Business over Tapas: April 29 2021

A digest of this week's Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners

Lenox Napier¹

Editorial:

Spain is reeling from the political events in Madrid as the regional campaign for the election on May 4th approaches the final days. The Vox poster comparing Granny’s modest pension to the money lavished on the foreign immigrant kids had stirred up feelings which (probably) helped one, ah, ‘patriot’ to mail on Thursday bullets and threatening notes to the Minister of the Interior Fernando Grande-Marlaska, Pablo Iglesias (UP) and María Gámez, the director of the Guardia Civil.

This Monday, a copy-cat package with a return address written on it, containing a bloodied knife, was discovered, addressed to the Minister for Tourism Reyes Maroto. It was found to be ‘the work of a schizophrenic’ who was later identified as an eccentric relative of Vox spokesperson Iván Espinosa de los Monteros, the husband of Rocío Monasterio. Following the light relief, on Tuesday packages with bullets for the regional president Isabel Díaz Ayuso (here) and again for Iglesias (here) were found by Correos. On Wednesday, it was the turn of ex-President Rodríguez Zapatero.

Maybe, as the far-right Sueldos Publicos suggests, it’s because they all get paid too much.

A radio debate on La Ser between the five main candidates (the PP’s Isabel Díaz Ayuso was a non-show) on Friday rapidly went pear-shaped after the Vox candidate refused to sympathise with Pablo Iglesias’ surprise package and this created so much offence that Iglesias marched out of the live radio program, followed shortly after by the PSOE candidate Ángel Gabilondo and Mónica García (Más Madrid) – leaving just Rocío Monasterio (Vox) and a slightly harassed looking Edmundo Bal (Ciudadanos). The program was cut short and another live debate planned for LaSexta was promptly cancelled.

Did Iglesias do right to walk out following the provocation from Monasterio? Readers of the left-wing press think so, yes (El Huff Post 81%); readers of the right-wing press think not, no (ECD 77%). The middle-of-the-road 20Minutos readers voted yes 46%, no 49% here.

Now there are those who say the bullets were a stunt, and those, like Hugo Silva, who noted on Twitter that when ETA used to do this, it was known as ‘terrorism’. But it is becoming tense.  The joke-photomontage appearing on the cover of El Jueves shows a picture of an indignant Abascal waving a book that someone had sent him in a package – ‘They want to end our ignorance, but they never will!’ says the caption.

Since the PP can’t govern without Vox and the remains of the Ciudadanos party, nor indeed can the PSOE without Más Madrid and Unidas Podemos, we are faced, say the pundits, with two choices, depending on how they swing:

It’s either ‘Freedom against Communism’ (here) – or ‘Democracy versus Fascism’ (here).

So either way, it’s back to a two-party system, only in this case not a very happy one.

Housing:

La Información leads a section on low-cost housing here with ‘cheap prefabricated houses such as one at 8,300€ from Amazon that can be completed in two days’. If only life were that easy.

‘Around 200 people demonstrated in Maro, near Nerja, on Sunday (25 April) to protest against the plans of Sociedad Azucarera Larios to build a golf course, 680 homes, luxury hotels and commercial areas on an area of 250 hectares of agricultural and protected land on the Tetuán fertile plain…’. Sur in English has more here. (More on this in Ecology below).

Tourism:

It’s time Spain opened up to British tourists says The Olive Press in an opinion piece here.

From The Express here: ‘Don’t make us laugh! Britons rage at Spain’s tourism plea after ‘insulting’ British expats’. While the article is beyond idiotic, the comments are certainly worth looking at. We find that The Express is described by Wiki thus: ‘The paper’s editorial stances have often been seen as aligned to the UK Independence Party (UKIP), Euro-scepticism and other right-wing factions including the right wing of the Conservative Party’.

From El País in English here: ‘Spain’s Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto announced on Friday that citizens will be able to travel normally this summer, at least within the country. “Spaniards can start planning their vacations,” she said in an interview with Spanish television channel La Sexta. Maroto added that she expects more visitors will arrive this summer season than last year, when coronavirus travel restrictions delivered a huge blow to the tourism industry…’.

‘Spain is preparing to receive international tourists from June with the European digital green certificate, said the Secretary of State for Tourism at the annual summit of the World Travel and Tourism Council. This news comes just two days after learning that the American population vaccinated against Covid-19 will be able to travel to the countries of the European Union this summer…’. An item found at LaSexta here.

