The leading story this week is the gift of 65 million euros made by the ex-king Juan Carlos, while still reigning, to his companion Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein back in 2012, apparently, or so she says, ‘for gratitude and for love’. It was just when the Swiss decided to call an end to their bank secrecy system.
It’s a story that could well be used as the cornerstone for a long diatribe against the Spanish monarchy.
Certainly, there is a growing call for a republic in Spain (depending of course on which newspaper reports the numbers, as here and here), but this would cause tremendous dissent among the population; and we are already divided enough (thanks to endless bulos, the Church, politics, football, los toros and whether a tortilla española should be made with onions or not). Indeed, the CIS pollsters have wisely not asked the question in many years.
And anyway, King Felipe VI seems to be cut from a different cloth.
So, we shall leave this subject alone, and talk instead of the weather.
Hot, isn’t it?
Idealista considers the fall – an average of 6.1% - in used house prices in the Second Quarter of 2020.
‘The Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda this week presented the state reference system for rental price indexes, which indicates that Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Málaga, the Canary and Balearic Islands are the main “stressed” areas. The indicator has 11.2 million data on rentals for the last four years. It will be updated annually with information on 1.7 million properties and 33,662 census sections. The new mechanism will provide a rental price index with market data for the first time in Spain. This will allow public administrations, real estate market agents and citizens to get detailed information on the evolution of rental prices…’. Item from The Corner here.
How about… a Guardia Civil barracks for a home? Complete with dungeons. There are twelve of them for sale, says El Español here – from 57,000€ and up.
The promoters of the small hotel for the Playa de los Genoveses (BoT editorial 357) claim that: "The project is an example of sustainable tourism". The Playas y Cortijos group faces both political and environmental criticism says La Voz de Almería here.
Spain is the country with the most hotel reservations of all, with 31.8% of all reservations worldwide, says LaSexta quoting a Travelgate survey made for the first week of June here.
‘Renfe suppresses half of the trains that link to la España vacía (empty Spain). The company maintains a drastic cut in traffic on compulsory service lines in rural areas after the lifting of mobility restrictions and despite being public interest itineraries’. Público reports.
From La Opinión de Málaga here: ‘Málaga is leaving us. With the arrival of the pandemic, the problems came. There were no longer so many smiles and bitterness reached everyone's lips. Tourism was a smile. And without it, there is no way to smile because in the roulette wheel of life, Málaga bet all on the guiri as a perfect tool to sustain itself. And the model is good, it generates wealth and it is powerful. But in the face of adversity you lose all’. The opinion piece bewails the loss of the old city to tourism. And when there’s no tourism?
From Sur in English here: ‘July may be the traditional start to the tourist high season on the Costa del Sol, but this year there is nothing normal about it. Having been in complete paralysis for more than three months, the sector's survival hangs in the balance. Foreign tourists may be arriving again, but there are two major obstacles in the way: the apparent end to low-cost travel and a price war that has already begun among the area's accommodation providers…’.
El País in English here: ‘Spanish tourism industry feeling the loss of high-rolling visitors. The restrictions on travel into the EU have taken a toll on Madrid, Barcelona and Costa del Sol, which are popular with tourists from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Brazil and the US’.
Appearing in almost every British newspaper this week was ‘Second Spanish region locks down again after spike in coronavirus cases as Brits prepare to jet off on holiday’ (The Sun here). The particular bits under lockdown are not on the tourist map. (A Mariña in Lugo and Segrià in Lerida here). Will this cool the British appetite for a Spanish holiday? Perhaps.
‘Fewer casualties and less feeling of isolation: this is the experience from two adult cohousing units - Trabensol in Torremocha del Jarama (Madrid), and Convivir in Horcajo de Santiago (Cuenca)’. Cuarto Poder talks with residents from both of the cooperatives.
The money we saved during the lockdown shows that our consumerism is induced by advertising, profligacy and maybe a pinch of jealousy says El Economista here.
