It all started with an arrest for shoplifting. It wasn’t much, just a couple of pots of face cream from the local supermarket, and the whole thing was hushed up afterwards. A couple of years later, the shoplifter, Cristina Cifuentes, president of the Madrid Community (and of some 6.5 million souls) was found by a then obscure left-leaning news-site, eldiario.es , to have fudged her Master’s degree. Not much happened as a result, since Ms Cifuentes, being a politician, had ‘immunity’, and anyways, her party – the Partido Popular – didn’t see it as anything of special importance.
In fact, she only resigned – four months later – when a far-right news site, OKDiario, published a copy of the Eroski video of the embarrassing theft by Cifuentes of the two pots of cream (RTVE video here).
Ms Cifuentes had obtained her Masters from the University of King Juan Carlos, and it gradually became clear that she was only one of a group of politicians (and, one can assume, captains of industry) who had earned themselves Masters without the formality of having properly studied for one.
The first name that came up was one of the leading candidates to take over the Partido Popular from Mariano Rajoy following his departure from politics (a motion of censure over the PP’s infamous corruption had seen the end of his presidency) Pablo Casado, who took over the leadership of the PP, and made light of his masters degree. Again, he had immunity, and his supporters frankly didn’t care what he might have written on his résumé.
Within a couple of months of the PSOE taking over the running of the country, the Minister of Health Carmen Montón was found to have also been a recipient of the URJC’s particular policy regarding titles. She quickly resigned.
Following this, Pablo Casado attempted to show that Pedro Sánchez also had a dodgy masters (from another, rather more reputable university), and when that proved false, that he had improperly copied some text – plagiarised - from another source in a book he had written.
Then it came out that the leader of Ciudadanos was changing his own profile regarding his titles. The only political leader who seemed safe from this witch-hunt being the fellow with the pony tail Pablo Iglesias, the leader of Podemos, because his other job is a university don.
The URJC, by now looking a bit tawdry, was then found to have sold titles to five hundred Italian engineers for the modest price of 11,000€ a pop.
Pablo Casado, the PP leader, was threatened with an interview with the Supreme Court, but – as the eldiario.es has suggested a shade waspishly – several of the judges there were placed by the last PP government. Casado, we hear, and to the relief of the Populares, has no case to answer. Nevertheless, and despite support from every newspaper from El País sideways, Casado is quickly slipping into a difficult position regarding his reputation.
We think he’ll be gone within the month.
‘With its mountains and valleys dotted with rural communities within easy reach of a wild Atlantic coast, Northern Spain couldn't be more different from the over-developed Mediterranean resorts. For those looking for somewhere in the cooler north of Spain, where rural communities are nestled in fertile land boasting views across impressive mountainous terrain, there are great bargains to be found, especially if you are looking for a restoration project. Mountains, forests, an unspoilt coastline boasting pretty fishing villages and isolated sandy coves as well as small cities with bustling historic streets and traditional farmers markets, and good restaurants galore, the north of Spain provides something very different from the south and Mediterranean coasts...’ Ten points for buying property in the north of Spain from The Local here.
‘Sandwiched between the crystalline blue sea and green pine trees lies Aiguafreda, one of Spain's last largely unspoiled Mediterranean coves, which is threatened by a new building frenzy. From Catalonia to the Balearic Islands numerous building projects which came to a halt during Spain's 2008 economic crisis have been restarted as growth returns, raising fears among green groups of a new "construction fever" along the country's already heavily built-up coastline. On the Costa Brava, a nearly 160km stretch of rugged coastline in north-eastern Catalonia, some 20 projects are in the works, according to environmental group SOS Costa Brava...’. Item found at The Business Times here.
From The Leader here: ‘Web portals will require proof that rental properties are registered with the authorities in the Valencian Community’.
‘Victims of Mallorca property scam say they feel “unprotected by the law”. Total number of cases in alleged fraud could be as high as 200, and with losses of around €4 million, it could be the biggest of its kind in the history of the Balearic Islands’. From El País in English.
‘Spanish flats collapse on ‘Brits’ near Alicante ‘leaving one having to be cut from the wreckage as they are rushed to hospital’. Around eight homes in the expat residential estate in Orihuela Costa south of Alicante are said to have suffered significant structural damage with cracks and holes appearing in the houses’. From The Sun here.
‘The Club Med is returning to Spain after an absence of 20 years with a new resort in Andalucía. The 486-room Club Med Magna Marbella is due to open on August 3, 2019. The new property was unveiled ahead of the all-inclusive operator putting summer its 2019 programme on sale on October 2...’. More at Travel Weekly here.
‘One of the key supports for Spain’s economic growth during the recovery has been the strength of international tourism. CaixaBank Research predicts 3.4% growth in tourism-related GDP in 2018, outperforming Spain ’s economy as a whole (2.8% growth). In fact, during the 3-year period 2015-2017, tourism-related GDP grew by 5.3% year-on-year on average, clearly above the 3.3% growth for the economy as a whole. In this period, domestic tourism grew in line with the economy ’s overall GDP growth, so this better performance by tourism -related GDP is due entirely to the boost provided by international tourism...’. From The Corner here.
