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Weekly Report

Business over Tapas (Nº 401)

Business over Tapas (Nº 401)

  • 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

jueves 03 de junio de 2021, 16:03h

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Editorial:

What’s the deal? Should the Government forgive the Catalonian separatists and grant clemency to the imprisoned nine?

How about the three on the lam in Brussels and Scotland (now once again with immunity)?

How about the many thousands of ordinary Catalonians who face fines or other punishment following the illegal pro-independence referendum from October 2017 (Wiki)?

An indulto is a ‘special measure of grace by which the competent authority forgives a person all or part of the penalty to which he had been sentenced by virtue of a final judgment’, says Google. You have to have been proven guilty by the court before you can be pardoned by an indulto.

Pedro Sánchez has been warned (especially by the right-wing) that such mercy is misplaced and that he will lose support even from his own party-militants. Sánchez is however looking at statesmanship over politics, arguing that it is time to heal the problem rather than exacerbate it.

The Spanish – forgive the banal generalisation – don’t particularly like the Catalonians, but they don’t want them to ‘leave’. The issue is whether to use a strong stick or a carrot.

The right prefers the first, the left prefers the second.

Certainly, an important gesture from the Government in allowing ‘the political prisoners’ – who are serving between nine and fifteen years for sedition – to return to their homes is overdue.

Arrayed against this proposal, which must first undergo a review of the rules before any announcement via a Council of Ministers can be made, we have the (PP-controlled) judges from the Supreme Court, the opposition parties (who intend to return to the Plaza de Colón for their photo opportunity on Sunday June 13th) and – as the right-wing media tells us – certain sectors of the PSOE itself (mainly those from the days of Felipe González).

Former governments have allowed indultos, pardons, at least for the lesser crime of corruption: there have been 155 signed off by the PP and 62 from the PSOE since 1996. José María Aznar signed the most with 139.

President Sánchez has so far not granted any indulgencies.

‘Sanchez speaks of courage; the PP claim that it would be more courageous still to uphold the law’ – says the ECD here. ‘The police insist that Sánchez wants the pardon so as to hold on to power’ says the ABC (paywall) here. La Razón thinks that it’s ‘High Treason’ here.

On the ‘courageous side’ is former president Rodriguez Zapatero, who himself finally closed the chapter on ETA: "This decision can significantly help what all Spaniards want, which is for things to be better between Catalonia and the rest of Spain, both for the independence movement to lose strength and for dialogue to return", says Europa Press.

As the left-wing elDiario.es says ‘They are in a hurry in their anger against the still non-existent pardon because they do not like to think that the Government can succeed in decompressing the Catalan problem’.

Housing:

Murcia Plaza reports that foreigners are buying one-in-five properties sold in the region. The Brits lead followed by Moroccans, French and Germans… (With thanks to Aethicus).

Tourism:

The Ministry of Health has decreed that bars can open until 1.00am (last orders at 12 midnight) and tables inside can have a maximum of six people. Discos until 2.00am (or later in low risk areas). The limits to run until 70% of the population have been vaccinated.

‘“Spain will not be on the Green travel list before the end of July”, says the UK ambassador during a visit to Benidorm this Wednesday. Hugh Elliott has ruled out a ‘regional exception’ in spite of the low Covid rates on the Costa Blanca’ says The Olive Press here.

Finance:

The paro, unemployment, was down last month by 130,000 says InfoLibre here.

How much more in taxes would the corporations pay if they were charged a flat 21% across Europe? Spain, goes the calculation, would take an extra 5,400 million euros each year from Shell, Iberdrola and a host of other multinationals. elDiario.es looks at the details.

A new EU law will soon oblige a prospective employer to explain the future wage packet before an interview begins says El Economista here.

As for teleworking – Xataca says that 70% of employers want to see their employees return to the office, where they have a higher productivity, while 90% of the bunnies would prefer to stay with working from home.

From The Corner here: ‘The Pandemic Cuts Household Income By 3.3% And Companies’ Gross Operating Surplus By 18%’.

Thirty ex-politicians now working in state-run (or partially owned) companies (they are in the boardrooms) make 8.5 million euros a year between them says VozPópuli here. The companies include Indra, Enagás, Red Eléctrica Española, Hispasat, Navantia and Correos

Politics:

In a survey carried out by DYM for 20Minutos here, the best of the party leaders today is Yolanda Díaz, the Minister of Labour and the acting head of Unidas Podemos.

