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

17/01/22. 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 all started with an interview given by the Minister of Consumer Affairs Alberto Garzón to The Guardian (here) published on December 26th where he insisted that the Spanish should eat less meat. While the meat lobby were unhappy to read this (they’d heard it all before, last summer, with Pedro Sánchez putting out the flames at the time by saying ‘I don’t know about you, but I enjoy a nice steak, me’), they were incensed to read in a foreign newspaper that Garzón contrasted ordinary extensive farming which, he says “is sustainable” with ‘…“what isn’t at all sustainable are these so-called mega-farms … They find a village in a depopulated bit of Spain and put in 4,000, or 5,000, or 10,000 head of cattle. They pollute the soil, they pollute the water and then they export this poor quality meat from these ill-treated animals”…’. Amen to the giant piggeries.

Understandably, the industry giants and any opposition politician worth his salt is through the roof with righteous rage. Fancy telling the foreigners that our meat is shit.
Mind you, who likes battery farms, or pigs reared in a cage? Apart from the treatment of the animals concerned, doesn’t the quality suffer too?
Several politicians have asked for Garzón to recant (and then quietly resign); but he is standing firm.
Now it has become the leading political issue of the moment, as the upcoming February 13th elections in Castilla y León (a high-octane agricultural area currently under the control of the PP) approach. The PP is almost certain to win the elections there, cue a sigh of satisfaction from the Head Office in Madrid, but any extra push would be (excuse the pun) popular – maybe enough to govern without Vox as a slightly heathen partner.
While many are against this betrayal of Spanish meat by a foolish lefty (Garzón is secretary of the Izquierda Unida) and even some PSOE barons are raising their voices against him, there are also many who agree that the macro-farms are doing major damage in various ways. In the last six years, there are 35% more pigs in Spain than before, yet the number of farms under 1,000 animals have dropped by 30% - showing that the larger, industry-owned macro-farms are becoming the norm.  The main problem though is the massive amount of animal waste – called purín in Spanish: a mixture of urine, poops and brown water – high in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. It is used initially as fertiliser, but the excess can end up in underground aquifers – with over 1,000 of these now affected according to the Ministry of Ecology. Of course, the costs in these macro-farms are, per unit, cheaper than anything traditional farms can match, leading producers to prefer them, and in some cases, operate them themselves.

Some Notes from the Media:

Spanish News Today here: ‘Spain is the fifth largest exporter of meat in the world’. It says that ‘Garzon’s contentious views could do untold damage to Spain’s meat industry, which was worth over 7,000 million euros in foreign sales last year’.

LaSexta here: ‘Presidents Lambán (PSOE - Aragón) and Mañueco (PP - Castilla y León) call for Garzón's resignation, claiming that he attacked Spanish livestock in his interview in The Guardian'.

AraInfo here: ‘A number of Aragonese environmental groups criticize the Aragonese president Javier Lambán for "contradicting the decisions taken by his own government" and "confusing the citizens." Equally (we read), they support Alberto Garzón who "has done nothing more than defend a model that is based on extensive cattle ranching and employment in our rural environment"…’. They are calling for Lambán’s resignation (Heh).

elDiario.es here: The president of Castilla-La Mancha Emiliano García Page (PSOE) also criticises Garzón’s remarks – as does Vox and the PP. Then, later, it says, ‘…Garzón answered that the president of Castilla y León, Alfonso Fernández Mañueco, is "desperate for far-right votes and that is why he is resorting to the lies and manipulation from the meat-lobbies"…’.

LaSexta here: ‘Garzón repeats his remarks: saying that he is right to point out that the meat from macro-farms is "of worse quality". The Minister for Consumer Affairs has also pointed out that his statements are "impeccable" and that he made them "as minister, and not just as a personal opinion"’.

La Ser in a larger interview with Pedro Sánchez: "I am very sorry for all this controversy. We are talking about the meat sector that produces meat of extraordinary quality. And the sector follows the highest standards required by Spain and the EU".

La Razón, in an opinion piece, says that we wait impatiently for the inevitable departure from the government of the Minister of Consumer Affairs (and, we can infer, the welcome collapse of the socio-communist regime).