‘When the hordes of tourists left Spanish beaches, resorts and cities at the end of August, there was a larger cull of local jobs than usual. Average social security affiliation fell during the month by 277,500 to 18.535 million people — a 1.47% drop. August is traditionally a poor month for the Spanish labour market, since at the end of it many summer jobs get axed in the tourism and retail sectors. This is one of the drawbacks when a national economy depends so heavily on tourism, which notoriously provides short-term, poorly paid jobs that tend to disappear the moment the tourists head home...’. From Wolf Street here.
From El País in English: ‘Is Spain prepared for a new crisis? A decade after the Spanish property bust, some reforms have been undertaken, but the country is still burdened by excessive debt, labour market duality, lack of competitiveness and high student dropout rates’. The story here.
‘The Banco Santander has transferred £22.900 million (25,773 million euros) in assets and £20.700 million (EUR 23,297 million) in liabilities from its UK subsidiary to its parent company in Spain...’, according to sources from the bank, quoted in Público here.
The Govt has announced that they will immediately remove a tax on the electric companies which will mean a (slightly) lower bill to consumers from this month.
‘If the Supreme Court rejects the petition against Pablo Casado, it will admit that, in Spain, before Justice, there are two types of citizens: the normal ones and the ones with ‘immunity’, whose presumption of innocence is greater’. From eldiario.es here.
From The Guardian (14 Sept) here: ‘Spain's degree scandal shines light on its 'titulitis' epidemic’.
The right-wing press is now attempting to smear another PSOE minister – Dolores Delgado the Minister for Justice (why won’t she go, asks El Mundo here ingenuously) over an improbable recorded conversation from nine years ago which the ex-judge Baltazar Garzón describes on Cadena Ser as ‘...a despicable campaign with a conversation used out of context’. One thing she is heard to say on the recording is worrying a few senior judges about their behaviour on a trip to Colombia. The recordings – there will be others – come from an ex-policeman called José Manuel Villarejo who is now in jail (as an untried prisoner where he threatens ‘to reveal all’). He somehow puts his (revenge) material on his political site moncloa.com here. (Villarejo was the man who leaked the Corinna / King Juan Carlos tapes to the Media). From El País on Wednesday here: ‘Pedro Sanchez: "The words of a corrupt person will not decide the political agenda" The President of the Government supports the Minister of Justice after the controversy over her talks with Commissioner Villarejo’.
‘Spain’s Venezuela paradox. Spanish politicians fight over ties to the Latin American country while desperate migrants dream of a better life’. An article from Politico here.
‘As migrants turn to Spain, a welcome mat shows signs of wear. Political winds shift in country sheltered from rise of anti-immigrant parties across Europe’. The story can be found at The Wall Street Journal here.
The latest survey from the CIS puts the PSOE ten points ahead of the PP.
‘A ... tranche of leaked emails from Spanish judges have emerged in which they denigrated the independence movement, compared their actions to sex crimes and insulted some of its leading figures’. The story at The National (Scotland) here. Common Space has a similar tale: ‘Fury as leaked correspondence of Spanish judges refers to pro-independence Catalans as ‘rapists’ and ‘Nazis’’.
From Diario 16: ‘Pablo Llarena entered the judicial career with only a few months of preparation. Pablo Llarena's lack of preparation and inexperience as a Supreme Court justice would be behind the continuous errors in the investigation of the Procés case, which has provoked the most serious political crisis in the entire history of our recent democracy’.
The full documentary over the previous PP’s Interior Ministry’s manipulations in Catalonia, Las Cloacas del Interior (2016), is now available on the Internet here.
‘...Andalucía, one of the regions with the greatest potential to economically and socially dazzle Europe at the beginning of the State of Autonomies and the European integration project, is today one of the poorest regions on the continent, the tail from which it has never left, recently also declared by the Community institutions to be in the direst need of the process of development...’. An article called ‘La Charca Andaluza’ at Diario16 here.
The PSOE president of the diputación in Huelva stands accused of corruption and is expected to resign in the coming days says Digital Sevilla here.
Stag and hen parties – Andalucía has had enough. ‘...Málaga, Granada and Córdoba will harden the measures to avoid the presence of these groups in their streets. Tarifa and Conil de la Frontera have managed to eliminate them’. More in El País here.
More than a few jokes follow this item from El Huff Post: ‘Pablo Casado: "The PP has left an impeccable legacy in the Valencian Community". The president of the PP says that his party is "the one that has done the most for this land"’.
From The Independent here: ‘Pay attention to Gibraltar and you'll see all your stereotypes about Brexiteers and Remainers destroyed. On the Rock, Remainers aren't 'members of the liberal elite' – they're nationalists. Ideas about Brexiteers here don't centre round 'white-van men', either’.
