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

23/01/23. 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:

This one starts with a conversation on Facebook. Somebody posted a question along the lines of: ‘I’ve had it with the UK and I want to move to Spain, is it easy to find a job?’

Us old hands living in Spain for long, longer or longest were happy to post answers to this. Here’s mine:
‘The Spanish won't employ you over their own, or hire you over their own. That's assuming perfect language skills and all papers in order. Thus, you either find a foreign-owned business - a bar, English-language newspaper, real-estate office... or you self-employ. Some of us (and this is frowned on) seek to live by ripping off our fellow countrymen’.
This last bit set the cat among the pigeons.
It seems that I aren’t the only one who has learned through experience not to trust the first person who sidles up to me and says ‘What Ho, Old Stick, Can you lend me a few bob, I’ll pay you back when the cheque arrives from my parents’.
Because, you know, he won’t.
Not that one wishes to discourage those who seek to the leave the Old Country for a better life abroad.
And Life is, after all, an adventure.
Moving to Spain, an excellent place to live, is a good idea. It’s best to have money coming in from outside to keep one in gambas and albariño; perhaps a pension, or some regular dividends, or even a wealthy older brother who subscribes firmly to the aphorism ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’.
The second-best way is to find a job (like our intrepid Facebook correspondent) with the disadvantages and cautions listed above.
The third (minority) way is to try and snow your fellow countrymen, until such time as circumstances merit a swift departure for somewhere new and innocent.
Beyond being short-changed in a shop, the times I have been conned over my lifetime in Spain has always been by fellow-Brits. A pity really, but there you go. It’s not like it happened every day, but I’ve been living here a long time now…
No doubt the Dutch would say the same thing about their own countrymen, and amen with the Germans and the Danes.
There's a page on Facebook calledNamed and Shamed, Costa Blanca’. This type of page, of course, can sometimes be counterproductive, and watch out for the legal profession when dropping a literary dime on someone. However, the content will help put us on our guard.
Returning one last time to the thread mentioned above, and how it’s always one’s fellow countrymen and never the Spanish who hand you a sob story or a cunning get-rich-quick scheme that only needs a bit of seed money; Amalia, a woman living in the UK, posted an interesting (bombshell!) observation: ‘I must say this also happens in England between us Spaniards’.
Huh!

Housing:

From El Economista here: ‘Notaries warn: home sales fall sharply and the price-rally fades’. It says: ‘The number of home sales decreased by 8.2% in the inter-annual rate last November, reaching 58,942 operations, while the average price per square metre stood at 1,570 euros, 1.2% more than in November of 2021, which represents the third consecutive month of slowdown, according to data from the General Council of Notaries. These warnings are added to the report published last week by the rating agency Standard & Poor's, which warned of falls in real housing prices (discounting inflation) for this year…’

However, there are both Spanish and foreign home buyers looking, understandably, at different kinds of residential property. A service from Spanish Property Insight Introduces a new data page for subscribers only comparing foreign and local demand for property in Spain using data from the notaries. There’s also a useful video from Mark on YouTube here.

Tourism:

Our favourite hotel: the Algarrobico. Started in 2003 and blocked by a minister’s veto in 2006 when it was almost finished, the hotel on the lip of the Mediterranean is 20 stories high and has a large service area cut into the rock behind it. Swimming pools, restaurants, shops, offices and apartments. This (rather charmless) building was given the go-ahead by the local town hall but a subsequent re-zoning of the national park by just a few hundred metres suddenly put the ecologists on notice. The hotel was never finished, never torn down and no coherent excuse for either was ever given. It just is – a rotting and by now unsaveable hulk. The latest news from the Supreme Court is that there’s nothing changing at the present time, since ‘the building license is legal’. The owners would like to see some solution, as would the ecologists, as would indeed everyone else. But no, it looks like it will remain a giant carcass a while longer.