An article at RT explains the opportunistic political manipulation following from the original item over at The Guardian. It says ‘…an expert in manipulation campaigns explained that between Monday the 3rd and Tuesday the 4th of January, the main social media accounts of the far right together with thousands of bots made more than 100,000 partisan claims, flooding the social networks. We are now talking about a digital campaign perfectly drawn up to place the following idea as the lead subject of the day (forget the record employment figures, the omicron crisis or the high inflation thanks to the energy prices): "Garzón is the enemy of all Spanish farmers"…’.

El Español, using similar political criticism, appears to have forgotten that it was printing attacks against the macro-farms as recently as December 27th, says Público here.

eldiario.es says that the PP’s pre-campaign in Castilla y León is based around this issue.

As Vox’s Iván Espinosa de los Monteros tweets: ‘Hey, the communists also have the right to have dinner, and to enjoy some decent jamón. That's not the problem. The problem is that they have their jamón for dinner but want to forbid it to others. As usual from the lefties!’.

NuevaTribuna says ‘Industrial meat-farming aggravates depopulation while causing a huge environmental impact’. It also says in the article that it’s pretty obvious that poorly and cheaply fed animals will produce lower-quality meat.

Then of course, there’s the destruction of the Mar Menor – pretty much down to the pigs.

Segovia – where there are eight pigs to every person – is also against the macro-farms. ‘We don't want to be the pigsty of Spain’, they tell Epe here.

From El Confidencial here, under the heading ‘the most meat in the least time possible’, we visit a macrogranja ‘like the ones Garzón talks of’. With video.

Greenpeace has a brief video from a year ago here called ‘¡Macrogranjas no!’.

La Marea interviews a Greenpeace activist who accessed the Finca Dehesa del Rey, in the municipality of Castilléjar, in Granada (owned by Grupo Fuertes here) where 651,000 piglets are raised each year. "What we saw was abandonment, dirt and a really terrible and horrible situation that we did not expect," explains Luis Ferreirim, national head of the environmental organization's agriculture department…’.

Further afield, from El País here: ‘The increase in livestock and industrial agriculture has a huge environmental cost, but Spain has not done enough to control and prevent it. With this thesis, the European Commission has decided to bring Spain before the Court of European Justice, with the understanding that this country has not adopted sufficient measures to prevent water pollution caused by nitrates derived from this activity, as required by community regulations…’.

Deutsche Welle says that ‘Germany declares war on cheap meat’.

Meanwhile, says El País here, ‘The Netherlands has created a new ministry (of ‘Nature and Nitrogen’) to reduce the impact of increasingly large pig farms. The department will be responsible for reducing emissions from the entire livestock sector in a country that has subsidized since 2019 the voluntary closure of pig farms’.

As everyone in politics knows, the PSOE can’t discipline or fire Garzón, not with the secondary issue of the boycott of Alberto Ródriguez – the two things would be enough for Unidas Podemos to withdraw its support.

It is, in short, a rift between those who hope that life will continue in the way it’s been going, and those who know that it can’t (plus a golden opportunity for critical politicians).


From El País in English here: ‘Is Spain headed for another property bubble? The housing market is so far behaving more moderately than in other countries, but analysts are not ruling out a price surge due to global ‘exuberance’’.

Genbeta brings us a reference to find the value of a home (whether it be yours or the one you are thinking of buying) – with a link to the 'valor de referencia de Catastro' at the official site, with the steps to take to get to the information required. Let us know if it works!

El teletrabajo – working from home – is the new trend these days, with Madrid and other cities losing population (in Madrid’s case, for the first time in living memory) as people begin to move away to somewhere quieter and cheaper. ABC has the details here.


From Welcome to Madrid we read that ‘FITUR has the unanimous support of the Spanish tourist industry. It is currently the second most important trade fair in the world and the top-rated fair in terms of its impact in the Ibero-American context. Each edition brings together more than 11,000 companies from 165 countries as well as official representatives from many of the world’s nations…’. The dates this year are January 19th to 23rd at the IFEMA exhibition centre, Madrid. The public is allowed in only during the final two days.

Lanzarote - where the most illegal hotels are located. The main concentration of open yet illegal hotels is centred around Yaiza. The story here.

An article at El Diario de Mallorca says – the more tourists we receive here, the poorer we become. Because, everything goes up in price on the islands (it’s about 10% more expensive than the mainland) – except wages… The population has increased in 20 years from 800,000 to 1,200,000, but ‘el turismo’ has only brought wealth to a few.

