It’s not clear what Vox wants. The demonstration on Saturday – by car – in various cities, with Madrid as the appropriate leader, was accompanied by howls of ‘Resign’ from the be-flagged idiots, but obviously the Government won’t (even if the far-right asked nicely). There were, alternatively, ‘hundreds of thousands of cars collapsing the main cities of Spain calling for Sánchez to go now’ (the far-right OKDiario here) or maybe a few less (El País puts the traffic jam in Madrid at 6,000 cars and motorcycles). It was nevertheless a shock to normal citizens. Cars of course take up more room than do individuals. They are noisier and smellier, too.
Santiago Abascal, the leader of the ultras, is calling for Sánchez to be fired and a ‘government of national emergency’, with all the right people in it (‘the three main parties in Parliament’ he says – that’s to say, the conservative wing of the PSOE plus the PP and Vox here). Such an unelected regime would of course have a majority controlled by the right-wing.
President Sánchez says that his is a government of four years – which may be a trifle optimistic, but with several elections last year, another one wouldn’t be popular or practical or likely conclusive.
But the Vox stalwarts don’t really want another election anyway – what would be the point? What they want is to show their hatred - particularly for Pablo Iglesias and his party of ‘communists’, but also for Sánchez and his gang. ‘Sánchez is a Traitor’ says a remarkable OKDiario headline, while claiming (inventing?) that a protestor’s car in Jaén got shot at. The item failed to make the mainstream news. There has been regular ‘escratches’, (flag-bedraped idiots camped outside the private homes of sundry ministers) and there has been oceans of fake-news, Tweets, WhatsApps and provocations (they have learned well from the experts: Trump, Bolsonaro and Steve Bannon).
Following the surprise success of the demonstration last Saturday (well, they managed to increase the pollution in several cities), there is talk of having another go in due course.
Oddly, with all of this excitement, support for the banner-besotted party is falling.
‘Dreams of restoring an abandoned medieval village in Spain? It can be done, but the Spanish planning system is a big obstacle’. An article from Spanish Property Insight here.
The Norman Foster Foundation (‘The Norman Foster Foundation promotes interdisciplinary thinking and research to help new generations of architects, designers and urbanists to anticipate the future’) is designing a visitors’ centre, auditorium and rural hotel in the Almerían village of Alcudia de Monteagud (population 148) to help fight against the España Vacia problem of dying villages. The story at La Voz de Almería is here.
‘Andalucía already knows the main lines of the future of its urban and spatial planning. The new land law introduced this week resembles a red carpet for brick, experts agree. “The new norm reproduces the mentality of the Aznar law of 1998, in which everything is developable unless it is protected. It is a reduction of environmental guarantees and opens the prohibition of much more picaresque and forced interpretations of the law…’. El País looks at the new rules here.
The ecologists are not pleased with the opening up of the Andalusian planning laws. From
Ecologistas en Acción here: ‘The euphemistically denominated Law for the Sustainability of the Andalusian Territory (LISTA) is a law designed to deregulate the sector that caused the great crisis of 2008, and to favour speculative interests’. There will be two very different points of view to this article, but one thing should be agreed on – that those homes built/repaired and bought in good faith should be honoured. Furthermore, as many small villages are dying (and Norman Foster can’t help them all), a policy of selling homes to prospective settlers must be a good thing. The new law, say the ecologists, ‘…reduces the classes of land to two: urban and rustic, eliminating developable land. This is not to reduce the expectations of urban expansion, but on the contrary, since almost all rustic land will be now considered suitable for urbanization. The much vaunted simplification and streamlining is actually intended to facilitate the development of rustic land, what used to be called ‘suelo no-urbanizable’.
‘Overseas tourists will be able to return to Spain from July 1st’ says El País in English here, adding, ‘We are a step from victory, but the virus is still lurking. It’s essential that we don’t relax’, said the president on Saturday.