Finance:

'The AIReF (Autoridad Independiente de Responsabilidad Fiscal) resets their growth for Spain in 2022 by 0.9 upwards to 5.3%. After saying months ago that there was a risk of a "technical recession", the agency rectifies and revises upwards the growth of 2022 and also for 2023 to a modest 1.6%'. Item found at El Salto here. 'Spain will be the locomotive of the European economy for three years running – 2022, 2023 and 2024 – according to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch', says a piece in El Economista here. The article adds: ‘With mild winter weather, elevated gas storage levels in the most supply-vulnerable countries, and lower wholesale gas and electricity prices across the region, the mild technical winter recession of 2023 is now likely to be avoided in the euro area…’
We enter into interesting territory!

‘The Labour Inspectors surprise the 'Big Four' putting an end to their marathon work-days. The consultants received the visit of the inspectors simultaneously’, says El Plural here. The article says. ‘No sector seems to escape the magnifying glass of the Labour and Social Security Inspectorate and last November the Big Four were surprised with the visit by the inspectors. The raid affected, simultaneously, Deloitte, PwC, EY and KPMG and sought to carry out a time control. Thus, the agency dependent on the Minister of Labour and Social Economy Yolanda Díaz continues to pursue the violation of long working hours that, as is well known, takes place in the consulting sector. Up to 80 hours a week are reached in some cases, although the companies defend themselves by referring to the amount of employment they generate…’ From El Confidencial here: ‘The macro-inspection at the Big Four agitates the law firms: "If they open up this particular can of worms, we are all going to fall". The possible entry of work-inspectors worries the larger law firms, whose model conflicts with the hourly legislative guidelines, as they hope to remain under the radar’.

The Madrid regional leader Isabel Díaz Ayuso announces a 20% personal income tax deduction for foreign investors to offset the Government’s wealth tax says Diario Siglo XXI here.

From The Corner here: ‘BlackRock raises its stake in CaixaBank and increases its stake in the bank’s capital from 3.2% to 5.01%, according to the records of the Spanish National Securities Market Commission (CNMV). In total, the fund manager holds 376.3 million shares valued at 1,500 million euros’.

From The Local here: ‘At some point during the month of January, customers will receive a letter from their bank containing important financial information. “The banks are obliged to send these letters and they should not be ignored,” the notice from the Bank of Spain warned’. These will be papers to be held for one’s annual tax declaration.

An editorial in Público here: ‘How many times in the last few weeks have we read on social networks or heard from our acquaintances or neighbours that yes, inflation is going down, and that those graphs that are published in the media are all very good to see, but that this welcome drop in costs does not later translate into any of the receipts? You go to the supermarket and everything still costs much more than it did two years ago. Not to mention gasoline. The price of a barrel of oil can drop, but gasoline, once it is raised, does not tend to go down again…’ The responsible party for the current high inflation is not the War in the Ukraine, nor the Covid crisis, but simple corporate greed says the article.

Politics (It’s election year!):

The political parties enter into pre-campaign five months before the local and (some) regional elections of May 28th. They – understandably – see the results as an augury for the General Elections to be held – probably – in December. The latest CIS poll (which is said to lean towards the PSOE) gives the socialists a small lead over the conservatives with UP third and Vox lagging in fourth (wishful thinking?).


‘The Government feels safe talking about The Economy and wants to stay close to this subject over the electoral pre-campaign that will gradually open up. The PP thought that the crisis was going to be much harder for families this winter and now it is looking for other vote-catchers, similar as always and close to the argument of the hard right: that Pedro Sánchez is a traitor to the country and cannot be trusted… (from elDiario.es newsletter).

‘The control of prices, the evolution of employment and the fact that the ghost of the recession has been diluted have changed the script of Spanish politics. The opposition is now tiptoeing over purely economic issues and it is the Government that is acclaiming its management, just the opposite of what happened when Alberto Núñez Feijóo became president of the PP just nine months ago. At that time, the new leader of the conservatives was relying on the crisis derived from the Russian invasion of Ukraine to wear down the Government and bring about his own rise to the gates of La Moncloa (the prime minister’s residence). But sadly, the bad omens did not materialize…’ Editorial from elDiario.es here.

‘The PP’, says El Mundo here, ‘goes into "top gear" and puts its electoral machinery at "full performance" to face the regional and municipal elections on May 28. The party is already designing a campaign to give "a lot of weight" to national political issues, with the aim of wearing down its PSOE rivals and gathering voters due to "scandals" and the wear and tear of the Government. In the same way, the plan is to make Alberto Núñez Feijóo the "most powerful asset of the PP" and multiply his presence at events, in contrast to a Pedro Sánchez who is described as a "toxic asset" that "subtracts" from the socialist candidates…’.

