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Weekly Report

Business over Tapas (Nº 414)

Business over Tapas (Nº 414)

  • 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

viernes 24 de septiembre de 2021, 18:12h

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Editorial:

The American embassy has sent out a warning: ‘News media report volcanic eruptions have occurred in La Palma, Canary Islands. Evacuations are underway in Cabeza de Vaca, El Paraiso and Tacande. There are reports of ensuing forest fires as well. U.S. citizens are advised to monitor local news and government websites for detailed information, including precautions to take and possible evacuation instructions’. There’s a satellite map and pictures here.

The Canary Islands, at 1,300kms distance, are a long way from the Spanish mainland, being in the Atlantic Ocean some 600kms off the Western Sahara. In the improbable event that the eruptions turn the island of Palma into an explosive Karakatoa, the resulting tsunami (says a concerned article at the NZ Herald) where ‘…anywhere between 150 and 500 cubic kilometres of rock could slide into the ocean at 100 metres per second…’, adding, ‘The immense force caused by such a landslide would generate huge waves, hundreds of metres high, that would spread across the Atlantic and hit the coast of the Americas at heights of up to 25 metres…’. Concentrating more on the American East Coast than elsewhere, a 2008 clip from The BBC on YouTube explains what could – conceivably – happen. Another (better) hair-raising video from Naked Science, with the notable quote ‘…It’s a new-born baby island, barely passed its four millionth birthday…’, can be seen on YouTube here. Both British-made documentaries appear to be more concerned with the US than with Europe (or even the UK). Indeed, even the ABC is more worried about Manhattan than it is about Cádiz.

Shades of Hollywood’s Roland Emmerich and his disaster film ‘2012’.

The tidal wave reaching Spain – at least the Atlantic coast, would apparently be less severe and the tight entrance into the Mediterranean would stop anything much more than a heavy sea rising a few metres inland.

Volcanic eruptions are quite rare and can be dangerous – as the good people of Pompeii found out – briefly – to their cost (although the current tremblers in Yellowstone could herald something better described as catastrophic). However, Spanish volcanologists say the chance of such a scenario is infinitesimal. The Olive Press also looks at the rank improbability of a mega-tsunami here. El Huff Post is another to cast cold water on the tsunami scenario here.

In all, and returning to reality, the likelihood is that the Palma eruption will continue for some time and, looking on the bright side as the TV whimsically noted on Monday, the lava flowing into the sea will fortuitously cause the island to grow in size (!).

We read in El País in English that ‘The president of the island council, Mariano Hernández Zapata, called the scene ‘devastating’ given that the molten rock ‘is literally eating up the houses, infrastructure and crops’ on its path toward the coast’.

As the island of La Palma – really just a small portion of it – is in eruption, and everyone who lives or in holidaying nearby are hurrying across the hills to catch a glimpse of the treat (except of course the Americans), the President of Spain passed up a formal visit to the UN to meet instead with the startled neighbours while the Minister of Tourism was looking into the possibilities of making the new volcano a tourist attraction.

Meanwhile, to keep us on our toes, Sicily’s Mount Etna has just erupted.

Not that it’s necessarily happening at all, mind – some negacionistas reckon it’s a fake.

Housing:

Much is made (except, of course, where it counts) of the forgotten, underpopulated rural Spain, where no one wants to live, where there is nothing to do once the sun sets, and where the Internet, bank, pharmacy and other services are poor at best. From El País here, we read ‘Young migrant youth is renewing depopulated rural Spain. Today, one in ten villagers was born abroad and the figure reaches 16% among those under 39’.

Tourism:

From BBC News here: ‘UK travel update: Amber list to be scrapped in overhaul of travel rules in England from October 4th’. To answer your question, ‘…While travel is a devolved matter, the Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish governments have often followed the UK government's rules during the pandemic…’. However, from Sur in English here: ‘Spanish face new travel requirements to the UK from 1 October. The transitional process which, since the UK left the European Union, has allowed Spaniards to continue to travel with their DNI cards, ends next month’.

Seniors

Spain is a great place for foreigners to retire to, says Uppers here. However, financially speaking, there are better bets. The article looks at Greece (a fixed tax-rate of 7% on pensions); Malta (at 15%); Cyprus (pensioners are tax free) and Italy (7% in certain cases).

