Being on the mailing list of most newspapers and a number of political organisations, Business over Tapas recently received a notice from la Asociación de Municipios en Defensa del Desarrollo Sostenible y contra la Despoblación about the dying villages of Almería. It seems that a group has been set up to bewail the emptying of the smallest villages in the province (a phenomenon visible throughout Spain) as the young move to the cities in search of fun, a relationship, a job, some excitement and a living wage. In short: the old die off and the young move away. There’s not much point in celebrating the fact that many city-dwellers still have property in those villages, if they aren’t there to participate much beyond a bemused presence in the annual fiesta.
Thanks to modern economics, the public transport to these moribund pueblos is reduced, the banks have closed their branches and the schools are boarded up.
What can we do, ask the Almerian villagers pathetically.
Across Spain, the population has grown (slightly) to 46,659,302, an increase of 132,263 souls in a year (thanks, more to immigration than domestic births). Of course, this growth has been unequal across the country, with some provinces – Madrid, Tenerife and the Balearics showing growth and others – such as Zamora, Ciudad Real and Ávila – contracting. An article in El País delves into this subject and notes that one of the reasons for the falling population is those who have moved abroad in search of work.
A useful study at El Confidencial (from January 2017) is titled ‘Inland Spain remains old and without inhabitants (while the capitals get fat)’. It says that ‘The most affected regions are Galicia, Asturias, Castilla y León, Castilla-La Mancha, Aragón and Extremadura, which in 2013 formed the Forum of Regions with Demographic Challenges’. The Forum asked Central Government for funding back in October 2016 (here) and appears to have quietly disappeared since then.
I wrote back to the Almerian moribund-villages-people, ‘AMCODES’: ‘Hello, if you want to increase the population of your dying villages, and create some wealth and some jobs, think of the retired people from northern Europe. They have money, they are looking for a place to live quietly and it would be an elegant solution to your problem. Perhaps even build a residence for foreigners (there are many bilingual Spanish nurses who want to return from England for example). Care will have to be taken with the Junta de Andalucía and not to get into 'illegal housing', but existing housing can be converted or repaired...’.
Naturally, they didn’t answer me – perhaps they were just looking for some funding.
‘The Spanish holiday home market is enjoying its time back in the sun, reports the Spanish daily El Pais. Holiday-home prices are rising, and building sites with cranes dot coasts once again. “Areas with clear signs of recovery in the holiday home market are the Balearics, Canaries, Costa del Sol, North Alicante, and the Maresme,” Pedro Soria, Tinsa’s commercial director, told the paper. House prices are rising in double digits on several coasts. “Areas where prices have risen the most include Mallorca, Ibiza, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, and certain municipalities of Huelva, Alicante, and Málaga,” says Soria...’. More at Spanish Property Insight here.
El Mundo warns that Ryanair is expecting a strike towards the end of July ‘that will affect 115,000 Spanish passengers every day’. The Express has a similar headline: ‘Ryanair cabin crew members are to strike in Spain this summer during the busiest time of the year if the airline doesn’t recognise the unions, following on from the UK’s agreement earlier this month with Unite’.
There comes a time when the resorts have made so much money they can afford to be picky: ‘Local authorities on Spain's holiday Island of Mallorca have put up 20 posters warning of heavy penalties for nudity, fighting and other alcohol-fuelled misbehaviour, it was announced last week. Revellers in the Balearic tourist town of Magaluf can be fined up to 500 euros for drinking in the street and 400 euros if they strip off or "shout, fight or bother" people, brightly coloured posters say...’. Expatica has the story here.
‘Congress supports the consideration of a PSOE bill to regulate euthanasia as a new individual and effective right that becomes a provision in the portfolio of common services of the National Health System. The socialist proposal will be supported by all parties except the PP. The elderly with a serious and incurable illness and the chronically severely disabled will soon be able to receive help from the public system to die when the initiative goes through the usual parliamentary procedures, with its discussion in committee and the incorporation of corresponding amendments...’. The implementation of the new law could nevertheless be a year away from fruition. The item comes from El País here.
