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

18/10/21. 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:

‘No one is above the law’ goes the platitude but, if the law doesn’t always like to tune in then face may be saved and propriety maintained, but nobody is fooled and the system itself is weakened.

So much the better if those we look up to avoid returning the favour by looking down on us.
In the old days, we had ‘the Divine Right’ which pretty much allowed kings and dictators to do whatever they wanted, with God’s blessing and approval. In the UK, Cromwell put a major dent in this, and here in Spain, the Second Republic saw the Bourbons (wiki) leave into exile in 1931, to return (following Franco) in 1975.
Juan Carlos I (wiki) was a popular choice for the new Head of State (as far as anything created by Franco can be said to be popular in these Modern Times) and, by failing to support Guardia Civil Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero’s fascist coup in 1981, his approval was assured.
But, things have gone downhill for the monarch, not only precipitously succeeded while still alive by his (admirable) son Felipe, but now living under a cloud in exile in (of all places) Abu Dhabi.
We join the press clippings:
‘It has just been learned that the prosecution plans to archive the investigation on the Emeritus King and that as a consequence he is already thinking of returning to Spain, although not permanently, but only for a visit, so as not to hinder the work of his son, the current King Felipe VI…’ says an opinion piece by Gaspar Llamazares titled ‘A sense of outrageous impunity’ at the left-wing Nueva Tribuna here.
El Confidencial says that, with the Emeritus escaping any inquiry into his business dealings and activities overseas, those who helped facilitate them – lawyers, accountants, bankers and agents – will breathe a sigh of relief, as they won’t be judged in open court either.
In the unlikely event of a referendum in Spain on the Monarchy, says El Salto here, 39% of the population would vote ‘Republic’ against 31% ‘Monarchy’.
Meanwhile, as Juan Carlos I (and Prince Andrew here and maybe Donald Trump here) are protected from a full and proper enquiry, the losers are the very democracies they represent.

Housing:

From Spanish Property Insight here. ‘The left-wing coalition led by the Socialists has announced plans to impose nationwide rent controls, social-housing quotas on new developments, and increased taxes on empty homes that are bound to influence the Spanish housing market, for better or worse. The governing coalition between the bigger PSOE party and their junior partner the hard-left Podemos party have finally come to an agreement on a new housing law that Podemos were insisting on as a condition for allowing a budget to be passed in 2022…’.

Making some pin-money from renting out a room, or maybe your spare apartment, bought as an investment? Not only the hoteliers are competing against you (with the strength of the lobbyists), but also the larger landlords. In Mallorca, between the banks and the vulture funds, there are ‘…502 that own more than 50 properties while 7,687 have between 11 and 25 properties. Almost half of all properties are in the hands of major property owners, mainly banks that take them over due to mortgage default...’. The Mallorca Daily Bulletin.

Almost half of all homes bought in Spain between 2008 and 2020 were bought by large landlords of at least eight properties says 20Minutos here: that’s 1.7 million out of the total of 3.8 million sales. Hold eight homes or more and one can receive tax-benefits.

A cheap and jolly place to rent. OK, it’s not very large, but it’s in Madrid (?) and only costs 500€ a month. But, after all, it’s a full nine metres square! A picture here. @elzulista (on Twitter) is the place to find teeny-tiny apartments. Some of them at Madrid Secreto here.

Tourism:

‘Holidaymakers' typical profile in Spain has changed since the start of the pandemic: French visitors have outnumbered British tourists in the past 18 months for the first time in history. In fact, entries from France have doubled those from the UK: Between March 2020 and now, approximately 6.2 million French nationals have taken their holidays in Spain, compared with 3.1 million Brits…’. More at Think Spain here.

Seniors:

A press release from the Junta de Andalucía says: ‘The centres for the elderly in Andalucía have recovered full activity after the pandemic. The passage to Level 0 of the Covid alert in two thirds of the community allows the Health Authority to completely eliminate restrictions on both the capacity and the hours at the residences’. Here, with EuropaPress.

Finance:

From El Liberal here, ‘The Council of Ministers has approved the budgets for 2022 with a record spending ceiling, a significant increase in regional financing, a minimum rate of 15% in corporate tax, a 2% increase in the salary of funcionarios and both a housing and cultural incentive for young people.
The budgetary limit approved for 2022 is 196,142 million euros, slightly above the 196,097 million in 2021, although by incorporating 25,000 million of spending associated with European funds, it comes to 2,000 million less than in 2021.
With these resources, the Government intends to underpin the recovery in 2022, with a growth of the Spanish economy of 7% and an increase in employment of 2.7%, which will reduce the unemployment rate to 14.1%...’.
The budget now needs – in the weeks to come – the support of the Government’s allies before final parliamentary approval.

