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Weekly report

Business over Tapas (Nº 334)

Business over Tapas (Nº 334)

  • A digest of this week's Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners: Prepared by Lenox Napier. Consultant: José Antonio Sierra

sábado 25 de enero de 2020, 23:22h

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Editorial:

Vox rules as a kingmaker in Murcia. When the party brought the PP into power last May you could hear a pin drop. However, something it’s doing there is bringing the right-wing group enormous popularity across Spain; indeed, a current poll from one source, SocioMétrica, has Vox at a sharp rise in voter-support (bringing them, as it were, from 52 deputies up to 60). The other main parties are stagnant, or falling.

Vox is a simplistic party, more ‘against’ than ‘for’, and their new strategy in Murcia is to introduce ‘the parental pin’ whereby parents can excuse their children from certain subjects taught in the school system which ‘go against their moral principles’ with a simple note to the teacher. The first and obvious one being sex education.

In my day, the head master would call you from class (amongst titters from the other boys) and lecture you in a dry voice regarding the wonders of sex, with the never-forgotten opening line ‘you may have noticed a tassel-like thing...’. Well, you know, ¡Ay, los ingleses!...

Indeed, I had noticed the tassel-like thing, and it would become a source of much joy in the years to come.

Now, we have hard and improbable porn on the Internet, and any sex education must first of all remove the exaggerations of this industry as much as inform and take away the fears and the doubts of a child’s future sexuality. Homophobia, the violence or distaste towards other sexual preferences, are also a taboo subject for Vox and other ‘parental pin’ supporters, who often resort to bulos (false news or transplanted videos) to make their point.

Spain nevertheless, and despite old-fashioned viewpoints and sundry ‘mariconadas’, is ‘...among the world's best for gender equality...’ (here).

The current Spanish curriculum was introduced by the education minister for the previous government of Mariano Rajoy (Juan Ignacio Wert), and yet it is no big surprise that Pablo Casado supports the Vox initiative over his own party’s erstwhile education overhaul from 2012. “I don’t believe in a country where parents have to be subject to the whims of what a politician or bureaucrat says,” Casado said on Monday, disparaging the teachers’ sterling efforts for a good education for their students. Spain’s new equalities minister, Irene Montero, described the measure as an attempt at educational censorship (Quotes here are taken from The Guardian). An (apparent) message from The Pope to the effect that children are our responsibility but not our possession has become popular in the social media by lefties. It’s a subject which puts people head to head (and that could well be the foremost policy of Vox).

The government delegate for gender violence, Victoria Rosell, suggested that the introduction of the parental pin could warrant the application of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution (the one they are always threatening to use against Catalonia – the suspension of regional powers, no less) although she later said it was a joke.

Murcia is not usually noted as a major player in Spanish politics, but the attractions of an old-fashioned education have always been popular in certain circles (‘spare the rod and spoil the child’, or ‘ahorre la vara y mime al niño’ in Spanish) and, despite the Government now ordering Murcia to drop the suppressive rule within a month, calls for a parental pin could find its way to Madrid or other regions with a strong Vox presence in the government or support in the street.

Lenox Dixit

Housing:

From The Corner here: ‘The average price of housing in Spain in 2019 increased by 3.6% last year. Just in December alone, it experienced an increase of + 1.2%, according to the real estate valuation company Tinsa. Regional capitals and large cities registered higher growth than average (+ 2.4% in December). The Mediterranean coast accumulates three consecutive months of price falls...’.

‘Spain’s new government preparing a rental price index to put a lid on housing costs in hot markets like Barcelona’: a headline from Spanish Property Insight. The article begins dismissively ‘The new ministry in charge of housing in the new Socialist-led Spanish government is preparing a rental price index to control prices in areas where the market is considered ‘tense’ or ‘stressed’. This will allow them to say they are doing something about the growing problem of housing affordability, whilst doing nix to improve access to housing...’.

‘The Minister of Development, Infrastructure and Land Management of the Regional Government of Andalucía, Marifrán Carazo, says that she will seek a meeting with the Government of Spain "as soon as possible" so that the law passed in the autonomy for the regularization of illegal housing is not rescinded after the National Executive warned of a possible resource of unconstitutionality...’. From Ideal here. Will Madrid pull the rug out from under the 300,000 ‘illegal homes’ and their worried owners? The Times has an article on this (firewall) ‘Expat anger over Spain’s U‑turn on ‘illegal’ houses’.

‘After the successes achieved in Andalucía through changes in various laws to help resolve the problem of illegal houses in that autonomous region, the association Abusos Urbanísticos Andalucía No (AUAN) announces that it is expanding to the neighbouring region of Murcia...’. From a press release. More at: https://aunmurcia.org

The item is also written-up at Emigrate.co.uk here.

‘A warning has been issued to residents of Mallorca, reminding them that it is illegal to erect a prefabricated house on land classified as rustic. It comes after the island has seen an increased number of pre-manufactured homes being discovered and knocked down. A total of 261 structures have been demolished in Mallorca since 2015 by the ADT (The Defence agency of the territory of Mallorca)...’. From The Olive Press here.

