I was lucky not to have written an editorial about Brexit last week, since the whole sorry saga abruptly changed course once again last Thursday morning at 2.00am – a little late for a thoughtful re-write from Yours Truly. How do we British residents put up with the pressure of an uncertain future? By recourse to Doctor’s Orders and a regular glass of wine.
In international news, Julian Assange (poor possum) finally got carted off by the Men in Blue for spilling the beans. I hope he has his ESTA in order.
Then came the tragic, terrible fire at the Nôtre Dame in Paris.
In Spanish politics, I got the poster-night wrong (it was Thursday not Friday). Since then, they’ve been throwing more insults at each other than the latest Game of Thrones characters. The big news was that Vox finally couldn’t join in the televised debates after all, because it doesn’t have a parliamentary presence (Heh!). More on all of this in the Politics below, where there’s only room for a sampling...
Since there is so much to be found on the Internet, I try not to use links to news-sites with pay-walls or low access limits like The Daily Telegraph or The Local. Unfair, of course, because it is hard making a crust in the news-business, but on the other hand, if one can’t read the article in question, then there’s not much point. The Guardian and ElDiario.es both use a system of voluntary payment – which seems to keep them afloat, otherwise, there’s advertising (or adblockers) to contend with, and of course, hidden corporate control which I try and watch for. Also, expect no links to The Euro Weekly (which artfully claims twenty years publication this week).
It may become harder to follow events with the new copyright laws the EU has approved (for instance, the only expression we shall be able to copy freely will be graffiti, since the spray-can painters don’t usually have agents).
This is Edition 299, one away from the Big Three Hundred. That’s about a million words, if you’ve followed BoT from the beginning.
In the hope that you are enjoying the Easter break and won’t eat too many torrijas.
From VozPópuli comes ‘The Bank of Spain warns that the rental prices now exceed the pre-crisis levels. The buying and selling of homes, however, although it reflects an upward trend, is still "at a much lower level" than at that time.
The issue of rules for the cities being extended to the villages... From ElDiario.es comes ‘Empty Spain is fashionable, but the laws are still made from the cities’, says a rural teacher.
Hotels are expected to reach 78% occupation over Easter says the Ministry for Tourism here.
The ‘Kellys’ (a Spanish term meaning the cleaning staff in a hotel) have won an employment victory in Lanzarote, says La Información here. ‘The pressure from the collective has forced a score of hotels in Lanzarote to decide to rehire the chambermaids directly’.
Hosteltur looks at the election proposals for tourism from the different parties here.
Eleven pretty towns in Spain (and, luckily for Readers, eleven boutique hotels to stay in). A report from Expansión.
‘The mayoress of Níjar (Almería) Esperanza Pérez Felices proposed in a recent plenary session to request the Junta de Andalucía for the cession of the lands of the mining town of Rodalquilar (in the abandoned desert behind the Cabo de Gata) to start up the project of a luxury residence for Seniors. The proposal was approved unanimously by the town hall. The mayoress stressed that "we have been working on this initiative for a long time, in which various entities from northern Europe have been interested in creating a town for Seniors in this area, always respecting the architecture and typology of the environment. On the one hand it would take advantage of this village, abandoned many years ago and in a dilapidated state, while on the other it contributes to create a social, economic and tourist profitability to the area, creating stable employment throughout the year, with the requirement of qualified personnel such as doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, social workers or home help, so it would be most positive for the municipality. "...’. Item from El Diario de Almería here.
(No doubt they ‘deserve it’) ‘Ibex-35 bosses earn 79 times more than their employees. The best paid directors of the large listed companies received an average of 4.23 million euros in 2018 compared to an average expenditure per worker of 53,882 euros’. Item from El País.
‘The special envoy of the United States for Venezuela, Elliot Abrams, launched a veiled threat last week against the Spanish oil company Repsol for its activity in Nicolás Maduro’s Venezuela. At a press conference he said he expects "decisions" from Washington in the coming days and the Government of Pedro Sánchez believes that this will result in sanctions...’. From Moncloa here.
From The Corner here: ‘The Spanish economy has spent four consecutive years growing above the Euro-zone average. At the same time, the savings rate has fallen to historic lows...’.
General elections: April 28th. European, local and (most) regional elections: May 26th.
Another day, another survey. This one, from El País, gives the PSOE some 126 seats, followed by the PP (80), Ciudadanos (51), Unidas Podemos (32) and Vox (28). The rest would go to regional parties. To hold a majority, one needs 176 out of 350 parliamentarians.
The programs of the main parties are presented (in English) by Devdiscourse here.
The Electoral Board graciously allows the imprisoned Catalonian leader Oriol Junqueras, candidate for the ERC, to join a single press conference on April 19th organised by the Agència Catalana de Notícies by video.
A TV debate was held on La Primera on Tuesday, six parties with parliamentary representation (i.e, - no Vox) were there. The chosen spokespersons apparently were at each others’ throats, with the PP and Ciudadanos demanding to know from a silent PSOE whether the jailed Catalonian ‘golpistas’ could expect a pardon. El Español reports here.
There will be a single four-way leader’s debate to be held on La Primera sometime next week.
Pablo Casado is looking to get his wayward supporters back from the clutches of C’s and Vox, saying that those parties are copy-cats and snake-oil salesmen.
On Twitter, at least, Santiago Abascal (Vox) is ahead. El Español looks at the social media and says that, at 2.26 million, Pablo Iglesias has the most ‘followers’, but Abascal has the most reactions (‘influence’). Recently, BoT was assured by a Ciudadanos leader that half of all posted Facebook, Instagram and Twitter messages from local candidates have to feature news-items about their leader Alberto Rivera, and all of their local social media messages must be approved by HQ.
