Official holidays for December 6th and 8th mean a long weekend. Or maybe even, a long week of holiday.
This edition is a bit shorter than usual as I had spent Thursday and Friday with my daughter and family, who live an hour down the motorway, celebrating first Thanksgiving (where one eats too much) followed the next day by my birthday (where one’s interests traditionally turn to drink). Coming into the weekend, and now safely home, I found myself in bed feeling dopey and with a lungy cough. My goodness!
With fears of Covid, no one came close to see how I was doing. The best I got was a brief call up the stair-well. ‘You all right there?’
Luckily I slept most of the time and had practically nothing to drink or eat except for a box of chocolates I had been planning to give to someone for Christmas.
There was no high-temperature as far as I could tell, but I suffered from lethargy and while not sleeping or dozing, I found reading to be too much of a bother.
I’ve had all my shots: corona and ’flu, so it could have been anything. In the old days, they’d have called it a ‘dreaded lurgy’.
By an agreeable coincidence, I missed the three days of intensive olive-picking down on the farm and, as I was house-bound on Tuesday, I also didn’t have to lug them down to the almazara for them to be turned into oil.
I think of it as a belated birthday present.
From Diario Sur here: ‘The new Andalusian land law facilitates construction on rustic land. The Junta de Andalucía’s planning minister Marifrán Carazo claims that the approval of the so-called LISTA is transcendent for the urban future of the region and will help serve to unravel the bureaucracy’. The ABC features several types of prefabricated houses which will now be legal in Andalucía here. From Diario de Almería here: ‘Those affected by previous planning laws welcome the new ‘land law’’. It warns that ‘The main problem is that some municipalities and their technical services seem reluctant to apply all these new regulations and that it seems as if some of these were anchored in the past with the old cumbersome and bureaucratic way of doing things’. BoT congratulates reader Gerardo Vásquez, the lawyer who helped bring this new law forward.
AUAN brings us in full the new Planning Laws for Andalucía (at the bottom of the bulletin)
From La Informacíon here: ‘The only inhabitant of a lost village in Asturias: "They have abandoned us". The España Vaciada cries out against the rural exodus that feeds on the smallest population centres, which little by little see themselves disappearing. In our country there are currently 1,800 villages with only one inhabitant’. José lives alone in what looks like a nice place called El Coucellín (Tineo, Asturias). We read that the bears have gotten into his beehives.
From ThinkSpain here: ‘Foreign holidaymakers on Costa del Sol up sevenfold last month’.
From Reuters here: ‘British tourists will be admitted to Spain only if they can show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination, according to a Spanish government bulletin published on Saturday as the country tightened travel restrictions amid concern about the new Omicron coronavirus variant…’.
Spanish social security pensions are to rise next year by 2.5%, with the details figured out at La Información here.
‘The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has cut the GDP growth forecast for Spain in 2021 by more than two points and leaves it at 4.5%. The agency has reduced the expected GDP rebound for Spain in 2021 from 6.8 to 4.5% and from 6.6 to 5.5% in 2022’. Headline at 20Minutos here.
One can now quickly register a limited business (SL) with just 1€ of capital (it was until now a minimum of 3.000€) with the new ‘Crea y Crece’ law says Idealista here.
The budget for 2022 was passed in the Cortes and has received approval from the European Commission says LaSexta here (with video). It’s now in the Senado.
What the PP couldn’t take at the polls, it is now trying from la calle, the street, joining all sorts of protests against the Government. From elDiario.es here: ‘Casado throws the PP into the streets against the Government. The party joins the protests of the agrarian and transport sectors, as well as the mobilization of the police against the reform of the 'gag law', and warns at the same time that the PSOE and its allies prepare to star in "riots on the street" (one presumes that the minor revisions of the Ley Mordaza will bring about chaos)’.
(Saturday): ‘Thousands of police and civil guards march against the reform of the 'Gag Law' supported by the right. Abascal (Vox), Díaz Ayuso and Almeida (PP), and Arrimadas (Cs) accompanied the march from the Puerta del Sol (Madrid) while Pablo Casado joined at the last minute after attending a political act in León’.