El Huff Post brings us: Pedro Sánchez and his 'How to Spot a Fascist in Under a Minute':
“He always opposes any social advance. He opposes the increase in the minimum wage, he opposes the increase in pensions, he opposes reducing job insecurity, he opposes the minimum wage saying that it is a mere bribe, he opposes fair taxation, he opposes the policies of equality between men and women. He denies the scientific evidence that we are facing a climate emergency.
When he fails to block these advances through democratic means, because the citizens turn their backs on his party and their policies, then he will oppose democracy itself and will resort to physically assaulting our democratic institutions”.

Abortion rights, as currently under threat in the USA, come down, say the far-right, to the concept of the heartbeat. The mother should be forced to listen to the heartbeat of the foetus as a kind of emotional blackmail before she can proceed with an abortion. Now, with the PP/Vox government in Castilla y León, this proposal is moving forward into practice, that’s to say, from the sixth week, despite the firm denial (and the unstated threat of Article 155) from the Government. An El Español newsletter says ‘Vox forces the hand of the Popular Party in Castilla y León with its anti-abortion protocol as a pre-campaign act before the municipal and regional elections. Getting rid of this uncomfortable travel companion would be welcomed by Calle Génova (PP headquarters)’. elDiario.es lists some of the shadowy players behind the anti-abortion crusade including the ex-minister Jaime Mayor Oreja - ‘an international reference in the fight against abortion’.  The Castilla y León PP have decreed a ‘no-comment policy’ on the subject.  Back in Madrid, says El Español here, the PP is hedging its bets and considering even dropping their regional leader Alfonso Fernández Mañueco and bringing the CyL election forward to join others to be held on May 28th in the hope of dislodging their uncomfortable regional partner.

How is Ciudadanos doing? Edmundo Bal lost the primaries against Inés Arrimadas, but intends to go ahead and fight as candidate says VozPópuli here, as the erstwhile spokesperson for the party Patricia Guasp (temporarily?) assumes the presidency of Ciudadanos says Europa Press here. Who is Ms Guasp? – a centrist politician according to  La CadenaSer here. It begs the headline regarding the imploding party: ‘Ciudadanos, the Last Guasp’ (sorry, heh!)

As we have seen, there are too many left-wing splinter groups. The message is obvious: ‘either win together or lose separately’. From VoxPópuli here: ‘Podemos expects a trough in the May municipal elections and they intend to blame Yolanda Díaz. The second vice president, who disdains the fears from Podemos, has yet to announce when she will take the step and run as a candidate for the presidency of the Government’.

Following the new ‘Yes Means Yes’ law, some rapists have found their sentences shortened. This, says the Government spokesperson for gender violence, is clearly down to the decisions of the judges, and evidently not Government policy. The Government is to order sexual offenders who are freed under early release to wear ankle-bracelets as a control.

Catalonia:

From News Times here: ‘A Spanish judge has dropped sedition charges against former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont for his role in the region’s illegal secession push in 2017 that brought Spain’s most serious political crisis for decades. The Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena took the step, which also included four other Catalan separatists involved in the events of 2017, because changes to Spain’s sedition law that have taken effect mean it no longer covers their alleged wrongdoing, the court said in a statement.

North Africa:

‘Pedro Sánchez will take a dozen ministers to the forthcoming summit with Morocco on February 1 and 2 in Rabat. It will be the first between the two countries since June 2015 says ECD here. Rabat has asked that Yolanda Díaz should not attend the summit.

The number of migrants crossing from North Africa to Spain has dropped considerably since Madrid abandoned its interest in Western Sahara says elDiario.es here.

‘The Vice President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Nguema Obiang, has accused Spain of wanting to invade his country from an alleged military base in Gabon on the border with Equatoguinean territory, while he has defended that the ‘terrorist’ opposition leader Julio Obama Mefuman, who had Spanish nationality, died of natural causes in prison...’ The story continues at 20Minutos here.

