Política, Brexit, turismo, actualidad, finanzas, Cataluña, ecologismo, medios o corrupción son algunos de los temas que trata este boletín informativo

20/01/20. 
Opinión. El periodista Lenox Napier repasa la actualidad española en su boletín semanal Business Over Tapas, al que puede suscribirse por 60 euros anuales. Puede obtener más información en su web (AQUÍ) o en su perfil (AQUÍ). EL OBSERVADOR / www.revistaelobservador.com ofrece este contenido tres días después de su lanzamiento...

Editorial:

Meet the new ministers, one by one, with Cuarto Poder here. There are twenty-two of them, including four vice-presidents. The Cabinet has been expanded from 17 posts to 22, and is split equally between men and women. The ministers come from three parties, the PSOE, Podemos and its coalition partner the Izquierda Unida. This is Spain’s first coalition government since democracy returned in 1975. President Sánchez says (while warning his ministers) that ‘the Government will have various voices but only one sound’. The ‘23rd Minister’ (so-called by the Opposition forces) is Iván Redondo, a ‘fixer’ and Chief of Staff (wiki). While the Unidas Podemos ministers are seen as ‘politicals’. The PSOE chosen ministers lean towards ‘independents’ or low-profile politicians says an analysis here.

Housing:

A hundred years ago, 85 hectares of land was leased to a company located in the Puerto de Navacerrada and Cercadilla municipalities to the north of Madrid. Now, the area, which has several hundred residents living in some uncomfortable-looking blocks of apartments, is facing the end of the lease and a return of the land to the two town halls. The ecologists are triumphant, the home-owners, naturally, despondent. The town hall of Cercedilla considers the residents of the land in question to be ‘squatters’. The story is at El País here.

One of the unexpected consequences of Brexit will be that UK residents who have bought holiday homes or invested in Spain will suffer at the hands of the Spanish tax system. This is because of their loss of status as residents of the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) (From Brexpats in Spain). ‘How Brexit will affect the taxation of Spanish holiday homes’. The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales has the report here.

The Olive Press brings us pictures from Benidorm’s Intempo - Spain’s tallest residential building – here.

Tourism:

The international tourist fair, FITUR, starts next week. The feria is now forty years old, says Merca2 here. One of the more than eleven thousand exhibitors will be Almería’s tourist board with its new slogan ‘Life Smiles on You in Almería’.

Finance:

The youth unemployment rate in Spain has overtaken Greece and is now the highest in Europe, says El Capitalista here. In September, Spain reported the highest unemployment rate for young people (under 25 years old) in the entire euro zone: a figure in excess of 32.7%, according to data published by Eurostat.

Sicavs are a device where a wealthy person finds a number of those of more modest means (minimum one hundred investors) to create a Society with a minimum capital of €2,400,000, which then pays a special low-tax rate of 1%.. Wiki calls them ‘an open-ended collective investment scheme’. The new Government is not appreciative of Sicavs, it seems, and many have abruptly closed down in the past few weeks, including ones controlled by the Meliá hotels family and the Almirall pharmacist family. Two others that have called it a day were controlled by ex-politicians in Madrid, both under scrutiny for corruption issues. Furthermore, we read that the Facundo sunflower-seed people have also closed down their particular Sicav...

InfoLibre is quoting Ana Botín, the president of the Banco Santander as saying ‘banks haven’t evicted anyone in Spain since 2012’. From El Boletín comes the answer: ‘La Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca says the remark is radically false’ (which is rather what we thought). Bank evictions run in Spain at anywhere from 40,000 to 80,000 a year says the article.

The rise in pensions by 0.9%, announced as an early measure by the new Government, was welcomed by pensioners. However, the flat increase means, of course, more to those with higher pensions than with lower ones. The ‘average pension’ stood at 995.76€ before the adjustment, which now brings it to a bit over 1,000€. However, top pensions will rise by 24€ per month (there are fourteen monthly payments per year in Spain) while more modest ones will see a smaller increase (it’s complicated) – something like 7 or 8€. El País looks at the figures here.