From Europa Press here: ‘The Minister of Labour and Social Economy, Yolanda Díaz, says that the debate should not be about whether to lower or raise taxes, but rather to see how the tax burden is fairly distributed…’.
From Spanish Property Insight here: ‘How much money do foreigners buying homes in Spain invest in the Spanish property market?’ An interesting question as it points towards the value of foreign buyers towards the Spanish economy. Mark Stücklin says – ‘The answer is foreign buyers invested €17,100 million in Spanish homes in 2019 (slightly less than in 2018), which means we are talking about a big and valuable market. Unless I’ve got these quick and dirty numbers badly wrong, that’s almost 1.4% of Spanish GDP in 2019’.
‘Zara founder unveils 15,200 million euro global real estate empire, says Bloomberg here.
‘PSOE and Unidas Podemos strengthen their coalition after six months of working together. Both parties claim to have learned to disagree without breaking their union’. A report from La Vanguardia here.
‘Government, unions and business leaders sign deal to reactivate Spanish economy. The Cabinet today approved a number of measures aimed at assisting ailing sectors such as the tourism and automotive industries, and financing the digital transformation of firms’. Headline from El País in English here.
‘Politicians have made their summations after the weeks of work in the Commission for Social and Economic Reconstruction created in Congress to find agreed solutions to the coronavirus crisis; a commission that the far-right party Vox walked out of on June 23. "The Government does not have the slightest intention of making an effort to rebuild Spain, in fact, rather the opposite," said Iván Espinosa de los Monteros at the time. The ERC leader Gabriel Rufián this past Friday offered a few words of thanks for each parliamentary group, adding, “…A final reflection: what happened here is fine. We have been talking, each one has defended his own, no one has ever felt insulted ... ladies and gentlemen, this is what life is like without Vox. Now that’s worth thinking about”…’. Indeed it is. El Huff Post here.
The Economist says ‘Let expats vote in the countries where they live’.
Anne Hernandez from Brexpats in Spain says here: ‘The TIE (Resident Card) for non-EU citizens (British citizens in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement):
‘I cannot stress this enough but if you already have a green residency (A4 paper or credit-card size) you do NOT have to do anything to exchange it for the TIE. Until further notice and, for as long as you remain a resident here, that green residency will remain valid. You can apply to exchange it on a voluntary basis at any time but it is NOT an obligation to do so. In fact, it is preferred you wait until after the transition period to avoid clogging up the system because many newly arriving Brits are going to be rushing to get theirs!...’.
14% of those who have survived coronavirus in Spain are apparently found to be without antibodies, meaning they could catch it again and have no defences from their first bout. So it appears that the ‘herd immunity’ strategy is just a fantasy after all.
From El País in English here: ‘Severity of coronavirus cases in Spain falls as infections spread through younger people. The percentage of patients requiring hospitalization has fallen from 25% to 8% in two months, while the average age of those infected has dropped from 60 to around 50’.
Catalonia is the first region of Spain where one must wear a face-mask when outside, regardless of ‘social distancing’.
Work inspectors are being sent to check on enterprises where corners are being cut. These are naturally met with indignation and, apparently, resistance and threats. A leader from Asaja (the agricultural union) warns the Minister of Employment Yolanda Díaz that ‘if you don’t stop the inspections, we are not going to be peaceful’. An article and video is at Spanish Revolution here. From Albacete al Día, we are reminded that nineteen people were arrested in Murcia in May after inspectors found that they were ‘enslaving irregular immigrants in the countryside’. A further fourteen farmers have been arrested in Granada.
We've been sent this by the king of fake news, Eduardo Inda and his OKDiario. An editorial called ‘Instead of so many photo calls and smiles, it’s time to go away Fernando Simón’.