In Murcia, Vox has won the day: with the support of the two other right-wing parties PP and C's, Murcia children will now have a Spanish flag in their school, a photo of the king in every classroom and, at the decision of the school, they will be played the (wordless) Spanish National Anthem every morning. The patriotic stuff - flags, anthems and royals - is identified these days as belonging to the far-right rather than to all Spaniards.

El Español normally doesn’t like Susana Díaz, but needs must… ‘Díaz opens the campaign with a warning to Calle Ferraz (PSOE headquarters in Madrid): the PSOE-A does not want to be a subsidiary "directed from outside". She asks for respect and autonomy for the 46,000 Andalusian militants. "They have the right to vote freely"’. The preferred candidate for the Andalusian primaries (listed by the conservative news-service as ‘one of the two other candidates’) is the PSOE mayor of Seville Juan Espadas. The foregoing at El Español here. El Huff Post reports that La Susanita suspects that they want her out because she’s a woman (!). ‘…The ‘sanchistas’ and ex-susanistas do not see it precisely that way. "She is a gift for the PP," says one of her critics...’ (here). The primaries begin on June 13th.

Catalonia:

El Español has a story about Moroccans agitating in Catalonia (under the orders of Rabat) for independence from Spain. It’s another string in the bow against the Spanish policy towards the Western Sahara (an old Spanish colony) says the news-source.

A Catalonian opinion about the possible indultos at El Periodico here – essentially says that the PP barely exists in the region and that the major Constitucionalista parties, as well as the Independentista ones, are all looking to relieve the tension, rather than increase it.

Morocco:

‘Spain has refused to participate in African Lion 2021, the most important military manoeuvres ever held in Africa, which will take place from June 7 to 18 in Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal (...) Government sources admit that the underlying reason is that a great part of these exercises, in which Spain has participated each year, will take place for the first time in Western Sahara. Sending Spanish soldiers there would legitimize the Moroccan occupation of the former colony…’. El País has the story here.

Morocco admits that the crisis between Rabat and Madrid is down to the subject of the Western Sahara rather than the issue of the hospitalised Polisario leader says ECD here.

On Tuesday, ‘a judge declined to send Brahim Gali, leader of the Polisario Front, to prison or to withdraw his passport. Thus, said El País (partial paywall) here, ‘the Saharawi leader, who is currently in a hospital in Logroño, will be able to leave Spain’. Ghali is wanted by Morocco for various crimes, including genocide (!) against Moroccan prisoners of war and dissidents. Possibly fabricated offences, but, does no one compare this to the Catalonian independence movement? Later that afternoon, Ghali left on a plane from Pamplona bound for Algiers.

Morocco is seeking support among fellow Arab countries for its territorial squabble with Spain and the EU says El Español here. Meanwhile, a story late on Tuesday from Ecsaharaui said that Rabat intends to cut diplomatic relations with Spain over the crisis.

Europe:

Looking for something else, we found this at Wiki: ‘The Assembly of French Citizens Abroad (French: Assemblée des Français de l'étranger) is the political body that represents French citizens living outside France. The assembly advises the government on issues involving French nationals living outside France, as well as the role of France in overseas developments. Membership consists of directly elected representatives, senators representing French citizens abroad and officials appointed by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs…’. Elsewhere, we know of the eleven seats in the French National Assembly that represent Frenchmen who live abroad.

Our weekly Express story here: ‘Furious British expats left without water and electricity - 'Why are we the victims?' British expats who bought properties in Murcia, Spain, are fighting back against the region's failure to provide them with water and electricity’.

The Coronavirus:

Spain has reached the nine million fully-vaccinated mark says Cadena Ser here. A further eighteen million have received one (out of two) doses.

Courts:

The Kitchen Inquiry (the PP-backed plan to discredit Luis Bárcenas) has thrown up another scandal with (ex-General Secretary of the PP) Dolores de Cospedal and her businessman husband. They are being investigated for crimes of bribery, embezzlement and influence peddling says Público here and they must declare in front of the judge later this month.

A judge orders Rodrigo Rato to stand trial over the alleged fraudulent origin of his fortune and asks for a bail of 65 million euros says La Información here. The magistrate has called for a trial against the former president of Bankia for tax crimes, money laundering and corruption, for which the Prosecutor's Office is asking for 70 years in prison’. Rato, who has already served time for his part in the ‘black credit cards’ scandal, was recently allowed ‘early release’ from the Soto Real prison.