The story from abroad: ‘Tens of thousands of Spanish police officers and their supporters marched in Madrid on Saturday to protest against government plans to reform a controversial security law known by critics as the “gag law.” Critics of the Citizens Security Law passed by the previous conservative government in 2015 have for years said that it gave too much power to security forces in detriment of civil liberties. Powerful police unions, however, say that the proposed changes to the law will make their job more difficult…’ (With thanks from The San Diego Union-Tribune here). From The Guardian here: ‘Podemos defends push to change Spain’s controversial “gag law”. Leader calls legislation “greatest blow to civil and political liberties” since the return to democracy’.
From Sur in English here: ‘Juanma Moreno plans to call the Andalusian regional elections between June and October 2022’.
As I think we may have already found out (to our cost): ‘Brexit leaves EU-bound Christmas presents out in the cold. An increase in red tape and charges means headaches for those sending gifts to Europe’. Headaches for those who receive them, too! The Guardian has the story here.
‘Nicola Sturgeon announces there will be another independence referendum in Scotland in late 2023. "If you respect democracy, then you must allow people to vote", she challenged the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson’. El País has the story here.
Opinion from Guy Verhofstadt in Politico here: ‘Germany finally has a government ready to lead Europe’.
‘A large part of the measures that Morocco has been adopting in recent times with respect to Spain, and in particular with regard to Ceuta and Melilla, fall under what experts consider to be a hybrid strategy to end up taking over the sovereignty of these two enclaves while avoiding direct confrontation…’. Catalunya Press has the story and the background here.
El Salto Andalucía interviews the recently appointed Chief of Staff of the Saharawi army and travels to the front with the combatants. ‘Mohamed Eluali Akeik, Chief of Staff of the Saharawi Army: "the war with Morocco will continue"’. With video. The discord is based over who should decide the future of the Saharawi people – to become a province of Morocco or to exist as an independent country. Algeria is their main backer, while Morocco counts with the USA in their corner. Spain tends to want to quietly keep out of things…
El País in English (Wednesday) says: ‘The Spanish Health Ministry recommends limiting the number of guests at Christmas gatherings as the coronavirus incidence rate rises to 208 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over 14 days’.
The sad news for many health workers is that their temporary contracts fell due and they lost their jobs. Now Catalonia has picked up some 600 Andalusian health workers who say they now get better hours and a better contract. La Vanguardia has the story here.
From ECD here: ‘15% of people who have overcome Covid still suffer from side-issues.
The main conditions are chronic fatigue, hair loss, and respiratory problems. The Health Ministry has recorded more than 200 side effects’.
From Xataca here: ‘A year after vaccinations began, it’s now almost impossible to die from Covid if one has been vaccinated’
Amazing, but there you go… ‘Almost 75% of coronavirus patients in Málaga intensive care units have not been Covid jabbed. The average age of those receiving critical care is 50, according to the head of the ICU at the Hospital Clínico in Málaga’, From Sur in English.
Lawfare. An alarming example of using the law to further political ends came to a disastrous termination this week after Judge Santiago Alba’s six and a half year prison sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court for his attempts to bring down with false documents and other material, the career of the magistrate Victoria Rosell, who was forced to remove herself from the lists of Podemos in 2016 due to his fabrications. EPE has the story here. While the national newspapers and TV news reported ad nauseam the incident back in 2016, led by El Mundo: ‘The Prosecution investigates the star judge on the list of Podemos’ – a front-page leader that appeared just a few days before the elections (photo here) – as Público says, the news that she was mobbed, was innocent and that the crusading judge is now in clink appears to have largely escaped their notice. elDiario.es says that ‘Salvador Alba will be expelled from the judiciary and will have to return monies paid to him during his suspension’.
Ecologists are concerned about what they call invasive species. These are flora and fauna found in areas where they shouldn’t be – brought in usually by humans through one reason or another. Rats on a desert island being an acute example. In Spain, there are any number of these and an article here provides a summary. A second article brings us the ten most bothersome, with pictures and habitat. These include the Picudo Rojo beetle (which attacks the palm trees), the Asian Hornet and the purple and yellow flowered carpobrotus (‘Pigface’) which apparently chokes other plant-life (!). Both articles are from elDiario.es.
The judge in the so-called Topillo case finds 38 agricultural companies and three senior officials responsible for environmental spills and damage to the Mar Menor in Murcia says The Olive Press here.
he relationship between the Spanish Secret Service and the Royal House is revealed in the book ‘Al Servicio de Su Majestad’ written by Fernando Rueda, who is interviewed here in El Correo Gallego. The title: "Without the protection of the Secret Services the Monarchy and certain democratic governments would not have survived".
