Despite some potential headaches for Pedro Sánchez at the 40th Congress of the PSOE (his pardons for the imprisoned Catalonian independence leaders and defenestration of Susana Díaz, Carmen Calvo and José Luis Ábalos among them), everything has come out fortified and well and we meet some new faces in the party’s federal commission. The congress for the socialists was held this past Friday through Sunday in Valencia.
Sánchez received the unconditional support of his two party presidential predecessors Rodríguez Zapatero and Felipe González during the bash, and presented to the wife of his particular predecessor (and nemesis) the late Pérez Rubalcaba a bust of that politician which, in the best tradition of portraits commissioned by dissenting colleagues ‘doesn’t look the least like the original’.
We learn that the party intends to present a debate over the abolition of prostitution in Spain.
The political journalist Ester Palomera writes that, with the success of the congress under his belt, ‘El Sanchísmo is no more, now it is the PSOE, united once again’. This refers to when Sánchez was himself deposed from the party following his refusal to back Mariano Rajoy for president in 2016 (Wiki) which led to a caretaker leadership until Sánchez was overwhelmingly voted back into his position by the party faithful.
An emotional friend sent us this note from Valencia: ‘Forward! It has been an emotional 40th Congress in which our party has renewed its leadership and its political presentation that will mark the line of policies that we will apply in the next four years…’.
From Investing here, we read ‘Madrid’s Barajas is the eighth busiest airport in the world for international flights’. Dubai is the world-leader in international flights and Atlanta leads for all flights, domestic included. (re-load to remove irritating banner).
From El País in English here: ‘Inside Spain’s pod hotels. The Japanese model of minimalist accommodation is gaining ground, but there are concerns over the lack of regulation’.
‘Spain’s government has proposed a controversial change to the autonomo system which would see self-employed workers in Spain pay an average of €8 more per month in social security contributions. The draft General State Budgets for 2022 has outlined a plan to increase both the monthly quotas and the contribution base for self-employed workers starting next year…’. More at The Olive Press here.
The Corner looks behind the curtains in ‘Will the Spanish Budget Deliver a Fair Recovery?’ It sounds fishy: ‘The Spanish government boasts that the tabled budget will benefit most citizens, from pensioners to young people, self-employed people or civil servants. It hopes targeting such groups will pay off when election time comes. The government is also pinning its re-election hopes on the bonuses it will give young people to help them find a place to live on their own and on the money for entertainment it will hand out to those who will be of voting age next year…’.
From RTVE here: ‘Congress validates the Government's plan to reduce electricity by 22% and cut benefits to electricity companies’.
Where do the wealthy live? The tax-people reveal which city postal codes have the wealthiest residents, with something like 200,000€ a year income separating the residents in the La Moraleja urbanisation in Alcobendas (average income 245,400€) with the Carrús barrio in Elche. Perhaps La Moraleja is a moneyed blip, since the second place goes (inevitably?) to el Barrio de Salamanca in Madrid at an average 130,600€ annual income.
The variation between last week’s poll for El Español and one just a couple of days later from the CIS is amazing. El Español had the PP leading in ‘if there were elections today’ at 27.2% versus 25 for the PSOE. ‘Tezanos’ CIS’ (as detractors like to call the main pollster here) brings in the PSOE at 28.5% versus the PP at 22.1%. There’s more here on the second poll at El Huff Post. Perhaps it just comes down to who they ask…
The brightest star in Unidas Podemos, the coalition between the Izquierda Unida (itself a coalition of a number of parties) together with Podemos, is the minister from the IU (she is a member of the Communist Party of Spain) Yolanda Díaz (wiki). Díaz, who is also the Second Vice-President, is proving popular with the electorate, and Podemos says it is prepared to stand in the next elections using a revised name under her coalition leadership.
The Corner opinion on Pablo Casado’s surprise agreement to the renewal of the pending institutional bodies (except for the General Council of the Judiciary). ‘…Given the dull, tedious, bitter and disappointing panorama of the current political confrontation, Casado’s offer, albeit partial, opens up a parenthesis, an opportunity. Normalising the institutions would be a positive sign for the quality of Spanish democracy, which is increasingly questioned at home and abroad…’.
