Stung in some way by the hostility of the mainstream media against the government (President Sánchez is known in some circles as the ‘okupa’, the ‘Squatter in the Moncloa’, following his successful vote of confidence despite only having 84 deputies in the 350-strong Parliament), we read of further socialist moves (see here) towards censorship.
‘The Vice President of the Government, Carmen Calvo, said that "freedom of expression does not resist everything, does not welcome everything" and therefore believes that the EU will have to start reviewing jointly the legislation on this matter. Calvo made these considerations at the opening of the XVI Journalism Day of the Association of European Journalists, which this year asks "who pays for the lie? Is the truth paid?". "We need security", said the Spanish Vice-president, who recalled that certain European countries are taking decisions on regulation in the area of freedom of expression and the right to information...’.
But, while the right-wing media may be all in favour of protecting its product from smaller news services, it doesn’t want to be itself muzzled: ‘The Government's announcement of trying to limit the freedom of expression of the media, coinciding in time with journalistic information that puts different members of the Executive in check, has caused surprise, anger and indignation among journalist associations and opposition parties. The Federation of Associations of Journalists of Spain (FAPE) rejects any attempt to modify the right to freedom of information. The PP and Cs denounce an attempt to "muzzle" journalists and "kill the messenger"’... El Mundo here. From another source, we read an even more worried reaction from the press: ‘The FAPE rejects any attempt at modification because "every time governments try to regulate freedom of expression they in fact only limit it"’.
And finally, from eldiario.es comes ‘Let's not get confused. What the mediatic arm of the plot against the Government does is not journalism. Its end is not service to society. It's dirty work for the client...’.
‘Statistics published a few weeks ago showed that the number of residential properties bought and sold in Spain during July was 16 per cent higher than in the same month last year...’ says Murcia Today here.
‘More homes in the town of Cantoria (Almería) can now be regularised as the town hall responds to pressure from the Partido Popular in opposition and from the homeowner’s group AUAN to add El Faz to the list of areas it proposes to remove from the town plan. This move will enable property owners in El Faz to apply for an AFO, a document that will allow many to finally obtain title deeds for their homes after more than a decade of uncertainty’. From a press release by AUAN. Maura Hillen - [email protected]
There are a lot of Airbnb places available – why not, it’s pin money for the middle classes. However, there are also many detractors, from the hoteliers who strive to hold their monopoly on all overnighters, to the sometimes angry residents who must suffer noisy or inconsiderate neighbours in their apartment blocks. In some parts of Madrid, one in four apartments are Airbnb, giving rise to this story and interactive map: ‘Madrid's Tourist Rental Ground Zero. Three blocks of La Latina concentrate the highest percentage of tourist-housing in Madrid, with 25 adverts for every 100 residences’. El País has more here.
From La Razón: ‘Spain receives 10.2 million foreign tourists in August, down 1.9%. Tourist arrivals have been dropping for two months, hampered by falls in two of its main issuing markets (UK and Germany)’. More here.
From The Olive Press here: ‘All you need to know about claiming compensation for Primera Air collapse’.
From El Mundo: ‘The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has reduced its growth forecast for the Spanish economy, which according to its estimates will grow by 2.7% this year, while for next year the figure remains at 2.2%. The figure represents a minimum revision of just one tenth but is in line with warnings from other agencies, which believe that the slowdown is somewhat more intense than expected. However, the preliminary conclusions of the annual review of the Spanish economy contain another warning, or even requirement, which goes far beyond a small reduction in the estimates: as it asks the Government of Pedro Sanchez to include in the 2019 Budget "a credible and prudent package of economic measures"...’.
Following on from recent problems (or accusations) with his ministers – El Español says that Pedro Sánchez may feel obliged to call early elections. The attacks against the Government have been severe, with two ministers – the Minister for Justice Dolores Delgado and the Minister for Science and Innovation (the astronaut) Pedro Duque both under pressure for imagined (or not) misdeeds. Ministerial problems here and here.
The Economist has an article titled ‘A scandal over unearned degrees threatens top Spanish politicians. It may be a sign that an election is coming’ (pay-wall). El Huff Post reads it for us here. The current position is that the Supreme Court has decided that the question of the PP leader Pablo Casado’s university titles (or lack thereof) is ‘prescribed’ – out of date. No case to answer. The General Public may not be so forgiving.
In the best tradition of ‘y tú más’ (Oh yeah? Wadda ’bout you guys?), and ‘in response to Conservative criticism of Ministers Dolores Delgado and Pedro Duque, the PSOE has released a video in which it compiles headlines about the corruption of former PP ministers’. Here (with short ‘horror’ video)
Around twenty parliamentarians are found to own properties through limited companies. A legal loophole says Público here.
‘Spanish government to Catalan leader: “We don’t accept ultimatums”. Following violent incidents in Barcelona, Quim Torra gives Madrid a month to come up with an offer for an agreed referendum on independence’. From El País in English here. ‘Quim Torra tells Pedro Sánchez he will retract parliamentary support in absence of progress’..., giving Sánchez just one month... says The Guardian here.
