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

04/07/22. 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...

Editorial:

Spain is now friendly (once again) with Morocco, so an incident this past Friday, where around 2,500 ‘sub-Saharan’ immigrants attempted to cross into Melilla (around 500 succeeded) – (video here) - and a further 23 to 37 died – some killed by Moroccan police who also crossed into Spanish territory in pursuit – has drawn harsh criticism and indignation over the event. President Sánchez said he regretted the incident as the Moroccan authorities quietly buried the dead in unmarked graves in Nador.

An inquiry into the event is under way by the office of the Spanish chief prosecutor (attorney general).
Following the new friendship between Spain and Morocco’s patron the USA, as witnessed at the NATO summit in Madrid this week, the expectation is that such events will not be reoccurring.

Housing:

From Spanish Property Insight here: ‘Market snapshot: Which nationality spends the most on property in Spain, and which the least?’ Spoiler alert: (looking at buyers from wealthy western countries only) it’s the Swedes at the top, the Brits at the bottom.

Planning bureaucracy: ‘With foreign demand for homes in the Spanish countryside booming in the wake of the pandemic, buyers should keep in mind the problems they might face getting planning permission for even small renovations in country areas, especially in ‘posh’ areas with high demand…’ – From an article at Spanish Property Insight here.

Tourism:

Spanish police buy fingerprint detectors and document verifiers to reinforce customs controls due to Brexit’, says ECD here. ‘At least 100 devices are needed to automatically identify whether the passports and visas of British travellers are authentic’ (not, of course, just the British identity papers, but all non-Schengen area visitors will be affected).

From The Yorkshire Post here: UK tourists could be refused entry to France, Spain, Greece and Portugal from 2023 (for seven different reasons).

Finance:

Inflation year-on-year is now at 10.2%, the highest level since 1985.

From 20Minutos here: ‘The 2022 harvest for barley, wheat, sunflower, corn and other cereals is down between 20 and 40% in Spain due to the high heat and low rainfall earlier this year: "The time will come when some folk will not be able to buy a loaf of bread"’. The farmers blame climate-change. Spain normally buys extra grain to make up any shortfall from the Ukraine…

‘Recovery funds continue to flow to Spain. The European Commission gave its approval on Monday for Spain to receive a second tranche of 12,000 million euros, an item that depended, in part, on the approval of the labour reform…’ 20Minutos reports here.

‘The Supreme Court rules that Hacienda must now return the fines collected over the Modelo 720 declaration following its annulment by the Court of Justice of the European Union and opens the gates so that other courts holding claims must now begin to return the fines’ says VozPópuli here. The Modelo 720 obliges residents in Spain to declare all properties, investments and cash held abroad and separately valued at over 50,000€ in their annual declaration. Huge fines for non-compliance had sometimes been issued by Hacienda.

From The EurAsian Times here: ‘Spain has sealed a €2,043 million contract with the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA) for 20 Eurofighter Typhoon jets to replace a batch of F-18s flown by the country’s air force. The agreement, signed on Thursday at the Berlin Air Show, is part of a more considerable Spanish effort to replace its outdated fleet of 70 Boeing-made F-18s’.

An important part of one’s monthly electric bill is the amount of contracted power. From elDiario.es we read that some 78% of homes have a higher contracted power than they need – not that the supplier is going to say anything. The usual 4.2kW limit being unnecessarily high for the average home.

‘The new Social Security contribution system for the self-employed in Spain will start to be applied gradually from next year, when the monthly payment for autónomos will range from 245 to 500 euros, and these will then go up in 2024 so that the following year they will reach the amounts the government is on the point of agreeing with associations of self-employed workers. Definitive agreement is expected within the next few days…’. Item at Sur in English here.

Seville-based Abengoa (Wiki), a multinational company in the green energy and water sector, became the largest company in Spain to ever go bankrupt this week, with debts of 6,000 million euros, after the Government refused to bail it out. Cinco Días has more.

