The debate regarding the ‘cordón sanitario’ – the Partido Popular’s insistence on keeping at arm’s length the ultra-right Vox party, seems to have broken. Curiously, not under the leadership of Pablo Casado, but rather his more ‘moderate’ likely successor Núñez Feijóo.
Alfonso F Mañueco, the PP candidate for the regional Castilla y León presidency, announced last Thursday that – ‘We have arrived at an agreement with Vox which will permit a stable and solid government respecting constitutional order and the autonomous statutes of Castilla y León’. The deal is the vice-presidency for the region with the Vox candidate Juan García-Gallardo, plus three departments and the regional house-speaker. In practice – it was Vox taking over the chairs left by the out-going Ciudadanos.
This is the first time that Vox has obtained power in government. Not everyone is impressed, even Donald Tusk, leader of the PPE in Brussels calling it a ‘sad surprise’.
On the bright side, ECD readers gave the deal a vote of 92% in favour.
Público and other media was asking Mañueco about his agreement, and how far would he accept and observe the Vox main demands (gender violence, immigration and Francoist crimes are all no-noes for the Voxxers). ‘You have no idea what you have just signed’, they told him as he danced around their questions.
The only other alternative for Mañueco had been the vague idea suggested by Feijóo of the PSOE abstaining and allowing him to run a minority government (with the blessing of the PSOE, who have little reason to reach out to the PP). Feijóo later blamed the PSOE for the mess he had gotten into. They gave us no choice, he told El Mundo here, rather forgetting Pablo Casado’s clever plan to reinforce the PP in Castilla y León, before moving to Andalucía and the nation as a whole.
From El País we read that Vox no longer rests on its rhetoric, it can now show in practice its aims; which, for all that the regional president must squirm on his hook, will be in evidence from the start. Here are some of the more extraordinary Vox ideas:
All other parties from the PP downwards are members of the leftie-alliance “consenso progre”; climate change is a false dogma; the nation-state is the only viable system: Vox is an enemy of international political unions and regional governments alike; immigration: “one needs Spanish blood, not Spanish papers”; gender violence is unfair to men; Gays love the Spanish flag (but only man/woman relationships are natural). The party is also against separatists, euthanasia and abortion. A quote from the Vox national deputy Ángel López Maraver on the subject of Cultura is worth repeating: “The Government only takes care of their well-paid goons who produce ideological propaganda on the television, on social networks and in the cinema with unwatchable clunkers (…). If the Government really wants a clear example of what culture is, then they have, among others, the art of bullfighting”. By Wednesday, Mañueco had evidently agreed to the Vox notion that gender violence can go in both directions – which largely waters down any specific protection for women.
Which brings us to:
The only way that ‘the moderate’ Alberto Núñez Feijóo could ever become president of Spain in these times of post two-party politics and healthy party majorities would be if his vice-president was Santiago Abascal and fascism had once again become mainstream. Thus, PP voters must be aware of what they will be asking for.
From The Olive Press here. An entire abandoned village with Romanesque church is for sale, located around 100kms south of Burgos. The pueblecito is called Barcena de Bureba and ‘offers the potential to re-build around fifty stone houses’. Yours for 350,000€. Who would buy a whole village when a single home is usually enough? There are those who would take on the challenge, and Vice talks to a Brit called Neil Christie who bought himself a village in Asturias a number of years ago. El Español features eight empty villages for sale in an article from last summer. There are apparently in total some 3,000 abandoned and empty villages in Spain says Aldeas Abandonadas, a real-estate service that specialises in this field.
‘On Sunday, during the meeting of the Summit of Autonomous Community Presidents held on the Canary Island of La Palma, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez proposed a change in his fiscal policy by proposing a tax cut, set out in the so-called Declaration of La Palma’, says The Corner here. One of the attendees was Alberto Núñez Feijóo (in his capacity as the president of Galicia) and the article says that ‘…Nuñez Feijóo supports the declaration as a whole, which also expresses support for the Spanish Government in its position before the next European Council to be held in Brussels on the 23rd and 24th of this month. It calls for the adoption of measures to achieve a reduction in energy prices…’ The Minister for Hacienda, María Jesús Montero, later suggested that those products which had risen unreasonably high recently (such as energy and petrol) would be appropriate subjects for a drop in tax. From LaSexta here (video): ‘Pedro Sánchez announces "tax cuts" and an increase in defence spending. The President revealed in an interview that the national plan to respond to the economic consequences of the war in Ukraine will include tax cuts. In addition, he said that Spain will increase its Defence budget’. The measures to be announced on March 29th. On Wednesday, the Minister of the Presidency Félix Bolaños forwarded the promise that the Government will lower the price of petrol, electricity and gas in the face of the current crisis (with video).