From Sur in English here: ‘Costa tourism bosses are convinced that the Covid crisis recovery will begin this summer’.

Seniors:

The Tourist Minister Maroto rectifies: the Imserso trips will begin again in September.

Finance:

As The Olive Press reminds us ‘A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine to do well’….a catchy little phrase to let you know that it is income tax declaration time again!

El Huff Post says that ‘Spain and Andorra agree to study a tax harmonization’. The leaders of the two countries want to organise a cooperation given the difference in taxation between the two countries’. The move is to counter the number of wealthy Spaniards (several ‘YouTubers’ have lately been in the news) who have moved domicile to Andorra.

From the Junta de Andalucía website comes this explanation on the new electricity pricing system that comes into force across Spain on 1 June. It’s basically going to be by time slots, with P1 (10.00 a.m to 2.00 p.m. and 6.00 p.m. to 10.00 p.m.) the most expensive, P2 (8.00 to 10.00 a.m., 2.00 p.m. to 6.00 p.m., 10.00 p.m. to midnight) the «middle» price and P3 (from midnight to 8.00 a.m. and all weekend and on bank holidays) a much cheaper rate. They advise people to get timers for household appliances and water heaters. Claim that savings are going to be between €150 and €300 a year. Thanks to Steve for the link.

Politics:

From El Huff Post here. Pedro Sánchez speaking about the ultra-right: «We have to admit it, our democracy has a problem». The President of the Government says that we have «got used» to the extreme right and that «we have come to think that it was normal.»’

El País (partial paywall) says that Vox is copying the techniques used by the

Nazis to denigrate their enemies. Examples abound.

Not all of the PP is keen on the move to the right as exemplified by Díaz Ayuso. From ECD, we read that ‘The barons (i.e. the provincial leaders) refuse to comply with Pablo Casado’s order to ‘ayusize’ the PP. Feijóo, Juanma Moreno, Mañueco and López Miras have let him know that “Madrid is not Orense, Huelva, Soria or Lorca” and that the ‘Ayuso model’ is not exportable to their autonomies’.

VozPópuli reports that the ex-leader of Ciudadanos Albert Rivera will be joining the PP soon.

An article at Euro Mundo Global considers how the spirit of Albert Rivera influences (in a negative way) the current aspirations of Inéz Arrimadas. She says in an interview that she hopes that ‘her predecessor is not behind the hostile takeover that the PP has undertaken against Ciudadanos, but she can’t put her hand on her heart that he isn’t, either…’.

It’s no secret that Pedro Sánchez would like to see a change in the PSOE-A – moving Susana Díaz out and his candidate Juan Espadas (the current mayor of Seville) into her seat. The order has now come down from Madrid for Andalucía party primaries to be held in Seville in June or July. El Español has the story here.

Madrid. Regional elections for May 4th:

‘The Madrid election campaign descends into toxic battle. The political debate has given way to a series of ever-more concerning criminal incidents and regular clashes over fascism and the rise of the far right’. El País in English here on the current campaign in Madrid.

InfoLibre says that The PP fears a massive mobilization of the left against Díaz Ayuso for her dependence on an out of control Vox for her victory. Follow BoT’s posts on our Facebook page here for updates and results on the Madrid elections.

Gibraltar:

The ABC enjoys a poor opinion of Gibraltar which, it reports, is growing in size by reclaiming the sea-bed. Its article is titled: ‘Gibraltar: the spreading parasite’. A site called El Orden Mundial brings us a map of Gibraltar with the bits added since the original Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.

Europe:

From ECD here: ‘The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has so far authorized the reunion of over 4,000 foreigners with their Spanish partners despite the closure of borders. Spanish consulates will issue a visa to those who prove that they maintain a stable liaison with a Spaniard by presenting proof of the relationship… A site called Love is Not Tourism has some campaign information on the subject here.

A Spanish woman called Ana returns home to Spain: From her ‘Farewell to London’ post here, she says ‘…and it is not only immigrants who, like me, felt at home in London who are leaving. Also native-born people, with their British passports, disowned their nation and are, I am told, desperately begging for the right of residence in some country with less xenophobia, a welcome like the one we once received from our beloved perfidious Albion…’. Indeed.