Politics:

Spain unveils emergency actions to curb rising living costs. From El Huff Post here: ‘The Council of Ministers approved on Saturday a new plan worth 9,100 million euros to control the economic crisis and the inflation caused by the Russian invasion in Ukraine...’.

The San Diego Union-Tribune has the details here: ‘…The measures include a cut in the tax on electricity, from 10% to 5%, a reduction in the cost of monthly transit passes and a one-time payment of 200 euros for people who earn less than 14,000 euros a year and are not already receiving benefits. A series of previously announced measures, such as a 20-cent reduction on gasoline prices at the pump and a 15% increase for people on benefits, will be extended until the New Year. The Government is also in the process of designing a tax aimed at the “extraordinary profits” earned by energy companies since Russia’s war in Ukraine sent prices soaring…’.

The latest poll shows a small lead for the PP at 26.8% which is settling down after the enthusiasm for its new leader Núñez Feijóo has worn off slightly. The PSOE stands at 25.2%. Vox continues to grow (now at 19.6%).

The NATO summit in Madrid this midweek was an opportunity for the Government to promote both the Marca España and the Marca Sánchez, says El Mundo here, commenting on the detailed planning and organisation of the two-day meeting of world leaders.

The Corner has a piece titled ‘Sánchez and Biden seal “The Rota Pact”: more ships and more marines in exchange for investment’. In exchange for Spain’s appeasement towards the USA’s politics in North Africa, plus two more destroyers for the US naval base in Rota (Cádiz) and another six hundred marines, Washington and Madrid are now ‘strategic partners’, and the tariffs against certain Spanish imports to the USA will now be dropped. The PP has long criticised – with reason – that the USA has turned its back on Spain thanks to its, ah, socio-communist government, so a good result here.

From The White House here: ‘A Joint Declaration between the Kingdom of Spain and the United States of America. Spain and the United States are Allies, strategic partners, and friends. Our bilateral relationship is based on deep historical ties, shared democratic values, and a common vision for addressing global challenges. Spain and the United States are committed to upholding peace and security, protecting the planet’s climate for future generations, promoting democracy and human rights, and enhancing economic prosperity around the world…’.

Madrid’s Mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida and Kiev Mayor Vitaliy Klychko signed on Tuesday a twinning agreement between the two capitals with the aim of undertaking "joint actions" that "will benefit both cities"…’ says La Información here.

‘Spain’s Cabinet approved on Monday a new draft of a LGBTQ rights bill that if backed by parliament will allow people as young as 16 to change their gender freely, and those as young as 12 to do so with a judge’s authorization…’, says The Union-Trib here. (This is one of those subjects where we are enjoined to keep our opinions – and any putative merriments – strictly to ourselves).

The tendency of the major corporations is inevitably towards a conservative government and ECD reports that ‘The Minister of Finance María Jesús Montero pointed this Monday to the energy providers among the companies interested in "bringing down the current Government" because their intention is to preserve their profit margin. "There are economic interests linked to the energy providers and others, who want to preserve the profits they have enjoyed for a decade. This is an alliance where Big Business and much of the Media have joined forces to try to turn everything we do into negative issues", she said…’.

Abstention was high in the recent Andalusian elections, particularly amongst the poor says El Confidencial here, as one town – the poorest municipality in Cádiz – saw almost 70% of voters stay home.

Gibraltar:

From Sur in English here: ‘Spain decides to discontinue reciprocal health care agreement with Gibraltar. After the Brexit transition period came to an end on 31 December 2020, the Spanish government introduced the arrangement as a bridging measure until 30 June, but has decided not to extend it’.

Europe:

‘Brexit remains an "open wound" for EU citizens living in the UK. Six years after the vote, a survey among citizens of the European Union shows disappointment and a growing feeling of not being welcome’ says elDiario.es here. From Migzen (pdf) here: ‘EU citizens in the UK after Brexit’ (conclusions from a survey – in English).

