Thursday April 1st is the first day when a number of Britons living in Spain will become illegal aliens. How many this might be, no one knows. How many might be rounded up and sent packing by the Spaniards is also in doubt. Those who are, or do, will have fallen foul of the Schengen area rules, which state that foreigners can only be in the region for ninety days in any one hundred and eighty.
And yes, they have ways of knowing if you drove up to France for a visit or you live off the grid and only use cash. The rule has been in place for foreigners ever since the treaty was signed; the only difference is that the British, through their own ingenuity, have now joined the ranks of ‘foreigners’. Well played.
There has been plenty of warning – between the British ambassador, his consulate, the English-language media and two or three champions emerging from between the British residents like Anne Hernandez (Find her at this Olive Press story here) and Sue Wilson, both enemies of the result of the 2016 UK referendum to leave the European Union. The item, understandably, is of less interest to the Spanish, and appears in few places.
It’s strange how far-off unrest can affect us locally: a bit like the domino effect of the Ever Given container ship clogging up the Suez Canal, the fall of the Siege of Mafeking or that peculiar flu-like sickness in Wuhan.
Britain’s answer to terrible journalism The Express has now sunk to quoting the peculiar Global247News (here) with one Anthony Cook saying “The Spanish dream is over for me; it’s time to go back to Cardiff. It’s been a blast but the new regulations have made it impossible to stay. The freedom of movement has gone and I don’t want to end up getting deported and fined”. In answer to this egregious provocation by the Spanish authorities, “Diddy”, from The Express Editor’s Pick, answers with: “I hope those from the EU living in the UK are awarded the same treatment”. Other British, Irish and even Swiss (here) news-sites followed with similar quotes; although The Guardian, at least, smelled a rat.
Global247News ran an even-more eccentric follow-up, two days later: ‘Brits delighted to be back in UK after Spanish deadline departure looms’ ending with this quote, “I’m back! – it’s fantastic, British real ale, proper fish and chips and the TV doesn’t freeze and no power cuts, it’s bloody marvellous – oh and you still see the sun on occasions”.
The Spanish news has been relatively silent on this tender subject, although Almeria Hoy says that ‘Thousands of Brits living in Almería will become ‘illegals’ at the end of March’. We wonder (briefly?) how many more will be branded ‘illegal’ in the much larger provinces of Málaga, Alicante and the archipelagos?
If true – the question arises, where will the British authorities house the hundreds of thousands of irate Brits from the EU-27 who will be unceremoniously dumped on the Southampton quay by various European navies in the days to come?
Will they be building little wooden homes for them/us on Salisbury Plain?
The Spanish authorities are pouring water on these worrisome stories, but all it takes is one over-zealous cop…
‘Home sales to foreigners fell to 11.3% of the total in 2020, according to registrars. The mobility restrictions derived from the pandemic are partly responsible for the decline says ECD here.
‘Cars become home for Spain’s pandemic casualties’ says The Sacramento Bee here. The article features a number of cars converted into ‘homes’. Near to the headquarters of BoT, a truck has been parked for several years in a lot by the Sports Stadium. A woman lives in it.
‘Have you ever dreamed about whiling away your days on a Spanish beach, toes in the sand, glass of sangría in hand? It turns out your dream might be a lot closer than you think, thanks to the Spanish “Golden Visa” program. The scheme offers residency to anyone who purchases real estate worth at least €500,000…’. A puff from Forbes here.
An interview with Ernest Cañada, who has written a number of books on tourism, at infoLibre here: "The tourism sector in Spain lives by parasitizing on the State" he begins. The director of the Alba Sud research centre, coordinator with Iván Murray of a major study called Turistificación Confinada (pdf here), warns of a "grab the money and run" moment: "We cannot waste public money on returning to the same outdated model", he says. "The Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands and the cities built for tourism should look at what happened in Detroit after the fall of the motor industry there", he says. "Airbnb comes out strengthened and with strategic control. What distinguishes digital platforms is not innovation, but having a monopoly," he points out…’.
‘Brexit: Spain denies reports it will round up and deport Britons without visas. EU rules post-Brexit limit UK nationals to maximum 90-day stay per 180 days’. The article comes from The Guardian here. We shall see pretty soon, one way or the other.