Europe:

Cheery news from The Express here! ‘The UK finally ditches EU shackles and opens for global business with new 3-point master-plan. "There is an opportunity post-Brexit for us to unlock a much stronger global commitment as a science superpower and innovation nation to tackle global challenges"’.

From Spanish Property Insight here: ‘How to spend over 90 consecutive days in Spain – General visa overview (updated)’.

Brexit - yet another negative consequence. Workaways. An item at Eye on Spain here.

Health:

The Spanish medicament agency AEMPS will shortly produce a report to recommend cannabis for medical use says El Economista here.

‘The Xunta de Galicia recognizes that 43,000 chronically ill residents have not seen a doctor for more than six months’. The regional president Alfonso Rueda admits that the regional health system is going through ‘difficult times’ says elDiario.es here.

Sometimes we have to put up with a long wait to see a specialist, and sometimes, indeed, this annoys us. Hats off, then, to this lady from Seville with a broken vertebra from a year ago who has rented a billboard with a message to the health service.

Media:

Federico Jiménez Losantos, the veteran right-wing radio host, said on his channel esRadio that the PP were playing in the Second Division against the PSOE, in criticism over the transfer of power within the Constitutional Court from conservative to progressive control. El Plural has the story and a video here. Cándido Conde-Pumpido and Inmaculada Montalbán – both progressives – are the new president and vice president of the Tribunal Constitucional.


The fake news provider Alvise Pérez (La Razón introduces him as ‘the scourge of the left’ here), is an instrument of far-right organisations such as El Yunque and Hazte Oír. A thread with photos here.

Ecology:

December was 2.9ºC warmer than the average for the Spanish mainland, making it the hottest December since records going back to 1961. The story at Maldita here.


Various:

The whole point of football is that 'my side plays and beats your side'. Yay. Do you know how many Spaniards are in the Real Madrid team? None.

From The Guardian here: ‘Out of your league’: Shakira song mocking ex Gerard Piqué breaks YouTube record. Video with DJ Bizarrap ridiculing footballer’s new relationship racks up 63m views in 24 hours’. Shakira, 45, sings: “I’m worth two 22-year-olds,” adding: “You swapped a Ferrari for a [Renault] Twingo/You swapped a Rolex for a Casio”.  The (rather jolly) song is here.

Mercadona, Carrefour, Lidl, Dia and Alcampo: basic products rise in prices by up to 60% in just three months’ says El Independiente here.

The Olive Press has an interesting article on the Moorish influence on cooking in Spain and brings us the recipes for pinchos morunos and berenjenas con miel. If you have a nearby Moroccan restaurant, then go and give it a try! The Vikings though, they preferred to eat percebes (goose barnacles) says El Confidencial here and they would invade the coast of Galicia during the eleventh century to find this delicacy.

Reddit has a map showing Viking visits to Spain in the ninth century here.

From the ABC, a tourist destination in Andalucía where there are no bars or restaurants to receive visitors. We are in one of Spain’s ‘Most Beautiful Villages’ - Baños de la Encina in Jaén. Bring a sandwich.

Mapping Spain asks three separate British families ‘What’s it like living in a Cave House?’ There are some great photos to accompany the text.

From Molly’s Piccavey here: ‘Horse racing isn’t usually listed in the reasons for visiting Spain. Yet, this country has a long tradition of equestrian sport that can be seen in some of its most accessible and exciting locations…’

See Spain:

National Geographic has chosen this year’s Spanish Top 100 pueblos. Number one is the beautiful Albarracín in Toledo. The prettiest place in Córdoba (says the local newspaper) is Zuheros (Wiki) and photos.

From Eye on Spain here, ‘Visit Seville's Restored Medieval Shipyard’.

Letters:

Eco-stickers BoT 474: Hi, Lenox. As usual you have written a very useful, and timely, article. I have a client here who has been really worried about this issue. Your article should set her mind at rest. Thank you, Pablo

Finally:

The Science of Noise interviews Derby Motoreta’s Burrito Kachimba, a group from Seville ‘inspired by Triana and Smash’. Psychedelic Rock? ¡Kinkidelia! Here they are on YouTube with Gitana.