Josep Borell, the Spanish Foreign Minister, is interviewed by The BBC regarding Catalonia. Video on Reddit here.
Oriol Junqueras, the imprisoned Catalonian political leader, ‘...announces that he will be ERC's candidate in the European elections for May 2019. The Republican leader has revealed in a letter to party members that this decision is "the best way to weaken the repression that they want to impose on us"’. More at El País here.
By Andrew Brociner
Marking the one-year anniversary of the Catalan referendum on separatism on October 1st, many demonstrators took to the streets in different towns and cities provoking clashes with the police. Quim Torra, the new Catalan premier, sworn in after direct rule ended in June, is accused by some of not pushing strongly enough for independence, and there are already calls for him to step down, and meanwhile, his predecessor, Puidgemont, along with five other separatist leaders, is still in exile in Belgium. His European arrest warrant has been withdrawn, but charges against him still remain and he would be arrested today if he were to return to Spain.
In the latest poll in July, a majority of Catalans was shown to be still in favour of separatism, although slightly off its highs, with 46.7% in favour and 44.9% against. The recent demonstrations may have raised this figure since then. While the region still remains divided, this would imply that any new independence vote would be in favour of a new Catalan State and would be significant, given that the last one had a very low turnout. The referendum, however, is not likely to take place legally, given the stance of the central government.
The new Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, has restored communication between the government and the Catalan separatists, in contrast to his obtuse predecessor, and would even be in favour of a vote, but will not go so far as to back one on independence; instead, he is trying to direct the debate to the softer option of a vote on a new regional statute, which covers much of the running of Catalonia. Thus Catalonia would be offered greater autonomy, but not secession. Sánchez has not tried to influence the public prosecutor to withdraw the charges against the exiled separatists and has threatened to re-invoke article 155 if a separatist vote were to take place again. As such, Sánchez has positioned himself against separatism, and has offered a compromise, but as any head of Spain knows, the country cannot afford to lose Catalonia. By not withdrawing the charges and brandishing the prospect of article 155, preferring therefore to deal with the new Catalan government, the Madrid government is showing that it is clearly worried about separatism and is only offering a compromise. Separatists, however, are demanding that all charges against their last leader and the others be completely dropped before they begin to negotiate. How long this stand-off can be kept up in the wake of a mounting separatist movement remains to be seen.
‘Spain targets Gibraltar workers. Why tax warning letters are being sent to employees living in Spain now’. The story at International Adviser here.
‘The Gibraltar Government last night slammed a Partido Popular MEP for adopting an “absolutely disgraceful” hard-line stance on Gibraltar and Brexit during a debate in the European Parliament on Tuesday...’. From The Gibraltar Chronicle here.
The URJC scandal: headline in El País: ‘"Companies don't want to join their name to King Juan Carlos University, they avoid us." Students join a strike against the "mafia" and to demand an audit’. From eldiario.es comes ‘From the study-mates of Montón, Cifuentes and Casado: "We have a title that is useless and that people laugh at"’. Surprisingly, the university itself has appealed the Supreme Court’s decision to drop the issue.
‘Dozens of lorries with rotten ham run along motorways throughout Spain. They drive from warehouse to warehouse with a cargo of rotting sausage, expired meat and products without food safety tickets. The companies involved in the largest food web discovered in recent years in Spain try to destroy all the incriminating evidence. For this it is necessary to hide the rotten hams. The businessmen who manage the merchandise in bad condition are trying to get rid of the evidence as two courts in Badajoz and Valencia advance torturously in their investigations: trying to determine the responsibilities of one of the biggest frauds against food standards in Spain during the last few decades. Not only do the investigators know about the moving meat tactic, but they have already noted the attempted destruction of evidence...’. Economía Digital has the story here.
The sinister Commissioner ‘Villarejo hides three copies of his "explosive" audios abroad, according to investigators. The Commissioner refuses to give judge passwords to decrypt hard drives with sensitive recordings...’. El País reports here. We recall from last week’s BoT that ‘...The recordings – there will be others – come from an ex-police commissioner and semi-private investigator called José Manuel Villarejo who is now in jail (as an untried prisoner where he threatens ‘to reveal all’)...’.
Goodness us! Rodrigo Rato, the ex-‘...Minister of the Economy from 1996 to 2004; a member of the conservative People's Party (PP), he was also First Deputy Prime Minister from 2003 to 2004. Subsequently, he became Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and served from 2004 to 2007. He left the IMF on 31 October 2007, after the World Bank-IMF annual meetings. He was president of Bankia between 3 December 2010 and until its bankruptcy 7 May 2012...’(Wiki), is finally off to clink for four and a half years following the Supreme Court’s ratification of his sentence from February 2017 for his part in the ‘Black’ credit cards scandal... More at El País in English here. The far-left Público seems pleased here...