Finance:

‘The Government agrees with the unions to raise the minimum wage to 965 euros per month retroactively from the beginning of September. The increase will be 15 euros per month, from the current 950 euros’. Story at elDiario.es here.

elDiario.es looks at ‘The unsuspected success of "Málaga Valley"’. The number of tech companies basing themselves in Málaga is growing fast.

The lava generated by the eruption of the La Palma volcano has already destroyed houses, infrastructures and crops. In the latter case, the main economic sustenance of the island is in danger: the production of bananas, which, says El Español here, accounts locally for 50% of the GDP and 30% of jobs. More than 5,300 producers on the island and about 10,000 families depend directly on the cultivation of bananas.

Politics:

The latest poll from the CIS gives a boost to the PSOE and Unidas Podemos, with a drop in the intentions of vote towards the PP and Vox. The PSOE now claims 29.6% of the voters against the PP’s 20.5%. The CIS is the leading survey agency in Spain. Its webpage in English here. The CIS is considered by some to have a left-wing bias.

An interview with Pablo Iglesias provokes this headline from Público: "The Partido Popular needs to control the judiciary so as not to disappear as a party" (a reference to the issues with the renewal of the CGPJ, the Council of the Judiciary). Pablo Iglesias, the former leader of Podemos, in an interview on the TV program 'En la Frontera', emphasizes that at present ‘…the right "can only stand with Vox", since the far-right model, known as the Ayuso model, is the one that will end up by imposing itself on the PP’.

From NIUS here, ‘Ayuso offers the PP’s headquarters a truce in the war in Madrid: "I am neither going to pressure nor try to overshadow Pablo Casado" says the regional leader’. The issue is that Isabel Díaz Ayuso won her recent election, while Pablo Casado, the PP leader, has not done as well. Many PP supporters would like to see Ayuso (who is to the right of the party) take over from Casado. One benefit would be the return of many supporters who are currently in the Vox camp.

Following from the ‘Teruel Exists’ campaign, a political party was formed and its leader, Tomás Guitarte (Wiki) became a surprise deputy in the Cortes. Following from this, other ‘forgotten’ provinces and groups have been encouraged to form a party to perhaps be called ‘La España Vaciada’ to run in the 2023 general elections. La Vanguardia has more here.

From NIUS here, we read that the majority of Spaniards believe that political and social tension is growing and they blame both the sometimes extreme views published in social media on the Internet and the efforts of the parties themselves, especially (of course) Vox. The results come from a poll created by GAD3.

Catalonia:

The meetings between Madrid and Barcelona to try and settle the differences between Spain and Catalonia began last week and will progress slowly without any particular time-limit. Although this may not be entirely acceptable to the Catalonians, who begin to worry that Madrid is simply playing for time. La Vanguardia says ‘Sánchez and Aragonès agree to discussions without submitting to any deadlines’. From Catalan News here, we read that ‘Dialogue is the only way forward: this is the main, and perhaps only, point of agreement between the Catalan and Spanish governments after the meeting in Barcelona last week that kick-started a high-stakes negotiation to address the independence conflict…’.

Europe:

From Xataca here: ‘The UK wants to change its metric system to pounds and ounces. And that's not a good idea’. It’s true! From The Financial Times here: ‘UK pledges to restore pounds and ounces as Brexit benefit. Bringing back imperial measures on list of deregulation targets along with financial services, agri-science and tech’.

From El País in English here: ‘The British Embassy launches survey on key issues affecting UK nationals in Spain. The aim of the poll is to better understand how full-time residents in the country who are covered by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement have been affected since the end of the Transition Period’.

They couldn’t use the photo preferred by The Daily Express of a bar covered in Union Jacks when on the subject of the Brits in Spain, or perhaps the one of us all playing bowls, but they didn’t do so badly, I think...

The Coronavirus:

The regulatory agencies will take less than four weeks to approve the use of the Pfizer vaccine in children under 12 years of age. Both the Ministry of Health and the Autonomous Communities hope to begin inoculations in early November. El Español has more here.

‘Is Spain coming to the end of the pandemic? The high vaccination rate and low incidence place Spain as the country in the world that is now closest to controlling the epidemic’. Item from La Vanguardia here. The same paper says elsewhere: ‘Spain leaves behind the fifth wave and prepares for the end of restrictions’.

