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Business Over Tapas (22nd November-13)

By Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner

miércoles 22 de octubre de 2014, 11:21h

A digest of this week's Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners:  with Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner . For subscriptions and other information about this site, go to businessovertapas.com - email: [email protected]  

Note: Underlined words or phrases are links to the Internet. Right click and press 'Control' on your keyboard to access.

Editorial:

Those who have been to them know that Spanish weddings are huge, jolly and expensive. Guests give the happy couple money and are expected (at least at the ones I've been to) to buy tiny bits of the bride's garter and the groom's tie, cut up with precision by the Mother-in-law. Gambas, white wine and fifty euro notes flow... as has suddenly dawned on Hacienda, the tax authority, that now wants its piece of the action.

Housing:

'The Junta de Andalucía's Decree 2/2012 which allows legalized homes on non-urban land in certain cases, has served to encourage the classic entrepreneurial spirit that has traditionally characterized Chiclana (Cádiz). An industrial engineer called Jaime Chozas has been involved in the complex process of legalization of homes of this municipality and he is one of the partners of Rurhabitat, an Andalucian company that was born under the protection of this new legal framework.

It offers a new formula to regularize housing erected on non-urban land, without having to wait for their town councils to undertake the necessary works to provide water, electricity and sewerage. The company provides a global solution. It helps with the interminable paperwork, it installs both a photovoltaic plate and a water treatment plant and it also puts in an innovative treatment that makes a septic tank unnecessary'... From El País.

Over in Almería, a different approach to the same problem: 'The Junta de Andalucía and the Almanzora business association have created a working group to address solutions to illegal homes. They have agreed to collect information from the municipalities of the region in relation to the Decree approved in 2012 to regularize these homes built on undeveloped land' Headline From Ideal.    More: 'The Junta de Andalucía and the Business Association of Albox - Valle del Almanzora (AEPA) have formed a working group to analyse the current urban situation of the region and to find possible solutions to the plight of more than 13,000 'irregular' homes located in the area.

The working group, which also involved the Ayuntamiento de Albox (Almeria), has begun by collecting information from the local councils to see how the Decree approved in 2012 can 'regularise' these homes built on undeveloped land'...  'Regularise': that word again (My dictionary says: 'Systemise, to subject to rules').

Tourism:

'Golf tourism generates an economic impact of 340 million euros a year in Spain, according to a study presented at the International Golf Travel Market fair (IGTM) which was held last week in Salou. The study shows that Spain is the favourite destination for golf enthusiasts from the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Scandinavia.

Thus, 28.5% of European golfers who travelled abroad chose Spain to play golf in 2012'... From Hosteltur.

Finance:

From an editorial called 'Brussels Exerts Pressure' in El País, found at El País in English: 'Though the economic policy of the Spanish government since it took power late in 2011 has been principally aimed at recovering Spain’s financial stability — to which end it is necessary to reduce public deficit and debt, by means of substantial cutbacks in the welfare state — these fiscal achievements have so far been insufficient. The government was unable to comply with its 2012 deficit-reduction objective, and it is not clear if it will do so this year. Meanwhile, public debt goes on growing, so much so that in September it reached a new high (954.863 billion, or 94.2 percent of GDP)'...

'Pessimism among Spaniards continues. The campaign by the Government, trying to show that these past two years of sacrifices are starting to bear fruit, have so far met with little success. An overwhelming 88% of citizens consider that they have not personally noticed symptoms of improvement and 75% were found to not believe that the country is beginning to emerge from the crisis'... The survey, an ample questionnaire on voting intentions, Catalonia, the PSOE and other subjects, prepared by El Mundo-Sigma Dos, is here. The article from El Mundo is here.