Crime:

The person who sent the threatening letter with the bloody knife to the Tourist Minister Reyes Maroto put his return address on the package, and was picked up the same day (Monday). The person in question, a known schizophrenic, has nothing to do with the much more disturbing ‘bullet letters’ says LaSexta here. He has also sent out a number of ‘odd’ packages to Maldito Bulo over the past months, including blood-stained passages in books and some letters defining his position. He further tells the site about missives of his sent in the past to other politicians. Maldito disputes his family relationship with a Vox leader, but acknowledges his support for that party. All very odd.

An interview with Antumi Toasijé, president of the Council for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination at elDiario.es here: «There is sufficient proof for the outlawing of Vox».

Media:

Palomares, días de Playa y Plutonio is the documentary on the 1966 events in Palomares in Almería as noted last week. El Español writes an interesting critique of the show here.

Ana Rosa Quintana leads the most popular day-time talk-show at TeleCinco. Here on YouTube Pablo Iglesias accuses her of not only lying about his responsibility to the elderly in the Madrid residences during the Covid-crisis (it was Ayuso’s), but also says that this kind of talk can bring death-threats. Iglesias says he will sue Mediaset, the channel operator, if there is no rectification from the show.

The RTVE not only shows, every night, the ONCE draw and the Bonoloto, it even has a full gambling show on Friday night after the news called ‘La Suerte en tus Manos’.

Ecology:

‘According to data from Red Eléctrica de España, the Spanish electricity system registered a record figure on Sunday 21 March as solar generation reached 10,255 megawatts of instantaneous production, which was able to cover 37.3% of the entire peninsular demand. It should be remembered that last year Spain installed almost 3,000 megawatts of solar energy, reaching 14,000 megawatts…’. Item from The Corner here.

Público brings us more on the story ‘of speculation, concrete and turistificación on the Costa del Sol’. The five-part documentary called Se Vende deals with the urban impact on the Málaga coastline. The first chapter is on Vimeo here.

Various:

‘A wave of cyber-attacks knocked out the websites of the ministries of Justice, Economy and others, together with the INE, on Friday April 23’ says El Confidencial here.

From ThinkSpain here: Repsol Guide 2021: Spain’s answer to Michelin stars for the country’s top eateries. Netting a Michelin star or several may be every chef’s or restaurant owner’s ultimate dream – the Olympic gold medal and the Oscar of one’s catering career – but those based in Spain are just as focused on chasing the sun…

The Bishop of the Canaries has a poor view of the new Euthanasia Law, considering it to be inhumane. He illustrated his point recently by saying that anyone can kill themselves if they wish to by jumping off the roof or opening the gas in the kitchen. Why ask someone to come round and do it for you?  Canarias7 has the story.

Pamplona has cancelled the San Fermín festival once again this year says ABC here.

There was a study doing the rounds last summer that suggested that smoking would keep the Covid away. Magnet discovers that this was financed by the tobacco industry.

El Confidencial wonders how the rest of the world sees Spain and how each nationality sees another. A study from Real Instituto Elcano shows the detail (on pdf here), but the short answer is, ‘…respondents from other countries consider that Spain is tolerant (84%, compared to intolerant), inspires trust (83%, compared to does not inspire confidence), supportive (79%, compared to selfish) and democratic (79%, compared to authoritarian), religious (72% compared to secular) and traditional (66% compared to modern)…’. A view not entirely shared by the Spanish themselves…

An online clothing company offers T-shirts with violent images of a bleeding Pablo Iglesias, and glorious images of a triumphant Santiago Abascal… etcetera… The company has been denounced by Facua, the consumer’s association (here). The story is at El Español here. The company has a Facebook page called ‘Esto es España’ with 38,000 followers.

Correos admits its scanning equipment is very outdated and only 4% of packages are checked says El Mundo here.

The much-treasured Libro de Familia which each new family gets at the time of their marriage will no longer be issued as a booklet from the end of April. A cyber-edition will continue at the registro civil, recording the names and birth-dates of the children.

While we wait for the government to legalise the consumption of marijuana, and as a large number of arrests for illegal plantations continue to be reported, a US company called Curaleaf Holdings (here) has just bought control of the Spanish Medalchemy, which has a licence to grow weed (for medicinal purposes) in the Science Park of the University of Alicante.  It’s always good to get in early. More at Público here.

An article on the history of the Spanish switch-blade knife comes from Joker, a manufacturer of ‘sporting knives’, here. ‘…Following the reign of Carlos I (1516 – 1566), the use and possession of swords by caballeros was prohibited, being reserved exclusively to the nobles and the militias. This made the spread of the knife popular due to its low price and because with its smaller dimensions it could be easily hidden in one’s clothes – mainly under the sash that was a common part of the clothing of that time. As the blade is stored and hidden within the handle of the knife, this way of carrying it was safe. This, together with the multiple applications of the knife as a tool in daily household and work chores, made a rapid diffusion among the merchants and social strata.

