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

29/11/21. 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...


It’s time that those of us who are British by birth (or passport) and have the good fortune to live in Spain, with papers allowing us to stay, wounded perhaps peripherally by Brexit (we suddenly went from second-class citizens of Spain to third class-residents of Europe, with the appropriate strictures that have been thrust upon us), should celebrate.

The tourist season (why do they call it that, if one is not allowed to shoot them?) is over for another six months or so, and we have the cooling beaches and emptied restaurants to ourselves. We need no longer queue patiently to get into the health clinics and the bar-staff will now once again greet us enthusiastically by name and, if there’s a karaoke, will even let us sing ‘My Way’ twice in a single evening.
Many of our brothers have fallen by the wayside in this heroic struggle between Europe and Stupidity. Those without the correct paperwork must now resign themselves to shortened visits to Shangri-La to avoid the British winter, and even entertain the possibility of having to sell their villa to a German or (irony alert), a Pole.
Other Brits have found that imports from the UK are a disaster, with even a Christmas card taking several weeks and being steamed open by the zealous Spanish aduana, before charging the mortified recipient a fortune for the time wasted.
We can’t vote in European elections any more, but then, which Spanish candidate ever did anything in Brussels – or elsewhere - for the expats?
So, battered and bruised yet oddly triumphant, we British expats can now celebrate being able to stay here without too many bothersome issues to worry us. We may not be immigrants (how many of us have taken out Spanish nationality?), yet we have – in our muddling way – won the ring.
There is, as any Spaniard will tell you, no time like the present, so I suggest that we invite the skeleton crew over from the British Government in Exile (it’s in the apartment upstairs from the English library), because Thursday, (Thanksgiving Day for the Americans) is upon us, and anyway, I’ve already ordered the turkey.
From this year onwards, we who survived the manifest horrors of Brexit must never forget: Brexpat Day – turkey, baked beans and a nice cup of tea.
Won’t you join us?
     (I’ve added a spiffing picture to the essay here)


EPE tells us here about coliving: ‘Foreign investment funds bring micro-houses to Spain: living in 21 square meters for 700 euros per month. Large real estate investment funds land in Spain with new construction community residence projects. They buy tertiary floors to develop them as apart-hotels because they are cheaper and the regulations are more lax’. In short, while the minimum for an apartment in Madrid is 38m2 (or 25m2 if it’s a studio), it is nevertheless legal to be smaller if it’s an apart-hotel, even though it’s really a rental-home.

From Idealista here, ‘Swedes, Danes and Germans are the foreigners who buy the most expensive houses in Spain. The average price paid by foreign buyers is growing 4.1% year-on-year and becomes the highest registered since 2009 (now standing at 1,863 euros / m2)’.

From Brinkwire here: ‘House prices in a Spanish expat neighbourhood are at a standstill as tourists avoid the stink of the Mar Menor’. Things aren’t going well in La Manga.

From The New York Times here ‘As Pandemic Evictions Rise, Spaniards Declare ‘War’ on Wall Street Landlords’. (retold): Protesters and activists in Barcelona are pushing back against foreign investment firms such as Cerberus, Blackstone and Lone Star, which have bought up thousands of homes in Spain and are now forcing out residents who can’t pay the rent after suffering financially during the pandemic.

In some cases, protesters have physically blocked lawyers and accompanying police officers from gaining entry to buildings where they intend to force people from their homes. As residents are pushed out of apartments, the group sends squatters to occupy properties owned by the firms elsewhere in the city — sometimes breaking in to gain entry.

The problem has caught the attention of Spain’s national government, led by a left-wing coalition. It has proposed the imposition of rent controls on investment funds and other large landlords, which would cap rent for owners with more than ten properties in areas where rent increases have outpaced inflation.

Miquel Hernández, a spokesman for the activist group War Against Cerberus, accused the firms of profiting from the economic distress caused by the pandemic. “They’re treating them like any other asset,” he said, referring to the homes.