Politics:

From El País in English, we read that ‘President Sánchez announces a pension hike and defends his attorney general after the first Cabinet meeting.  Speaking to reporters, Pedro Sánchez said that he now has “no reservations” about the leader of his coalition partner Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, despite statements he made last year to the contrary’. Pensions are indeed to rise by 0.9%, and the issue of his attorney general, the former Justice Minister Dolores Delgado, is the evident worry that a politician in a senior judicial position is in clear breach of the separation of State and Law.

Mark Stücklin’s take on the new government includes ‘...as housing affordability was a key campaign issue for Podemos, it’s reasonable to expect them to push the government further left and intervene more heavily in the housing market than the Socialists might have on their own. Amongst other things, Podemos want to impose rent controls, prevent evictions, protect squatters, go after investors whom they see as “speculators and vulture funds”, and clamp down on tourist rentals, though not all of their aspirations are reflected in the coalition agreement. But I expect there will be a fresh effort from this government to facilitate some form of rent controls in some areas, and support regions who introduce greater restrictions on tourist rentals...’. More at Spanish Property Insight here.

Podemos maintains its integrity, says La Información approvingly, as Iglesias rules that no one from the party may earn from their political posts more than three times the minimum wage (i.e. 2,700€ per month). Anything over this figure goes either to the party coffers, or to charity.

The new Minister for Equality is Irene Montero from Podemos. Irene, who is just 31, is the wife of Pablo Iglesias. Europa Press has more on her meteoric climb to her current position here. El Cierre Digital also looks at the background:  ‘Pablo Iglesias and Irene Montero, the most powerful couple in national politics...’.

The latest poll regarding voting intentions, this time from Celeste-Tel, gives Vox a fresh boost, taking a couple of seats away from the PP and one from Ciudadanos. The PSOE would retreat by five seats and UP would grow with three deputies. Vox’ fresh score would be plus five (52 to 57).

Pedro Sánchez is preparing his government to take the offensive against the continuous criticism (‘total war’) from the right-wing, says ElDiario.es here. ‘This legislature will last the full 1400 days’ he says.

Spanish Revolution (sic) says that Inés Arrimadas, the current leader of Ciudadanos, is trying to keep her party as a player by harping on about Venezuela and ETA etc in the hope of toppling the Government alliance.

The (current) leader of Vox in Melilla, Jesús Delgado, says the party is little more than a money-machine for a handful of people. El Confidencial has the story here.

Coalición Canaria had agreed to abstain over the investiture of Pedro Sánchez, but their parliamentary deputy voted firmly against. She has now been fined the maximum allowed of 1,000€ by the party for her behaviour.  RTVC has the story here.

Borja Sémper, the ‘moderate’ senior PP politician from the Basque city of San Sebastian, abruptly quit his calling as a politician on Tuesday following extended disagreement on policy with his colleagues. Within a few hours, he had found a new job with Ernst & Young says El Huff Post here.

A video on YouTube from Fortfast WTF (José Climent here) looks at the recent Vox demonstrations of January 12th. España Existe.

Outraged.eu is a site that watches the rise of the far-right. Here it looks at ‘How Spain’s Vox fortifies neo-fascist internationalism’. It says ‘...In Spain, the fascist virus has reared its ugly head in the form of Vox (Latin for “voice”). Emerging in 2013 as a split from the traditional right-wing Partido Popular (People’s Party), Vox openly advocates against immigrants, Muslims, women’s rights and what they see as “radical” social values associated with multiculturalism. They openly support Israeli fascism and advocate for war against Iran...’.

Catalonia:

The Guardian reports that ‘Catalonia’s former president Carles Puigdemont has arrived in the European parliament to take his seat, vowing to continue fighting for the jailed Catalan leader Oriol Junqueras, who has lost his bid to become an MEP’. The article notes that ‘...the EU parliament has announced that Junqueras is no longer an MEP, because Spain’s Supreme Court had recently ruled that he was not eligible to serve because of his conviction for sedition and misuse of public funds...’ (More on Junqueras’ suspension here).