Corruption:

There seems to be a high level of indignation in Spain following this revelation (From El País in English): 'The Public Prosecutor Pedro Horrach has submitted a 30-page document to the judge investigating the so called Nóos case stating that there is no evidence linking Princess Cristina to the alleged multi-million-euro siphoning off of public money to private interests on the part of her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin. Therefore, Horrach wrote, he will not seek to have the king’s youngest daughter named as a suspect in the case'... Many newspaper articles, particularly from El Mundo, disagree... (a survey here gives 95% disagreement with the Public Prosecutor's arguments)

Tax:

'The Minister of Finance, Cristóbal Montoro, has commissioned inspectors from Hacienda to intensify their surveillance on a number of everyday activities where fraud might be rampant. In particular, weddings, christenings, communions, schools, neighbours' communities and all kinds of groups and activities that are part of the daily life of the majority of Spaniards can expect fresh requirements and inspections. By focusing on these groups, Hacienda hopes to maintain its income, 'threatened' by the fall of general economic activity and the collapse of sectors such as real estate'...  From El Mundo.

Politics:

An interesting article in El Confidencial Digital reveals that the senior members of the Partido Popular are considering a clean slate for the 2015 elections, following the Bárcenas affair and various cases of corruption. Mariano Rajoy would thus campaign with a completely new list of candidates, and all current ministers and senior figures would retire or be regulated 'to the back bench'. The article finishes with '...Senior members say that there are many "young and sufficiently prepared" people within the party to form the renewed leadership in 2015'.

Within the PSOE, it's increasingly apparent that it is time for a change of leadership. The most attractive choices are Carme Chacon, the erstwhile Minister of Defence, and Susana Díaz, the newly appointed President of the Junta de Andalucía. More here.

Courts

'The former Chinese president Jiang Zemin and ex prime minister Li Peng could face arrest when travelling abroad over allegations they committed genocide in Tibet, a Spanish court ruled on Tuesday, in a case Beijing has dismissed as absurd.

Two Tibetan support groups and a monk with Spanish nationality brought the case against the former leaders in 2006 using Spanish law, which allows suspects to be tried for human rights abuses committed abroad when a Spanish victim is involved.

The two former leaders and three other high-ranking officials who worked in the government in the 1980s and 1990s, are accused of human rights abuses in the Himalayan region'... From Reuters.    (silly story of the week!)

Essay:

In Search of a Job

Article in El Indálico from Ángel Medina

I read these days the good news that across the whole of the Spanish State, the number of unemployed fell by 72,800 people in the third quarter to a mere 5,904,700, and that the unemployment rate fell 0.28% from the second quarter of the year and now stands at 25.98% of the active population.

In addition, according to population survey (LFS) published by the National Institute of Statistics (INE), between July and September occupation increased by 39,500 people, until the number of those in work stood at 16,823,200: a remarkable achievement.

Well, I went to the employment office and the 5,904,700 unemployed has now risen to 5,904,701, because I signed up on the list of the paro, because I haven't had a job for a long time now, so I decided to sign up to help to lower the employment people's euphoria a bit and to contribute in bringing the percentages a small fraction nearer to the real numbers and the true situation of life which, as far as I can see, does not have any appearance of either improvement or much less a bonanza.

I had arranged by telephone an appointment with the local office of the INE and when I was called, a week later, I took myself there to join the ranks of the unemployed.

I was looked after by a surprisingly amiable lady who, after asking for my identity card and tinkering for a few minutes on her computer, said:

'So you want to join the unemployment list because you are looking for work, is that right?'

'That's right. I know that there aren't many openings, but...'

She cut across me. 'Here it says you have a Bachelor of Arts. Do you have other studies?'

'Yes. I graduated in “trade, political and economic science” as it was called 40 years ago, but the truth is that I don't know anything about this, since I've never practiced it'

'You will need to bring the graduation certificate if you want to put this qualification in your records'.

'Do you suppose', I asked, 'that this will earn me more opportunities? After all, I'm sixty-three years old'.

'Well, who knows?' She shrugged.

'OK, then just leave me as a Bachelor'.

'So what sort of work would you be looking for?'

'Well... I would be glad to find anything that I knew how to do. I've been three years without doing anything and I've spent the few savings that I had'.

'So what sort of work have you been doing?'

