Today, Thursday, is International Woman’s Day. This year, it is also ‘La Huelga 8-M’: the first major Women’s protest across Spain. This strike has been called to show the inequality of women in Spain (despite notable advances in the last few years). Women are paid less for the same job (in some cases) and have higher unemployment; they work longer hours with lower-paid jobs, with further duties waiting for them at home; they suffer from insult, machismo, definition and language-use. They are preyed upon and sometimes beaten or even killed by their partners.
All of these things make today’s demonstrations an issue of respect. Perhaps the men-folk could even join them.
Not that all of us are sympathetic – like the Bishop of San Sebastian who thinks the Devil has entered into the ‘dignity of las mujeres’. He evidently doesn’t agree that ‘women’s bodies are their own’.
Such a mass uprising can only be political – with Podemos hugely in favour (here), the PSOE playing coy and the Partido Popular limiting itself to a muted ‘the best way forward is to keep working towards equality’. Ciudadanos says it doesn’t support ‘the anti-capitalist women’s strike’.
Yet here we have Ana Pastor, the PP president of the National Congress: ‘It’s to do with women, not with politics. All women in Spain, whatever their ideology, know that this is a macho society...’.
We say, today is the end of silence. Good Luck, Ladies – make your protest felt!
It seems there are less Brits living in Spain (according to El País). The headline reads: ‘The withdrawal of the British from Spain. The loss of purchasing power due to the weak pound, old age and the change in statistical calculation reduces the official number of UK residents by 40%’. The article is based on information from the INE (which is itself based on information from the town halls’ census, the padrón). Erroneous or not, these are the figures that are accepted by Spanish officialdom. Here is the newspaper’s English version. *One comment on the article reads: ‘Some have left because of Brexit, but probably the biggest factor has been the tightening of the tax regime in Spain, especially the 720 declaration and the failure of the Spanish authorities to respect the bilateral agreement on not taxing Government retirees’ pensions’.
‘According to the latest figures available from the Spanish Land Registrar's Association for the final quarter of last year, foreign demand for Spanish residential real estate grew sharply, as British buyers returned in considerable numbers. Spain's overall housing market expanded by 19.8% in the last quarter of 2014, with 111,921 home sales, which was the highest fourth quarter level since the recovery of the housing market began in 2015...’. From Property Showrooms here.
El Diario says that the new speculators in property, ‘los señores del ladrillo’, are squeezing out residents in central areas of Spain’s larger cities. Who are these funds and groups that are buying up apartment blocks...?
A good article on Len and Helen Prior’s horrible experience comes from El Confidencial: ‘The bitter victory of the Prior in Almeria: "they knocked down our house. It's worse here than in Africa."’.
Mortgage tax - from Mark Stücklin’s Spanish Property Insight. ‘The Spanish Supreme Court has ruled that borrowers must pay the tax that new mortgages attract. The decision has already aroused the first controversies in the Spanish legal scene and in the Consumers Associations that will undoubtedly take this case to the European Court of Justice, which will have the last word to say. The Supreme Court agreed with the banks to the detriment of consumers by ruling that the AJD Tax (Actos Jurídicos Documentados) on new mortgages should be paid by borrowers...’.
Another article on Spain’s moribund rural villages, here at Ethic.
‘Residents of Albox (Almería) now have a dedicated foreign residents association which is to be known as AVEA or Asociación de vecinos extranjeros de Albox. The association aims to promote good relations with other members of the community, to encourage integration into Spanish society and to provide support, advice and most importantly representation for its members to the town hall on issues relating to living in Albox...’. More at their blog here.
‘Thirty years after the entry into force of the Ley de Costas, the Spanish coast exhibits in the city of Vigo one of its greatest anachronisms. Opposite the beach of O Vao - if not the most touristy, certainly the favourite of most of Vigo's populace - is the paradisiacal island of Toralla, barely 10 hectares in size. At the end of the bridge that connects the beach and the island, a barrier prevents strangers from passing through. Only residents and their guests can enter this small retreat dotted with 30 expensive chalets that reach to where the waves break. As if that were not enough, a 70-metre tower built on the same estuary attacks the landscape with all the force that was characteristic of the years when it was erected, at the beginning of the seventies...’. Once again, we all look the other way. An item from El Confidencial here.
‘Airport taxes for next year will go down by 12% - three times as much as initially planned – in a bid to encourage growth in the air travel industry. According to the Minister for Public Works Íñigo de la Serna, taxes – which were frozen for 2017 – will still only go down by 3% in 2018 as originally announced and by 5% in 2020, but for 2019 they will be slashed by 12% instead of the 4% agreed at first. De la Serna made this announcement during the opening ceremony of the World Air Travel Management Conference, and said these reductions would means Spain's airport taxes became the lowest in the European Union...’. Piece from Think Spain here.
From Sur in English: ‘Málaga city to publish list of legal, approved holiday lets. People wanting to rent a tourist apartment or house in Málaga city will be able to check online first to see if the accommodation is officially registered with the Andalusian regional government’.