Scottish independence: 19 October 2023 is proposed as date for referendum, BBC here. Unsurprisingly, Catalan News has a pleased reaction to the referendum here.

From ECD here: ‘83% of Spaniards support remaining in NATO and the majority see Russia as responsible for the war. The conflict in Ukraine is the main problem for the Spanish, followed by the price of fuel’.

From SVI here: ‘British nationals studying in Spain can soon be eligible to remain in this country upon their graduation, for a period of two years, in order to do internships or to work. Bachelor, master’s, and doctorate students from third countries, including here from the United Kingdom, will all be eligible to stay in Spain post-graduation under the new University System Law (LOSU) proposed by the Spanish Ministry of Universities, in a bid to make the country more attractive for foreign students…’.

Corruption:

One of the larger problems faced by Podemos over the past few years of its activity was the concerted attempts by many strands of the establishment – the Church, the police and the right-wing parties – to do all they could to discredit it.
Fair enough, after all, one is allowed an opinion (even if it can affect one’s professionalism). However, another group that often went to all and any lengths to sink the party was the conservative judiciary, practicing what has been come to be known as ‘Lawfare’. Endless debilitating and contrary causes have been raised against the party in the past six years only to all be finally shelved.
One senior judge, Manuel García Castellón, after being told by the National Audience (wiki) that he ‘had crossed all the lines in his secret and hostile investigation against Podemos’, this week finally agreed to drop his current investigation against them. El País (paywall removed) here says that, with the last three cases placed against Podemos by this particular crusading judge all ‘archived’, the party insists on ‘…a thesis that it has been repeating for years: the existence of a "smear campaign" against its members, which includes police and judicial bodies. It is what the formation calls lawfare or “legal warfare”: Pablo Iglesias defines it as: “Lawfare is understood to be a set of devices where media powers, connected with the economic ones, ally with judicial authorities to illegitimately win in the courts what they could not win at the polls”…’ (Then, on Tuesday evening): No wait, he’s just opened yet another cause against Podemos says La Voz de Asturias here.

Better luck befalls the Madrid PP, and an investigation into a ‘black account’ which – while waiting for the deposition from the former mayor of Majadahonda Guillermo Ortega, currently in jail – has now been ‘archived’ says Europa Press here. Good Lord, it’s the same judge Manuel García Castellón!

José Antonio Martín Pallín, a retired magistrate of the Supreme Court, has published 'The war of the judges: the judicial process as a political weapon', a review of the presence of the judiciary in Spain’s political life. He says in an interview at elDiario.es that "In Spain there has been a judicial intervention in purely political matters". He gives examples of how opposition parties try to wound the government (via the media) through legal cases with flimsy or no evidence. El Huff Post says that Pedro Sánchez spoke of “the dark powers” of the establishment in a recent radio interview on CadenaSer where (says the article) ‘…he didn’t mention the judiciary, perhaps because it is not even necessary, since the interference of the judges in Spanish political life is palpable every day and much has already been written on the subject’. The article also looks at the Martín Pallín book.

elDiario.es again, comparing the way the right and the left are treated before the courts, bring us the story of Mariano Rajoy’s Minister of the Interior Jorge Fernández Díaz in an editorial ‘The recordings of the former minister are another dose of memory of a rotten right ready to commit crimes to destroy the adversary and cover up their own corruption. In divine justice, the lie is purged with prayers; in the earthly, providing lies in an investigation should be punished with justice’. We remember the deeply pious minister’s enthusiasm in handing out silver medals to plaster-cast virgins. He should better be remembered for his manipulations against his political enemies.

Courts:

‘Jail and demolition of his home for a man who built on rustic land in Conil (Cádiz): "They are going to destroy my life". Juan Jesús Ramírez will enter prison for building his house on rustic land. "Here there are 7,000 illegal homes but none of them have a complaint in the Prosecutor's Office" he says. Ramírez has lived in his home with his wife and children for over ten years says La Voz del Sur here.