'Um... I have been twenty-five years in politics. I have been head of a press council, the private secretary of the mayor and a councillor. In fact, I've been a councillor for twelve years. Right now I have that privilege until the next municipal elections, but since I'm in the Opposition I only receive a State payment of attendance at plenary and information committees (two hundred euros per month) and I certainly can't live on that'.

'So, what shall I put you down as?' said my interrogator.

'You can say that I am a councillor and would like to continue with this, but with functions and a proper salary'.

'I can't put that. Councillors are elected in elections, you can't just be one' she said warmly.

'Yes of course, but... and if there is some party somewhere in Spain that needs a few extra people to make up its list for upcoming elections? I couldn't care less which stripe or colour is the party as long as I have a real chance of leading up a department. I've been a councillor of culture, finance, tourism and could do anything, trust me. You see, what I really know how to do is to organise rallies, write press releases, party programmes, deal with complaints, participate in discussions, pose before the cameras, participate in processions... And since I am in the political centre, I would be just as useful in a right-wing or a left-wing candidacy because I will always move the party towards the opposite side and so I will get more votes. I have no problems with ideology because I have none of my own and so I can adapt to anything. Put down 'Councillor' in your computer, thanks'.

'Fine, done. And in what territory you would like to find work: local, provincial, a national post perhaps...?'

'You can put down European too! I'd be just as happy to be a councillor in Paris, Warsaw or Stockholm. Anywhere within the European Community...but not the Third World. Those countries frighten me; I can't stand poverty, or diseases or of course fanaticism and I'm used to a certain standard of living'.

'Right', she says, 'I've put you down as anywhere within the European Union'.

'So do you think that I have a chance?'

'I have no idea; but just to finish this last box, what do you know of scams, commissions, bribes, corruption, nepotism, money laundering, illegal financing and so on...?'

The busy fingers typed in my reply...

Various:

El País reports that 'An astonished Der Spiegel tells a story that illustrates perfectly our scandalous situation. The magazine was referring to the Mayoress of Madrid, whose only "merit" is to be the Wife of Aznar. Der Spiegel comments: "The City Hall is a Palace whose renovation has cost 500 million euros!", "Her office is bigger than the one of the President of the United States", and it has "a Butler whose sole function is to serve the coffee". There are 260 personal advisers and senior officials paid an average wage of 60,000 euros. The City Council also has 267 official cars for personal use, more than all the capitals of the euro-zone put together'...

The same magazine ran this in April 2012 (here in English): 'Botella's Battle: Madrid's Mayor Chips Away at Debt and Tradition' By Helene Zuber: 'Spain is frantically trying to reduce its debts. While conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is doing so at the national level, Ana Botella is slashing away at spending in Madrid, Spain's most heavily indebted city. In the process, the mayor is blazing her own path'...

'At the invitation of Simon Manley CMG, newly appointed Ambassador to Spain, Maura Hillen, President of Abusos Urbanisticos Almanzora No (AUAN) of Almeria and Philip Smalley, President of Save our Homes Axarquia (SOHA), met with Mr. Manley to brief him on the ongoing struggle to legalise their homes bought or built in good faith. Mr. Manley has meetings pending with National Government Ministers and it is hoped that he can bring some pressure to bear to remove the constant fear of demolition and to legalise those homes'. From the AUAN Press Office.

On the same subject... From The Olive Press: 'Britain's new Ambassador to Spain has called on the Spanish Government to end uncertainty for British ex-pats living in Spain, while pledging his own commitment to protecting the most vulnerable during his first visit to Málaga.

Simon Manley cited the need to support Brits who, having been mis-sold homes, are now faced with eviction.

The Ambassador said: “We’re seeing an upturn in the Spanish property market, but if the Spanish government wants to make a success of that they need to address uncertainty. And there are solutions in the hands of authorities to stop these sorts of problems from re-occurring.”...

'The new “Law for citizen safety” (currently under debate) is suggesting a fine of up to 30,000€ (minimum: 1001€) for “shouting, insulting or behaving aggressively” towards a copper during a manifestation.