‘From a measured de-escalation "without dates" to suddenly inviting international tourists for July: the Government's change in strategy is worrying experts. The Minister of Health has agreed to shorten the deadlines for each phase, and Pedro Sánchez has set the 'new normality' for the end of June. The health-experts accept the tactic but ask that scientific criteria must not be "contaminated"’. Eldiario.es here.
Mark Stücklin notes that ‘…However, little detail has been provided by the Spanish government as to how this will work in practise, whilst social distancing is still in place. How will Sánchez guarantee everyone’s safety? According to Spanish press reports, the plan relies on negotiating tourism arrangements with emissary countries like the UK and Germany. Much could go wrong with this plan…’. From Spanish Property Insight here.
‘‘We can return to Benidorm from July’ says the British Press’ as seen by 20 Minutos here.
From The Olive Press here: ‘The Costa del Sol regains momentum with Airbnb as searches increase by 500%...’.
The Canarian Times has this: ‘Pools can open but rules are too difficult to meet for most’.
From El País here. ‘Passengers must change their face-mask every four hours on long flights. The new European security protocol does not require leaving empty seats but recommends keeping 1.5 meters away "whenever possible"’. It doesn’t sound fun.
La Razón writes of things to remember in their ‘Practical Guide to travelling’ here.
The ‘vulture-fund’ BlackRock (wiki) has become the second largest shareholder in Bankia (at 4.3%). BlackRock now owns shares in all of Spain’s six IBEX35 banks. A list of all Spanish shares held by the company is here. All items are from eldiario.es.
The Government is to issue work and residence permits for all farm-workers, good for two years and extendible for a further two, to be valid for all the national territory. The news comes from La Voz de Almería here.
This is why we're proposing a wealth tax in Spain to help us out of this crisis, writes Pablo Echenique at The Guardian here.
The SIPRI Military Expenditure Database contains consistent time series on the military spending of countries for the period 1949–2019. The database is updated annually, which may include updates to data for any of the years included in the database…’. For Spain, military spending in 2019 was 55,000,000€ per day says SIPRI, or 3% of all government expenditure, as reported here.
‘Pablo Casado will continue his total war against the Government based on polls that appear to show the return to the PP of voters from Vox’ says eldiario.es here.
‘We Socialists have to fight two distinct viruses: Covid 19 and hatred’. The Secretary of Organization of the PSOE and Minister of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, José Luis Ábalos has offered an interview to El Socialista here. ‘…The PP's disloyalty in the opposition; the use of the health crisis by the right to try to wear down the Government; the defence of the PSOE of public property during the pandemic; his feelings regarding the escraches (protests) at his private home; the return to the "new" normality and the regional elections for Galicia and the Basque Country in July, are some of the themes that he discusses…’.
Relatives of a woman who died of coronavirus have filed a complaint against the director of the Centre for Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies, Fernando Simón, for the crime of reckless homicide, considering him responsible for at least 27,000 deaths from coronavirus in Spain for "Publicly communicating a series of erroneous and contradictory guidelines". Likewise, they request as a precautionary measure the withdrawal of his passport and the prohibition to leave the national territory…’. El Huff Post reports here.
The Vox and Friends motor-car protest last Saturday has been criticised by Ciudadanos after the remark from the Vox party spokesperson Iván Espinosa de los Monteros that the ‘feeling was like the day Spain won the World Cup’, bearing in mind the 28,000 dead from the pandemic. Europa Press reports here. Behind the pot-bashing caceroladas is HazteOir, the ultra Catholic group. ‘Revolution and a Saucepan’ is at Lenox Napier’s blog here.
Albert Rivera, the erstwhile president of Ciudadanos, enjoyed a 320m2 house in Madrid for two years as a free lend from an important Toledo hotelier and businessman called Kike Sarasola. Sarasola has had a similar deal with the President of the Madrid Region Isabel Díaz Ayuso (two hotel suites at a rate of 80€ per day) and this has now been denounced by Unidas Podemos, since “members of the Madrid Assembly may not receive gifts”. Ayuso announced on Wednesday that she has now left the suites in question.