In a slow week for news about tourism, here’s an item from Hurriyet Daily News: ‘Turkey attracts more tourists than Spain: says the Minister’. We read that ‘The latest data from the Culture and Tourism Ministry showed that between January and September nearly 17.6 million foreign tourists visited Turkey, up some 86 percent compared with the same period of 2020’. We think a lot of this will be cruise-ships.


elDiario.es says: ‘Spain loses 6,300 million in tax-revenue annually due to the diversion of profits and wealth to low-tax territories. A report by three international organizations indicates that the "spider-web" of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories account for a third of all tax avoidance that occurs in the world’. The figures come from a report called ‘Losses to OECD tax havens could vaccinate global population three times over, study reveals’ from the Tax Justice Network here.

‘Minister Yolanda Díaz collects 1,530 million euros in fines from companies over deficiencies in the control of the working day during the past 30 months. The minister has increased government pressure on companies by 355%’, says La Razón here. Díaz has also transformed – so far – over 300,000 temporary work-contracts into permanent ones. From El Ministerio de Trabajo here: ‘The Council of Ministers has approved the Strategic Plan for Labour Inspection and Social Security 2021-2023, which is committed to modernizing the entity, providing it with tools and resources that guarantee its adaptation to new challenges in the workplace…’. Put another way, there’s a work-inspector out there with your name on a list…

A large and messy strike in the metal-workers sector down in Cadiz could spread into something more sinister. El País in English talks to three protestors here. What they are striking for, here at Laboro.


Another day, another quote. From El Huff Post here, ‘Pedro Sánchez says that the right-wing opposition "draws the picture of a sad, grey Spain, without ideas and bankrupt – which sounds more like a description of the PP". Sánchez was the final speaker at the ninth PSE-EE Congress this Sunday in Bilbao, together with the new secretary general of the Basque Socialists, Eneko Andueza. The president has criticized that the opposition "uses any misfortune to attack the socialist government. Spain does not deserve this angry right and this angry right does not deserve Spain," he added. With video. Sánchez also explains how his government is getting it right.

So, what about Ciudadanos? They were a cleaner version of the conservative pro-business party – who remembers their founder Albert Rivera posing nude with his slogan ‘we have nothing to hide’? El Confidencial interviews Begoña Villacís, vice-mayoress of Madrid and one of the few surviving politicians from the party. ‘The PP would like to see the back of us’, she says (with videos).

Odón Elorza takes a stand against the right-wing here (video). The story is here.


From La Vanguardia here: ‘The Generalitat in application of the Coastal Law, has notified a state resolution that orders beach-based club náuticos to tear-down their facilities. This puts an end to the continuity of a dozen restaurants along the Barcelona coast whose concessions, held for many years, have long expired. The clubs are to initiate legal actions.


The Majorca Daily Bulletin rattles the 90/180 cage with an opinion piece: ‘Has the 90 days has its day? The 90 day ruling has not gone down well in the United Kingdom’. Should Spain allow those who own homes here to stay as long as they want without taking our residency, or stick to the ninety in and ninety out, or perhaps something in the middle? From Yorkshire Bylines, some cold water here: ‘Extending the 90 in 180-day rule for British in Spain. The British want to extend the 90 in 180-day rule and the Spanish authorities are calling for it; but it’s not that easy’.

Pedro Sánchez was in Ankara last week, where, says El Huff Post, he took the opportunity to ratify his support for the incorporation of Turkey into the European Union. Turkey is not only a neighbour, but is also a partner and an "essential ally" He said. This slightly alarming (?) story has a second string to it, as La Voz Digital reports that Turkey is considering the Spanish Navantia company as the builder of a submarine and an aircraft carrier for their navy.

EuroEFE reports that Spain is considered by a mixed commission in the European Government to be the best choice to lead any bipartisan agreements with the UK. It says ‘Parliament has approved a comprehensive report on the consequences of Brexit, among which highlights the need to maintain a relationship "as close, broad, deep and ambitious as possible" with the United Kingdom and that it is considered "essential" that Spain assume the leadership in future EU pacts with the UK…’. While we expats may fondly imagine that they are thinking of us, the reality is that Spain wants to lead particularly on decisions regarding Gibraltar. A last-minute fuss suggesting that Scotland and Northern Ireland secession issues to be resolved to the satisfaction of Europe (well, the independence parties from the Basque Country and Catalonia feeling their weight) was finally avoided.