Other hardcore, move along good citizen nothing to see here suggestions are fines of between 30,000€ and 600,000€ for taking or distributing photos identifying a police officer in the course of their duties. Ouch... … In all, the new law establishes 21 new Infractions which are considered “severe” with fines almost double the average annual salary.

One of them, interestingly enough, is protesting outside Parliament without a license: 600,000€ per person'... From David Jackson. (Anyone remember the PSOE Minister Corcuera and his 'patada en la puerta' (kick the doors in)?

Reporting on the same subject, from The Local:  '...The recent years of recession and austere economic reforms by Spain's conservative government sparked mass demonstrations in the streets, including some near the lower house on parliament in Madrid that boiled over into violent clashes between protesters and police. "The aim of any law is to protect democratic coexistence and ensure the exercising of liberties, and this one is no exception," said the parliamentary spokesman for the ruling Popular Party, Alfonso Alonso. His counterpart in the leading opposition Socialist Party, Soraya Rodríguez, retorted: "This is not a citizens' security bill, it is a citizen-repression bill."...

'Spain did not infringe European regulations by establishing tougher criteria for people wanting to cross the border from Gibraltar, the European Commission has said.

But the EU report also called on the governments of the British territory and Spain for solutions to “the heavy traffic volumes in a relatively confined space and the increase in tobacco smuggling.”

After travelling to the crossing point at La Línea de la Concepción on September 25 on a fact-finding mission, European officials said they did not find any wrongdoing in Spain’s decision to increase border inspections'... From El País in English prompting this reply in the 'comments': -  'They haven't given "their approval" - they said there is no contravention of EU law. Is this newspaper run by the government of Spain?! Spain have 6 months to change the situation at the border. The EU are basically saying that you cannot have 6 lanes of traffic going into 2 then into 1 (when you consider the disgracefully behaviour of the Spanish police). Only Spain could consider this a victory. A bit like they consider 0.1% growth is recovery (by the way Gibraltar achieved 5% even in the crisis)'.

'The European Commission (EC) insists there are no ‘well-founded’ claims against Gibraltar on the issues of tax and money-laundering matters. Commissioner Michel Barnier made the comments in response to written questions from Gibraltar MEP Graham Watson.

He pointed out that Gibraltar’s legislation in the relevant areas is up to date. The EC verdict is a blow to Spain, which made accusations that Gibraltar is a tax haven and a centre for money-laundering'. Found at The Olive Press.

'Everyone is aware of the phenomenon: there are more and more Spaniards living in the United Kingdom in general and in London in particular. But exactly how many Spaniards are there? The answer is that nobody knows. As European citizens we can come and go freely and we have no need to register at the Consulate so any number that you are given is just an estimate and, almost always, it will be far from the reality'... So says the writer of Guirilandia, a blog about Spaniards living and working in the UK. Of course, his statement is also true about Britons or any other European nationals living in Spain. No one knows the numbers.

'Ever wondered who the Spanish Kim Kardashian is? And did you know Spain has its very own Justin Bieber? Read on to get the lowdown on the Spanish celebrities everyone should know. Spain's celebrities are big news: You wouldn't expect anything less than a passionate commitment to fame from the country which founded the ¡Hola! franchise and pioneered the art of celebrity watching'... From 'The Dummies Guide to Spanish Celebrities', found at The Local.

Letters

Good morning, Lenox!

I was reading the full Christian Science Monitor article you referred to and was absolutely shocked to see El Mundo compared to Fox News. I have lived for many years in the US and in Spain and extensively follow news from both countries (far too much in my wife's opinion!!). I have never seen any so-called news channel being so selective with news as is Fox and the way they twist everything in favour of GOP and against the Democrats is just disgusting. El Mundo was certainly against Zapatero's (questionable) government (brotes verdes!!!) but now they are equally questioning Rajoy and his "gang" which can also be heavily criticized for their failures in e.g. fight against corruption. I have never noticed El Mundo to avoid important issues or being dishonest in their reporting so I find the Fox News comparison absolutely wrong.