It’s ten years since ETA dissolved itself, and to everyone’s surprise, the best-known politician from the Basque independence movement Arnaldo Otegi has just stated (in the name of his party EH Bildu) that ‘the pain caused by ETA "should never have occurred"’ and he expressed ‘"from the heart" his sorrow and pain for the suffering caused to its victims’. elDiario.es has the report and the video. The PP answered by saying ‘They laugh at the victims’, and called Otegi’s lamentations ‘a macabre joke’ says 20Minutos here. The PSOE think his apologies were ‘insufficient’ (El Huff Post here). There’s an interview here with Tony Blair’s international mediator on the dissolution of ETA, Johnathan Powell, whilst on a recent visit to Barcelona.
Pedro Sánchez was answering Santiago Abascal the Vox leader, who had been saying that he blames the illegal immigrants for robberies and rapes, in a session of control of the Government in the Congress of Deputies where Sánchez replied by saying that crime stats are currently at a minimum. The president then accused the leader of Vox of promoting "controversy, division and hatred" and asked him if that’s what he thinks is "patriotism". Europa Press has the story here (with video).
Why are the Trumpers cozying up with Europe’s far-right asks elDiario.es here with a stock-photo of Ted Cruz together with Santiago Abascal. Cruz spoke by video-conference at the recent Vox congress. Is this the beginning of the "Internacional Populista" (wiki) asks the news-site.
It’s perhaps bad enough that the mayor of Madrid has a higher salary that the President of Spain (108,520€ against 84,850€), but, says La Cadena Ser here, 23 councillors in the Madrid city government also earn more than Pedro Sánchez.
Parliamentary lawyers have ruled that the Podemos deputy (the one with the dreadlocks), condemned with six weeks without representation, gets to stay in the Congreso – at least for the time being. Alberto Rodríguez was found guilty of kicking a policemen in a demo back in 2014. The PSOE, UP and allies are understandably pleased, the PP, Vox and C’s are of course, furious.
The councillor of culture in Bellaterra (a small municipality in Barcelona), the non-aligned Mei Barceló, says that the Spanish immigrants to Catalonia were fleeing from: "hunger, disease and snot". El Liberal notes that ‘In a clearly supremacist and xenophobic message, Barceló also refers to the Spanish as "ñordos” (caca!)’. The councillor is even more excitable in a tweet, saying that the immigrants from Spain – (sometimes known as los charnegos) – should have stayed where they were (The link comes via Meneame here).
From Catalan News here: ‘Barcelona second best student city in Europe, says report. The Catalan capital is 19th in world ranking, scoring high in its number of top universities and safety’.
From El Español here: ‘Promoting climate diplomacy and taking advantage of the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union to regain sovereignty of Gibraltar are two of the priority objectives set by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the General Budgets. “The colony of Gibraltar destroys national unity and the territorial integrity of Spain, which is incompatible with the United Nations Resolution 1514 on decolonization in general”…’.
El País in English runs ‘Brexit disputes threaten to leave Gibraltar with hard border. The Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares will meet with mayors of towns near the British Overseas Territory amid concerns that strict checks might make a comeback’
From The EWN here: ‘Expats furious at Spanish residency nonsense’. The Brexitero expat free-sheet says ‘Expats are getting seriously annoyed at the rising rate of rejections occurring during the post-Brexit Spanish residency application process…’. Here at BoT, we enjoyed the comments, including this tongue-in-cheek (?) one: ‘Bunch of hooligans lacking basic culture. Decent Brits holiday in the Cotswolds or Cornwall. It’s the white trash that, despite living abroad for years, didn’t even bother to pay taxes or learn the language’. Meneame quotes the embarrassing article here and gathers a large number of mainly anti-expat comments. Note: Despite being based in Marbella, the EWN journalist has preferred to quote The London-based Express throughout. The EWN also takes a pasting in a thread at Brexpats in Spain (on Facebook) who have a piece on the EWN’s Leapy Lee (here).