From El Salto here: ‘Banks charge up to 240 euros per year in commissions to the most vulnerable pensioners. In addition to the business of private pension funds, the big banks get hundreds of millions of euros in commissions from pensioners. Those most affected are those who earn the least. The State Coordinator for the Defence of the Public Pension System (Coespe) says: "Those of us who collect a public pension, whatever its amount, are obliged to have a bank account from which they can - and usually do - charge high commissions"…’.
Laicismo looks at a book written by Manuel Rico called ‘Vergüenza: el escándalo de las residencias’- ‘The Shameful Scandal of the Care Homes’. The residencias are generally profit-run and we read that ‘…85% of the residences are managed or belong to various vulture groups, including the Catholic Church, and all of them receive large amounts of public funds that end up in various financial operations, but not necessarily used to improve the quality of life for the residents…’.
Gloomy news from El Economista here: ‘27% of all the unemployed in the euro area corresponds to Spain’. Being a country associated with the service industry (tourism), ‘…Spain is one of the countries that has suffered the most from the pandemic in terms of job loss, and that it will be one of the countries that will take the longest to recover the economic levels prior to the crisis – at least until the end of 2023, in the best of cases, as warned by organizations such as the Bank of Spain or the International Monetary Fund…’.
Funds provided from Europe – some 53 million euros – ended up as a state-rescue for a decrepit Spanish/Venezuelan airline called Plus Ultra, and have unsurprisingly released a political storm in Madrid. elDiario.es has the details here. VozPópuli says the airline is 57% Venezuelan owned, so legally cannot operate in Spain. El Mundo (paywall) puts the blame on the Minister for Transport (and PSOE strong-man) José Luis Ábalos.
An Interview with the sindicalista Diego Cañamero (Wiki) at Contrainformación looks at the wealthy land-owners of Andalucía (‘50% of the land is owned by 2% of the landowners’), and the miseries of the fruit-pickers. ‘The Huelva strawberries are watered with the tears of the womenfolk’, he says.
In a minor reshuffle without surprises following the departure of Pablo Iglesias from the Government to campaign in the regional Madrid elections, Pedro Sánchez has promoted Yolanda Díaz to third vice-president and has brought Ione Belarra into the cabinet as Minister of Social Rights.
Following his departure from national politics, Pablo Iglesias tells Europa Press that it had been an honour to be vice-president in the Government of Spain but, he noted, ‘…facing the Government there are oligarchies that exercise their immense political, economic and mediatic power so that their institutions continue to defend their own interests, and not the interests of their majority’. As elDiario.es says in a tongue-in-cheek editorial, now that Iglesias has left the Government, what an earth will the right-wing press find to write about?
‘The Revolt of Empty Spain is two years old: "The problem has been put on the table, but now we have to act". Tomás Guitarte, deputy from Teruel Existe, explains that the Revolt of la España Vaciada has made it possible to open for discussion the problem of depopulation and territorial rebalancing’. elDiario.es reports here.
The motion of censure of the PSOE and Cs against the PP mayor of Murcia went ahead last week. The socialist José Antonio Serrano is the new alcalde. ‘The seventh city in Spain has gone to the PSOE after 26 years in the hands of the PP’. El Huff Post reports here.
Madrid. Regional elections for May 4th:
‘Ayuso warns against Iglesias in the pre-campaign: "I do not want the citizens of Madrid to have their homes expropriated"’. How to look for votes in these times with elDiario.es here.
In Madrid, both the PP of Ayuso and the Vox of Santiago Abascal (his candidate is Rocío Monasterio) need a win to keep up their momentum. El Confidencial (paywall) looks at the two rivals here.
One person on the Podemos ticket for Madrid is a unionist called Serigne Mabyé. Serigne arrived to Spain as an illegal immigrant some years ago and has worked as un mantero – a street seller. Vox has just said that ‘When we win, we’ll deport him’! El Huff Post here.
‘…anyone wishing to visit Spain from Gibraltar (or vice versa) can now cross the land frontier without further justification. Provincial restrictions however remain in effect in Andalucía and anyone entering Spain from Gibraltar, can only travel within the province of Cádiz…’. Item from GBC here.
From Sur in English here: ‘The British Embassy in Madrid has issued a statement to clarify the position of UK nationals in Spain as the 90-day post-Brexit deadline’.
‘Despite the bureaucratic challenges that come with getting thousands of under-the-radar Brits in Spain on the system, the UK Embassy and different support groups have successfully helped many register. However, not all UK nationals in Spain have been able to stay, writes Graham Keeley. “I am sad to be leaving but it is the right time. All the problems of Brexit bureaucracy mean it is the right time to return to the UK.” These were the words of a British woman who had spent more than 15 years living outside the system in Spain, without ever registering with the authorities or ever opening a bank account…’. Item from The Local (Paywall) here.