A 1922 translation into Chinese of Don Quijote has been re-translated back into Spanish says The Guardian here. The Chinese version, written by a man who spoke no European languages, is a trifle different from Cervantes, but it is said to be a masterpiece anyway. The new adaptation – called Historia del Caballero Encantado by Lin Shu – is now available in good bookshops. Chinese whispers?

Spare a thought for the Spanish who live and work in the resorts. Lenox’ Lost in Translation at Eye on Spain here.

See Spain:

For those who love castles, here’s La Vanguardia with its headline ‘Spain has more than ten thousand castles’. It introduces the reader to the Spain Heritage Network page with a location map here and a useful guide in English here.

An ultramarinos is a grocer’s that sells imported food and drink (‘from the colonies’). Not many are left as supermarkets take over the service (and Spain ran out of colonies). We have an ultramarinos near to BoT headquarters and it sells loose spices from the Seven Seas, booze from odd places and cakes from the Alpujarras. It also sells locally-brewed moscatel by the litre (bring your own bottle).

Anyhoo – From Traveler we meet the oldest ultramarinos still in existence. La Confianza in Huesca has been going since 1871. Nice photos and an interesting story here.

Letters:

Hi Lenox

I have to say how much I enjoyed your Editorial re your experience in the Franco era.

I had a brush with the Guardia Civil in the 60’s over a disputed bar bill and only narrowly avoided being beaten up in my hotel room after the intervention of an influential Spanish Friend!! Those were the days!! I loved Spain then and I still do today and sometimes I hate her.

She’s like a feisty woman! (Carmen would fit the bill.)

We haven’t been able to get to our house there since Feb 2020 and really miss it, although to see Spain running at half speed would be sad.

We have just had our flight to Alicante on 19th May cancelled so in the words of Tonto (Lone Ranger) “¿Quien sabe, kemosabe?”

All the best

John

Hi Lenox

I much enjoy reading your bulletins and appreciate the effort you put in.

However, when are you going to get over your bias against Leave?

I have lived in Spain for 15 years and hope to remain here for many years to come. I voted LEAVE as I believe it is the best option for the future of the UK.

I have my opinion and respect yours but think that, as Editor, you should present a more impartial presentation of your articles. For example, did you need to describe the article in the Express as «Laughable»? Surely you should leave it to your reader to decide.

Kind Regards

Michael

Good afternoon Lenox,

I note your observations as to the general lack of knowledge of the rights of free movement in general terms and more specifically the rights of non-Union Citizens when in a durable relationship with a Union citizen. This matter is covered by Articles 7, 9 -13 of Directive 38/2004/EC and yes, Europe Direct were perfectly correct a third country national acquires the same rights of free movement as a family member when in a durable relationship with a Union citizen, but only after the Union citizen has acquired the right to reside in, not visit, a Member State. As far as the UK’s media, such matters as the right of free movement have long been of little interest to them. The EU is in apparent disarray at this time with threats of further countries leaving, although I do believe that the Commission will give way to pressure over this 90/180 day rule, given the fact that a number of the Member States rely heavily on tourism and I’m not just referring to holiday homes, although a lot depends on how Covid pans out. For example the hotels in Benidorm are kept open by the oldies who visit from the UK for protracted periods the winter months.

Regards,

David

On Residency Issues

The Spanish are just following the rules laid down by EU members (and remember that the UK was involved in making every single one of these rules about third country immigrants and the EU).

Richard

Finally:

Grândola Vila Morena (‘The Ballad of the Fallen’) is a revolutionary song that was banned in Portugal until the rising against Salazar in April 1974. With José ‘Zeca’ Afonso on YouTube.

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Licenciado en Filosofía y Letras, Magisterio y Estudios en la Escuela Oficial de Periodismo de Madrid. Residente 40 años en Francia, Reino Unido e Irlanda como profesor de español. En Irlanda fundó el Centró Español de Documentación y el Instituto Cultural Español, actual Instituto Cervantes de Dublín. Asímismo, fue corresponsal de: Agencia EFE, Diario Informaciones, Carta de España, Crónicas de la Emigración, España Exterior, La Región Internacional y Escuela Española. Jubilado.

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