In times of struggle and unrest, violence often breaks out, violence wrapped in a flag: the skin heads of the far-right. Remarkably, Spain doesn’t have much of a far-right presence by European standards (although there are a few ‘alt-right’ newspapers).
There are a number of small poky parties that briefly flitter through the news. We have the oddly named Falange Española de los JONS, the Alianza Nacional, the Movimiento Católico Español and a number of others (Wiki here). There is also the Alternativa Española, which was touted by the British Conservative and Eurosceptic Daniel Hannan as the party for the British residents to vote for in the European elections of 2009, but thankfully they are all ‘small potatoes’ without any voice in the Spanish Cortes. Yet, within the Partido Popular, and without naming names (beyond, let’s say, a previous Minister of the Interior), there are without doubt some who could be more comfortable in a formation further to the right. Some PP voters, too.
With the situation in Catalonia, it is a perfect moment for certain fiery individuals to reach for the flag and the knuckledusters, and a number of demonstrations, fights and arrests have been recorded, usually dismissed in the Media as coming from the ‘Ultras’ – football hooligans, in short. Twelve arrests of Ultras were recently reported in Valencia: political prisoners? Hardly! Another 53 have been ‘recognised’ by the Mossos in Barcelona: Hitler salutes and swastika people. Uggh!
Ultras, skinheads and fascist salutes are one thing – but in a country without a far right presence in the corridors of power, a country with long memories and sinister religious associations – the question must be faced: is there room here for a ‘Frente Nacional’?
European Directive 2010/31 requires member states of the Union that all public buildings from December 31, 2018 onwards be Near Zero Consumption Buildings (ECCN), and all buildings without exception from December 31, 2020 onwards. Certificados Energéticos explains what’s coming. El País also considers the new rules with ‘Green housing with passport to 2020. In Spain there are already dozens of buildings with almost zero consumption, stricter indeed than the current building regulations’.
From Spanish Property Insight: ‘Applications for licences for new builds went up by 24.4% in the first seven months of this year. According to figures from the Development Ministry (Ministerio de Fomento), some 49,238 applications were made. The majority – 37,039 – were for apartment blocks, up 26% compared to 2016 and 75.2% of the total applications. Those for detached homes totalled 12,174, an increase of 19.5%...’.
‘The constitutional crisis in Catalonia could take some heat out of Barcelona’s housing market, where prices have risen 21% in a year. Vendors will find foreign buyers playing wait and see, though agents tell me local demand is not affected. A crisis is usually a bad time to sell (and a good time to buy). As it's likely the crisis will be resolved I think it’s too early to panic, as I explain in the Sunday Times this weekend. But I also fear this conflict will inflict lasting damage on Catalan society, and the regional economy, with long-term implications for the regional housing market’. Editorial from Mark Stücklin’s weekly update.
Plans for the skyscraper in Málaga port have taken a step forward after environmental approval from the Junta de Andalucía arrived last week. Cadena Ser has the story here.
The city of León will be the Spanish capital of gastronomy for 2018, says Hosteltur here. The city has the highest number of bars per capita in Spain at just over five per 1000 inhabitants. The tapas are good, too. It also has around 1,200 restaurants.
‘The New Decluttering Trend Is Called Swedish Death Cleaning And We Tried It’. Report on cleaning out the clutter at Whimn here.
You are not alone. ‘A social network for widows sets up an Andalusian branch. The Jolly Dollies aim to restore the confidence of widows through social activity and support’. A story at The Olive Press here.
An article from Eye in Spain called ‘Growing Old in the Pueblo’. It begins: ‘Officially, I’m not old. I’m too young to get a pension, and I’m not sixty yet. My pueblo organises events and trips for the “oldies”, but technically I’m too young. Technically. But thanks to last year’s heart attack, I can sneak in. The doctor “prescribed” me the Thursday gym sessions in our health centre for “los mayores”, the oldies of the village. This apparently minor decision on the doctor’s part opened a door to a new world, a world inhabited by friendly, active, welcoming, and hysterically-funny older people. You could say that this was a world into which I had not wanted to enter, but now my fears have gone...’.
