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

19/02/24. 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...


The farmers’ protests – roads blocked by legions of (recently washed and polished) tractors.

Of course they have a point. The low prices paid for their products versus the high prices they (and everybody else) must pay for food in the supermarkets. Someone is making a fortune, and it clearly isn’t them.
Although – in a small way – farmers or smallholders often trade between themselves: a crate of tomatoes here for a box of potatoes there.
The issue isn’t just a Spanish one – rather, it’s Europe-wide. Control on pesticides and fertilisers; rising costs; over-powerful retailers; cheaper (and un-regulated) imports from outside the EU – and sometimes, even legal imports from within (well we know what the French are capable of). Then there’s the political opportunism coming from here and there; the overwhelming list of regulations and the all-weather work, rain or shine.
Which should be worth something. As they say: ‘No farmers, no food’.
Small and large farmers are in different leagues of course. We read of ‘the decline of small and medium-sized farmers, ranchers or fishermen. Rising costs (and droughts) have aggravated the difficulties in general and, specifically, the crisis of the traditional model, which has been made up mostly of self-employed workers, favouring the business of large companies in all links of the food chain’.
The number of self-employed farmers has fallen by 20% in the last decade.
One problem is that when there’s a drought, extra efforts are made, such as new desalination plants (with their own pollutive issues and high-energy costs) and government aid – which brings in turn more consumption, more crops, more hotels. The next drought finds the short-fall far worse than the previous one, since the demand is by now much higher.
Another issue are the illegal wells. As the strawberry farmers outside La Doñana say – we all have a right to make money for our families.
The Government has dug deep in the past few years. President Sánchez recently said ‘Since 2022, we have provided 4,000 million euros for the primary sector. Including 1,380 million euros in direct aid and 2,800 million for the modernization of irrigation. A further 6,800 million has come through the European Common Agricultural Policy of which 4,800 million are direct aid together with agricultural insurance”.
In fact, the CAP takes up 30% of the entire EU budget.
The far-right has found the opportunity to their liking, rabble-rousing and attacking the ‘out-of-touch elites’. Meanwhile, one of the small pleasures of the ‘tractoradas’ (as they are called) was watching the populist agitator Alvise Pérez – who just happened to be passing by while shouting ‘Por España’ into a megaphone – being beaten up by the police in a park outside Madrid. He’s involved in stirring things up along with Lola Guzmán (president of the 6F Group) who tells the police at the same event ‘that ETA didn’t kill enough of you people’. Isolated events, perhaps, as the farmers become ever-more indignant. Lola herself is an ex-militant of Vox.
Always a pleasure to see the true patriots at work. With their flags and their hatred.
For most of us, the inconvenience of a group striking for one reason or another is either minor or non-existent – unless they block the roads or close down the flight or train-ride we had booked. In this case, the shops may run out of certain items in the short-term and probably will be obliged to raise their prices once the farmers’ claims have been satisfied.

Regardless of the activities of any fellow-travellers, or practical solutions from the Government, it appears that the tractoradas will continue for a while. The DGT has the real-time road-blocks by the farmers (and all other pertinent road-conditions) here.


From Spanish Property Insight here: ‘Though Spanish home sales declined by 11% in 2023 compared to the 2022 boom it was still the best year for more than a decade when compared to the years before the pandemic distorted the market. There were 640,000 Spanish homes sold in 2023, down 11.3% compared to the year before, according to the latest data published by the Spanish notaries’ association…’

El Huff Post finds an article from ‘the prestigious weekly British The Economist’ which considers the new foreign residents living in Madrid. ‘…"Some come to work in construction, care or hospitality. Others are rich Venezuelans and Mexicans fleeing confiscatory populism. The foreign population has grown by 20% since 2016, much of that Latino, making Madrid a growing rival to Miami as the “capital of Latin America”…’

The original article from The Economist is here: ‘Madrid is booming. Growing while keeping its cool will be the tricky part’.

From Eye on Spain here: ‘The best expat communities in Spain: A comprehensive guide for newcomers’.

From Noticias de Trabajo here: ‘Hacienda can fine home-owners many thousands of euros if they sell their homes at a lower than market-value price. The fine can be up to 100,000 euros and even jail time depending on the difference in price’.

‘The Supreme Court has annulled some of the regulations of the Coastal Law (´Ley de Costas’) and that means one thing: more beach bars on the beaches. This court decision once again opens the door to bricks on the Spanish coast’ says Xataca here. An adjustment to the law of 1988 by the Government in 2022 protected the beaches of Spain still further and it is this 2022 rule that has been struck down.

A useful guide to the details of buying a property in Spain comes from Digital Journal.


From Idealista (in English) here: ‘Madrid and Málaga to see the greatest growth in international tourism in 2024. The World Travel and Tourism Council believes rises could be as high as 25% in the capital of Madrid and 30% in the Costa del Sol's capital’.