An article at The Guardian explains how tricky it is to pass the ‘entrance exam’ for foreigners to naturalise themselves with British papers. The questions are so very hard, that it’s just as well that the expats apparently being sent ‘home’ won’t be forced to take the test.
‘A leading EU figure has pledged that Spain will get ‘what it needs’ over Covid-19 vaccines to reach 70% of the population by the summer. The European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, made his promise on a visit to a Barcelona factory last week...’. The story comes from The Olive Press here.
Most coronavirus deaths now occur between the ages of 60 and 69. Those who are that age are too young to still receive the Pfizer vaccine and too old to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, until now reserved for professionals under 55 years of age. That has made the age 60-69, today, the most dangerous age. Source: elDiario.es newsletter. Some news here from El País in English on the topic: ‘Spain’s vaccine have-nots: the 70-year-olds squeezed between younger and older target groups Despite their risk of developing a severe or fatal form of Covid-19, people born between 1942 and 1956 may have to wait until mid-April or even later before receiving their first Covid-19 shots’
‘A Spanish scientist explains Covid contagion: “Imagine it's like invisible smoke”’. The article comes from Think Spain here.
Facemasks are now compulsory outside wherever one goes (and however far one might be from anyone else). Apparently, we must wear them throughout 2021. Also at the beach and swimming-pool. The Balearic police however won’t fine beachgoers as long as they keep their distance says El Mundo here. Later on Wednesday came ‘Spain to review law obliging wearing face masks on beach, one day after approving it’ says Catalan News here.
‘Is it safe to travel to Spain? Here´s updated information on the current situation in Spain. As I live here I´m sharing detailed insight with regards to travel and tourism’. A well-explained essay from Molly at Piccavey here.
‘Spain, the OECD country with the most companies on the World Bank's 'black list' of sanctions. With six, Spain is the country with the most companies vetoed in the last year; the latest, the Andalusian TR Construya, has just been disqualified for eight years due to corruption and fraud in Panama’. A report from elDiario.es here.
Francisco Correa, the imprisoned ‘leader’ of the Gürtel conspiracy, has decided to share his knowledge with some hand-written notes to the Court. These put a few erstwhile PP ‘contracts for cash’ mayors in the soup. The story is at La Vanguardia here.
Watch as a reporter on the RTVE 24hr News Channel asks a senior PP deputy called Ana Beltrán (Wiki), about corruption within the party. ‘As you well know’, she answers, ‘because we said so around a month back, that… we don’t speak of those things, or of things that have passed that don’t have anything to do with the new leadership. As such, I have nothing to say’. ‘OK, cool…’, says the reporter. The 49 sec. video is on Twitter here.
Público dissects a viral bulo, a successful fake-news item, here.
Libertad Digital is a far-right news-site which is now 21 years old. It is funded by ‘institutional advertising’ and public loans. The company now broadcasts on esRadio with one of its founders Federico Jiménez Losantos remaining very active in his far-right editorials. Details on the group and its finance are found at El Salto here.
El Español also seeks its own path downhill. Tuesday’s headline: ‘Pablo Iglesias loses his official car and chauffer but gets a bus pass’ before talking about ministerial changes.
‘¿Cómo nos ven? How the Spanish press see the British’. Item from West Country Bylines here. An excerpt: ‘…However, comparing the ‘same’ news stories in the UK and foreign press provides a very revealing ‘other’ perspective in which it very often transpires that the false picture given by the UK media is nothing more than propaganda designed to sweep unpalatable facts under the carpet, and to bolster the popularity of the government, as engineered by certain ‘puppet-master’ press barons…’.
From Metro here: ‘When you think of a wind turbine, an image of an airplane-propeller hoisted high in the air comes to mind – but that might be about to change. Norway’s state energy company, one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world, has named Vortex Bladeless, a Madrid-based bladeless turbine company, one of the most exciting in the world. The six-person startup makes 3 metre high bladeless wind turbines, which oscillate back and forth in the wind like a punching bag, generating electrical current from the movement…’.
‘Last week, King Felipe VI and his wife Queen Letizia were in Andorra for an official visit – which might not seem very newsworthy were it not for the fact they are the first Spanish monarchs to do so in 602 years. This makes them the first Spanish monarchs ever to do so, since Andorra's Parliament has only been in existence for six centuries...’. Think Spain reports here.