Gibraltar:

El País in English says that ‘Spain is taking a firm approach to talks about the future of the British Overseas Territory after Brexit’. From The Olive Press here ‘Gibraltar gets ready to officially leave the EU by publishing its Withdrawal Bill to be presented in parliament before January 31. Gibraltarians will still enjoy most of their EU rights until the end of this year’.

Corruption:

‘Anticorruption reveals that Spain has been paying bribes in Saudi Arabia for 25 years. The investigation over eleven arms sales contracts concludes with the discovery of more than 100 million euros diverted by the Spanish state company Defex from 1991 to 2016 to Saudi buyers. El Mundo has the story here. Defex was closed down in September 2017 after over 220 million euros was found to be unaccounted for.

Brexit:

‘With his majority in place, Johnson chips away at EU citizen's rights’. An item found at Politics.co.uk here. ‘...Wherever you look, you see this same approach: the government attempting to maximise the power it has to change or undermine the system and resisting any efforts to provide Europeans with guarantees...’.


‘European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned Britain on Tuesday not to discriminate against EU citizens seeking permanent residency after Brexit, urging London to set up an independent monitoring authority...’. Item from Reuters here.  The Local says ‘Brits living in Europe warned of post-Brexit 'consequences'’ here.

‘The Brexit Calendar and the consequences for travellers: the final stretch before leaving the EU’. From Tourism Review here.

Media:

ElDiario.es
looks at the current wave of the fake news that attacks the Government in an editorial here. One new method used by critical newspapers is to give a title which belies the text (in the hope that no one will bother to read beyond the title). Another, popular with politicians, is to simply lie, knowing that there are plenty around to report their remarks as true. The article quotes the old saw ‘it’s not a journalist’s job to quote both sides on the day’s weather, but rather to look out the window’. The useful site Maldito is the reference for fake news in Spain. For example, a bulo (a fake news item) about lifetime salaries for politicians, once in Pedro Sánchez’ government, is deflected: ‘neither deputies, nor ministers nor vice-presidents are entitled to them’.


Dircomfidencial looks at TV consumption among Spaniards and other figures related to the goggle-box. The average Spaniard watches a bit less TV than in previous years (probably on the Internet instead), but still manages an average daily viewing of 222 minutes – over three and a half hours! TV advertising (a bane for viewers of the commercial channels) is also down by 100 million euros over 2018.

Ecology:

‘The last decade in Spain has been the hottest since records began. The average annual temperature between 2010 and 2019 was 15.7 degrees. This compares with 14 degrees in the 1970 – 1979 period’. Item from CTXT here.


From The Olive Press here: ‘Spain’s tap water among Europe’s most dangerous, study finds, increasing risk of bladder cancer’. It says in part ‘...Scientists from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health analysed the presence of the chemicals in the tap water in all 28 EU countries apart from Bulgaria and Romania between 2005 and 2018. Long-term exposure to a group of chemicals called trihalomethanes (THMs) is thought to be the cause.
Which is why (sigh!) we drink water from plastic bottles.

Various:

Online gambling is growing fast, says ElDiario.es here, with almost 1.5 million Spaniards placing an online bet in 2018. For every 100€ bet, the operators are paying out 92.2€. The same source says that the ‘Games Lobby’ met in 2018 with 96 different Spanish politicians to promote the industry... (here). Meanwhile, La Información says that Unidas Podemos plan to put strict controls in place at the gambling clubs. The clubs (which are found in the poorer parts of most towns in Spain) won't be able to open until after 10.00pm (er, when everybody is drunk) and they won't be able to open at all near to schools. Furthermore, advertising for these places is to be strictly controlled as well (no more Bet365, Bwin, William Hill, ​Codere, Pokerstars or Sportium on the telly or the social media?).

We’ve seen proposals for bits of Spain to go their own way, parts of autonomous regions to split off (Léon last week, for example), now we have a town that wants to leave its province and its autonomous region (Andalucía) and set up solo. Welcome to the truly independent future autonomy of La Línea de la Concepción. After all, Ceuta and Melilla are both independent autonomies... Magnet says that the La Línea mayor has two thirds of the population behind him on this curious proposal.