‘Big changes are coming for the self-employed in 2018, after the Spanish Senate approved a new law regulating this category of worker. Called the Ley de Reformas Urgentes del Trabajo Autónomo, the new law is a product of the PP & Cuidadanos parties, although it has received broad cross party support. It will affect the 3.2 million autónomos (self employed) workers across Spain, and is expected to act as a “shot in the arm” to these hard working people. The new law introduces 18 major changes to the fiscal regime under which the self employed work. Eight of these changes will take effect on January 1, 2018, because they have to be included into the state budget for the New Year. The other ten will take effect once the definitive version of the new law is published in the State Gazette....’. Thanks to Cervantes Alarcon for the information here.
The Corner considers the presence of Spanish banks in real estate: ‘In Spain banks stocks, particularly Santander, play an unusually important role in driving the index Ibex35. “To understand the prospects for the Spanish banks (and ipso facto, the overall index), it is crucial to have a handle on the health of the domestic real estate market,” affirms Goldman Sachs research. Experts remind that nine years since the beginning of the 2008-09 financial crisis and three years since Spain began its economic recovery, the exposure of Spanish banks to the real estate sector remains “large and somewhat problematic.”...’.
‘The Government estimates that "more than" 2,000 million euros will be paid for the cost of rescuing the nine motorways next January, with the ultimate aim of putting them out to tender again to transfer their operation to private companies. This is the amount that the Executive will set aside in the budget carried over from 2018 to cover the patrimonial responsibility of the administration (RPA) that the State has before the current concessionaires of these roads, that is, the amount that it has to pay them for the investments the companies have made in building them...’. The amount to be paid by the tax-payer could rise to something nearer double this figure, says Público here.
The European PP and PSOE have joined forces against terming Luxembourg, Gibraltar and Andorra to be fiscal paradises says El Salto here. Thus, these (and some other states within Europe) won’t be considered as being part of the ‘Panama Papers’ inquiry.
Tesla opened its first showroom in Spain on Wednesday, in Barcelona, says El Mundo here.
An opinion piece in El Diario says that the longer Mariano Rajoy waits, the stronger he becomes. The apparent dithering of the Spanish government – and more importantly, the Catalonian provocation – is bringing more voters to the Partido Popular.
Voices are being raised in the PP to illegalise independence parties says El Español here.
A political and commercial union of Spain with Portugal? It would bring us into The G8, says El Confidencial here. Such an idea finds favour with the Partido Ibérico Íber in Spain and the Movimento Partido Ibérico in Portugal - both keen on the creation of a ‘Lobby Ibérico’.
Labour accidents in Spain. The Ministry of Employment would rather not speak of this, says El Confidencial, but there were over half a million reported last year.
'Once again the Andalusian Ministry of Health is in the news, this time for placing high positions in 'ghost' institutions in the Junta, centres that have been closed for a long time. Last July, the Government of Susana Díaz appointed María Victoria Ayudarte Polo and María del Mar Robles as directors of the Public Health Laboratories of Seville and Cádiz respectively. These appointments have been made to occupy positions in centres that were totally dismantled years ago and of course do not have any workers since they are relocated to other areas of the Andalusian administration...'. Story at Digital Sevilla here.
From Público, taking stock: ‘Around ninety politicians and funcionarios are in prison in Spain for crimes of corruption’.
From Reuters: ‘Catalonia refuses to renounce independence, separatist protesters rally. Catalonia refused on Tuesday to bow to the Spanish government’s demand that it renounce a symbolic declaration of independence, setting it on a political collision course with Madrid later this week...’.
Monday: ‘A Spanish judge has jailed two key members of the Catalan independence movement. Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart, who lead prominent separatist groups, are being held without bail while they are under investigation for sedition. The men were leading figures in the 1 October independence vote, which the Madrid government regards as illegal...’. From BBC News. As you can see in the photo, the two men appear to think that they have won a point.
Wednesday afternoon: Amnesty International has called for the release of the Two Jordis.
From Wolf Street: ‘In Catalonia the economy is already beginning to feel the pinch from the rise in political tensions, as tourist numbers plunge 20% to 30% and as hundreds of companies, both domestic and foreign, move their headquarters to other parts of Spain, albeit in most cases only on paper. But there’s one business that’s doing a brisk trade: the flag business. Wherever you go these days, flags are everywhere. For years the estelada flag, the starry symbol of Catalan independence, has been a ubiquitous feature of the urban landscape. But now the Spanish flag is doing its best to catch up. As Catalonia’s separatist movement grows in confidence, more and more balconies in Madrid, Valencia, Seville and other Spanish cities, including even Barcelona, are sporting the bold red and yellow of the Spanish flag...’.
