas September 28 2017 Nº 226
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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