Sorry for venting, you just did us the favour of referring us to an article!

Best regards, Ivar

Finally:

And now for something completely silly... 

…...

 

Editorial:

Those who have been to them know that Spanish weddings are huge, jolly and expensive. Guests give the happy couple money and are expected (at least at the ones I've been to) to buy tiny bits of the bride's garter and the groom's tie, cut up with precision by the Mother-in-law. Gambas, white wine and fifty euro notes flow... as has suddenly dawned on Hacienda, the tax authority, that now wants its piece of the action.

Housing:

'The Junta de Andalucía's Decree 2/2012 which allows legalized homes on non-urban land in certain cases, has served to encourage the classic entrepreneurial spirit that has traditionally characterized Chiclana (Cádiz). An industrial engineer called Jaime Chozas has been involved in the complex process of legalization of homes of this municipality and he is one of the partners of Rurhabitat, an Andalucian company that was born under the protection of this new legal framework.

It offers a new formula to regularize housing erected on non-urban land, without having to wait for their town councils to undertake the necessary works to provide water, electricity and sewerage. The company provides a global solution. It helps with the interminable paperwork, it installs both a photovoltaic plate and a water treatment plant and it also puts in an innovative treatment that makes a septic tank unnecessary'... From El País.

Over in Almería, a different approach to the same problem: 'The Junta de Andalucía and the Almanzora business association have created a working group to address solutions to illegal homes. They have agreed to collect information from the municipalities of the region in relation to the Decree approved in 2012 to regularize these homes built on undeveloped land' Headline From Ideal.    More: 'The Junta de Andalucía and the Business Association of Albox - Valle del Almanzora (AEPA) have formed a working group to analyse the current urban situation of the region and to find possible solutions to the plight of more than 13,000 'irregular' homes located in the area.

The working group, which also involved the Ayuntamiento de Albox (Almeria), has begun by collecting information from the local councils to see how the Decree approved in 2012 can 'regularise' these homes built on undeveloped land'...  'Regularise': that word again (My dictionary says: 'Systemise, to subject to rules').

Tourism:

'Golf tourism generates an economic impact of 340 million euros a year in Spain, according to a study presented at the International Golf Travel Market fair (IGTM) which was held last week in Salou. The study shows that Spain is the favourite destination for golf enthusiasts from the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Scandinavia.

Thus, 28.5% of European golfers who travelled abroad chose Spain to play golf in 2012'... From Hosteltur.

Finance:

From an editorial called 'Brussels Exerts Pressure' in El País, found at El País in English: 'Though the economic policy of the Spanish government since it took power late in 2011 has been principally aimed at recovering Spain’s financial stability — to which end it is necessary to reduce public deficit and debt, by means of substantial cutbacks in the welfare state — these fiscal achievements have so far been insufficient. The government was unable to comply with its 2012 deficit-reduction objective, and it is not clear if it will do so this year. Meanwhile, public debt goes on growing, so much so that in September it reached a new high (954.863 billion, or 94.2 percent of GDP)'...

'Pessimism among Spaniards continues. The campaign by the Government, trying to show that these past two years of sacrifices are starting to bear fruit, have so far met with little success. An overwhelming 88% of citizens consider that they have not personally noticed symptoms of improvement and 75% were found to not believe that the country is beginning to emerge from the crisis'... The survey, an ample questionnaire on voting intentions, Catalonia, the PSOE and other subjects, prepared by El Mundo-Sigma Dos, is here. The article from El Mundo is here.