The European Commission will advance the next package of largesse to the Government – the sum of 12,000 million euros – as Spain will “be unable to bear the consequences of the war until the summer” and will thus receive the funds in April instead of in July’. The far-right ECD has the story here, with its headline: ‘To avoid economic collapse’.
From 20Minutos here, further aid. ‘The European Commission approved this Wednesday an aid of 2,900 million euros to Spanish industry to compensate energy-intensive companies for the escalation of prices, a regime that affects industries such as aluminium and steel, paper, leather or fiberglass…’
El Huff Post reports on the issues following from a shortage of aceite de girasol: ‘A part of the Spanish agri-food industry will be paralyzed if in four weeks it does not find a substitute for sunflower oil, used to make a multitude of products, from pastries and preserves to sauces and fried foods, and whose reserves will not last more than a month…’ 62% of the sunflower oil consumed in Spain comes from the Ukraine.
From Público here: ‘The Archbishop of Oviedo warns of a "Marxist and Masonic" conspiracy occurring in Spain. Speaking in an interview to a far-right Argentine religious YouTube blogger, Archbishop Jesús Sanz Montes showed his contempt for various current leftie positions, including "reactionary feminism", gays and the usual suspects. He also downplayed the issue of abuse within the Catholic Church.
From elDiario.es here: ‘Anti-abortion groups that harass women have the services of a new office located just in front of the Clínica Dator (here). The office, set up by far-right religious group Hazte Oír, offers support to the various anti-choice groups that periodically harass women who go to the well-known clinic to have an abortion. On Tuesday March 8th, Women's Day, the space was inaugurated with prayers and holy water’.
From EuropaPress here: ‘The former Chief of Defence Fernando Alejandre (Wiki) – he was fired by the current minister of defence – believes that Morocco represents a "direct" threat to Spain that will end up materializing, first through activism in the form of an intifada to gradually transform into an armed conflict of more conventional character…’ He has published a book called ‘Rey servido y patria honrada' to put over his views.
An opinion piece from ECSaharaui here: ‘The invasion of Ukraine evidently isn’t the same as that of the Western Sahara. We wonder which world leader might be prepared to champion our rights?’ (Just saying).
An opinion piece in the Majorca Daily Bulletin about the pointlessness of the Brit expat. ‘…I have this notion that for those of us Brits who live in Spain, France, Italy and Portugal - are living out a sort of post-colonial dream in developing, energetic countries who don’t quite know what to do with us as we tip-toe around the edges of society. When you consider the figures, such as the fact that over 300,000 British nationals live their lives in Spain, I wonder just how much we contribute to the overall scheme of things?...’
A note from The Local here: ‘Workers at the Spanish Embassy in London and the three Spanish Consulates in the UK will go on strike indefinitely from Monday March 14th as they call for an improvement of their work conditions. “It is possible that the provision of services by the Consulates will be affected, especially in London,” Spain’s Foreign Ministry said last week. The Embassy and Consulates are responsible for issuing Spanish passports, offering assistance to Spanish nationals, processing visas for Britons who want to move to Spain and more…’
The Spanish army have sent six M109 A5 howitzers to a NATO base in Latvia.
From elDiario.es here: ‘Living in public-owned mansions for 350 euros a month: the "scandal" that benefits dozens of senior positions in the Tax Agency. There are more than thirty state buildings where officials of the organization live, including more than a third of its special delegates. In many cases they are the best paid officials in the province (with typical wages exceeding 100,000€ a year)’.
A Supreme Court judge has halved the prison sentence of six and a half years for a drunken driver who hit and killed a cyclist and fled, as the cyclist was dead and the driver therefore couldn’t have done anything for him anyway. Solomon himself would have been impressed. The story is at ABC here.
The useful TV show Todo es Mentira recently made the point that Putin is a Communist, because his first name Vladimir is the same as the one owned by Lenin. This may seem like low comedy, but no. It isn’t. Público looks at the efforts to equate Putin with Communism (and thus, with Podemos). Canal Sur was showing a clip of the invasion the other day, and included a rippling red hammer and sickle flag to get our juices flowing. At Jotapov here, Pablo Iglesias was imploring another program that equates Putin with Podemos – by asking the news anchor Vicente Vallés (Antena3 TV) to recall for his viewers the enthusiastic words of José María Aznar (video): ‘Putin is a ruthless leader. That exercise and clarity in leadership seem more than remarkable to me’.