Tourism:

‘Last call: Spain’s Balearic Islands crack down on ‘booze tourism’. The regional government has approved a new law that restricts the sale of alcohol in popular tourist destinations and bans bar crawls’. We Brits certainly have an enviable reputation! The story is at El País in English here.

The safety of the streets, the culture and the political system make Spain the best and safest country for women to travel alone, says National Geographic.

A useful site called Wikiloc shows the best hiking trails worldwide (currently, there are 14,766,397 listed). The site was introduced by a Spaniard called Jordi Ramot. His story is at La Vanguardia here.

Lenox’ article on Mojácar tourism at Spanish Shilling here.

Finance:

The new monthly minimum salary (SMI) has been raised to 950€ from this month. The Government, unions and employers are in agreement, says ElDiario.es here.

‘Spain will need between eight and nine million immigrant workers in the next three decades to maintain the level of its labour market and avoid "Japanization" of its economy, said the Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, José Luis Escrivá last week...’. The story is at 20 Minutos here.

The Corner reports that ‘Debt of Spanish companies and families is below European average’. The details are here.

Football’s incredible figures. The numbers are examined in a report called ‘Oligarchs, sheiks and millionaires buy clubs and some countries are using this sport to improve their image’ at El País here.

Spanish Property Insight has an article from a tax-lawyer about investments abroad. ‘Requirements and obligations to file the ‘Modelo 720’ tax form in Spain’

Politics:

The old elegance of giving a new government a hundred days to see how it’s going, before attacking it mercilessly, have long gone. From the first day, the attacks from the opposition have been fierce, and we read in El País that ‘Sánchez and Iglesias shield the unity of the Government to resist the attacks of the right. The leaders have established daily internal systems to avoid dissention’. A united front.

Julio Anguita (about the only left-winger who is largely respected by the right) says here that ‘The real opposition to the current government is the banks, the Ibex-35 and the economic powers’. Anguita (the ex-IU leader and retired mayor of Córdoba) is interviewed in ElDiario.es here.

The new director of the Guardia Civil is María Gámez, the first time the job has gone to a woman.

‘The new strategy of Ciudadanos is to present the party as the "progressive liberal centre" against populist parties’ says El País here. Meanwhile, the putative leader Inés Arrimadas is now being challenged by fellow-party members Francisco Igea and Toni Cantó, according to La Información here.

El País is digging into the unlicensed repairs made to a number of apartments by Rocío Monasterio (wiki), the Vox leader for the Madrid Region, in her earlier life as an architect.

The PP attacks the PSOE with a new hash-tag #SanchezContraSevilla in response to the apparent plan of the Government to squash the ‘amnesty’ on the ‘illegal homes’ in Andalucía. EuropaPress has the story here.

How a democrat was trolled by the far-right, yet managed to stick to his principles. The story of the 10,000 emails that warned the deputy from Teruel Existe not to vote for Sánchez is told here.

Corruption:

Long being a byword for corruption in Spain, the SGAE is examined in a video here.

Courts:

The milk cartels have been swindling farmers over the years and must now pay a fine of 80 million euros. The article at Agronews mentions Pascual, Danone, Nestlé and Lactalis.

Catalonia:

From El Independiente here, the Supreme Court has ruled that Quim Torra may continue as a parliamentary deputy, and, as such, as the President of Catalonia.

Brexit:

On the last session of European parliament before Brexit on January 31, a Spanish MEP had a clear message for expats wanting to remain part of the EU. Esteban González Pons said: “Many of you have built your lives here in Europe, many of you have married here, some of you have children that were born here – we are neighbours. Most of all, we are friends, we are relatives, there is something that we cannot and will not forget. That is why I want to tell you, no matter what happens after 31 January, you will always belong to Europe. And as long as it’s your wish to stay with us, the European Union will always be your home. So from the bottom of my heart, I won’t say goodbye. I won’t say see you soon. I only say stay with us.”…’. Item from The Olive Press here.

Media:

An article at JRMora Humor Gráfico says that an illustrator called Toni Galmés has been sued for a cartoon he made (in the style of Where’s Wally?) for a book called “On és l’Estel·la?” which was critical of the police. The plaintiffs want all copies of the book destroyed and suitable public grovelling from the authors and illustrators. The story (and offending illustration) is here.

Which news-sites are getting the most visits? La Vanguardia got 21,400,000 visitors in December followed by ABC and El País.

Ecology:

‘Spain declares state of ‘climate emergency’ as Pedro Sánchez aims to make country’s electricity 95% renewable by 2040. Plans include eliminating pollution from buses and trucks and making farming carbon neutral’. Found at The Olive Press here. A full list of the thirty commitments made by the Govt is here. The Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (wiki), the old Ministry for the Environment, is the one to watch.