An editorial in El País in English: ‘Gibraltar after Brexit. Spain must put forward its own pact on the British offshore territory to guarantee the rights of cross-border workers and to combat tax evasion’ here. ‘The Chief Minister slams ‘ill-informed’ editorial in El País’, says The Gibraltar Chronicle here.
From The Olive Press: ‘A top ‘narco’ reveals how 30% of cocaine profits in Spain spent bribing police and port workers in explosive interview detailing how the criminal industry works’. The story here.
‘Campaigners for the rights of Britons in the EU have described Theresa May’s failure to mention them in her statement on the Brexit negotiations as “disgraceful” and called on the UK and the EU to both guarantee their entitlements after Britain leaves. Speaking on Friday 21st September, the prime minister told EU citizens living in the UK that “even in the event of no deal, your rights will be protected”. Downing Street later confirmed “further details will follow” regarding this guarantee. But in a letter to the prime minister, Jane Golding, the chairwoman of British in Europe, said: “Over the past 18 months the UK has negotiated away our rights, you and your secretaries of state have refused to meet us and now you completely ignore us at a critical time in the negotiations...’. From The Guardian here.
‘Partnering for democracy: protecting the democratic order in post-Brexit Europe’ A paper from the El Cano Royal Institute here.
‘Wikipedia Launches Collaborative Spanish "Newspaper" Against Fake News. Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, defines WikiTribune as a free platform that seeks to give "dynamism" to journalism with quality information’. Story at Público here.
‘...In a vote that split almost every major EU party, Members of the European Parliament adopted every terrible proposal in the new Copyright Directive and rejected every good one, setting the stage for mass, automated surveillance and arbitrary censorship of the internet: text messages like tweets and Facebook updates; photos; videos; audio; software code -- any and all media that can be copyrighted...’. The European censorship of the Internet, coming soon. Item from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. It begs the question: Just who does the European Government represent - corporations or citizens?
Spain's leading newspapers will put up pay-walls next year.
‘El Correo de Andalucía closes after 119 years. The publisher of the second oldest newspaper in Spain presents an ERE that affects 28 of its 29 workers, who have already approved the call for strikes’. Item from El País here.
From El País here: ‘Poverty has become chronic in the last decade in Spain. The most serious cases have become entrenched, of those who have serious difficulties in accessing basic social rights such as housing or employment and lack an environment that can serve as a cushion. Four million people live in this situation of extreme vulnerability, 1.2 million more than in 2007, according to the latest report by the FOESSA Foundation, linked to Cáritas Española. The figure is even higher than that recorded in 2009, in the midst of the crisis. In these ten years, the gap between those who can afford to live normally and those who live in exclusion has increased. In addition, six million people have recovered so weakly that in the event of a new crisis they would have a great chance of returning to the sector in exclusion...’.
Franco, according to Vatican rules dating from 1983, should not be buried in the Valley of the Fallen. The Government has now resolved to remove his remains in the coming months to another place of rest.
From The Olive Press: ‘How an Andalusian weed promoted literacy in Victorian Britain’.
Discrimination because of your Spanish-speaking accent? Apparently.
An Englishman who has spent more than half his life living in Spain takes a cheeky look at what we all hate about living here. Item from The Local here.
From El País: ‘The semi-abandoned medieval Segovian village that became a refuge for Harvard professors, architects and artists. Several intellectuals contribute to the revival of Pinilla de Ambroz, a town in Castilla y León with 29 registered inhabitants’.
‘Barcelona falls seven places to Nº 15 in a ranking of cities with the best reputation in the world. Madrid climbs two places in the classification, to 19th, and Tokyo leads the list drawn up by the Reputation Institute’. El País has the full list here.
‘A monumental tapestry that cost a king's ransom when Henry VIII commissioned it in the 16th century has been discovered in Spain. It was long ago assumed to have been destroyed. As a masterpiece woven with gold and silver thread, it was the ultimate show of wealth. In the 1530s, the Tudor monarch gave it pride of place at Hampton Court, his seat of power. Almost 20 ft wide, it was part of a now-lost set of nine tapestries depicting the life of Saint Paul...’. Found at the Mail Online here.
From Mike Arkus: Navigating northern Portugal: Peneda-Gerês National Park – Mountains, Waterfalls and Man-Made Reservoirs.
You should remember that Cameron spent - immorally and certainly illegally - £9m of
Tax-payers money telling people to vote Remain.
Completely unacceptable whereas others donated monies to either side perfectly legally.
Just because you disagree with Brexit (haven't you learnt yet, from all the stuff we send
you, that the reasons for leaving are rock solid ??) doesn't mean it was wrong to put money
where you do not wish it to be placed !!
*Many thanks to all readers who graciously wrote asking Lenox to ‘get well soon’ following the news of his broken ankle.
Ray Charles and Willy Nelson perform Seven Spanish Angels here on YouTube.