'...An image that is a mockery of the nearly 50,000 dead, largely due to his far from amusing incompetence, the 250,000 infected and those 50,000 health workers who saw how the disease reached them to a greater or lesser extent thanks to a government that sent them into battle without any system of protection...'. (Que miserable es el Inda, pensamos).
‘OKDiario is the most represented medium on television in Spain, light years ahead of the following medium. The medium created with the intention of destroying Podemos when this political party was the first political force according to the polls, has been increasing its television presence to unsuspected limits. Its relationship with the Atlas Network (Wiki and Sourcewatch) and their network of influence can give a clue to this surprising reality…’. Pandemia Digital has the story here. A Tweet featured in the report (from Julián Macías Tovar – ‘an activist working against digital disinformation’) says: ‘Never has a medium had such a presence on television. OKDiario is present in all political gatherings, and with it, endless attacks on its main quarry Podemos, and support for its political twin: Vox’.
OKDiario here. See how many of their lead stories are about Podemos (standing at 10 out of 12, Wednesday midday). From the other side of the rampart, ‘…The Unidas Podemos secretary general has denounced the "brutality, virulence and ferocity with which some people work" in the effort to expel their formation from the governing coalition. "If the cloacas mediáticas (‘sewer-media’) didn't exist, would we have so many newspaper covers dealing with a modest force of just 35 deputies?"…’, reports El Confidencial here.
The Olive Press takes a much-needed swipe at EWN’s Leapy Lee here.
Spain: hotter and drier. An article at La Vanguardia provides a graphic of the annual average temperature in Spain since 1965.
‘The European Commission has issued an ultimatum to Spain to confront, once and for all, the contamination of underground water reserves by nitrates – the waste produced especially by the agri-food industry. The misapplication of these wastes, used as fertilizers in the fields, or their indiscriminate dumping, cause them to infiltrate the ground and contaminate the groundwater…’. Says La Vanguardia here.
El Español certainly has a bee in its bonnet for the retired king Juan Carlos de Borbón. Three articles follow:
‘Juan Carlos received large quantities of cash from his accountant Arturo Fasana in his alpine 'love nest' with Corinna. A total of 5.5 million euros were withdrawn in cash from the account of the secret foundation of the King Emeritus between 2008 and 2012’ (July 7)
‘Juan Carlos I asked for "honesty" (in a speech from 2011) in the midst of a crisis six months after moving 100 million to the Bahamas. The King told citizens during his homily that generosity should triumph over selfishness and insisted on honouring the efforts of Spaniards affected by the crisis’. (July 7)
‘Juan Carlos I commissioned at Zarzuela (the royal residence in Madrid) "to create a structure" to hide Saudi money in Switzerland’ (July 6)
There’s a video-blog from the editor Pedro J Ramírez too, titled ‘Felipe VI should break with his father’.
Ada Colau, the mayoress of Barcelona, has called for a referendum on the monarchy.
The Fundación Concordia y Libertad is a foundation linked to the Partido Popular (Wiki). It receives funding from the PP-controlled regions of Madrid, Castilla y León, Galicia and Murcia. Eldiario.es takes a look at the activities of the agency here.
Many cheap menus del día are served in small restaurants and bars to workers in the cities from Monday to Friday. But what happens if the workers are able to work from home? ‘I used to serve sixty menus a day, and now I’m down to just seven’ says a gloomy restaurant-owner at 20Minutos here.
One of those odd things, El Español says that Morocco has made an offer to the Americans – drop your base in Rota (Cádiz) when the lease runs out next year and you can rent one from us in Alcazarseguir just outside Tangier. The Spanish navy are reportedly not amused.
From The Guardian here: ‘Former UN expert decries Spain's 'utterly inadequate' social protection system. Philip Alston says Covid-19 crisis has underlined scale of challenge facing country’. In summary: ‘…There were, however, grounds for cautious optimism. “Despite the truly outrageous conditions I observed during my visit, the government’s actions in response to the coronavirus pandemic are encouraging,” said Alston. “I hope that the governing coalition will double down on this direction and live up to the ambitious commitments made to fulfil the social rights of all people in the country.”’.