The current crop of insults traded in the Cortes includes one from the PP spokesperson Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo to the effect that Pablo Iglesias ‘is the son of a terrorist’ who murdered a policeman. She was ordered to withdraw the slander but refused to do so. The story of Pablo’s father Francisco is a bulo put out by a Vox MEP called Hermann Tertsch who was ordered to pay 15.000€ to Francisco for his calumnies (plus a further 12,000€ for slandering Pablo’s uncle) in 2016. The father, Francisco, was two months in prison for handing out political leaflets (commie propaganda if one prefers) at the time of the shooting in 1973. The story is at Público here. Pablo’s mother later published on Twitter that Álvarez de Toledo is ‘a fork-tongued tin-pot marquise’.
rom El Huff Post here ‘Spain will access 140,446 million euros from the European Recovery Fund. Brussels has proposed this Wednesday the largest recovery fund in the history of the EU by making 750,000 million euros available’.
What will Brits in Spain need to get 'settled status'? Sue Wilson of Bremain in Spain provides some reassurance for British people who are resident in Spain. Here.
From El Huff Post comes ‘The dismayed health professionals are deeply concerned by the trivialization of the virus as citizens begin to relax their guard after the lockdown. When everything depends on civic responsibility, the dejected medics say that: "None of us are going to tolerate the rise in infections due to people's lack of common sense".
‘Spain begins longest official national mourning in its democracy after almost 30,000 lose lives to coronavirus’, item from The Olive Press here. The mourning period will last ten days, from Wednesday May 27th to June 6th.
The latest ‘readjustment’ of the total number of deaths due to coronavirus sees the figures expanded sharply to 43,000 says El Confidencial here.
Carmen Rodríguez-Medel, the judge investigating the possible relation between the feminist demo of March 8th in Madrid and infection-rates of Covid-19, has sent an official letter to the Secretary of State for Security, recalling that since the beginning of this investigation she gave an express order to the Guardia Civil, which acts as judicial police in the case, to "keep a rigorous silence" on the entrusted investigations, warning that the breach of this duty could lead to criminal liability. The letter was sent early in the morning of this Monday to the Secretary of State for Security, Rafael Pérez, coinciding by chance with the decision of the Interior Minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, to relieve command from the head of the Madrid Civil Guard, Colonel Diego Pérez de los Cobos’ (wiki). The Guardia are not pleased to have one of their bosses fired at this time. The Catalonians on the other hand… (Pérez de los Cobos was in charge of the Spanish occupation of Catalonia in 2017 (wiki)). He is known for his far-right connections and sympathies. The full story is at La Vanguardia here. A second Guardia Civil general, Laurentino Ceña, quit his post in sympathy on Tuesday (mind you, he was due to retire on June 2nd). On Wednesday, the third in command of the Guardia Civil, General Fernando Santafé, was also sacked by the Interior Minister, according to a report at El Español here.
The inquiry passed to the judge Carmen Rodríguez-Medel by the Guardia Civil is remarkable for its number of mistakes and inaccuracies, says El Huff Post here. An editorial at Nuevo Diario is titled: ‘The Guardia Civil is under a cloud, if, as it seems, Colonel Pérez de los Cobos and his team had lied, fabricating a report full of falsehoods to overthrow the legitimate government and aid the right-wing’. In all ‘an ongoing story’…
Diario16 discusses corruption in Spain (political, corporate and judicial) and comes to the conclusion that the worst form of corruption (defined as ‘…going against all the principles of moral decency that those who have a responsibility towards the people are supposed to defend’) is the corruption used by the media, who will sell freedom for peanuts ‘…for example, information manipulated and subject to the interests of the elites induces the media to adopt certain decisions at the moment when all citizens are the most receptive: on election day. This information can be distorted to cause the people to vote for the party that is best for the elites and thus allow the cycle of corruption to continue…’.