ElDiario.es reports that ‘The Right has given up on the elections’. It says that the PSOE are hiding the polling information in their possession, which puts them well above 30%, so as not to undo the electorate and the party dreams of an investiture in which they do not have to depend on the Catalan separatist parties for support.
It’s hard work for an expatriate Spaniard to vote, twice, says ElDiario.es here. It is expected that something less than 8% will finally vote in the General Elections – either through disinterest, paperwork or bureaucracy.
From European Scientist comes ‘A recent survey by the IE University in Madrid reveals that one in four Europeans would be ready to put an artificial intelligence in power. Should we be concerned for democracy or, on the contrary, welcome Europeans’ confidence in technology?’.
Who has been running the multiple fake-accounts on Twitter that support Pablo Casado? Step forward the PP’s own campaign team!
Here is the political ‘spot’ from PACMA, the animalista party...
A short video on the ‘dirty war’ against Podemos here.
‘The ‘dirty war’ against Podemos spread in the Police far beyond the ‘political brigade’. The UDEF went from being a jewel of the Corps to laundering the political police and losing its probity in the fight against corruption; two of its main leaders collaborated in the manoeuvres against the party of Pablo Iglesias’. ElDiario.es reports here.
The ABC looks at the judge who allegedly (always say ‘allegedly’ when writing about judges) halted the inquiry into the ERE scandal in the Junta de Andalucía.
From a survey highlighted at El Mundo here: ‘One third of Spaniards fear that Brexit will hit the Spanish economy hard’.
The Spanish expatriate Express News says the London police are warning people not to speak Spanish outside their own homes. ‘...According to official figures, hate crimes increased by 23% in the year following the vote for Brexit. In 2018 at least two attacks on Spanish-speaking citizens came to the attention of the media. Hostility seems to have increased towards foreigners and the rivalry among the communities based in the United Kingdom has also grown...’. This is the politic began in the 1930s in Germany. Now live and well in the UK with the NF, the EDL, the UKIP and other fascist groups. Coming soon to Spain with Vox.
In Saturday’s Informe Semanal (RTVE), ‘To Brexit or not to Brexit’, considers the ‘balkanisation of Britain’.
‘The five million Brits who live overseas should have their own elected representatives’: a persuasive article from The Scotsman here.
Endesa suggests that there should be a special canon on gasoline to help the power companies lower their prices for electricity. El Independiente reports here.
The electric bill is 10% up this April over last year says Público here.
For the Easter traffic, expect more radar traps. El Español has thoughtfully listed them all, by province, here.
‘Drones which can photograph drivers using their mobile phone from 2km away launched in Spain’. From The Olive Press here. Like the DGT traffic czar Pere Navarro, I need a chauffeur.
Speed limiters on vehicles: ‘The system that adjusts the speed of the vehicle to the legal limit will be mandatory in Europe from 2022,’ says El Periódico here. ‘The European parliament last week ratified the directive obliging the inclusion of ten new security controls in all new cars in three years time. Drivers will be able to disconnect the speed-limiter but every time they start the vehicle it will become activated again’. We foresee a flourishing second-hand car market...
Vox is said to be especially keen on the ‘Reconquista’ and other tales of derring-do. According to the Historians, as reported by El País, the stories are often ‘false’ and ‘manipulated’. For example, ‘...the Christians did not re-conquer Granada; the city was founded by the Muslims...’.
From the RTVE here: 'Bureaucratic difficulties leave more than 360,000 people waiting to obtain Spanish Nationality'. In some cases they have been waiting for more than two years more than what is 'normal'.
How much damage does a torrija do? This slice of french toast with milk, sugar, cinnamon, egg and maybe honey and even wine, is a delicious Easter treat that has so many calories, you won’t want a second one, says El Español here. Meanwhile, El País is frankly hostile towards them here.
Adding fuel to the debate, ElDiario.es says the difference between an expat and an immigrant is ‘the money’.
Old-fashioned street typography: ‘Welcome to the Spanish community of retro typography hunters, who are acting fast to preserve Spain’s unlikely works of street art’. The story is at Madrid No Frills here.
‘The Spanish dollar, also known as the piece of eight (Spanish: Real de a ocho), is a silver coin, of approximately 38 mm diameter, worth eight Spanish reales, that was minted in the Spanish Empire following a monetary reform in 1497. The Spanish dollar was widely used by many countries as the first international/world currency because of its uniformity in standard and milling characteristics. Some countries countersigned the Spanish dollar so it could be used as their local currency. The Spanish dollar was the coin upon which the original United States dollar was based, and it remained legal tender in the United States until the Coinage Act of 1857. Because it was widely used in Europe, the Americas, and the Far East, it became the first world currency by the late 18th century...’. From Wiki.
Slow Travels in Unsung Spain by Brett Hetherington is a warts n’ all trip through some of Spain’s hidden gems: towns, cities, landscapes and cultural highlights that are typically overlooked by foreign tourists but which the Spanish often keep to themselves. ‘...Slow Travels in Unsung Spain is new and fresh because it largely ignores Spain’s over-developed coastal resorts and islands, bypassing the standard fare of Spain’s beaches and fiestas or clichés around bullfighting, the siesta, and football. Instead the author uncovers the real heartland where the next future waves of tourism could well be...’.Find it at Amazon here (Kindle or paperback).
La Legión sings Los Novios de la Muerte in the Easter procession. Málaga, 2016. The video is from YouTube here.