Al Descubierto runs its monthly ‘Bulos from the extreme-right’ here (February). It also comments on the hoax that Putin is communist: ‘Vladimir Putin is president of United Russia (Wiki). This party comes from the Unity party, a formation created to bring capitalism to the USSR with the help of the United States and the new Russian elites and which always had the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) stood against it’.
For fake news about the Invasion of Ukraine – here’s Maldita.es with ‘94 bulos y desinformaciones sobre el ataque de Rusia contra Ucrania’ – that’s 94 items they’ve collected… Another piece via Maldita looks at the Telegram groups, who have moved away from ‘Covid doesn’t exist’ and ‘they are putting nano-chips in our vaccines’ to defending Putin’s invasion with endless bulos. The story at elDiario.es here. Why all the manipulations – What do you think?
A group of Spanish women journalists are putting together a new investigative newspaper, to be called, Crónica Libre. ECD has the story here.
‘From green to red: satellite images drastically show the alarming drought that Doñana is already suffering. Sentinel 2 photographs taken last week contrast with others obtained just a year ago’. elDiario.es reports on the drought (exacerbated by the illegal wells in the area).
The skies in the south and east coast of Spain were full of orange dust from the Sahara earlier this week. The dust, known as la calima, usually turns into ‘red rain’ and it can be harsh on the lungs. Best to stay inside! La Opinión says it’s not just dust and sand we are breathing, but various heavy metals too! Información on Monday had some pictures, as does Tuesday’s El País here.
From The Leader here: ‘The former King, Juan Carlos I, has decided to put his return to Spain, expected to take place in May or June, on hold, following the indignation of the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, who has demanded that he provides explanations following the sudden announcement...’
El Economista hasn’t let the Emeritus off the hook quite yet: ‘How Juan Carlos and Corinna tried to sell a third of Repsol to an oligarch friend of Putin’. The tale is set in 2008, when Corinna was allegedly talking up a deal with Lukoil’s owner Vaguit Alekpérov to buy 30% of the Spanish oil company. Fortunately, President José Luis Zapatero said ‘Nyet’.
Petrol and diesel prices are starting to come down. Here are today’s average prices in Spain (showing taxes, brands and so on) with Diesel o Gasolina.
‘The Barcelona Wine Week to showcase Spain's best wines. The trade fair with 650 wineries will focus on international sales from April 4 to 6’ says Catalan News here.
Is the invasion of the Ukraine the reason for the high inflation in Spain? An article here argues that Russia was already preparing for the invasion as far back as last summer, when the supply of gas to Europe was significantly reduced. With graphics here.
A tunnelling machine built at a cost of 37 million euros in 2012 to be used on the construction of a motorway around Seville, the SE-40, in the end was never employed. The massive machine lay for a decade in a special warehouse where it was maintained for a total of a further 10,4m€. However, some good news can be reported: a Málaga-based scrap dealer has offered to buy the machine for 1.6 million euros, thus in a small way helping to offload the high cost to the public of the investment.
From Colin Davies’ Thoughts From Galicia (a daily commentary on Spain) here: ‘Let’s hear it for the Spanish national rugby team – Los Leones – of whose existence you might well have been unaware. They’re through to the finals of the next World Cup, to be held in France next year’.
Enclaves de España. A Wiki page shows the different territories that, administratively, belong to a particular jurisdiction that is completely surrounded by the territory of one or more other jurisdictions. El Condado de Treviño is a famous one, surrounded as it is by Álava (País Vasco), it nevertheless belongs to Burgos (Castilla y León). There are several such.
From The Guardian here. ‘A remote town in Almería province is the unlikely world capital for western films. The Tabernas desert and its sets have served as shooting ground for more than 170 productions, including masterpieces such The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. We meet actors and producers from the history of westerns and young cowboys who are keeping the myth alive…’.
How many Brits are on the padrón in Spain? A graphic here shows by province the number for 2022. The total is put at 282,124 (up 19,239 from a year ago – although possibly just a case of those ‘who lived under the radar’ owning up). *The largest age-group, at over 33,000 Brits, is the 70-74 bracket. The largest foreign group are the Moroccans (872,759), followed by Romania, Colombia and the Brits in forth place. The Germans are 13th with 109,556 on the padrón, and the French just behind with 109,397. Currently, there are 79,485 Russians on the padrón.
An up-to-date post on my blog here: ‘Red Rain and an Unexpected Increase in the Number of Brit Residents’. It concerns Almería.
With perfect timing, here’s The Red Army Choir with the Jota Aragonesa La Dolores on YouTube.