Eye on Spain brings us ‘George Orwell and the Spanish Civil War’. It begins ‘Even though he was an Englishman, famed author George Orwell made it a point to head to Spain during the Spanish Civil War in order to join the fight for democracy, mainly out of idealism. Today, his path through one portion of the war is remembered by a trail of recreated fortifications...’.

El Estremeñu is a language which has now been recognised as such by the Council of Europe, meaning it will now be protected as a minority language. Two others, also found in Extremadura, await recognition: A Fala and el Portugués Rayano. An example of this language (dialect?) can be found at El Periódico here: "Entre nusotrus i nusotrus palramus estremeñu pa platical. Quandu mos ajuntamus aquí, procuramus quasi que siempri de palrá-lu, porque la mejol manera que tenemus de defendel el estremeñu es palrandu-lu. Es la horma d'aprendel los marrus que hazemus. Entovía hazemus muchus".

According to VozPópuli, the Government is edging closer to relaxing the laws over the consumption of marijuana. The two ministers who would be most involved in cannabis consumption Alberto Garzón (consumer affairs) and Salvador Illa (health) have both said on occasion that they favour legalisation.  The news-site says ‘...This advance would generate 1,900 million euros in taxes, create 38,000 jobs and would mean a cut in the costs of state security forces dedicated to dealing with illegal traffic, especially in southern Spain...’.

From LifeSiteNews here: ‘Spanish cardinal says that the left-wing govt agenda will make ‘Spain cease being Spain’. ‘Spain is without a compass; it is a mess, bewildered and without a project,’ writes Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera in a recent letter to President Sánchez.

Pollo de corral is free-range chicken, a bit more expensive, orange in its packet at the supermarket, and allegedly delicious. The term pollo de corral however has no legal definition and that nice orangey tinge comes from the chemists. El Español has the story here.

‘Freshly-squeezed fruit juice does not lose vitamin content, says one of Spain's leading consumer organisations, the OCU. In a review of orange juice across the country's major supermarkets, the organisation tested the vitamin C content in each at the moment it was extracted, a few hours later, then again at intervals of 24, 48 and 72 hours. After this time, it is generally not suitable for drinking anyway, but the OCU says the levels of vitamin C remained the same at every test...’. Item from Think Spain here.

See Spain:

Extremadura is a fascinating and rather forgotten part of Spain. España Fascinante takes us to eight pueblos worth visiting...

This month’s Discover Southern Europe features an article called ‘Camino de Santiago for beginners’ here. There are many different Caminos de Santiago, truth be told (as more and more pueblos get in on the tourist possibilities), but a walk with a good purpose is always gold.

‘Although many visitors head to this stunning Balearic Islands for a relaxing break, I wanted to enjoy the Island of Majorca and explore it thoroughly. In this article I share my road trip from the capital city Palma de Mallorca right across to the North of the Island’. Join Molly from Piccavey as she does Palma to Pollensa by car.

Letters:

Dear Lenox,
Congratulation for this excellent edition of your BoT.
It reminds me a long and beneficial tradition of weekly news in English in Spain, such as The Entertainer, The Sur in English etc, dealing with local and national issues using a comprehensible and accessible language for both the average British citizen in Spain or the local Spaniard English reader. Its varied and large contents dealing with economical, political, social, cultural or even historical 'gossips' as The Alcazaba selling in the XIX century, gives the reader a deep insight into the Spanish current political & economical complex situation. It helps the reader with the possibility to access the very broad and direct information with a click at the provided useful links with likely pedagogical and educational use
Thanks again, Lenox, for your weekly fresh approach to general and local Spanish life.
Felipe.

Finally:

‘Spain, the land of passionate flamenco, bolero and copla, more recently fusions of reggeaton, hip hop and punk, but what’s wrong with good old romance, and when it comes to crooning no one does is better than the Spaniards (you protest? Latin Americans, you’ll have your chance)…meanwhile, here are things you should definitely know about singing heart-throbs, the best of the best, and some who’ve made money winging it…’. The top ten Spanish crooners are listed at Latino Life here.