‘Spain was ranked 11th out of 110 countries in the 2017 Elcano Global Presence Index, which measures the results of internationalisation, up from 12th in 2016. The index, the result of adding together 16 indicators of external projection which are aggregated according to the criteria of experts in international relations, measures the ability of countries to project themselves beyond their borders and the extent to which they are participating in and shaping the process of globalisation...’. From The Corner here.
‘Ferrovial plans to move its international holding to Amsterdam from Oxford in Britain to keep the business under European Union legislation after the United Kingdom leaves the bloc, a spokesman said on Tuesday...’. Found at Reuters here.
El Mundo tilts at the AVE: ‘The European Court of Auditors' devastating report on the AVE: very expensive, political and without passengers’. From El Español: ‘The six most absurd high-speed train products in Spain and the European Union’ here (worth reading!).
Diesel to go up by 10c a litre. The government wants to increase the excise duty on diesel, now that it has been proven to pollute more than petrol. Diesel-powered vehicles would pay an additional 9.55 cents per litre in a gradual increase over the next four years, says Expansión here. The increase in certain regions of Spain could be as high as 15c per litre says El Mundo here.
‘Tips to waiters should be declared to Hacienda and taxed. This would mean, according to INEAF (a private tax authority commenting here), that the employer would have to withhold and pay the amount of the tip to the workers' account’. Libre Mercado has more here.
Gas Natural has changed its name to Naturgy and expands its interest in ‘renewables’.
From El País in English: ‘Government plans to repeal core of Spain’s ‘gag law’ before year’s end. The socialist-parliamentary group has begun contact with other parties to accelerate the process of reforming the norm approved by the PP in 2015’.
En Marche! and Ciudadanos: ‘Macron and Albert Rivera finalise an agreement to stand together in the European elections’. The story is at El Mundo here.
A paper from ResearchGate is titled: ‘International retirees at the polls: Spanish local elections 2015’. An interesting topic – as some of the elderly retired Europeans living in Spain voted in the last municipal elections. How many will be able to vote in the next ones?
From The Guardian: ‘Ex-Nato chief refused visa waiver to US because of Iran trips. Javier Solana (Spain’s new Foreign Minister), architect of Iran nuclear deal, will have to apply for a visa if he wants to revisit the US’.
Quim Torra, on a visit to Washington, says that ‘Catalonia will soon be a free country’. A report from El País here.
From El Mundo: ‘Pablo Iglesias visits Cuixart and Sànchez in prison: "It is not sensible that there are political prisoners in Spain"’. Indeed not. Having already met with Quim Torra, the President of Catalonia, the leader of Podemos has now talked with Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez, two of the Catalonian politicians jailed ‘in provisional imprisonment’ last year by Judge Pablo Llarena. The meetings were supported, says the newspaper, by President Pedro Sánchez. Libertad Digital spins the headline here to include the assertion that the two Jordis are ‘golpistas’: plotters in a coup.
A group called iDental is in the news this week, as their franchise crumbles. ‘"There are indications that iDental pulled out healthy teeth to place implants", says the president of the College (guild) of Dentists in El Independiente here.
The Valencia Provincial Council President and mayor of Ontinyent (PSOE) Jorge Rodríguez was arrested in an anti-corruption operation, says El Mundo on Wednesday here. Within hours of the arrest, the party had relieved Rodriguéz of all of his political obligations (here).
El Diario, the newspaper that uncovered the fake master’s degree of Cristina Cifuentes, has received a letter from the court. Both the editor and the journalist concerned are charged with ‘revealing secrets’. Seriously! The story here.