Eulixe brings us an introduction to the powerful Opus Dei (with videos) here.
From Crux here: ‘Spain: Ideology, division threaten church-state cooperation’. Considering the fall in worshipers in Spain, the article says ‘…This year alone, the legalization of euthanasia, the removal of crosses from public spaces, restrictions on state funding of Catholic schools and crackdowns on the church’s ownership of nonreligious property has led to an increase in tensions between the Catholic Church and the government of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez…’.
The odd Spanish habit of changing street names when the feeling comes has brought the good people of Oviedo to mild hysteria. From elDiario.es here: ‘Francoist names return to the streets of Oviedo. A court-sentence obliges the city hall to change back the names of seventeen streets to honour the dictatorship and the military coup of 1936: with street-plates reappearing like July 19 (the day the Civil War began), Calvo Sotelo and Alférez Provisional, while the new/old names of Federico García Lorca, Charles Darwin and Calle del Progreso are all (temporarily?) binned. "They are driving us crazy," say the affected neighbours and merchants…’.
More discussion arises on the issues between the country (not country) of Kosovo (Wiki) and the Kingdom of Spain. The Republic of Kosovo is not Catalonia, of course, but it got its independence from Serbia in 2008. It is recognised by 22 of the 27 EU states. The reason for the unrest being the UEFA European qualifier match (played in Seville on Wednesday) between Spain and Kosovo. The TVE transmission of the match, to avoid calling Kosovo by its name (it’s not allowed) talks of ‘España contra la Federación de Fútbol de Kosovo’.
Inditex, owned by the wealthiest man in Spain, paid precisely nothing in taxes in 2019 says Oskar Matute, the parliamentary deputy from Bildu. In 2019, the company reported earnings of 10,400 million euros. The revelation is reported in Contrainformación here.
From El Español here: ‘Up to 50% of the fines handed out by the Traffic Police are annulled after drivers go to court and successfully get many of the tickets removed.
All companies without exception must prepare a list of employees showing their wage and their sex within the next two weeks (April 14) or face fines. This is to fight against the wage-gap by gender says elDiario.es here.
The OCU consumers’ group looks at the best white goods (electrodomésticos) on offer here.
The tin-opener, that thing with a short blade which lurks at the back of the kitchen drawer, was invented by a Galician in 1906 called José Valle Armesto says El Español here.
The victorious Nationalists disinterred a number of the dead from the International Brigades, says elDiario.es, and chucked them into pits. A rare memorial for the foreign volunteers who fought on the Republican side is in the cemetery in Fuencarral, Madrid. It appears that Vox had asked for the removal of "the sculptural monument dedicated to the 'Memory of the Soviet Volunteers', as well as all the plaques in memory of International Brigadiers of different nationalities'. However, after the indignant reception to this plan, they appear to have reconsidered. Some photographs of historical interest feature in the article.
A well-made French animation is on YouTube showing the different constructions and extensions of the wonderful Córdoba mosque.
From Eye on Spain here: ‘The Mystery of Christopher Columbus's final resting place’.
From Archeology here: ‘The Visigoths' Imperial Ambitions. How an unlikely Visigothic city rose in Spain amid the chaotic aftermath of Rome’s final collapse’. The city in question is Reccopolis, founded in 578AD. ‘…Today, the remains of these buildings sit atop a plateau that rises above the banks of the Tagus River in the central Spanish province of Guadalajara. Although Reccopolis is less than a two-hour drive from Madrid, parts of this province have in recent years become some of the most desolate in all of Europe due to financial crises and a dearth of economic opportunities for its rural population. However, 1,400 years ago, the opposite process was underway…’.
El Confidencial brings us ten beautiful Spanish mountain pueblos here.
From the editorial last week.
Indeed... do we really need cars? If we live in a city quite probably not. In villages, small towns more so, I'd say. Thing is... a lot of us simply like them... and like driving. I like the active process of getting in my car and going where I want, whenever I want. But buy a brand new one... especially right now when the technology is changing so rapidly...? obviously not. As you say, why buy an expensive electric when it's going to be out of date and worthless in 5 years? Car manufacturers must be increasingly worried as we happily tootle around in our aging bangers!
A musician from Gibraltar once did well in the charts. Who remembers Albert Hammond and It Never Rains In Southern California? On YouTube here.