‘The greatest risk of exposure to the coronavirus in hospitals is not in the rooms but in the corridors’ says elDiario.es here (worth a thought!). A nurse tells me that ‘while they are being tubed, they are asking if it’s too late for a vaccine’.
A video in YouTube from Deutsche Welle (in English) here: ‘How Spain got to the top of the vaccination ladder’. The video says that Spain has one of the highest Covid vaccination rates in the world and that nearly 80 percent of people here are fully vaccinated.
People will be expected to wear face-masks in indoor public spaces until spring next year says the Minister of Health, quoted in The Olive Press here.
From Politico here: ‘Spain’s ruling class fearful as ‘The Technician’ goes on trial. José Manuel Villarejo is accused of crimes ranging from bribery and extortion to forgery and influence peddling’. We read that ‘The 70-year-old former policeman is widely believed to have been at the centre of a deep-state apparatus stretching back decades whose tentacles reached into the media, judiciary, big business and politics. His activities are believed to have tarnished the reputations of an array of ministers, business leaders, senior figures in the judiciary, and even the monarchy…’. The trial began on Wednesday.
A judge has ordered elDiario.es to reveal its source for a story it ran listing the ‘treasures’ held by the descendants of General Franco at a large country house now returned to the state. The editor’s reply is succinct enough: 'no’.
Ana Rosa Quintana’s name came up last week here at BoT regarding her Fox News-style reporting on Tele5 to push the conservative viewpoint to her gullible viewers. Pablo Iglesias has now penned an article on her activities at Naiz titled ‘The Ideology of Hatred’. More on this ‘journalistic putrefaction’ (Iglesias again) at Público here.
There’s no doubt but that the media here is caressed by its backers. Which is why one needs to read from more than one origin. A truth which means one has to subscribe to various news-sources. We may be wrong here, as El País (‘seven free articles left this month’) sends out its short video advert: ‘Porque si somos más, la oscuridad es menos’.
How about this one? Readers’ Poll at (the far-right) ECM: ‘Do you think that the government cares about the well-being of the citizens?’. Answers so far: 95.60% No!
From El País in English here: ‘Two generations of botanists end titanic task: Describing the 6,120 plants of Spain and Portugal. A project spanning 39 years and 255 authors has found that 22% of species in the Iberian Peninsula do not grow anywhere else in the world’.
A start-up company called CO2 Revolution is to plant 2.5 million trees across ten Spanish provinces in the largest reforestation campaign in Spain says El Confidencial here.
Tics, those unpleasant creatures who burrow their heads under the skin of various animals – and sometimes humans as well – are extending their reach northwards in Spain due to Climate Change says Deia here. These arachnids – garrapatas in Spanish – are also carrying more disease than hitherto.
From Reporters News here: ‘The President of the Region of Murcia Fernando López Miras has announced the “greatest re-naturalisation of the Mar Menor” with the expropriation of 3.1 million square metres in El Carmolí, Cartagena, to recover “a unique ecosystem in the world and avoid human pressures on this privileged environment”…’. The plan is to turn the wetland of El Carmolí into a protected natural area that can be preserved and visited.
From MSM here: ‘the volcanic eruption on the Spanish island of La Palma which has destroyed large swathes of land and buildings marked its first month on Tuesday with no end in sight.
20Minutos reminds readers of those retired politicians who have enjoyed the ‘revolving doors’ system to find cushy jobs on the boards of the power companies (or other powerful private companies). The suspicion is that they may have paid their dues while still in a position of power themselves…
El Salto focuses on the shadowy far-right Christian group El Yunque. It begins: ‘Catholic fundamentalism is having a good time in Spain. The Catholic Church has gained space in the media to the point of launching a television network (7NN), and Vox represents the culmination of its political program’. Apart from El Yunque, we read in the article of both Hazte Oir and The Atlas Network (la Red Atlas in Spain) (wiki). More on Atlas here.