From the El Cano Royal Institute: ‘Catalonia’s independence bid: how did we get here? What is the European dimension? What next?’.
From El Diario comes this sinister item: ‘The chairman of the Seat works council and president of the UGT union in Catalonia, Matías Carnero, told the Basque Radio and Television Corporation (EITB) that the company has received "political and monarchical pressure" for the change of its headquarters to another part of Spain...’.
El País in English reports that the Government will stop the implementation of Article 155 if Puigdemont was to call for early regional elections. Fair and balanced ones? The deadline is Thursday morning. The Catalonians seem unlikely to give in (Europa Press). From El Mundo, we read that, if Puigdemont fails to drop his independence process today, Thursday, then the Government will initiate the Article 155, but will hold off the final activation until the end of October.
There are a number of useful articles on Catalonia at The Guardian’s page on Spain here.
Latest on Catalonian Independence
by Andrew Brociner
The day of the official announcement, Puigdemont wanted more time, before going ahead with independence, announcing that he would be open to talks with the Spanish government for the next two months. He was trying to bring about dialogue and to avoid the confrontation that until now has characterized the central government's approach. In doing so, he was backing his position with the real prospect of independence. But, consistent with the central government's approach, the result has only been more confrontation and tension. Rajoy set a limit for Thursday for the Catalans to declare independence. Otherwise, he threatened to invoke article 155 and to remove Catalan autonomy. Moreover, he has placed two leading Catalan politicians, Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, in jail without bail, provoking yet again another reaction from the Catalan people, who took to the streets in protest against such tactics of taking political prisoners, with another one planned for this Saturday. And this took place after having called in for questioning the head of the Mossos d'Esquadra. The central government has not changed its counterproductive strategy one bit, which only leads to this kind of reaction from the Catalan people and escalates the conflict, rather than trying to find a peaceful solution through dialogue.
It is clear that the approach taken by the central government is playing into Puigdemont's hands. The repression carried out by the police against peaceful voters, the prohibition of exercising a people's democratic right to vote, the questioning of the head of the regional police, as well as the jailing of two independence leaders, the issuance of an ultimatum to clarify the declaration, backed by the threat of losing autonomy, all lead to the reactions manifested by the Catalan people in the form of protests, but also strengthen Puigdemont's hand in declaring independence. Moreover, the Catalans see themselves as isolated, not only from the Spanish government, but also without the support of either the Spanish King, who took the central government's side, or the EU, which although condemning the Spanish government's methods, stated that an independent Catalonia would not be inside the EU. These reactions make it easier to declare independence, as aside from the vote in favour, there is also the support of many who are indignant at the one-sided and repressive approach against them. And given that dialogue has been and still continues to be rebuffed by the central government, the events are now moving towards a climax, which is pointing to a declaration of independence.
Horrible fires in Galicia. Here’s a short and shocking video of a family driving through the burning countryside. The Olive Press said on Tuesday afternoon that ‘At least 39 dead in Spain and Portugal fires as suspects arrested’. Adding ‘...Officials in Portugal and Spain said arsonists had started some of the fires, which were aided by the strong winds from Hurricane Ophelia. At least 36 people died in Portugal at the weekend and more than 50 were injured...’. By Wednesday, the Portuguese Minister of the Interior had resigned over the issue of poor management of the calamity. The Guardia Civil find evidence of gas balloons with fireworks inside them in Pontevedra, says La Vanguardia here. Meet Xosé, the old man who lost his house in A Cañiza (Pontevedra), a municipality which has seen over 1,500 fires since the year 2000. El Mundo reports here. The Galicia fires had all been brought under control by Wednesday afternoon, says El Mundo here.
From El Salto: ‘The Paper industry and "burn the hills": the key to the fires in Galicia’. The article speaks of ‘The expansion of eucalyptus for use in the paper industry, the lack of a prevention policy, the precariousness of fire fighting devices and the Forestry Law are some of the keys to understanding the situation in Galicia today’. A video claims 146 fires over the past weekend and blames ‘speculators, cut backs and the paper industry’ for the fires.
From El Confidencial, a mistake in procedure has allowed a massive fraud case to lapse. ‘The Cort Lagos family, owner of a large part of the land in Valdebebas (Madrid), has been spared a complaint from the Tax Office accusing them of having defrauded 112 million euros. The Madrid Court has considered the claim for 111 million euros in 2009 to be pre-emptive and only accepts the claim for 1.2 million euros in 2010. The court took this decision because the judge who was originally given the case did not immediately admit the complaint of the State's Attorney, but raised a question of jurisdiction. When three and a half months later the proceedings began, the first part, the most important one, was already prescribed...’.