From El País in English here: ‘Barcelona announces €563 million plan to reduce greenhouse gases. The local government has officially declared a climate emergency in a document which includes measures to halve carbon dioxide emissions’. Good news from Madrid, too, with The Millenium Source: ‘Madrid’s low-emissions zone has dropped pollution to 10-year low’. From Think Spain here: ‘All Spanish towns of 50,000 or more will soon be required to have something similar to the 'Madrid Central' low-emissions zone’

The recent storms in Spain have caused flooding on the Costa Blanca, Mallorca (here) and elsewhere, nine deaths (plus four more missing) and, in the delta of the River Ebro, a calamitous loss of over 3,000 hectares of rice paddies.

The Guardia Civil have located 1,400 illegal wells in the past five months and have arrested over 100 people says EuropaPress here.

Only 10% of those Nespresso capsules get recycled in Spain, apparently.

From Hipertextual comes ‘Norwegians who want to teach Spain to use the sun. Otovo lands in Spain from Norway, where almost all houses have a solar panel, to control the market in the sunniest country in Europe’.

Various:

Morocco approved on Wednesday the laws to expand its maritime border and annex Canarian and Saharan waters. The Spanish government reminded Morocco last December that the delimitation of the maritime border with neighbouring countries is governed under international law by "mutual agreement". Fishing and mining are both of interest to the Moroccans within their new 'territorial waters'.

Asturias is the region which has the slowest recovery from the crisis and the highest proportion of pensioners. El Confidencial talks of ‘a demise in slow-motion’.

The Government creates the first Animal Protection Directorate, to be led by the ‘animalist’ Sergio García Torres (bio here) from Podemos. From ElDiario.es here. ‘...The Government pact between the PSOE and UP agrees that the new Government will promote an Animal Welfare Law "that guarantees a respectful relationship towards all living beings"...’. One of the proposals regarding this would be to drop the IVA on animal feed from 21 to 10%. Animal welfare and la tauromaquia don’t tend to go hand in hand in Spain, and los toros remain under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture. Bullfighting is losing steam in Spain, says El Confidencial here, with hardly any media coverage and fights down by 50% since 2010.

The Biblioteca Digital Hispánica, the free digital library of the National Library of Spain, is now available to all. Find it here.

A popular subject in Spain is the use/misuse of gender in language. The Real Academia Española says it won’t allow feminisms to creep into its official dictionary, like ministra instead of ministro and so on, endlessly (‘compañeros y compañeras...’). Now Carmen Calvo, the Vice-president, wants to change the name of the parliamentary building from ‘El Congreso de los Diputados’ to simply ‘El Congreso’ since ‘¿...qué hacemos allí las diputadas?’. She is now known, perhaps inevitably, as Carmen Calva.

Research and development needs funding. The minister says so. La Información offers a list of Spain’s leading medical researchers, introduces the reader to some of them, and shows where they are based today.

Deutsche Welle (wiki) has a documentary in English on YouTube called ‘The Brothel on the Border’. It says: ‘A village in northern Spain has become a hive of prostitution. La Jonquera, close to the French border, has become home to a large number of brothels...’.

Mallorca has an extreme problem with under-age prostitution, as girls from ‘protective homes are exploited in an "extended and widespread" manner - "We have been denouncing it for more than three years, but the IMAS has not taken any action,"...’ as reported in the Diario de Mallorca here. From EN24 comes ‘Scandal about home children shakes Mallorca’ with ‘...A spokesman for the German Press Agency confirmed that 16 residents of the home – 15 girls and a boy – had been found to have been seduced into prostitution. Social workers who were quoted by the Diario de Mallorca described this figure as strongly understated...’. One care-officer said that she knew when the girls had been ‘hooking’, as they would return with new shoes, or a bracelet. El Plural says ‘it’s been an open secret for ten years’.

How do Spaniards die? In 2018, the total deaths registered in Spain came to 427,721. Three pages of graphics here show how they passed.

Emma has completed her year of living in Almería’s La Chanca gypsy quarter. She sums up her adventures here.

See Spain:

A video on YouTube shows Madrid in 1910 here.

The New York Times three top ‘traditional’ places to visit in Spain, which are as per Think Spain: Asturias, The Arán Valley and Menorca. The Crazy Tourist finds ‘the best fifteen places to visit’ here (one of them mentions a ‘hippy beach’ called the Cala San Pedro Beach in Cabo de Gata – introduced in stilted English here). Nice photos.

‘A remote house in Andalucía’s Sierra Nevada – with food, drink, company and mentoring on tap – is the ideal environment to sort out writer’s block. How a writing retreat in Spain got my creative juices flowing’, with The Guardian here.

Finally:

The No-Do was the old official (Francoist) chronicler of the news, similar to the British Pathé News. It was shown as a ‘short’ in the cinema to keep citizens up to date. Here on YouTube, a joke news item from Pòlonia, in the best No-Do style, warns citizens that ‘The Reds have come to power. The socialists and communists have formed a government with one single point: To destroy España!’

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