A hotel with a golf course threatens the disappearance of one of the most beautiful landscapes of Málaga. The hotel project plans to re-zone 1.5 million non-developable square meters in the surroundings of the beautiful cliffs of Maro (Nerja), partially protected, in the province of Málaga’. Condé Nast’s Traveler (esp) has the story and video here.
La Tribune de Genève takes a shot at the ex-king of Spain and his murky financial affairs in an editorial en français, which bewails the fact that the Spanish Government with the support of the opposition appears to have no interest in pursuing the subject.
Ethical Consumer (here) appears to be an organisation that looks to publicise bad business practice. ‘Learn how to use your spending power to help change the world for the better’, they say. The group has a campaign to ‘Provide essentials to migrant workers in Spain, who supply UK supermarkets, and are confined to makeshift settlements by Covid-19 laws’.
An anti-government site called ‘Gobierno dimisión' where ultras could buy posters, badges and other memorabilia has been closed down for copyright reasons, but not before hackers published the names, addresses and bank details of its clients.
Chris Stewart is providing occasional articles to Mark Stücklin’s SPI beginning here with this one on the early days for his home in the Alpujarras. As Mark says, ‘What better way to cheer us up in these anxious times than an occasional piece from Chris, who is safely hunkered down with his wife Annie on their organic farm, El Valero, hidden away in the wild and haunting Alpujarras hills of Andalucía, where social distancing can be counted in kilometres…’.
There’s a cake-shop in Murcia that was selling cakes decorated with ‘Sánchez, beat it’ and a Spanish flag (Vox stuff, in short). The shop’s window dressing proved too much for many Twitter-users and the cakes have now been withdrawn (eaten, no doubt). La Verdad has the story here.
‘Spain’s bullfighters are set to return to the ring in August – provided they can get the official go-ahead. Some of the biggest names in the sport met at the Seville home of Peruvian born superstar matador Andrés Roca Rey. They were trying to come up with a plan to tackle the crisis which the bullfighting industry has been plunged into by the coronavirus lockdown…’. Item from The Olive Press here.
From Irish Central here, ‘An excavation is underway in Valladolid, Spain, to recover the remains of ancient Irish chieftain Red Hugh O'Donnell, who died and was buried there in 1602’. The article says that O'Donnell is remembered today as a hero in Spain and in 2011, a plaque was unveiled in the Callejón de San Francisco in Valladolid, in memory of his burial in the old convent of the same name’.
The Barbary pirates and Spain, from the XV to the XVIII centuries. ‘This major article at Archivo Historia here deals with the relationship between the Barbary coasts (the area between what is now Morocco and Libya) and the people of the Iberian Peninsula from the Catholic Monarchs and their successors until the 18th century. It presents the situation on the Hispanic coast, its way of life, the reaction to the insecurity of the coasts and the response by the Monarchic authorities to this threat…’.
The background to Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero’s attempted Coup d’état in February 1981, known to Spaniards as ‘23F’ or ‘The Night of the Transistors’. Eye on Spain here.
From ByGonely here: ‘1890s Spain: 50+ Colorized Pictures Show How Spain Looked Like In The Late 19th Century’. The pictures are monuments and so on.
The legalisation of cannabis in Spain would bring up to 50,000 jobs and would generate 350 million euros in taxes, says La Mota (rather wistfully) here.
El Huff Post offers ‘The ten pueblos that aspire to become the best in Spain’. They say that the ‘Escapada Rural' portal seeks a winner for the Capital of Rural Tourism 2020 award. The photos and candidates and your chance to vote are all here. (BoT regrets that it has not heard of any of them).
The Museo del Prado and ‘other leading cultural institutions’ will re-open on Saturday June 6th says El Español here.
A hundred years ago, Manuel de Falla composed this guitar piece for his dead friend Claude Debussy called Homenaje pour le tombeau de Debussy here on YouTube played by Gabriel Bianco. The full story is told at La Soga here.