From Málaga Hoy: ‘Málaga is ageing by leaps and bounds. It is not a singular or strange phenomenon with respect to the rest of Spain and Europe, but it is striking and opens up numerous uncertainties and even new business opportunities when analysing the official data of the Register. Two facts are clear. The first is that 81% of the municipalities in the province now have more people over 50 than a decade ago and the second, which is almost worse, is that 66% of the localities have seen their population of children shrink between 2007 and 2017. In other words, there are more older people and fewer children than there were ten years ago, and the prospects are that this trend will get tougher in the next few decades because the birth rate is declining and the quality of life is improving. To this we must add that the Costa del Sol is a refuge for thousands of foreign retirees who buy homes to live in during their last years of life and that will increase these statistics whenever they register on the padrón: a practice that is not as common as it should be among the foreign colonies...’.
From El País: ‘Men and women do not get the same pay when they perform similar tasks in Spain. Women earn 12.7% less per hour, according to a Fedea study that has analysed gross wage data from 2014. This gap has narrowed since 2002, when research began, but the analysis still reveals "some worrying dynamics". The gap is present in each detail of the variables observed: age, education, seniority, occupation, type of contract and working day, activity and company size...’. More here.
The new Minister for the Economy, taking over from Luis de Guindos, is Román Escolano.
Brussels has decided to get fully involved in the debate on the future of pensions in Spain. In an exhaustive 79-page diagnosis of the state of the Spanish economy, the European Commission warns that our country is among the States of the European Union where the amount of pensions will fall the most in the coming years, which could have a strong negative impact on the purchasing power of pensioners...’. From El Español here.
From Libre Mercado: ‘Unemployment drops to 2009 levels and Social Security adds 615,259 more workers in one year. The total number of unemployed reached 3,470,248 at the end of February, its lowest level in nine years’.
Brett Hetherington in Standing in a Spanish Doorway looks at jobs in Spain: ‘...Temporary workers now make up more than a quarter of the workforce in Spain and this is not only for seasonal work. Part-time contracts have become more common among hospital workers, teachers, those in the information technology industry and even public servants. Statistics show that short-term jobs made up about 90% of the contracts signed last year. Roughly one in four lasted seven days or less...’.
Considering the new investment in the AVE-system, El Mundo says that ‘So far this year alone, the Ministry of Public Works has raised new investments of around 330 million euros. This is equivalent to an average of just over EUR 5 million per day, double that recorded in 2017, when the volume of High-Speed tenders in itself was four times higher than in the previous year. The ministry frames these actions within its "commitment" to extend AVE connections to new corners of the country within its "strategic policy" to promote rail transport...’.
‘Municipalities begin to publish their surplus for 2017: Madrid leads the list with 1,120 million. In the absence of the exact official figure, which will be given by the Ministry of Finance, the municipalities have begun to make public the results of their surplus to start deciding where to invest the savings achieved’. LaSexta has the story (and videos) here.
‘Spanish women are being urged to make a stand and strike, to mark International Women’s day on March 8. In a bid to show that ‘if we stop, the world stops’, women are encouraged to abandon work and other duties such as household chores. The walkout is supported by the Feminist groups behind the 8M Commission, as well as the Madrid and Barcelona mayors Manuela Carmena and Ada Colau, who have both said they will take part in the strike action...’. More at The Olive Press here.
The PSOE is hardening its opposition to the Government. From El Diario comes: ‘The socialist leadership has decided to raise the tone of criticism towards the conservatives. The first step was to demand the calling of elections if the Government fails to make progress on the General Budgets due to lack of support...’. A vote of confidence is becoming likely. The PSOE is similarly building up its attacks against Ciudadanos.
Another headache for Mariano Rajoy comes from the judiciary. From El Independiente: ‘Judges and Prosecutors Threaten to Strike if the Government does not Depoliticize Justice’. The item notes that ‘The associations have agreed to mobilize in April at judicial headquarters across the country and a strike in May if their demands are not met’. The judges say that ‘the General Council of the Judiciary has ignored our proposal on judicial appointments, according to criteria of merit, capacity, gender equality and transparency’.
The PP wants the British residents to continue to have the right to vote (and stand for office) in municipal elections following Brexit, says El País here. The first municipal elections will be held right after Brexit – in May 2019. The article notes that those new residents (or others who have developed an interest in their municipality) would need to register their intention to vote (it's different from getting inscribed on the padrón) by the end of the year.
Let us hope that this goes through...! There are a (small) number of foreign councillors in Spain, of which perhaps half are Brits. They can be found in the municipalities where a lot of foreigners live, and they are very useful to help their voters achieve the same rights as their Spanish neighbours. Indeed, without the British vote, far fewer foreign councillors from other European nationalities would exist either.
Corruption cases have cost Spain over 200,000 million euros, says Casos Aislados, which lists the cases which have appeared in the Media here.
‘‘Country of thieves’ wrestles with corruption. Flawed judiciary system and legacy of fascism continue to plague Spain’s political parties’. Heavy stuff at Politico here.
Well, they have given up with Carles Puigdemont and now have another candidate to be President of Catalonia (investiture on March 12th). Perfecto. Only... Jordi Sànchez is currently a ‘political prisoner’ who, remarkably, has not been charged for anything... Will they let him out of clink in Madrid to be sworn in over in Barcelona? The Constitutional Court was quick with its decision: no, not even for a day-pass (El Huff Post, here and here).