The budget would of course be nearer to being balanced if many large companies paid their taxes without resorting to tricks. elDiario.es reports on how dozens of Spanish multinational companies pay in Luxembourg or Malta the taxes – some 3% covers it – corresponding to their activity abroad (of course, almost without any business as such in those two countries, where they barely have any employees). ‘…A report published by the Tax Agency analyses 122 Spanish multinationals (not identified) that have a turnover between them (in 2018) of more than 750 million euros and have some 15,085 subsidiaries, of which more than 10,000 are abroad. They add up to almost 860,000 million of turnover and 91,000 million of profit, of which they have paid just 16,800 million of Corporation Tax…’.

Gloom from The Corner here: ‘In Spain, four million people were living in severe poverty in 2018. Now there are more than six million. According to the Caritas and Foessa Foundation report, the impact of the pandemic is “devastating” and more than 11 million people now live in a situation of “social exclusion”…’.

‘How will Spanish tax hikes affect expats?’ From International Adviser we read: ‘Brits looking to relocate to the country should ‘make lifestyle changes and expand financial portfolio’.

From Eye on Spain here, ‘Cheque (sic) your Spanish bank account. Banks are lobbing charges on current accounts without warning customers. Some customers now pay 240 euros a year just to have an account. Pablo de Ronda investigates’. (Thanks to David)

CaixaBank will leave Bankia customers without online banking in one month from now. They will no longer be able to make transfers, check movements or send money with Bizum as from November 12 if they have not transferred to the CaixaBank Now mobile application’ says ECD here.


The high price of both gas and electric are given as the reasons why both Fertiberia (fertiliser) and Sidenor (steel) have temporarily ceased production, says NIUS here.

Politics:

El Español quotes their survey which gives the lead to the Partido Popular if elections were to be called today. The PP could form a government, says the paper, with the support of Vox, Navarra Suma and Ciudadanos. The PP in this survey take 27.2% against the PSOE at 25%.

On Tuesday, the Día de Pilar, Fiesta Nacional and Día de la Hispanidad, the armed forces performed their Madrid march past the Royals and dignitaries, including the president of Spain Pedro Sánchez, who was jeered at by the attending public says El País here.  Alfonso Guerra (an old-time socialist dinosaur) says (video) that they boo a president and applaud a goat (the Legionnaires’ mascot): everyone, he says, can choose who best represents themself. The calls for ‘resign’ have occurred annually at the parade during the tenures of Zapatero and Sánchez (although Rajoy was pardoned from the insults by the crowds).

The Government’s plans to control property rentals have raised the ire of two of the PP’s heroes, Isabel Díaz Ayuso and the Madrid mayor José Luis Martínez Almeida. Both say that they will approve any and all measures to weaken or reverse the new rules. More here. Ayuso in a video here says ‘Spain needs a government like mine, the sooner the better’.

20Minutos reports that Pablo Casado offered on Wednesday to allow the Government to move forward with changes in the Constitutional Court (in overtime since 2019) and the Public Ombudsman (2017) but blames the Government for the blockage on the CGPJ (the General Council of the Judiciary), whose five-year tenure was constitutionally over in 2018.

From El País here: ‘Pablo Casado wants to "reset" the Government’s achievements of Pedro Sánchez if he reaches his goal – as if the left had never been. For this, the leader of the PP is preparing a battery of reforms and counter-reforms that repeal and nullify some of the main social laws of the progressive coalition, to include with this the current abortion law, which was approved eleven years ago by the Government of Zapatero…’.

elDiario.es writes in its daily newsletter: ‘Activist, deputy and convicted. Unidas Podemos deputy Alberto Rodríguez (the 6’5” fellow from Tenerife with the dreadlocks) has been convicted of kicking a police officer in a 2014 demonstration. There are no witnesses or evidence, only the version of the attacked police officer, but the Supreme Court has accepted it as good, albeit not unanimously. The sentence is a year and a half in jail for the assault, although he may commute the sentence with the payment of a fine, and may mean that he loses the seat. Rodríguez says he will appeal. The story here. The reaction here.

In Andalucía, the new leader of the PSOE-A has reached out to the PP of Juanma Moreno so that it does not depend on Vox to carry out, for example, the 2022 regional budgets. And it looks like the PP is accepting. The story here.

From ECD comes the tale that ‘Isabel Díaz Ayuso had asked Pablo Casado to move the party to the right to ‘protect herself’ from the pressure from Vox in Madrid. She told Casado that she felt "harassed" by Rocío Monasterio (the Vox leader for the Madrid region) and that she needed some nods to Santiago Abascal's party-supporters’.
‘She got her deal’, explains the news-site, ‘in exchange for dropping her campaign to dispute the national leadership of the PP’.