Passenger numbers at Spain’s airports in 2021 fall below half of pre-pandemic total says The Olive Press here (although a large improvement on 2020 figures). Aena says that 120 million passengers travelled last year through Spanish airports.


From La Información here: ‘Unemployment fell by 782,232 persons in 2021 as the Social Security added 70,814 affiliates in the last month of the year and ends 2021 with a historic number of contributors: 19,842,427 people in seasonally adjusted terms after eight months on the rise’. Unemployment officially stands now at 3,105.905 persons.

The 12,000 businesses in Spain with between 50 and 100 employees have just two months to approve their gender-equality plans.


The PP, Vox and C’s are all agreed, to bring a vote of reprobation in Las Cortes against Alberto Garzón for ‘the damage he has done to the sector, with statements where he speaks of "animal abuse and poor quality meat", doing, they say "a very serious damage to the agri-food sector and the cattle rancher"…’. The ulterior design is to make Pedro Sánchez and his government look foolish, says the article, as the regional elections of Castilla y Léon approach. La Vanguardia has the story. elDiario.es clarifies that any final vote on Garzón’s position would not mean his departure, since it is the president who chooses his cabinet.

El Español has the results of a survey regarding voters of the Partido Popular. There, we read, Isabel Díaz Ayuso would be a preferred candidate over Pablo Casado against Pedro Sánchez by two to one (43.8% versus 24.4%). Alberto Núñez Feijóo scores 18%.

The Guardian looks at the new political movement from the hollow provinces of the interior. ‘Empty promise: a new political group speaks up for depopulated rural Spain. Support for España Vaciada in villages such as Milmarcos (Guadalajara) could threaten the old ruling duopoly’.

El Mundo runs an article on the pre-campaign in Castilla y León (regional elections February 13th). ‘The protests of the meat-farmers during the start of Pedro Sánchez's campaign with shouts of "Garzón, resignation!"’. With video.

Inés Arrimadas admits that it was a mistake that Albert Rivera surrendered the party to the PP in 2019. Ciudadanos are clear that the regional election in Castilla y Léon (following the ejection of the C’s junior partners) has been called by the PP headquarters in Madrid because Casado "needs to cover up Ayuso's victory". El Plural explains.

Alberto Rodríguez, the dreadlocked Podemos deputy sacked for apparently kicking a policeman in 2014 says his punishment time is up and he asks to regain his seat in the Cortes.  Oddly, it’s the PSOE who are the first to say ‘no way’ and call for a substitution.


From Catalan News, a sinister story: ‘Calls for investigation after alleged links between Spanish intelligence and terror attacks. A former police official claims he has evidence that the Spanish agency wanted to destabilize Catalonia ahead of the 2017 independence vote’. The item is also picked up by La Opinión de Zamora here: ‘José Manuel Villarejo blames Félix Sanz Roldán (ex-chief of the CNI) for "miscalculating things" with the A-17 attack’.


The Guardian reports that ‘Gibraltar moves to become world’s first crypto-currency hub. The territory’s financial sector risks reputational damage and diplomatic sanctions if complex regulations of crypto hub fail’. From Hipertextual here: The 6.8 km² of Gibraltar will be the world centre of crypto-currencies to the indignation of almost everyone’.


‘Around 48,000 internet domain names belonging to U.K. citizens and organizations — including the pro-Brexit site leave.eu — have been indefinitely taken offline, following the revocation of their .eu domain names by the agency in charge of registrations. The move marks the final step in an ongoing process since the UK withdrew from the EU on January 31, 2020…’. Politico says that they are now for sale – of course, to EU residents only.

Spanish residency visas for non-EU citizens – a useful article from Visit-Andalucia here.

That article from The Atlantic: ‘How Britain Falls Apart’. Powerful stuff!

The foreign media support Alberto Garzón, says Radiocable here.


El Confidencial finds the reasons people give to not vaccinate against Covid. About 10% of the population are said to be antivaxxers.

Félix Zubia, the head of the Intensive Care Unit of the Donostia Hospital (San Sebastian), says that "a large part of the burden of the health system is due to the unvaccinated".