Corruption:

There seems to be a high level of indignation in Spain following this revelation (From El País in English): 'The Public Prosecutor Pedro Horrach has submitted a 30-page document to the judge investigating the so called Nóos case stating that there is no evidence linking Princess Cristina to the alleged multi-million-euro siphoning off of public money to private interests on the part of her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin. Therefore, Horrach wrote, he will not seek to have the king’s youngest daughter named as a suspect in the case'... Many newspaper articles, particularly from El Mundo, disagree... (a survey here gives 95% disagreement with the Public Prosecutor's arguments)

Tax:

'The Minister of Finance, Cristóbal Montoro, has commissioned inspectors from Hacienda to intensify their surveillance on a number of everyday activities where fraud might be rampant. In particular, weddings, christenings, communions, schools, neighbours' communities and all kinds of groups and activities that are part of the daily life of the majority of Spaniards can expect fresh requirements and inspections. By focusing on these groups, Hacienda hopes to maintain its income, 'threatened' by the fall of general economic activity and the collapse of sectors such as real estate'...  From El Mundo.

Politics:

An interesting article in El Confidencial Digital reveals that the senior members of the Partido Popular are considering a clean slate for the 2015 elections, following the Bárcenas affair and various cases of corruption. Mariano Rajoy would thus campaign with a completely new list of candidates, and all current ministers and senior figures would retire or be regulated 'to the back bench'. The article finishes with '...Senior members say that there are many "young and sufficiently prepared" people within the party to form the renewed leadership in 2015'.

Within the PSOE, it's increasingly apparent that it is time for a change of leadership. The most attractive choices are Carme Chacon, the erstwhile Minister of Defence, and Susana Díaz, the newly appointed President of the Junta de Andalucía. More here.

Courts

'The former Chinese president Jiang Zemin and ex prime minister Li Peng could face arrest when travelling abroad over allegations they committed genocide in Tibet, a Spanish court ruled on Tuesday, in a case Beijing has dismissed as absurd.

Two Tibetan support groups and a monk with Spanish nationality brought the case against the former leaders in 2006 using Spanish law, which allows suspects to be tried for human rights abuses committed abroad when a Spanish victim is involved.

The two former leaders and three other high-ranking officials who worked in the government in the 1980s and 1990s, are accused of human rights abuses in the Himalayan region'... From Reuters.    (silly story of the week!)

Essay:

In Search of a Job

Article in El Indálico from Ángel Medina

I read these days the good news that across the whole of the Spanish State, the number of unemployed fell by 72,800 people in the third quarter to a mere 5,904,700, and that the unemployment rate fell 0.28% from the second quarter of the year and now stands at 25.98% of the active population.

In addition, according to population survey (LFS) published by the National Institute of Statistics (INE), between July and September occupation increased by 39,500 people, until the number of those in work stood at 16,823,200: a remarkable achievement.

Well, I went to the employment office and the 5,904,700 unemployed has now risen to 5,904,701, because I signed up on the list of the paro, because I haven't had a job for a long time now, so I decided to sign up to help to lower the employment people's euphoria a bit and to contribute in bringing the percentages a small fraction nearer to the real numbers and the true situation of life which, as far as I can see, does not have any appearance of either improvement or much less a bonanza.

I had arranged by telephone an appointment with the local office of the INE and when I was called, a week later, I took myself there to join the ranks of the unemployed.

I was looked after by a surprisingly amiable lady who, after asking for my identity card and tinkering for a few minutes on her computer, said:

'So you want to join the unemployment list because you are looking for work, is that right?'

'That's right. I know that there aren't many openings, but...'

She cut across me. 'Here it says you have a Bachelor of Arts. Do you have other studies?'

'Yes. I graduated in “trade, political and economic science” as it was called 40 years ago, but the truth is that I don't know anything about this, since I've never practiced it'

'You will need to bring the graduation certificate if you want to put this qualification in your records'.

'Do you suppose', I asked, 'that this will earn me more opportunities? After all, I'm sixty-three years old'.

'Well, who knows?' She shrugged.

'OK, then just leave me as a Bachelor'.

'So what sort of work would you be looking for?'

'Well... I would be glad to find anything that I knew how to do. I've been three years without doing anything and I've spent the few savings that I had'.

'So what sort of work have you been doing?'

'Um... I have been twenty-five years in politics. I have been head of a press council, the private secretary of the mayor and a councillor. In fact, I've been a councillor for twelve years. Right now I have that privilege until the next municipal elections, but since I'm in the Opposition I only receive a State payment of attendance at plenary and information committees (two hundred euros per month) and I certainly can't live on that'.