‘Some 15,000 people without papers - 8,000 of them, unaccompanied migrant minors and 7,000 young people aged 18 to 23 who were under Spanish protection as minors - will be able to access residence and work permits more easily after the reform of the Immigration Regulations approved this Tuesday by the Council of Ministers’, says La Vanguardia here.
From BigThink Buzz here: ‘Sex work has been legal in Spain since 1995. But the nation’s prime minister is now vowing to ban prostitution, saying it ‘enslaves women’.’
The Government has now confirmed that motorway use will be paid for (in some yet as undetermined way) by motorists, says La Cadena Ser here.
A judge rules that parked vehicles that haven’t passed their ITV cannot be penalized.
Codere, the slot-machine people, say that they are entering into bankruptcy proceedings.
The mayor of Zorita de los Canes, a pueblo in Guadalajara, has announced that he will use the budget set aside for the town fiestas to pay the electricity bill for all its inhabitants.
From The Guardian here: ‘Female Spanish thriller writer Carmen Mola is revealed to be three men. The trio step out from behind pseudonym marketed as ‘Spain’s Elena Ferrante’ to accept the Planeta €1m prize’. La Cadena Ser notes that a bookshop in Madrid that specialises in women authors has pulled all the books from Carmen Mola from its shelves. The backstory at Maldita here.
Spare a thought for Isaac, poor chap. Dead these past two years, according to all the official paperwork, yet still alive and kicking. One would think that it would be easy to sort such a mistake out… The story is at elDiario.es here. Didn’t his father Abraham try and kill Isaac, only to be saved by God at the last moment? Don’t the funcionarios ever read their bibles?
The Guardia Civil have discovered ‘the largest plantation of marijuana so far in Europe’ in a 12ha holding in Huerta de Valdecarábanos, Toledo, with 135,000 plants ready for consumption. The story and video is at LaSexta here. El Huff Post says that the Government has created a sub-commission to consider the pros and cons of liberalising the Marijuana medical rules. A call for full legalisation (‘production, distribution and consumption’) will be voted against, says La Vanguardia here, when it is presented in Parliament on Thursday. A story in LaSexta from 2018 says that, if marijuana were to be legalised in Spain, the State could rake in 3,312 million euros in taxes each year…
‘After each of his victories as a matador, John Fulton would paint a portrait of the bull he had slain using its own blood, after the manner of the hunter-painters who had decorated the cave walls of Altamira. (…) In 1956 he went to Spain, where he became the first American to qualify as a matador and spent 40 years fighting professionally in the ring. The paintings were decidedly a side-line, as he regarded bullfighting itself as an art. “It is the most difficult art form in the world,” he once said. “You are required to create a work of art spontaneously with a semi-unknown medium, which can kill you, in front of one of the most critical audiences around. And it all leaves only a memory’. From Futility Closet here.
‘The young man who spent summers in an Asturian town and is now fighting in the Saharawi war: "I just want a normal life". Many of the children who spent their holidays hosted by Spanish families are now fighting in the low intensity war that the Polisario Front faces against Morocco. 22 year-old Annas is one of them. A report from elDiario.es here.
From La Razón, we learn that 20,000 Maoris joined the celebrations for the Día de la Hispanidad earlier this month. They are the descendants of Manuel José de Frutos, an adventurer from Segovia who settled in New Zealand in 1835.
Thanks to Brexit, says LaSexta, certain brands of alcohol aren’t getting through to Spain according to the local distributors: whisky, gin and vodka. Article and video here.
From BBC Travel here, ‘For centuries, people have tapped pine trees to extract resin. But in the forested parts of Segovia, Ávila and Valladolid, locals believe this age-old practice could save rural towns while also helping the planet…’.
Molly from Piccavey at the Cartuja Monastery: ‘A Jewel of Spanish Baroque in Granada’.
Jesus Christ Superstar had its own Spanish version with Camilo Sesto performing the part of Jesus and Teddy Bautista with the role of Judas. Sesto was the person responsible (in Francoist Spain!) for bringing the show to this country and bankrolling it here. Cadena Ser has the story of the musical in Spain, and here’s Camilo Sesto with Getsemaní (live 1977) on YouTube.