A gloomy item from The Guardian (Sunday): ‘Spain reports more Covid reinfections in one fortnight than rest of pandemic. Researchers attribute 20,890 cases – compared with 17,140 documented up to 22 December – to spread of Omicron variant’.

elDiario.es says here that The Junta de Andalucía's spending on health is the second lowest, per capita, in Spain. '...At the moment, the sixth wave of Covid-19 is uncovering the shortages at the local medical centres. Likewise, the health unions continue to complain over the dismissal of 8,000 health professionals in November, without taking into account that the Andalusian Health Service was already suffering from a shortage of professionals in its workforce. On the other hand, the Junta de Andalucía has increased by 43% in one year its budget to outsource public health to the private sector...'. Cadena Ser on a similar subject says that Andalucía fired 8,000 medical staff (many moved to Catalonia), and after seeking retired doctors to return to work, they have only managed to bring in one (!). elDiario.es reports on Wednesday that ‘The Junta de Andalucía proposes that family doctors could work 12 hours a day to alleviate the lack of personnel. The Andalusian Health Service will pay them 40 euros per hour up to a maximum of 2,000 euros per month (so that from the ninth day of overtime they would work for free)’.

From Spanish Views from a Small Town here: ‘This new year is starting off the way last year ended, with illness everywhere. The good of it, is that most people are now vaccinated. The bad of it, is that the Omicron variant is now dominant, guaranteeing exploding contagion, even if most of it doesn't end up in the hospital. The further bad of it, is that after two years, we still haven't shored up our health system to withstand the shock…’.


Pedro J Ramírez takes a well-deserved swipe at Vox, and wonder why the PP won’t establish a red line against the ultras. Spanish Revolution takes up the story here.

Vivendi plans to buy a larger share of Prisa (El País, Cadena Ser and others). The director of Vivendi – a French investment company – is a right wing catholic called Vincent Bollaré who worries about ‘immigration, Islam and lefties’ says Threadreaderapp here. The operation would give Vivendi 29.9% control of the Spanish company. In France, Bollaré controls CNews, the sponsor of Eric Zemmour.  He also owns 28.8% of Mediaset (with two TV channels in Spain. Telecinco and Cuatro).

Antonio Maestre at elDiario.es here: ‘Journalism has ceased to be useful to democracy and is now subjugated to the interests of any boss-man with a lot of money and few morals’.

Alberto Garzón thinks that the rabid attacks from the media against his declarations is to do with their loss of €120 million advertising earnings thanks to his tightened gambling laws.

Jordi Évole with his thunderous reflection on the macro-farms and the bulos from the right: "Shouldn't we journalists say when it's all a lie, period?" Opinion at La Vanguardia here.

Pablo Iglesias at ctxt here – ‘The lie as a strategy’. He says ‘…Irene Montero multiplied her assets a 100 times, Alberto Garzón works against extensive cattle ranching, Zapatero has gold mines in Venezuela and he who writes these words was responsible for thousands of deaths in Spanish nursing homes. They are the alternative facts with which the mediatic right harvests their politics every day...’.

There's a kind of politics which is successful with those who, let's say, already believe what they want to, despite the inconsistencies, or obvious cracks in the picture. Stalin did it, Goebbels did it, Trump and Johnson are both guilty, and in Spain, there's Vox. Here are some of their lies put out in 2021. We must suppose that they know what they are doing. I wonder how many newspaper items were based on these stories last year?


‘The Guardia Civil has dismantled a network that illegally exported 16,000 tons of plastic waste to Asia. The agents have identified 301 shipments that accounted for 15 million benefits to the network. Much of the waste came from agriculture and was contaminated with phytosanitary products’. El País has the story here.

The Andalusian hemipode, a buttonquail (wiki), has been ruled extinct says elDiario.es here. This small ‘running bird’ has been wiped out, says the article, due to ‘the destruction of the Mediterranean coast’.  It’s the first Spanish animal to be declared extinct in 150 years.

The Guardian reprises its interview with Alberto Garzón here: ‘‘Poor meat and ill-treated animals’: Spain in uproar over minister’s remarks. The Government distances itself from Alberto Garzón’s Guardian interview amid outrage in meat industry’.

elDiario.es has the 25 most contaminating macrogranjas in Spain here. The top two (870,000 kilos of methane per year) are in Granada.

There are no macro-farms in Spain, says PP agriculture spokesperson Milagros Marcos here.