The Guardian looks at the dispiriting case of La Manada: ‘The fight for women’s rights is far from over in Spain. That’s been laid painfully bare in the wake of the manada (“wolf pack”) case – its name drawn from the Whatsapp group of a number of men who would boast to their friends about their sexual exploits, about group sex and drugging women for the purpose of abusing them, and who expressly used the word rape.“I’ve got pills at bargain prices. For raping,” one wrote...’.
‘Two years have passed since that night when the whole of Europe was startled by the fact that the British had voted to leave the Union in the Brexit referendum. Nearly 52% of voters bet on a future far from the Union on June 23, 2016. Today the calendar is still running and both British citizens living in the rest of Europe and Europeans living in the UK are still wondering what their future will look like...’. A lengthy radio broadcast from La Ser here.
From Citizens’ Advice Bureau Spain comes ‘the Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union’ here. We read, inter alia ‘...the Spanish residency administrative offices have not always made residency applications simple and many citizens have faced problems. This has become more obvious when those who had legally met the right to update their registration certificates for a permanent document were either refused or asked to provide full documentation. Asking for a change of address or a duplicate for a lost or damaged certificate has also been met with difficulties. In many cases the civil servants appear to not be au fait with residency law...’.
‘Sajid Javid in fresh row with Brussels over post-Brexit rights for expats’, Politics Home says ‘...Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, has said he is "far from happy" with preparations by EU member states to accommodate UK citizens...’. Have to agree with him - here in the EU, it hasn't been decided who will run 'our' ex-pat affairs - Brussels or Madrid? What rights will we have? Will we be consulted? Will we lose some of our current privileges? Will we become (for all tense and purpose) Third Class citizens of Europe? The UK may have betrayed us with its Brexit, but does the EU behave any better?
‘The British consul for Andalucía and the Canary Isles visited Mojácar last Thursday to participate in a presentation regarding what will (might) happen to the Brits living in Spain post-Brexit...’. From ‘The Brexit Issue Explained’ in Lenox’ blog here.
‘Pollution has prematurely killed 93,000 people in Spain over the last decade, new figures reveal. In the first study of its kind in Spain, researchers from the National Health School in Madrid have suggested traffic restrictions should be imposed in a bid to cut down air pollution...’. More at The Olive Press here. Another study, featured in El Independiente, says that 40% of all Spaniards breathe air which is contaminated above the legal limit.
Bandas Negras: the worst stretches of coast, ecologically-speaking. With Público, here.
‘Marbella wants to build better links with foreign residents. A training area, international library and offices for foreign residents are under construction in the Palacio de Congresos’. Sur in English says that there is thought to be a need for greater contact with the 40,000 foreigners of 130 nationalities living in Marbella.
El Boletín writes of the young Spaniards who seek work abroad. There are still twice as many of these as those who return...
From October this year, the different types of combustible on sale at the petrol station will have new names...
Another scandal as a restoration goes horribly wrong (we remember 'Ecco Homo'). La Ser has this one of a XVI sculpture of St George in a church in Estella, Navarra.
‘Give war a chance – a Spanish village at war with France. How a 100-year ‘war’ between an Andalusian village and France forged lifelong friendships’. The Olive Press visits Lijar.
‘Straddling the provinces of Lugo and Ourense in the middle of Galicia sits La Ribeira Sacra, one of Spain’s least known and most mysterious areas. Its rivers, Miño and Sil, which meet at the region’s heart, mould the landscape, gouging out vast canyons and vertiginous valleys. Thick green forests frame these rivers and hide medieval monasteries, whose presence gives the area a sort of hushed spirituality...’. Walking Spain’s most spectacular coast with The Guardian here.
‘A Memorial to Polish cavalrymen’ at Eye on Spain here.
Mike Arcus continues his rare adventures and painful peregrinations around Spain with ‘Valencia, part 1: From mediaeval master-builders to futurist visionary’ here.
A post on YouTube of 25 questions to see if you could past the Spanish naturalisation test. (Thanks to Jake).