Opinion:

Hoy por Hoy with Àngels Barceló on CadenaSer here (with audio): ‘Each Casado intervention is a rally full of lies. The leader of the PP continues to act as if the elections were to be held tomorrow’.

From El Confidencial here: ‘"This is a fiesta": why Vox continues to grow electorally’. The party held its own convention in Madrid this past weekend, but more than a meeting of party faithful, ‘¡Viva 21!’ was a fairground, a meet-up, a fiesta: a party!

Catalonia:

‘'In Spain, no-one is above the law': Spanish FM on Puigdemont extradition case. Spain's foreign minister has responded to comments by the exiled Catalan independence leader Carles Puigdemont that Madrid is "using judicial power to achieve political goals", saying "in Spain nobody is above the law". On October 5, an Italian court suspended Puigdemont's extradition proceedings pending a ruling by the European Court of Justice – proceedings that the Catalan leader says should be dropped by Spain’. More at France24 here.

Gibraltar:

Discussions between Gibraltar, the UK and the EU are being held ‘every three weeks’ says GBC Online, regarding Gibraltar's future relationship with the EU. Essentially, the British and the Spanish (backed by the EU) are squabbling over the issue of who controls the frontier-police with Spain.

Noticias Gibraltar says that Gibraltar will once again be asking the United Nations for self-determination (independence by another name).

Europe:

The majority of Spaniards are in favour of strengthening the EU, according to a survey from El Español here.  ‘38.1% of Spaniards would approve of handing over more sovereign powers to Brussels, with 28.5% satisfied with the current situation and just 22.8% of those in favour of cutting back the powers of the EU. But the differences are much greater on controversial issues for some issues: 60% would support the founding of "the United States of Europe" while more than 70% support the creation of the European Army’.

The Express ran an article about how the Brits are ‘leaving Spain in droves’ which was picked up by 20Minutos (see last week’s BoT). The Express then quoted the Spanish paper to help prove its own original claim. We join the absurd British newspaper with a fresh follow-up here: ‘'Picked their side and lost!' Spain brutally mocked over post-Brexit expat exodus’. And then, from the same silly newspaper, just two days later: ‘Brit expats race to buy property in Spain’ here.

The Polish issue, with the issue of the primacy of Poland over EU law, can count on Spain’s Vox party (needless to say). El Huff Post has the story.

Courts:

47% of the judiciary in Spain are members of right-wing associations, while 8% are members of left-wing groups. elDiario.es here. The guilds in question: La Asociación Profesional de la Magistratura, la Asociación Judicial Francisco de Vitoria and Foro Judicial Independiente and on the left: Jueces y Juezas para la Democracia.

Pandora Papers:

As the information of Spanish participation in offshore-companies, slowly being revealed by the media and labelled as ‘the Pandora Papers’, Hacienda, worried that those involved may try to quickly ‘regularise’ their situation, is asking for the names of those involved. InfoLibre says that it would take several months for the tax-people to complete investigations and they need to act quickly.

The revelations in Spain are coming from El País and LaSexta. The former runs.

A fresh name along with his interests in the British Virgin Islands: – Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava, while the latter reveals here that the ex-leader of the Catalonian PP Xavier García Albiol (the tall one who is now mayor of Badalona) had financial connections with Belize in 2005. Albiol later gave an explanation to LaSexta here.

Media:

The far-right uses a popular TV ‘news magazine’ presenter as their mouthpiece, as the subliminal message enters the public mind with expediency. ‘The Ana Rosa strategy’: an opinion piece at elDiario.es here.


Ecology:

On the moribund inland sea of La Manga, Murcia, comes an article from The Guardian: ‘The Toilet of Europe: Spain’s pig farms blamed for mass fish die-offs. The pork industry’s role in pollution of one of Europe’s largest saltwater lagoons may be greater than publicly acknowledged, investigation reveals’.


Various:

Live videos and photos of the eruption in Palma are here. From El País in English here: ‘As La Palma eruption intensifies, experts warn: ‘There are no signs of it ending’’.

How does the world see Spain? El Confidencial leads with ‘High marks from Poland and a low score from Morocco: this is how Spain is valued in the world. The annual report of the Real Instituto Elcano and Rep Track Company shows that Spain dropped one place in the prestigious world 'ranking', but continues to be one of the highest-valued countries’.  Spain is 13th on their graphic (Australia leads, Norway is 2nd, the UK is 18th). elDiario.es says Spain, seen from abroad, gets high marks in several fields, but scores badly for suffering from too much corruption.