From GBN here, ‘British Airways and Jet2 launch new routes to Spain - perfect for Britons who want sea, sand and sun in summer 2024’.

Sur in English reports that the ‘Costa del Sol hotels assure there will be no water supply issues for holidaymakers this summer. Despite concerns surrounding possible water shortages, hotel owners have said bookings are going at a better rate this year than 2023 and have not recorded any cancellations for the summer in the face of the drought’.

More on the 90/180 rule from The Majorca Daily Bulletin here: ‘Spain is fighting European Union legislation which means that non-resident British citizens can only spend 180 days a year in Spain (in two batches of 90 days). Unfortunately it would require all European Union nations supporting the plan which Spain says could prove difficult. The rule, brought in when Britain left the European Union, has had a major impact on British holiday home owners who can only use their place in the sun for 180 days a year. There are some ways of getting around the 90 day rule but you will need a job and plenty of cash…’


Reader Jake suggests we learn some medical Spanish. On YouTube, there’s ‘Spanish with Vicente’ with here, ‘Learn Spanish to go to the doctor – health vocabulary’ (Level C1). Another (easier) video is ‘Health Centres and Medicines’ here.


From The Olive Press here: ‘The European Parliament has modernised its payment regulations. A new EU law now means that transfers between different banks must be free and instantaneous. Regardless of day or time, the payment must be received by the payee within 10 seconds, with the payer informed whether the money has been successfully transferred or not within the same timeframe…’


The PP has revealed that it was also in secret conversations with the Junts per Catalunya party following the General Elections last summer regarding coming to an understanding and allowing Alberto Feijóo to become president. Journalists from 16 different newspapers were so informed during a lunch given by Feijóo. The talks collapsed after 24 hours, but the party must now explain its virulent attacks outside the headquarters of the PSOE (and indeed, inside parliament). The Guardian here: ‘U-turn ‘stupefies’ conservative party, which has condemned amnesty for those involved in Catalan independence push’.  According to El Huff Post here, ‘…The same sources assure that the PP leader remains open to the possibility of a pardon for Carles Puigdemont "as long as the independence movement returns to the fold." That is, submit to Spanish justice, verbalize their regrets and explicitly commit to complying with the Rule of Law’. On Wednesday, Junts confirmed the story says The Objective here.

In short: the PP had entertained the idea of an amnesty if the Junts had given them the presidency. A PSOE spokesperson ironically expresses his surprise in Las Cortes over the scandal here.

The protesting farmers have no time for the populist 6F group and its opposition to the police says El Mundo here.

Galicia elections February 18

There are a large number of emigrant Spaniards living in Latin America. Many of them have Galician backgrounds and they will, in many cases, be able to vote in the upcoming Galician elections. Indeed, says El Mundo here, the local term for ‘un español’ in Uruguay and some other Latin American countries is ‘un gallego’. Indeed, Buenos Aires (Argentina) is known in Galicia as ‘la quinta provincia gallega’ (Galicia’s fifth province). So we come to Pepe Mujica, the colourful ex-president of Uruguay, who says (in elDiario.es here) that those with the vote in Latin America should give it to candidate Ana Pontón from the BNG. Anything up to 500,000 South American Galicians have the vote (!).

A second TV debate was (will be) broadcast on Wednesday night by the RTVE, with the candidates from the BNG and PSdeG only. The PP candidate decided not to attend.


From Sur in English here: ‘Euro MPs call on Spain to look into Russian meddling in Catalonia and Puigdemont links. The MEPs' resolution points out that - if confirmed - the contacts between "Catalan government authorities" and Russian officials would be part of "a broader plan" by Vladimir Putin's regime "to destabilise democracy in the EU"’.


From HM Gov here. ‘Spain: medical facilities and practitioners. A list of English-speaking medical facilities and practitioners for British nationals in Spain classified by region ('comunidad autónoma’).


From The European Conservative here: ‘Spanish prosecutors rebel against political interference in terrorism cases’.

elDiario.es brings us a peculiar example of ‘lawfare’: a judge ends up in jail after an investigation into his activities (‘judicial corruption’) is covered by a local newspaper. The imprisoned judge makes a complaint and now the journalist and director of Canarias Ahora Carlos Sosa is facing up to 23 years for ‘hate, harassment and revealing secrets’. Also here and here.

Público lists twenty-five separate reasons provided by the PP over the past five years as to why they refuse to allow the CGPJ to be renewed.


El Nacional jokes that the ‘The Benzine Trio’ (as it calls El Mundo, ABC and La Razón) preferred to drop the Feijóo revelations of talking with Junts last summer (revealed by the PP just before the Galicia elections), to move to the attack on the smaller issue of calling for the sacking of the Minister of the Interior Fernando Grande-Marlaska over the killing of two Guardia Civiles by narcos (see ‘Various’ below). The title: ‘Friendly newspapers silent with synchronized leaders to hide Feijóo’s proposal to pardon Carles Puigdemont’.