‘The Minister of Transport and Mobility José Luis Ábalos has announced that vehicular ITVs expiring between June 21 and August 31 will be granted a further three months before renewal…’. Item from The Olive Press here.
‘When travelling to or around Spain this summer “Star Tourism” is maybe something you want to keep in mind. If you have never considered this type of tourism and like the idea of gazing and interpreting the firmament, a great place to do so is Spain. Spain has some of the best vantage points in the world to marvel at the sky at night, so why not combine your passion for astronomy with an unforgettable trip to the Spanish countryside…’. An essay from Eye on Spain here.
Multi millionaire rocks art world with the removal of Gaugin’s Mata Mua painting from Madrid’s Thyssen gallery as talks with Spanish government crumble, says The Olive Press here. It all reads like an intrigue…
What happens to the fighting bulls when there are no bullfights? ABC will tell you.
Charles Crawford has an amusing blog-post about his experiences working at the British consul. It begins, ‘The world is a big place, replete with unexpected problems. Tsunamis, earthquakes, avalanches, terrorist or criminal attacks, robberies, lost passports, aircraft/train/car accidents, sex-traps, arrests, illness, poisonous spiders, unrest at football matches, kidnappings, coups d’état, drug-smuggling, aircraft hijackings, alcohol, lots more alcohol, far too much alcohol. And so on.
Lots of people on foreign travel find themselves caught up in these or many other problems. Sometimes they themselves have created their particular problem, either deliberately or carelessly or by sheer stupidity. Nonetheless, people usually have the ingenuity or insurance policy to sort things out and return home, poorer but wiser.
Those who don’t or can’t sort themselves out ask friends or relatives to help. If that doesn’t work, demand that the government ‘do something’. That something is called diplomatic consular work…’.
‘Although Columbus was a mapmaker in his pre-expedition days, he left behind no known maps of his explorations. Luckily for us, Juan de la Cosa, who sailed with Columbus on three journeys, did - leaving us with the oldest known map showing America…’. The piece is at Eye on Spain here.
From History Extra here, ‘The Spanish Armada: one of history’s biggest fibs? From Elizabeth I’s rousing speech at Tilbury to that famous game of bowls, much of what we think we know about the events of 1588 is the product of four centuries of spin…’.
Hundreds of old photographs from Spain at Agente Provocador here.
Breaking down Spain’s menú del día at Nothing Familiar here. It begins: ‘Ready for a typical Spanish lunch that will make your head spin? Well take all your big plans and break them… Seeing all the sights will be tough after taking down this three course meal! If you’ve never heard of the plato del día, menú del día, or simply plate of the day, then I hope you’re hungry…’.
‘Join us for a walk through ten of the most beautiful juderías (Jewish quarters) in Spain. The Jewish communities that for centuries inhabited the Iberian Peninsula mark the historic centre of many Spanish municipalities. Small alleys, squares, patios and old synagogues make the centre of many of our cities shine with special beauty’, says eldiario.es here.
‘Macaronesia (‘The Fortunate Islands’) is a collection of four archipelagos in the North Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the continents of Europe and Africa. Each archipelago is made up of a number of Atlantic oceanic islands formed by seamounts on the ocean floor with peaks rising above the ocean's surface. The Macaronesian islands belong to three countries: Portugal, Spain, and Cape Verde. Politically, the islands belonging to Portugal and Spain are part of the European Union. Geologically, Macaronesia is part of the African Plate, including the Azores, which mark its edge at the meeting point with the Eurasian and North American Plates…’. Wiki here.
Superb work on your part as usual Lenox! Such a great range of stories. I've plugged you on my social media, for what it's worth.
Brett’s blog: Standing in a Spanish Doorway is here.
ith his hit La Camisa Negra on YouTube here.