Tim Parfitt explains what’s going on in Catalonia (mostly) with his latest post on his blog here. (Thanks to Colin for the link)
From The Independent: ‘Gibraltar is going to be an even bigger Brexit problem than Ireland – so why does no one want to talk about it? For all its attachment to the Crown (98 per cent want to stick with Britain rather than join Spain), some 96 per cent of Gibraltarians voted to Remain in 2016, by far the highest anywhere. They have a sophisticated understanding of how and where their bread is buttered down there...’.
The power companies spend too much time in court, reports El Independiente. ‘A few weeks ago, the Minister of Energy, Álvaro Nadal, launched a plea to the electricity sector. He called on the companies to lower their "judicial controversy", to stop using all the energy laws "to scratch out after every last euro", not to legalise any new rules by taking it to the courts "to see what they can win". "From the moment the ink was drying in the State Bulletin regarding energy reform, they have tried everything (...) It cannot be that all social bonds, all energy laws, all royal decrees are resorted to. It does not occur in any other sector. This is not a normal situation," the minister complained. The power companies immediately responded to the request of Nadal with a new wave of court cases...’.
Headline from The Economist: ‘A fit of intolerance. Why Spanish courts censor art, speech and rap lyrics. Independent judges don’t like what they see or hear’.
‘The British voted to leave the EU in a referendum in June 2016. What impact has the referendum result had on British demand for Spanish property so far? Surprisingly little. The number of British buyers dropped significantly in the second half of 2016 after the referendum, but has been recovering since then. In annualised terms, British demand declined for five quarters between Q3 2014 and Q3 2017, but then started growing again in Q4 20017...’. Item from Spanish Property Insight here.
‘Discarded by Brussels & Westminster: Brits in Europe left stranded in Brexit talks’. An essay in Politics.co.uk here.
Editorial in El País in English: ‘Brexit: A dead-end street. The UK government is coming to realize that leaving the EU will take them to no safe harbour, particularly when it comes to Ireland’.
From an opinion piece in Meneame titled: ‘Censorship? Of course, but don't let it show’.
‘Media censorship exists but it is much more subtle than it might appear in principle. Some newspapers, which were supposedly the champions of freedom of expression, have been transformed into a huge propaganda machine paid for by the ideologues of those who subsidize them; that is, they pay in kind, or in cash via institutional investment. Yes, some of you may have guessed it, in this case I am referring to the newspaper El País...’.
A new venture into publishing: The New Barcelona Post (in Spanish, Catalán and English).
Well, here we are: ‘Europe’s Dirty Little Secret: Moroccan Slaves and A ‘Sea Of Plastic’’. An article about the Almería invernaderos printed in Truth Theory here. An excerpt: ‘...the smell of plastic and chemicals permeated the car and offered the first scent of the larger environmental problem. The greenhouses are almost all hydroponic—growing vegetables in water, air and a chemical stew of fertilizer, herbicide and pesticide. Due to the hot and extremely difficult working conditions inside the greenhouses, almost all of the human labour is imported, much of it slave-like from Africa...’.
‘Paco’s Harem, as told by a victim: the Costa del Sol, the paradise for sects in Spain’. The headline and story come from El Español here. ‘Of the 300 sects that exist throughout the country, at least half operate in the hot Málaga lands. 500,000 people are already affected. The municipality of Marbella has the only public service in Spain that caters to victims of sects. There is sun, beach, mountain, cultural diversity, a lot of tourists... It is the perfect place for some power-games’.
From Redacción Médica: ‘The Spanish health service puts 15,000 workers out of work in just two months’. The article has details of the employees in the Spanish health service.
This article reckons that, if a young Albert Einstein were to try for a teaching job in a Spanish university today, the rules and bureaucracy here would never allow him a post.
Imagine a municipal tax for owning a pet. Imagine a law limiting the number of pets you can own. So far, these proposals are only coming into law in the Valencia Region. So far. The story at Alicante Plaza here.
A disagreeable report of twenty dogs tied to railway tracks and killed (you will find it covered in the ex-pat press) has been partially debunked by the Guardia Civil, who blame the PACMA animalist group for spreading exaggerations...
‘Spain has been the world leader in organ donation for the last 25 years and in 2016 it broke its own record for the number of transplants carried out. A total of 4,818 organ transplants were carried out in Spain during 2016’. The story at Reddit here.
Madrid’s Gran Vía is to be transformed. Here are the details.
‘Mallorca Saxophone Festival celebrates ten years with free concerts and events. Concerts, workshops and activities for all ages and interests fill the Palma area for all of March’. Story at The Olive Press here.
‘Off the beaten track: Eight Madrid museums you've probably never heard of’, a list from The Local here.
Valencia: Top 10 things you need to know about las Fallas. The month of Fallas has just begun! They call it the festival of fire, but the Fallas is much more than just fire...’. Story at Eye on Spain here.
8M 2018 // ¡Vamos al paro internacional de mujeres! Short video on YouTube here.