Over at the think-tank La Real Instituto Elcano, we can see the full document.

Spain’s foreign strategy – a long look at political initiative abroad with The Political Room (en castellano) here.

The book (that almost wasn’t) about the Emeritus king: Juan Carlos I. El rey de las cinco mil amantes written by the retired coronel Amadeo Martínez Inglés, at El Plural, here.

‘…In 2008, we witnessed Gas Natural's attempt to buy Endesa, in order to create a leading national electricity company that would be at the same level as other European companies. The Partido Popular refused to allow this purchase because it said that the price was low and secondly, that Endesa could not belong to the Catalans. The PP looked to the German EON for the company that could bring a better offer than Gas Natural's takeover bid. Then, along came the Italian public company Enel, who was the one who ended up with Endesa. In 2021 we pay the price…’. The opinion piece in Nueva Tribuna quoted here also notes that later this month, Endesa will be paying out in its annual dividends the sum of 14,606 million euros to shareholders.

Portugal has taken to fining drivers who use roundabouts ‘a la española’.

Electric cars are well and good, but recharging them brings along a few problems. One of these being the cost. From 20Minutos here, ‘In one year, the cost of recharging an electric car has risen from 190 to 447 euros, according to the OCU consumers’ organisation’. From Foro Coches Eléctricos here, a complaint about ‘The absurd relationship between public administrations and the electric car in Spain’. How not to do it, says the article, as around 4,000 petrol stations must wait for the paperwork to allow them to offer recharge-points.

The next DGT patrol car will be in the skies above us says 20Minutos here. Forget the unmanned drones, now the traffic police are preparing themselves for two-seater ones operated by some lucky fellow safe back on the ground (and generously paid for by our donations laughingly known as ‘multas’). With video.

Spain is the third country in Europe in the consumption of cannabis. Infosalus has the story here. We certainly read of almost daily busts in the plastic farms of Almería (five tons found in El Ejido on Saturday) and numerous arrests of hash importers along the Málaga coast. Now, Podemos and some smaller parliamentary groups want to legalise marijuana for recreational use (beyond the lukewarm PSOE idea to legislate for medicinal purposes).

Another article comes along, saying that, no, a glass of wine is not good for you (Thanks to Jake). Contrarily, La Razón says that drinking lots of beer is just the ticket for losing weight. My piece about Sober October: a month on the wagon is here.

Spain is to host an international conference this December in Jaén backing the health benefits of olive oil says The Olive Press here. 40% of the world’s olive oil supplies come from Spain. The BoT nutritionist expert Lenox says a breakfast of una media con tomate – half a small loaf toasted and covered in tomato mush with olive oil drizzled on it – is the way to go. Dame Alicia adds jamón to hers.  (With a good café con leche to wash it down).

Household cleaners will soon have full employee’s rights, including the right to unemployment benefits says Laboro here.

The History of the Guitar here at Guitarras Garrido Pozuelo honours the man who created the first guitarra española, Antonio de Torres Jurado (wiki), who was born in the Almería suburb community of La Cañada de San Urbano (coincidentally, the headquarters of BoT).

For many centuries, there was an independent microstate of three villages between Portugal and Spain called Couto Mixto. Wiki describes it as ‘…the result of complex medieval manorial relations, this land eluded both Portuguese and Spanish control for centuries, actually operating as a sovereign state in its own right until the 1864 Treaty of Lisbon that partitioned the territory between Spain (which annexed most of the land including the three villages) and Portugal (which remained with a smaller uninhabited strip of land)…’. Now the current surviving villagers of Santiago de Rubiás, Rubiás and Meaus are asking for dual Portuguese and Spanish nationality and maybe, why not, a return to the heady days of independence.

According to DNA research from Oxford University, the ancient Britons originally came from Spain says La Brujula Verde here. Maybe, on the strength of this, we Brit residents could get naturalisation papers like the Sephardi…

Some tricky general knowledge questions about Spain at Eye on Spain here. (10/15)

Another story of mine about signing with some deaf cousins here.

See Spain:

An article (with an irritating video) comes from 20Minutos about that strange and startling village in Gerona that is built on a narrow rock overlooking a gorge. At least the pictures show Castellfollit de la Roca from a different angle from the usual one that appears now and again on Facebook

GoNomad takes us to Seville, its ‘castles and gardens’.

Finally:

A spicy pop song was recorded in the Toledo Cathedral recently, causing the embarrassed dean to tender his resignation. The video with performers C Tangana and singer Nathy Peluso is of a song called ateo, atheist. The Guardian has an article on this lapse in good taste and the reactions of the public here; and here’s the video itself on YouTube.