Ecology:

Newtral (a fact-finding anti-bulo site) looks at the water-shortage in Spain here: ‘The drought maps: summer begins after the second driest May in 60 years. The winter of 2021 had been one of the driest on record, and Aemet predicts that the coming months will be warmer with less rain than normal. We review the data on June 22, the first day of summer of the year’.


‘The probability that a tsunami wave greater than one metre high will occur in the Mediterranean in the next 30 years is close to 100%, according to the UNESCO, the agency in charge of ocean sciences’. A headline at Hosteltur here.

Various:

Thinking of buying a second-hand car? Genbeta tells us how to find out for free any information on the vehicle held by the DGT. One has to jump through a few hoops, of course.

Another way to cover costs in the commercial world is to make the product a bit smaller, but maintain the current price. Europa Press reports that, according to the OCU consumers organisation, a number of food manufacturers have done precisely this, including Pastas Gallo, Danone, Pescanova, Colacao, Tulipán and Campofrío. Danone at least says that this is untrue. The trick is called la reduflación in Spanish. American readers will recall the chocolate Dime Bar which got smaller and smaller over the years while stuck at the immutable price of ten cents.

The air force has changed its name to the Ejército del Aire y del Espacio (Spanish Air and Space Force) says El Español here. In other news, Spain’s first perpetual flight solar vessel is now in the air – and it ain’t coming down any time soon says Xataca here. The un-manned plane is called Skydweller and is now undergoing tests from its base in Albacete.

‘Why do people want to immigrate to Spain?’ asks ECD here. The article considers those who come here to find a better life and decent employment. Nationals from Columbia, Morocco and Venezuela are the most numerous, it says.

‘The richest 1% in Spain takes 17% of the national income, which is more than the income for the poorer 50% of Spain’ (The picture in the article shows the two wealthiest people in Spain, Amancio Ortega and his daughter Marta). An item from Business Insider here. A sister article says that ‘…there are 26 Spanish billionaires (defined as those who have more than 1,000 million dollars or 875 million euros)’.

There’s a fellow in Barcelona who in March 2020 provided face-masks for the Generalitat, charging them 35 million euros for the masks – while making a profit on the deal of 24 million euros. The story is at El Confidencial here. There’s more here.

We sometimes make fun of the bean-counters over at the National Institute of Statistics, the INE, for their slavish (and, we suspect inaccurate) data production. Anyhoo – the Government allegedly shares our mistrust in the agency’s numbers and the director resigned earlier this week, stung, says El Huff Post here, by the accusation.

The Supreme Court of the USA’s stance on abortion is happily not mirrored here in Spain or in much of Europe (The Vatican, Andorra, Malta, Liechtenstein and Poland have abortion-bans says Wiki) however certain far-right groups are encouraged to soldier on with their protests. From RTVE here, a look at the provida (pro-life) groups which often camp outside the clinics.  Spain currently sees an annual rate of around one abortion per 100 women.

Driving down towards the South-East from Madrid, one must stop in the small town of La Roda to pick up some Miguelitos (they make great presents if you are staying with someone). Directo al Paladar will tell you all about these special creamy cakes here.

Bygonely has a massive photo-dump from the Spanish Civil War here.

I had just got out of my 30-day solitario at the Facebook Jail when on Saturday I was promptly re-incarcerated again. Bread & Water for upsetting some bird-brain L. Who needs Facebook? Well, it sometimes has some interesting stories between the puppy-photos.

See Spain:

The Olive Press brings us an article on ten of the more unusual museums of Spain here.

From La Razón here: ‘It could be said that the Tower of Hercules is the soul of La Coruña, in addition to being the oldest Roman lighthouse in the world that is still in operation, with its 106 meters above sea level it is easy to see it from many points in the city. Its construction dates from approximately the end of the 1st century…’.

The useful TimeOut Madrid page in English is here. Barcelona’s is here.

Finally:

Ruben Blades here with Pedro Navaja on YouTube.