From the ABC-Andalucía here: ‘The big family of the ERE: more than 120 million euros for relatives, friends and socialist politicians. The summary dismantles the theory that in the Andalusian PSOE nobody benefited personally: there are 18 direct relatives, 85 militants and 17 friends’.
Here’s a good ’un: Brexit: ‘The Great Con That Will Ruin Britain’ from True Publica here.
‘Theresa May and her Brexit secretaries have refused to meet representatives of British citizens in EU for two years. On the EU side Michel Barnier and Guy Verhofstadt have repeatedly met with British in Europe’. Item from The Independent here. Our own view is that it is down to the Spanish authorities to itemise NOW what will befall the 240,000 Britons legally living in Spain (and, why not, the other ones too...) following Brexit.
A useful opinion piece at the EU Observer here: ‘May's 'unilateral guarantees' won't protect UK citizens in Europe’.
Would the Spanish reciprocate? From BBC News: ‘New tax on foreign home buyers to help rough sleepers, PM says’. An excerpt: ‘Foreign property buyers will face an extra tax with the money raised being spent on tackling rough sleeping, Prime Minister Theresa May has said. She said foreign buyers could face a surcharge of 1% or 3% on top of stamp duty to stop them driving up UK prices...’.
Imagine if the man who owns Fox News, The Sun, The Times and dozens of other far-right newspapers and TV stations, the very champion of Brexit and Trump, were to buy a major Spanish paper. Read this from Capital Madrid and shudder: '...former president José María Aznar and the role he may play in the project by which the communication group of tycoon Rupert Murdoch, from News Corporation, tries to take over the Spanish national newspaper, El Mundo...'. From Digital Sevilla: ‘...It is rumoured that the tycoon would also be interested in acquiring shares in the ABC to merge them in the future to have a single great right-wing media empire in Spain...’.
What to do with all that plastic waste now the Chinese aren’t buying it? From El Salto here: ‘Behind the Flames: 176 Fires Jeopardize Recycling Business in Spain’. Along with the recent fire in El Ejido (Almería) there have already been nineteen new conflagrations in the recycling plants since the opening of the investigation by the Public Prosecutor's Office regarding these ‘accidents’ back in March. The repetition of events and the accumulation of waste with no possibility of reuse or removal in the market aggravate the management crisis’.
Six radioactive places in Spain – unofficial but confirmed by the Council for Nuclear Security here. These include 40 hectares in Palomares (Almería), an area on the estuary of the Río Tinto in Huelva, El Hondón in Murcia and three others.
‘The Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, announced on Tuesday in the Senate Committee on the Interior the intention of his department to lower the maximum speed allowed from 100 to 90 kilometres per hour on all secondary roads...’. The report comes from El Confidencial here.
Some kind of union with Portugal? Half of Spain would be in favour says El Blog Salmón.
Isabel I de Castilla, The most important Queen in the History of Spain’, From Eye on Spain here.
‘Podemos calls for a referendum on bullfighting in Spain’, found at The Olive Press here.
So, how much are the beggars making, wonders the Madrid regional government. Maybe we could tax them...
Sixty per cent of Spanish news items regarding Islam contain Islamophobic undertones, says eldiario.es here.
So, you thought you knew Spanish... with thanks to El País here.
Miss Colombia is unkind about Miss Spain, who is a transsexual. ‘The pageant is for people born as women only’ she says. El País defends the Spanish beauty here.
One of those ‘I’m gonna vote for my pueblo’ deals: 250 towns under 10,000 inhabitants vie for the title of ‘Most Beautiful pueblo in Spain’ at El País here. It’s fun seeing which ones you’ve visited to date... Later: the winners, led by Albarracín (Teruel), are here.
Mike Arkus is ‘Along the Way of St. James to Santiago de Compostela’ (setting out from Lisbon) here. As always, Mike’s article is well written, informative and full of wonderful photographs.
It’s no secret that BoT is against the Brexit. Here’s something that affected us from Facebook this week, written by a Spanish migrant-worker in the UK:
‘I am so happy that I’ve just decided to leave the UK, so I am Brexiting from here too! It will take a few months, the whole process, but it will be done!!! I was feeling anguished and anxious all this time but now I feel relieved! I was on the phone with a Portuguese friend of mine who lives in Peterborough. He just came back from holiday, was three weeks away from this gloomy place, and asked me updates about Brexit. I was telling him what I read on the news this week, and after 5 minutes we were both feeling depressed! Then I burst out in laughter because I realised that the world is big and it is a waste of time and energy to stay in a country that has been swamped in the hatred mud! Fuck that! Freeing myself from this horrible country! Sorry, I am hurt, used to love England with all my heart, but it has become a very heavy place to be and I just want to be happy!!! Very worried though about my pension. Have lived here for 20 years and do not want to lose my pension’.
Jazz trumpeter Jerry González died in a house fire in Madrid this week. Here he is (on congas) with Chano Dominguez and Pepe Rivero on YouTube.