'So, what shall I put you down as?' said my interrogator.

'You can say that I am a councillor and would like to continue with this, but with functions and a proper salary'.

'I can't put that. Councillors are elected in elections, you can't just be one' she said warmly.

'Yes of course, but... and if there is some party somewhere in Spain that needs a few extra people to make up its list for upcoming elections? I couldn't care less which stripe or colour is the party as long as I have a real chance of leading up a department. I've been a councillor of culture, finance, tourism and could do anything, trust me. You see, what I really know how to do is to organise rallies, write press releases, party programmes, deal with complaints, participate in discussions, pose before the cameras, participate in processions... And since I am in the political centre, I would be just as useful in a right-wing or a left-wing candidacy because I will always move the party towards the opposite side and so I will get more votes. I have no problems with ideology because I have none of my own and so I can adapt to anything. Put down 'Councillor' in your computer, thanks'.

'Fine, done. And in what territory you would like to find work: local, provincial, a national post perhaps...?'

'You can put down European too! I'd be just as happy to be a councillor in Paris, Warsaw or Stockholm. Anywhere within the European Community...but not the Third World. Those countries frighten me; I can't stand poverty, or diseases or of course fanaticism and I'm used to a certain standard of living'.

'Right', she says, 'I've put you down as anywhere within the European Union'.

'So do you think that I have a chance?'

'I have no idea; but just to finish this last box, what do you know of scams, commissions, bribes, corruption, nepotism, money laundering, illegal financing and so on...?'

The busy fingers typed in my reply...

Various:

El País reports that 'An astonished Der Spiegel tells a story that illustrates perfectly our scandalous situation. The magazine was referring to the Mayoress of Madrid, whose only "merit" is to be the Wife of Aznar. Der Spiegel comments: "The City Hall is a Palace whose renovation has cost 500 million euros!", "Her office is bigger than the one of the President of the United States", and it has "a Butler whose sole function is to serve the coffee". There are 260 personal advisers and senior officials paid an average wage of 60,000 euros. The City Council also has 267 official cars for personal use, more than all the capitals of the euro-zone put together'...

The same magazine ran this in April 2012 (here in English): 'Botella's Battle: Madrid's Mayor Chips Away at Debt and Tradition' By Helene Zuber: 'Spain is frantically trying to reduce its debts. While conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is doing so at the national level, Ana Botella is slashing away at spending in Madrid, Spain's most heavily indebted city. In the process, the mayor is blazing her own path'...

'At the invitation of Simon Manley CMG, newly appointed Ambassador to Spain, Maura Hillen, President of Abusos Urbanisticos Almanzora No (AUAN) of Almeria and Philip Smalley, President of Save our Homes Axarquia (SOHA), met with Mr. Manley to brief him on the ongoing struggle to legalise their homes bought or built in good faith. Mr. Manley has meetings pending with National Government Ministers and it is hoped that he can bring some pressure to bear to remove the constant fear of demolition and to legalise those homes'. From the AUAN Press Office.

On the same subject... From The Olive Press: 'Britain's new Ambassador to Spain has called on the Spanish Government to end uncertainty for British ex-pats living in Spain, while pledging his own commitment to protecting the most vulnerable during his first visit to Málaga.

Simon Manley cited the need to support Brits who, having been mis-sold homes, are now faced with eviction.

The Ambassador said: “We’re seeing an upturn in the Spanish property market, but if the Spanish government wants to make a success of that they need to address uncertainty. And there are solutions in the hands of authorities to stop these sorts of problems from re-occurring.”...

'The new “Law for citizen safety” (currently under debate) is suggesting a fine of up to 30,000€ (minimum: 1001€) for “shouting, insulting or behaving aggressively” towards a copper during a manifestation.

Other hardcore, move along good citizen nothing to see here suggestions are fines of between 30,000€ and 600,000€ for taking or distributing photos identifying a police officer in the course of their duties. Ouch... … In all, the new law establishes 21 new Infractions which are considered “severe” with fines almost double the average annual salary.