From The Guardian here in a segment called Life without EU workers, we read ‘‘Families are desperate’: an au pair agent on life without EU workers’.

North Africa

From El Español here, Morocco authorizes a Qatari company to start oil exploration in the waters off Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. Spain has meanwhile now made a complaint to Morocco about the fish-farm off the Spanish-owned Chafarinas Isles (Wiki) says El País here (it turns out it was a Spanish company that sold the Moroccans the fish-tanks).

From The Atlantic here: ‘The Desert Rock That Feeds the World. A dispute over Western Sahara’s phosphate reserves could disrupt food production around the globe’.


From Yahoo! News here: ‘Why Spain has avoided Europe's Covid surge’. We read: ‘The reason for the relatively carefree mood across Spain, said Dr. Daniel Lopez-Acuña, former director of Health Action in Crisis at WHO, is the country’s very high vaccination rate, nearing 90 percent of those 12 and older, and its continued protection measures, like indoor mask mandates, which, unlike most places, Spain has never dropped’. However, Spanish infection rates are nevertheless rising, as we read at Sur in English here, warning that ‘the country could be entering dangerous territory again, with two public holidays, company dinners and Christmas on the horizon’.

From El País in English, an explanation: ‘Why the Covid-19 vaccines do not stop the virus from circulating. Spain is seeing an uptick in coronavirus contagions among the vaccinated. While this is to be expected, it is not likely to lead to more serious cases of the disease’.

elDiario.es reports that 60% of those admitted to the ICU for coronavirus are unvaccinated. "We are at a key moment to stop the virus from spreading," says the Health Minister Carolina Darias. There’s a useful table here to compare vaccinated and unvaccinated deaths. Half the anti-vaxers living in the Balearics are expat residents says The Olive Press here.

What happens when overloaded intensive care units have to decide which patients to admit? If doctors had to choose between patients, what would happen to those un-vaccinated ones?


From Europa Press here: ‘The former vice president and former leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, noted this weekend in a review that, like the former Brazilian president Luiz Inàcio Lula da Silva, Podemos leaders such as national co-spokesperson Isabel Serra and former deputy Alberto Rodríguez have been victims of "judicial and police set-ups perpetrated by the right to try to rectify in the courts and in the media what had been decided in the polls".


Público finds a German newspaper writing against the right-wing control of the courts in Spain: "When it comes to conservative politicians, the judiciary is not so strict" say the Germans. ‘Die Tageszeitung has published a devastating article about the judiciary in Spain and its leaning to the right. In the article, they are blunt with the sub-headline saying: "PP and Vox determine the direction of the courts."’.

Can one take a picture of someone unknown and publish it on Social Media? ECD hauls in its company lawyer to explain the whos, whys and wherefores.


A far-right video channel called La Contra TV has been removed from YouTube following a number of complaints. Here they are (in all their glory). The story comes from ECD here.

You may have seen that pretty (yet deluded) Isabel Peralta – the girl with the nice smile and the Nazi viewpoint. She is the darling of the far-right, and she was interviewed Friday night on LaSexta TV in Los Cachorros Ultras (here). The Simon Wiesenthal Centre was understandably quick to send a complaint as Isabel made remarks which would be deemed unlawful in some other European countries. El Independiente reports on the uproar here.

Reacting to the increasing number of shows, acts and concerts pulled ‘to avoid offence’ (here, here, here and here) elDiario.es runs an opinion piece titled ‘We used to laugh at Vox, now Vox laughs at us, while it censors the laughter of those who laugh at them. It's not any joke. Spain may one day suffer the greatest setback in democracy’. Naw, it’ll never come to that!

