There has been quite a reaction to the Sunday Times article about the behaviour of the Spanish – loud, jolly and eat late – written by a British journalist who spent a few years in Barcelona. He has since apologised profusely (reproduced in full here). We can laugh at ourselves, but not so much when a foreigner has a joke at our expense.
There is, of course, plenty of material to be funny about since (thank Goodness), Europe is not a homogenised mass, but a huge collection of regions full of their own customs, charm and idiosyncrasies.
The Spanish reaction to the article can be found in El País ‘The humorous article "How to be Spanish", published in The Sunday Times on January 22nd, angered hundreds of tweeters, who responded to its author, Chris Haslam, with angry messages with the stereotypical vision he offered of Spain. According to the text, we are rude, noisy and take three hours to eat, among other things...’ The article includes a video from El País in English editor Simon Hunter apologising for his British colleague’s remarks (and his essay on the subject, in English, here). An aggressive article on this at La Nueva Crónica here also fails to see the joke. More amusingly, the ABC wrote a piece on the British and their habits (including putting carpeting in their bathrooms) translated into English here. However, the best reaction we’ve seen so far comes from El Mundo, with their article ‘Who the Fuck says that we Spaniards like to Swear?’
The number of jokes at the expense of the British is likely to rise as we approach Brexit: jokes and inevitable truisms, like the departing German ambassador to London’s remarks about the popularity of the recent British films about Churchill and Dunkirk, that ‘...the image of Britain standing alone in the second world war against German domination has fed Euro-scepticism in the UK, but does little to solve the country’s contemporary problems...’. For those who prefer their eggs fried over-easy, here’s The New Statesman taking the opposite tack that ‘As the popularity of Dunkirk and Darkest Hour show, we remain entranced by the story of Britain’s heroic resistance to Nazism and its wartime leader. What are the lessons to be learnt? And why must we keep looking back?’
In Spain, Sir Walter Drake is a pirate; in the UK, he is a hero; in Germany, they’ve never heard of him.
From The Leader: ‘The average price of property in Spain is expected to increase by 6.1% according to the Property Outlook report published recently by the IPE. The National Statistics Institute’s housing price index shows a year-on-year rise of 6.7%, the largest increase since the index was established in 2007...’.
‘Málaga province has more than 4,000 undeclared buildings, an investigation has revealed. The General Directorate of Cadastre discovered the haul last year after using drones for the first time to locate buildings that have not been registered. The so-called catastrazo probe, which has not yet finished, located 4,080 undeclared buildings between January and December 2017...’. More at The Olive Press here.
‘Talgo Will Convert Renfe’s ‘Hotel Trains’ Into New High Speed Trains. Talgo confirmed that Renfe has awarded it a 101 million euros contract to convert three of its ‘hotel trains’ currently not in use into High Speed AVE trains. These will be capable of travelling at 330 kilometres per hour.,,’ From The Corner here.
Hosteltur reports that holidaymakers who stay in private lodgings spend more than those who choose hotels. Unsurprisingly. The numbers are 1,295€ per visit against 1,047€. It remains unclear how much of this spend remains in Spain (as against tour operators, airlines and so on). The article also provides other useful tourist figures...
Which are the most underrated sites in Spain to go visit asks someone at Reddit here?
Foreign visitors to Spain last year spent 86,823 million euros says Agent Travel. Catalonia, the Canaries and the Balearics were the leading destinations.
From La Vanguardia: ‘Oxfam report on inequality in Spain. Recovery favours the rich four times more than the poor. Business profits grow 200% as wages stagnate’.
At least the banks did well last year, with the six main banks reporting a profit in 2017 of 14,000 million euros. Público has more here.
La Ser has unemployment figures for Spain on a graph since January 2008 here.
‘There are half a million self-employed (autonomos) who don’t make even the minimum wage, says the head of the ‘National Association for Self-employed Workers’.
From WDR, a German TV documentary takes aim at the Canary Islands with «Die Kanaren: Inseln der Arbeitslosen»or, ‘the islands of the unemployed’. More at Canarias en Red here.
‘Spain’s leading banks will allow instant money transfers from 14 February, allowing customers to carry out transactions of up to 15,000 euros in a matter of seconds throughout Spain, according to financial sources. ... In addition, over the following two months the banks will carry out tests with customers to be sure that the service is working correctly. In fact, this system of immediate transfers has been in place between EU countries since 21 November, when some banks, including CaixaBank, joined this initiative. At that time, a client of one of these Spanish banks could transfer in less than ten seconds up to 15,000 euros to an account on another European bank, with this service to be offered within Spain’.
From Republica here.
The ‘world’s greatest hedge-fund’ is betting against the Spanish stock exchange in the coming months. Bridgewater is selling short on 1,200 million euros against the Santander, BBVA, Telefónica and Iberdrola. The report is at El Confidencial here.