Covid rates have now fallen to 74 in 100,000 says El Mundo here, while also listing the total number of cases (4,940,824) and deaths (86,085) due to coronavirus in Spain. They also provide figures per autonomous region.

Courts:

The renewal or otherwise of the CGPJ remains in the news, over 1000 days after it should have been resolved. elDiario.es has prepared an in-depth article on the senior judge at the Council of the Judiciary titled ‘Who is Carlos Lesmes and why has he not resigned as president of the Judiciary?’. It says that ‘Lesmes has almost four decades of professional career. But more than two thirds of that time he has held positions that he has reached with the support of the PP. It has been a long ascent to the summit of Justice, from one position to another, always supported by a network of crossed favours: you today, and me tomorrow’. The article is strong stuff. It begins: ‘The president of the Supreme Court and the General Council of the Judiciary earns 142,000 euros a year, plus a driver, some secretaries and sundry allowances. It is one of the highest salaries in the Administration: 40% more than the President of Spain, for comparison. But the reason why Carlos Lesmes has carried on for almost three years and has not yet resigned, even out of dignity, not only has to do with objective material conditions. It's something more…’.

‘In Brussels, the leaders of the European Commission do not understand, do not share, the Spanish debate on the renewal of the Council of the Judiciary. They do not say what should be done, it does not fall within their remit. However, they warn that it sounds bad, smells bad and damages the reputation of Spanish democracy…’. Analysis from The Corner here.

Ecology:

‘‘Climate crisis on our shores’: Mediterranean countries sign deal after summer of fires. The region’s leaders make joint declaration vowing to step up efforts to address extreme weather’. The Guardian has the story here.

El Huff Post meets with Pedro García, the director of the Asociación de Naturalistas del Sureste (ANSE), who is the chief expert on the death-agony of el Mar Menor, the inland sea near Cartagena in Murcia.

The sale of fruit and vegetables in plastic containers will be prohibited in retail businesses (both neighbourhood stores and supermarkets) in Spain from 2023 says El País here.

Various:

How many volcanoes are there in Spain? Lots, says Onda Cero here.

El Mundo writes of ‘The other great catastrophe that clings to La Palma: "The soil will take decades to regenerate". The lava will also leave "an impassable terrain", because it will draw "a very sharp relief on which one will not even be able to walk". A long-term issue.

Volcano Discovery has the updates here (refresh).

The Valencia/Madrid railway liberates, says Valencia Plaza here, the equivalent of 160,000 lorry loads of goods from the roads each year.

Iberdrola has sent out a letter to its shareholders saying that ‘the rise in the cost of its monthly bill to customers is about the same as a glass of beer’, or ‘three euros per month’.

The magnificent Gaudi-designed Barcelona cathedral slowly creeps towards completion as vital income falls at the gates. From La Vanguardia here: ‘The Sagrada Família asks for donations to speed up the end of the builders, slowed down by the pandemic’.

Pigs are known in Spain (amongst other names) as marranos (er, stinky things). Thus we read at El País in English here of ‘The macro pig-farm threatening a historical gem in northern Spain. City councils, environmentalists, architects, museums and locals are up in arms against plans for a business involving 4,200 animals, which they say will be an eyesore from Gormaz castle in Soria’.

The Government is to legislate to make the bullying by extreme groups and persons of women going to an abortion clinic illegal. It comes as a Vox deputy called (out of turn) a PSOE deputy ‘a witch’ as she spoke on the issue during a parliamentary session on Tuesday, and then refusing to back down (video).

Following the rules of grammar closely, there’s a word in Spanish which can be used in speech, but can’t be spelled. We’d write it for you here, but you see, we can’t.

Eye on Spain brings us an analysis of the seven most venomous spiders to be found in Spain. The story here.

The Olive Press looks at the Spanish propensity to swear (or ‘use potty mouth’). Spain has, we read ‘251 different explicit words’ – which people tend to use without much problem.

See Spain:

‘Civica is a very particular hamlet located in the province of Guadalajara, specifically between Masegoso de Tajuña and Brihuega. In fact, it belongs to the municipality of the latter. It is a group of abandoned houses built in the form of a cave in the rock, which makes it a unique place in Spain. A great destination for those who make a getaway in La Alcarria…’. A peculiar place featured in Fascinating Spain here.

Finally:

La Oreja de Van Gogh with Cuídate on YouTube here.

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