Media:

While we appear to be able to get a form of Googled News (sic) on our androids, tailored to our preferences and inclinations, Spain is officially the only country in the Western World that doesn’t have Google News, following a copyright squabble between the Spanish Government (and the newspaper barons) and the aggregator in 2014. Now it looks like Google News will return – by Parliamentary Decree no less.

The regional TV stations are, understandably, in the hands of the regional governments. Thus, the Andalusian Canal Sur is right-wing (see its news and wonder!) and on the insistence of Vox we have regular bull-fights and huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’ shows. TeleMadrid is now even more under the thumb of its regional president Ayuso, says Público here, while Pablo Casado insists that the national news service of RTVE must be impartial.

Ecology:

Europe’s smallest raptor is the Eurasian Pygmy Owl (Wiki), a cute little hunter (Linneus described it as ‘sparrow sized’), it normally lives in Scandinavia, Russia and other cold places. Verde y Azul reports a sighting of the diminutive owl in the Pyrenees here.

The farmers often complain about the low prices they get for their produce. Agronoma writes here about the farmers being offered less than 15c for watermelons and 20c for melons. They prefer, at least in some cases, to throw them to the goats. Mercadona fruit and veg prices, updated daily, are at InfoAgro here. *Waterlelons were on offer at our local Aldi on Wednesday, cut from 1.99€ to 1.49€ a kilo.

Various:

A British company called Hybrid Air Vehicles is planning to install a dirigible route between Palma and Barcelona in 2025 using a vehicle called an Airlander 10. It’ll take about four and a half hours but – who’s in a hurry? The story is at El Salto here. The Guardian has ‘Airships for city hops could cut flying’s CO2 emissions by 90%. The Bedford-based blimp maker unveils short-haul routes such as Liverpool-Belfast that it hopes to serve by 2025’.

How about an ambulance parked outside an abortion clinic? It offers free ultrasounds (and a stiff lecture from the anti-abortionists within). Then, maybe some cute little rubber foetuses to play with while you wait? The clinics have been complaining for years about the activities of the ‘ultra-catholic’ group Derecho a Vivir says elDiario.es here. A video from the Derecho a Vivir group is here. A popular TV investigative show called Salvados looks at the problems of aborting in Murcia where there are no clinics at all and women are obliged to seek a termination in another province says La Vanguardia.

The Junta de Andalucía has voted to ‘stick rigorously to the rules of language laid down by the Real Academia Española. All school books must conform to this. No more trabajadores y trabajadoras. It’s probably for the best.

Would you fight for your country (right or wrong)? A map of Europe shows the ‘yes please’ proportion (21% in Spain, 28% in the UK, 18% in Germany). Morocco, not shown, scores a bloodthirsty 94%. Strambotic has the story here.

The oldest bar in Spain, says Emprendedores here, is El Rinconcillo in Seville, going strong since 1670.

The ayuntamiento of Villajoyosa (Alicante), in its efforts to ‘improve the mental and physical health of its subjects’, says that it recommends practicing nudism on its beaches.

From Eye on Spain here: ‘Ñ, the letter that almost disappeared...’. We read that there are 15,700 words in Spanish with an ñ, including of course the venerable words España, mañana and año. Why does one of our popular expat newspapers refuse to use the ñ? Because, they’ll answer, it’s not in the British newspapers official lexicon. So, for those who live in Peniscola, Valdepenas, Salobrena and so on… hard cheese!

Reddit has a map of Spain here showing the population distribution.

An item from The Washington Post here: ‘Spain’s postal service introduces skin-tone stamps to fight racism — and makes the whitest one the most valuable’. (Thanks John).

A joke doing the rounds refers to the new cheap-rate for electricity consumption. ‘There used to be a curfew, but now I have to get home at midnight to switch on the washing machine’. More seriously, Facua (the consumer organisation), says that ‘Making consumers move to the trough hours after midnight is degrading’.

Lenox is Feeding the Birds at Eye on Spain here.

Business over Tapas has its own Facebook page here.

See Spain:

La Comarca tells us that they’ve fixed up the Castillo de Valderrobles (Teruel) and the National Monument looks a treat.

‘Founded by King Ferdinand IV's royal decree, the Real Jardín Botánico is a two-and-a-half centuries-old wonder, occupying 20-acres of lush terrain in the heart of Spain's capital city…’. An item from Eye on Spain brings a breath of fresh air to Madrid.

Finally:

Here’s Estopa (made up by two brothers generally performing Catalonian rumba, says Wiki) with Tu Calorro on YouTube.

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