What’s the deal with the Chinese investing in Spain? From the El Cano Royal Institute: ‘As in many other European countries, Chinese investments in Spain have increased spectacularly over that past years. Nonetheless, there has not been a public or political debate around the topic, and even less a thorough reflection by the government, the media and the academic community at large about the implications of these investments. One reason for the lack of interest in this topic is that, until 2016, the stock of Chinese investments was rather low and there have been no major acquisitions in strategically sensitive sectors. However, this could change in the years to come, considering what is happening in neighbouring countries and the intensification and diversification of Chinese investments in Spain in the past few years. Overall, for the moment, the perception of the Spanish government, the public administration at large and the media regarding Chinese investments is broadly positive. This contrasts with the view of Spanish public opinion, which looks with more suspicion on the capital coming from China than from other sources of foreign direct investment (FDI) such as the US, France, Germany, and even Japan...’.
To keep their jobs, and production in Figueruelas, Opel workers have accepted in referendum a 20% pay-cut. Zona Crítica has the story here.
‘Spain’s conservatives ask PM for more action to stop the rise of Ciudadanos. Regional Popular Party leaders are worried following protest party’s strong show at Catalan elections’. Item from El País in English. ‘...Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has noted that the government did what it had to do in Catalonia and “did it well,” but that the party has “done things badly, and this needs to be studied.” Despite the official silence that has followed these words – a result of intense discipline according to some, and self-containment according to others – the general opinion at regional headquarters is that the party is in emergency mode, and that the central government is the one that should make some moves...’.
Felipe González has spoken. In a candid interview he sets out his position. El Mundo leads with ‘"If I were in Rajoy's situation, I would quit."’. What follows is a long and interesting interview with Spain’s most renowned ex-President. El Confidencial runs a digest of the interview, and says: ‘...The former president has said he is disturbed that there are people who vote for those who steal public money. "I was surprised by the corruption that occurred in my years of government. We have paid more for corruption than the PP. They still say I'm a millionaire...!" González said...’.
A comical reply here to Pablo Inglesias from Mariano Rayoy in a video within an article titled ‘Rajoy sets himself apart from the PP's corruption confessions and accuses Iglesias of being worse than Torquemada’. More at Europa Press here.
According to El Mundo, the PP ex-treasurers Álvaro Lapuerta and Luis Bárcenas were personally in charge of recruiting big businessmen to deliver cash to help Francisco Camps during the campaign for the 2007 regional and municipal elections, and even accompanied them on their trip to Valencia.
Esperanza Aguirre – a senior PP politician now retired from front-line duties – is to be charged later this month for her part in the party’s corruption, says Digital Sevilla here.
Spiriman (the renegade Granada surgeon) gets on his horse about the guild that controls the medicines in Andalucía - the 'Phar-mafia'. On YouTube here.
The New York Times asks ‘Has Carles Puigdemont Finally Run Out of Road?’. Here.
From The Independent: ‘Gibraltar can veto parts of Brexit deal it doesn't like, chief minister says. Exclusive: Fabian Picardo tells The Independent a clause in Gibraltar's constitution gives it the right to choose its own terms for matters such as trade tariffs and regulations, whatever Ms May agrees with Brussels, in a move that could embolden other regions calling for bespoke deals’.
‘Customer Lawsuits Pummel Spanish Banks. After it collapsed, Banco Popular was discovered to have 55,000 complaints against it. Following a succession of consumer-friendly rulings, bank customers in Spain are increasingly taking their banks to court. And many of them are winning. Last year an unprecedented wave of litigation against banks forced the Ministry of Justice to set up dozens of courts specialized in mortgage matters to prevent the collapse of the rest of the national judicial system...’. From Wolf Street here.
While we normally avoid this type of news-item: ‘The Sandulache brothers, the owners of a brothel who forced their ‘slaves’ to eat money if they didn't make enough cash. The court is seeking 600 years prison for this Romanian mafia-clan based in Oviedo. They're accused of beatings and rapes. They've only ever so far been in jail for just one week. On that occasion, they paid the 30,000 euros bail with counterfeit bills...’ From El Español here. The two brothers are currently in liberty ‘as they are not considered to be likely to flee’.
‘An ex-pat couple have been arrested over a €700,000 internet scam on the Costa del Sol. The French duo is suspecting of selling sportswear online that didn’t exist. Spanish cops raided their Marbella home, taking €207,000 cash, two sports cars, laptops, mobile phones, tablets and more. Their accounts have also been frozen while the investigation continues...’. From The Olive Press here.
Headline from El Cano Royal Institure: ‘Brexit: yielding step by step to ‘sufficient progress’... for now’
From The Guardian: ‘Warning of 'utter chaos' if May ends EU free movement next March. Campaigners say PM does not understand impact on EU citizens and Britons in Europe’.