From The New York Times: ‘Four former managers of Spanish savings bank Caja de Ahorros del Mediterraneo (CAM) were sentenced to prison by the country's High Court on Tuesday after being found guilty of false accounting and misleading investors about the lender's health. Former managing directors Roberto Lopez Abad and Maria Dolores Amoros were sentenced to three years, while planning and control manager Teofilo Sogorb was given four years and risk manager Jose Martinez Garcia was sentenced to two years, nine months and a day...’.
‘A British couple who faked holiday sickness are jailed. The pair claimed they fell ill twice in Mallorca but Thomas Cook took out landmark private prosecution after social media posts described happy times’. The story is at The Guardian here.
To the concern of the judiciary in Murcia, four people accused of sitting on the rails in the dispute about the walled future AVE entrance into the city have been supported by dozens of protestors waving signs claiming that they too should be arrested for the same offence.
The oddest motoring fines are in an article at El Mundo: Giving your wife a kiss in the car? 80 Euros! Starting with a skid? 100 euros. Too many stickers on the window? 80 euros...
‘There’s no bias in our reporting’, says the director of news at TV3, the Catalonian regional TV, ‘in this, we are more like the BBC than the Madrid TV channels’. Headline from Formula TV here.
From Cuarto Poder: ‘Journalism’s name is Soraya’. Vice-president Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría controls the news. As the article says: ‘...All the big television channels, the big newspapers and the big radio stations are puppets in the hands of the propaganda boss of the most corrupt political party in Europe, and in the history of our democracy...’.
Journalist John Carlin has been fired from El País following an article by him that appeared in The Times on October 7th which went against the editorial policy of the Spanish ‘left wing’ newspaper. The article is reproduced in full in Catalan Monitor here. (The offending article, in Spanish here).
A graffiti we saw recently: ‘Mientras los medios siguen mintiendo, las paredes seguirán hablando’.
This is the secret of the Government of the PP to control the Media (video on Twitter). Sixty million euros spent in institutional advertising annually.
Spain is the World’s Number One in a surprising collection of things. Let’s take a look with Cartovision here.
‘Worst grape harvest in Spain for decades could see wine shortages and price increases’. The Olive Press has the report here.
An article at Jaumedecurs considers the current drought in Spain.
A powerful local PP councillor has managed to stop the environmental agency from removing almond trees in Castell de Guadalest, Alicante, which show signs of Xylella, the plague which could spread to olive and fruit trees. El Diario reports here.
‘My trip with 2,400 kilos of hash on a smugglers launch across the straights’. Don’t wanna get caught. Article at El Español here.
From El País in English (surrounded by adverts – on Wednesday – featuring David Beckham and a perfume for men): ‘Both Europe and the US love what they see as Spain’s quaint backwardness so much that they feel insulted when we explain to them how much we have changed’. The article says ‘...At various points throughout different eras, I have been forced to explain patiently, and with as much clarity as possible for educational purposes, that my country is a democracy, while undoubtedly flawed it is not any more seriously flawed when compared to similar countries. I have gone to great lengths to name dates, mention laws and changes, and establish useful comparisons. In New York, I had to remind people, who were full of democratic ideals and condescension, of the fact that my country, unlike theirs, does not accept the death penalty, sending minors to prison to serve life sentences, or torturing inmates in secret jails...’.
The Serenos. ‘It started with the keys.
Clanking, jiggling, each heavy skeleton banging against a clutch of loose weighty metal.
Then clap, clap clap.
We clapped our hands, at first lightly, then with the growing impatience of youth. We could hear the keys in the distance. He couldn’t be far.
It was somewhere between Saturday night and Sunday morning in Madrid in the 1960s, and all was well.
The clanging became more insistent and a voice sang, “Sereno! Serenooooo!”
He was our neighbourhood sereno, our ‘serene’, the man with the keys to every building’s front door. We didn’t carry our own keys, large and heavy as they were, so like millions of other city dwellers I would clap my hands to summon the sereno to unlock the door if I came home anytime between 11pm and 6 in the morning...’.
A memory of old Madrid recalled by Leyla Giray Alyanak in her blog Women on the Road here.
A visit to the five wineries in La Rioja with España Fascinante (in English).
Business over Tapas October 19 2017 Nº 229
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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