From elDiario.es here: ‘The former Spanish president José María Aznar has already comfortably exceeded 3.5 million dollars of salary with News Corp, the American media giant of the elderly Australian Rupert Murdoch, whom he has been advising since 2006 and for which he has just renewed for another year’. What does News Corp (Sky, Fox, Wall Street Journal, The Times and so on) get in return? They say Aznar "brings knowledge, experience and an international perspective to the council, providing valuable insight into political and governmental affairs around the world".

A number of Spanish left-wing news-sites reported ‘ideological’ cyber-attacks against them over the weekend.


To those worried about these things, two headlines from Spanish News Today: ‘Black rats threaten to take over Spain’ and ‘Wild cat population in Spain suffering a silent extinction’ here and here.


The Valley of the Fallen – the huge memorial to the Civil War located in the Sierra de Guadarrama outside Madrid (Wiki) – is experiencing change. Franco’s remains were moved from the basilica in 2019 and the Government, as part of its changes in the Law of Democratic Memories, is now prepared to change the name of the location from Valle de los Caídos to its earlier name, the Valle de Cuelgamuros. Religión Digital has more here.

Nov 20th was the anniversary of the passing of Franco and there were a few masses on Sunday here and there held for his soul. Apparently unaware of this, the leader of the PP Pablo Casado was embarrassed after the event was concluded to discover that the Sunday mass he had attended in Granada was one such. As Público says gleefully, it could have happened to anyone. Further embarrassment, as the Fundación Franco acknowledges and thanks Casado for his presence at the mass.

‘The PP has shown the exit door to Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo, who was its spokesperson in Congress until Pablo Casado dropped her. Álvarez de Toledo has released a book called Políticamente Indeseable with harsh criticism of Casado and his number two, Teodoro García Ejea’. elDiario.es reports that Cayetana says that she has no intention of leaving.

There are endless stories in the news about drug busts. So much product either grown (or manufactured) in Spain or else brought in from abroad.  So many criminals and mafias and pushers and so much corruption and sleaze. Oddly, no one ever writes about the wealthier parts of the cities where much of this product is consumed. The best we can do is one from El Español from early 2017 titled ‘17 hours with the dealer of the smart set on the Costa del Sol: 82 grams of coke sold, 6,000 euros in cash and 350 kilometres driven’.

Young Islamic women in Spain seek to rid themselves of the hijab says El Periódico here.

From next year, a new driving licence may be available for 16-yr-olds and up. This will be for a smaller car than the usual licence allows, an electric car of under 550k weight that has a permissible top speed of 90kph. This will be the ‘B1 licence’. ABC has more here.

The Senado has ruled that one may no longer pass the speed limit by 20kph when overtaking, says La Voz de Galicia here. Another rule: overtaking cyclists with less than 1.5m of distance between you will now cost six points on your licence says 20Minutos here.

The animal protection laws proposed by Unidas Podemos have been blocked for the moment by the Ministry of Agriculture as hunting laws and rules are built in to the mix.

The Corner fleshes out the story here of the possible merger of two municipalities in Badajoz (Extremadura) into one. At a combined 65,000 inhabitants, this would become the third largest local entity in the region, only running in size behind Badajoz and Cáceres.

The Guardian samples some Spanish wine. ‘In terms of both quality and quantity, Spanish wine producers are proving to be Europe’s biggest hitters’, they say.


On the 90/180 day issue: Many full time residents in Spain have faced some awful issues such as these over the years and I have always had great sympathy for those affected. It is a shame when some (not all) UK full time residents in Spain now attack us for wanting a relatively small and simple adjustment to get a bit more flexibility. Hopefully they will start to realise that greater flexibility on 90/180 could befit us all, full time Spanish residents included.


We’ve mentioned the eccentric folk-singer Rodrigo Cuevas before now. This week we hear that Rodrigo has won the annual El Ojo Crítico prize for ‘his efforts to bring Asturian folk music to XXI century audiences. Here he is with Carceleras from Barbián: Zarzuela-Kabaret (nice shoes!).