Andalucía: ‘For it to really do some good, it would have to rain for at least a month, and that, unfortunately, is not on the horizon’ (opinion at Sur in English here).

‘Andalucía continues to dry out. The water reserve of the autonomous community barely reaches 22.21% according to data from the Civil Protection Drought Observatory. Figures that corroborate those of the Department of Sustainability and Environment of the Junta de Andalucía and ratify the frenetic downward trend in the amount of water in Andalusian reservoirs in recent years. On the same dates in 2023, these were at an already worrying 29.74%, while the average for the last week in the last ten years is much higher: 52.14%...’ Taken from El Salto Diario here. In Almería, the reserves are at 9% and the towns centred around Cuevas (including Mojácar) are now on a hosepipe ban. As are the taps (maximum 160 litres per day) in the Campo de Gibraltar, the western Costa del Sol, Guadalhorce-Limonero (Málaga) and Axarquía-Viñuela. All this, despite the recent rain.

The majority of the desalination plants located throughout Spain will have to increase their production to face the drought,’ says La Cadena Ser here. For example, the Sagunto plant (Valencia), due to send potable water by sea to Catalonia, is barely working at 10% of its capacity.

From presidential website La Moncloa (in English) here: ‘Sánchez guarantees use of all available means to combat the drought and announces 900 million euros in aid for renewable hydrogen projects’.


From Sur in English here: ‘Just how many illegal wells are there irrigating subtropical fruit plantations in the Axarquía? Operacíon Chaak has already resulted in the arrest of 26 people and the investigation of 44 others for alleged crimes against natural resources, the environment and use of public water’.

The Guardian here: ‘‘‘They’re drowning us in regulations’: how Europe’s furious farmers took on Brussels and won’.

From Infobae here: A group of Russian hackers attacks the pages of several Spanish institutions to show solidarity with farmers. The 'NoName057' platform has claimed responsibility for the attacks through its Telegram channel’.


Barbate is a town in Cádiz known for its drug-smugglers, the narcotraficantes. Until now, the population has rather ignored the crimes of those who bring in the produce from across the Mediterranean, but this changed last week when a Guardia Civil boat was purposefully rammed by a high-speed narco-launch, causing the death of two Guardias and serious injury to a third. The participants in this outrage have been arrested. The story at 20Minutos here (with video) and the background to the drugs issue in Barbate at elDiario.es here. The pilot of the narco-launch is one Kiko 'El Cabra' apparently, from La Línea de la Concepción.

The anti-drug prosecutor is asking 22 years in prison for Jokim Broberg, the step-son of the mayoress of Marbella, for narcotraffic.

From Xataca here: ‘Spain is the country in Europe with the most installed burglar alarms. It also has one of the lowest crime rates. There are between 2.7 and 2.8 million alarms in apartments and businesses. A gold mine for certain companies (a photo shows an engineer from Securitas Direct installing a system).

From Arkeonews here: ‘Scientists have recently discovered that some of the pieces in the amazing Bronze Age collection known as the Tesoro de Villena (Wiki), which was found in Spain more than 60 years ago, contain iron that came from an alien meteorite that crashed into Earth about a million years ago. The treasure of Villena contains artefacts fashioned from precious materials like gold, silver, amber, and iron. Each piece within this collection tells a story of the culture, technology, and traditions of the people who lived during the Bronze Age, between 1400 and 1200 B.C…’

The Guardian reports that ‘A film about children living in darkness on Madrid’s doorstep was up for an award at the Goya cinema awards last Saturday. ‘Aunque sea de noche’ (Even though it’s night), chronicles the conditions of Europe’s largest shantytown, Cañada Real.

The 16-minute film won its cortometraje prize says Infobae here.

Spain’s answer to the Route 66 must be the N-340, the longest road in España. From Puerto Real in Cádiz to Barcelona, the N-340 is 1,248 kilometres long.

From Catalan News here: ‘An 18th century cannonball factory emerges from dry reservoir. The severe drought exposes remains of Sant Sebastià Foundry in northern Catalan swamp’.

See Spain:

Piccavey is a blog based in (and about) Granada. Good and useful stuff here.

An article at Eye on Spain describes some of the islands surrounding the country.


I use Mozilla Firefox as my browser, since it has some useful apps (I don’t see any adverts on YouTube for example). Firefox is a non-profit organisation and is not popular with its powerful competitors, (Microsoft, Apple, Google). So, sometimes pages won’t load properly. But this week, I got this from a news-site (CNN):  ‘We apologize, but your web browser is configured in such a way that it is preventing this site from implementing required components that protect your privacy and allow you to view and change your privacy settings. This functionality is required for privacy legislation in your region’.  Luckily, there’s always the Webpage Capture: https://archive.ph/ for those pages with paywalls or other locks.


Here’s Aida Bossa with Vida de Colores on YouTube. Aida is from Colombia. Would I steer you wrong?