From El País in English here: ‘As new vents open in La Palma, experts say volcanic eruption could be longest in 500 years. Lava flow is affecting previously spared areas of the Spanish island, while an increase in tremors and emissions suggests the volcano is becoming more active’.
From Yahoo!Noticias here: ‘This is the Yiwu-Madrid line, the longest freight train in the world that connects China with Spain’. The line is 13,000kms long, the train takes 16 days and goes through eight countries says the article. The sea-route from China to Spain by comparison takes six weeks.
Radiocable says that the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung runs an article entitled “Spain, a drug paradise. Under the control of the narcos”. It says that ‘the influential German newspaper reviews, in a report by its correspondent Hans Christian Rossler, the presence and activity of drug gangs in the Iberian Peninsula. And he points out that the situation has reached a point where "all of Europe is supplied with hashish and cocaine through Spain". (The original is here).
TV personality Bertín Osborne is already part of the select club of patriots who are very clear about how other Spaniards should live while he pays taxes in Luxembourg and invoices through Panama. El Confidencial has the story.
The novelist Almudena Grandes died this weekend. As Wiki says, ‘Author of 13 novels, her work was translated into twenty languages and frequently adapted to film. She won the National Literature Prize for Narrative and the Prix Méditerranée among other honours. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez called her "one of the most important writers of our time"…’. Several of her books have been translated into English, including The Frozen Heart. There is currently a row about how to remember her, since she was active in left-wing politics and Madrid, where she was from, wants to down-play her importance.
An enjoyable examination of Spanish slang though the use of fruit at Eye on Spain here.
With La Gaceta de Salamanca we meet Vicente Carranza, the man who invented Spain’s most popular transport – the lowly Vespino.
It’s time to send those Christmas letters out. Here’s mine.
I have an old record somewhere of Nat King Cole singing in Spanish. Here’s his daughter the late Natalie Cole with Cuando Vuelva a tu Lado on YouTube.
……Press Release from AUAN
Andalucía approves new planning laws
On 25th November the Junta de Andalucía approved new planning laws in a move welcomed by homeowner’s associations as “long overdue”.
Simplified Town Plans
The Ley de Impulso y Sostenibilidad del Territoria de Andalucia (LISTA) unifies, modifies and repeals various laws and regulations, including the Ley de Ordenacion Urbanistica de Andalucía (LOUA) in an effort to streamline procedures and thus reduce the time taken to approve town plans.
According to government estimates three in every five municipalities in Andalucía currently lack a town plan and many have been trying to get their plans approved for more than ten years. The government hopes that the LISTA will reduce this timeframe to two years and triple the number of plans in progress.
Simplified Land Classifications
The new land law simplifies the classification of land into urban (urbano) or not urban (rustico), eliminating the classification of land as urbanizable (suelo urbanizable).
Construction in the campo
The LISTA absolutely prohibits construction on protected land but, controversially for some, leaves the door open to the construction of a family home on rustic land in certain circumstances not necessarily linked to agriculture or tourism.
Houses on protected land
These can now become regularised through what is called an “AFO” assuming the relevant time period has passed, and other conditions are met.
Speaking on behalf of various homeowners’ associations in Andalucía, the lawyer Gerardo Vázquez welcomed the new law saying that whilst it incorporated previous reforms it also contained important improvements given that irregular houses could now be consolidated and reformed whereas before they could only be repaired. But he tempered his remarks by highlighting the need to quickly set out the regulations in order to detail how the new laws will work in practice and his hope that the associations would be allowed to play a part in their development.
He also warned that the success or failure of the new law will depend on the attitude of the town halls and their technicians. “The biggest problem at the moment is that some town halls and their technical services seem reluctant to apply new regulations. It seems that some of them are living in the past and the old cumbersome and bureaucratic way of doing things. I understand that the duty of the local administration is to facilitate the regularization of housing to the greatest extent legally possible, since that is precisely the spirit of this new law. A law that we hope will be a total renovation of Andalusian urban planning, that is to say that we believe it represents a brighter and more hopeful present and future, provided it is applied properly and with real enthusiasm. We certainly hope so”.
(The bit in blue is key)