One of them, interestingly enough, is protesting outside Parliament without a license: 600,000€ per person'... From David Jackson. (Anyone remember the PSOE Minister Corcuera and his 'patada en la puerta' (kick the doors in)?

Reporting on the same subject, from The Local:  '...The recent years of recession and austere economic reforms by Spain's conservative government sparked mass demonstrations in the streets, including some near the lower house on parliament in Madrid that boiled over into violent clashes between protesters and police. "The aim of any law is to protect democratic coexistence and ensure the exercising of liberties, and this one is no exception," said the parliamentary spokesman for the ruling Popular Party, Alfonso Alonso. His counterpart in the leading opposition Socialist Party, Soraya Rodríguez, retorted: "This is not a citizens' security bill, it is a citizen-repression bill."...

'Spain did not infringe European regulations by establishing tougher criteria for people wanting to cross the border from Gibraltar, the European Commission has said.

But the EU report also called on the governments of the British territory and Spain for solutions to “the heavy traffic volumes in a relatively confined space and the increase in tobacco smuggling.”

After travelling to the crossing point at La Línea de la Concepción on September 25 on a fact-finding mission, European officials said they did not find any wrongdoing in Spain’s decision to increase border inspections'... From El País in English prompting this reply in the 'comments': -  'They haven't given "their approval" - they said there is no contravention of EU law. Is this newspaper run by the government of Spain?! Spain have 6 months to change the situation at the border. The EU are basically saying that you cannot have 6 lanes of traffic going into 2 then into 1 (when you consider the disgracefully behaviour of the Spanish police). Only Spain could consider this a victory. A bit like they consider 0.1% growth is recovery (by the way Gibraltar achieved 5% even in the crisis)'.

'The European Commission (EC) insists there are no ‘well-founded’ claims against Gibraltar on the issues of tax and money-laundering matters. Commissioner Michel Barnier made the comments in response to written questions from Gibraltar MEP Graham Watson.

He pointed out that Gibraltar’s legislation in the relevant areas is up to date. The EC verdict is a blow to Spain, which made accusations that Gibraltar is a tax haven and a centre for money-laundering'. Found at The Olive Press.

'Everyone is aware of the phenomenon: there are more and more Spaniards living in the United Kingdom in general and in London in particular. But exactly how many Spaniards are there? The answer is that nobody knows. As European citizens we can come and go freely and we have no need to register at the Consulate so any number that you are given is just an estimate and, almost always, it will be far from the reality'... So says the writer of Guirilandia, a blog about Spaniards living and working in the UK. Of course, his statement is also true about Britons or any other European nationals living in Spain. No one knows the numbers.

'Ever wondered who the Spanish Kim Kardashian is? And did you know Spain has its very own Justin Bieber? Read on to get the lowdown on the Spanish celebrities everyone should know. Spain's celebrities are big news: You wouldn't expect anything less than a passionate commitment to fame from the country which founded the ¡Hola! franchise and pioneered the art of celebrity watching'... From 'The Dummies Guide to Spanish Celebrities', found at The Local.

Letters

Good morning, Lenox!

I was reading the full Christian Science Monitor article you referred to and was absolutely shocked to see El Mundo compared to Fox News. I have lived for many years in the US and in Spain and extensively follow news from both countries (far too much in my wife's opinion!!). I have never seen any so-called news channel being so selective with news as is Fox and the way they twist everything in favour of GOP and against the Democrats is just disgusting. El Mundo was certainly against Zapatero's (questionable) government (brotes verdes!!!) but now they are equally questioning Rajoy and his "gang" which can also be heavily criticized for their failures in e.g. fight against corruption. I have never noticed El Mundo to avoid important issues or being dishonest in their reporting so I find the Fox News comparison absolutely wrong.

Sorry for venting, you just did us the favour of referring us to an article!

Best regards, Ivar

Finally:

And now for something completely silly... 

…...

 

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