From El Confidencial: ‘London backs extra-hard' Brexit: no single market, no customs union. London rules out remaining in the customs union with the EU after Brexit. It therefore opts for the preferred option of the Euro-sceptic Tories, which want to sever all ties with the Union’.
Dear EuroCitizen, See this month's British in Europe Newsletter (here).
We are at a delicate stage in the negotiations. There is a real risk that Citizens' Rights will get swallowed up in talks about transition and trade, which promise to get very unpleasant. The threat of a no-deal scenario and cliff-edge Brexit seems to grow every day.
As well as an update on our lobbying activities and those of coalition groups like EuroCitizens, there is another article on how the December 'provisional agreement' would affect our lives, the implications of becoming 'Third Country Nationals' and the campaign for Votes for Life for UK citizens abroad. Our disenfranchisement in the Brexit referendum and general elections has been scandalous.
Please share widely and, if you can, donate to British in Europe - we now have a bank account.
Help us to help you.
With best wishes,
Bremain in Spain has a good Facebook page here. A post on Tuesday seemed useful for Britons living in the EU27: ‘I wrote to Guy Verhofstadt regarding the situation of people who have spent several years in different EU countries but not enough to qualify for permanent residency or citizenship in any of them, and got this very nice reply (no disclaimer): "...Thank you for taking the time to write to me and for raising this issue. There are many unfortunate consequences we have to address as a result of the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. While progress has been made in the negotiations, the current state of play is still far from the desired outcome and indeed does not provide the much needed clarity. This is particularly the case for more complicated situations like the case of periods of residence in different Member States you rightly raise. Citizens’ rights are a priority for the European Parliament and, while this is also dependent on the UK Government’s position and other national positions, we will do our utmost to insure the best possible outcome of the negotiations. Although we cannot predict the outcome yet, we will pay attention to the matter your raised. I can assure you that the European Parliament will continue to fight for the rights of all citizens.
Kind regards, Guy Verhofstadt"
The monthly Expat Citizens Rights in the EU (ECREU) letter is here.
‘In times of “fake news,” more readers than ever place their trust in El País. For four consecutive years the newspaper has been the most-read publication in Spain and in the Spanish language’. Headline from El País in English.
RTVE has announced that it will claim the right to read its journalists’ emails shortly, says El Mundo.
‘Spain is on the verge of being described as "a defective democracy" due to its recent "repression" in Catalonia. The Economist's annual report leaves the country as the second worst fall in democratic terms in Europe’. Headline at El Plural here.
The remarkable story of the Ronda bridge, here at Magnet.
‘Four hundred years after it was written, a lost and supposedly cursed Golden Age novel chronicling the splendour, adventure and violence of Spain’s imperial zenith has been published for the first time. Historia del Huérfano, or The Orphan’s Story, charts the progress of a 14-year-old Spaniard who leaves Granada and heads to the Americas to seek his fortune. Its hero ricochets around the Spanish empire, from the high-society fiestas of Lima to the mephitic mines of Potosí, and goes on to witness Sir Francis Drake’s attack on Puerto Rico and the sacking of Cádiz...’. From The Guardian here.
‘500 companies in the food sector in Spain, including producers, distributors and canteens, and the Minister of Health signed an agreement to reduce consumption of sugar and fat in the country by 2020’. Great news from Hipertextual here.
Spain’s twelve best beers (you’ve never heard of) here at Bon Viveur.
An old map of ‘Andalvzia’, dating back to 1634, has been discovered (they seem to have missed Almería).
Los Toros are coming to China – apparently.
The Guardian brings us some beautiful photos from the Canary Islands here.
‘The Tower of Hercules is an ancient Roman lighthouse on a peninsula about 2.4 kilometres (1.5 mi) from the centre of A Coruña, Galicia, in north.western Spain. It is easily the most well preserved lighthouse remaining from the classical Roman age...’. From Eye on Spain.
The pre-Roman tribes (with map) that inhabited Spain here.
Further to the article on Blockchain last week – here The Guardian attempts to explain what it is.
Dear all, since the subject has arrived on the letter’s page, a very short video from Lord Lisvane on Brexit for our readers here. Lenox
Dear Lenox -
Thank you for publishing JD's short challenge in your last issue. I viewed those two videos, and I was mightily relieved that at least somebody on the Government benches was able to put a clear and unequivocal case for Brexit. It's a shame the current cabinet seems unable to do so.
It also occurred to me that, in 1939, a significant proportion of the British population was firmly against going to war with Germany. But, when the time came, virtually all of them did what was right for the country and fought their damnedest for British interests. What would have happened, I wonder if, like so many in the Remain camp are doing today, they had constantly sought to undermine democracy and tried their best to sabotage efforts to support the policy of a British government of all political parties? I suppose we would all be speaking German, and nobody would ever have heard of Brexit!
Business over Tapas February 8 2018 Nº 244
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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