The La Palma volcano was declared finished over Christmas – much to everyone’s relief.

The new animal-rights laws are now all but passed by the Government. As reported in an earlier BoT, they seem a fraction extreme. For example – dog owners will need to take a course in doggery (and get a handy permit). The ten rules are listed by Información here.

Spaniards seem to be smoking as much now as they did a decade ago says Epe here. Even though smoking is now banned on all of its beaches after the government passed a new law following a public petition. Lonely Planet says ‘From now on, anyone caught lighting up on a beach is set to be hit with a hefty €2000 fine’. (Thanks Brett).

‘Why marijuana plantations are spreading across southern Spain. With seizures jumping eighteenfold in Almería province, authorities warn that growers are passing off illegal cannabis as hemp for industrial use’. The article from El País in English overlooks the obvious answer to all of this: legalization means no more mafia.

Oleoturismo, an immersion in the culture of olive oil’ elDiario.es writes of ‘Guided tours, visits to olive groves, oil tastings, oil-mills and olive-presses describe a tourism of taking a piece of bread and soaking it in a plate of olive oil. With a bit of garlic? Why not.

‘Thousands of falsely-labelled Iberian ham shoulders have been seized in a probe over a €1 million food fraud. Seven meat firms are been investigated by the Guardia Civil in the Badajoz, Madrid, Murcia, and Salamanca areas of Spain. Ten people have been interviewed, and one arrested, over the bogus labelling of premium meat products’ says The Olive Press.

The EU-sponsored plan to charge for motorway use in Spain has been quietly shelved, as the government finds the idea to be highly unpopular. It probably won’t return for discussion until the next legislature says El País here.

The man who knows his way around varas, arrobas, fanegas, azumbres and other arcane measurements (un azumbre is a wine measure, usually – it varies by region – around 2.5litres) is José Castaño. He runs his museum located in the village in Herreruela de Oropesa (Toledo), called la Fundación Museo Etnológico, with ‘…"About 5,000 objects," he calculates, related to the units that measure lengths, areas, volumes and weights. The museum is a collection of scales, saddle-bags, jugs, jars, baskets, bowls, jugs and all kinds of containers and containers used for this purpose. "Almost all of them are original, whether they are donated or purchased," says Castaño, adding "What started as an exhibition ended up as a museum"…’. The story is at El País here. The museum’s page (in English) is here.

Twenty years on, and Maldita looks at the acceptance of the euro among Spaniards. 82% think that the specie has been positive for the EU.

An article at Quincemil tells of the Galician pirates of the XVIII and XIX centuries.

My early-morning breakfast tipple, at Eye on Spain here.

From BBC News here: ‘A hungry badger is thought to have unearthed the largest collection of Roman coins ever to have been discovered in northern Spain, reports say. The treasure trove was discovered close to the den of an animal in the municipality of Grado, Asturias. The animal is thought to have uncovered the treasure as it desperately searched for food last winter, a harsh one…’.

‘Haunting the Coast of Spain: The Ghost Hotel of Algarrobico. For almost two decades, the hulk of a never-finished hotel has marred an idyllic coastline in southern Spain’. An interesting article from The New York Times.

The new Mojácar 'General Plan' according to the ecologists: 'Greed', 'speculation' and illegal hill removals... as the urban area is effectively doubled. In summary, they say, ‘this PGOU would be the ultimate destruction of the remaining charms of Mojácar of its environmental and landscape values, and it would be the final move to its tourist model, making it definitively the Marbella of Almería’.

See Spain:

Molly from Piccavey takes us to Castellón and inland from the Costa Azahar.

The Guardian brings us ‘Repairs for the church of Saint James the Apostle in Villamorón (Burgos) –known as the Cathedral of the Moorland – could save Spanish village with only a single resident. Campaigners plan an arts centre for the magnificent medieval church to lure tourists and new inhabitants’.


The oddest musician we’ve found over the Christmas hols is without doubt Chenta Tsai – known as Putochinomaricón, who, we read, ‘…is an East Asian queer artist who uses pop music as a means to protest about the socio-political reality and everydayness of the present moment by means of the absurd, using humour and irony’ (here). He was born in Taiwan, but has lived in Vallecas (Madrid) since he was a year old (Wiki). But can he sing? Here’s his latest: DM on YouTube.