Many centuries ago, Spain was one of the European powers that sallied forth in conquest of unknown lands. Hundreds of years later, most of those territories had gained their independence – either through politics, war or Yankee Imperialism. Wikipedia has a good article on the subject here. The last to go were a few bits of Africa (Wiki) – Sidi Ifni, Spanish Guinea and the Spanish Sahara (now called Western Sahara). The only remaining pieces of a once immense empire today are the Canary Islands (Wiki), Melilla and Ceuta and a few tiny uninhabited islands of the Moroccan coast.
The Western Sahara was taken by Morocco with the famous Green March as Franco was breathing his last, and a troubled Spain promptly withdrew from the territory (the Green March itself wasn’t much more than a couple of kilometres public foray into the territory in November 1975 – Wiki). The inhabitants of the region, the Sahrawi people, have claimed independence ever since, while being largely ignored by both the Moroccans and the Spanish. The USA recently reaffirmed its support for the Moroccan claim over the territory. The local people’s only ally appearing to be Algeria.
All well and good.
Now, as Morocco has been ratcheting up its claims over Melilla and Ceuta, and following behind a 2007 Moroccan plan to turn the Western Sahara into an autonomous region, the Spanish Government has decided to drop any (paltry) support for the Sahrawi people’s independence in exchange for Morocco leaving Melilla and Ceuta (and its 160,000 Spanish residents) in peace. In turn perhaps, Gibraltar (Pop. 33,500) too can breathe a sigh of relief.
Spain’s official change in its policy regarding the territory is here, and as El País says – the ten month conflict between Morocco and Spain is now over since ‘…the Spanish Government has abandoned its traditional position of neutrality in the Sahara conflict and has taken sides with Rabat, considering its proposal for autonomy "as the most serious, realistic and credible basis for the resolution of the dispute" in the former Spanish colony…’
Morocco, says Le Matin here, appreciates Spain’s position over ‘Le Sahara Marocain’
And as Mohammed VI says, ‘this will inaugurate an unprecedented stage in relations between our two countries, based on trust, transparency, mutual consideration and respect for commitments’. EPE says that the agreement ‘means that Morocco will desist from its claims on Melilla, Ceuta and the Canaries’. El Español says the Spanish change in policy comes from pressure from both Brussels and the USA to ease the tension with Morocco.
An indignant article at el.Diario.es here however says that ‘The Government has remained silent, even by those who speak up on every occasion, until once again selling out those who by right we have to protect. Sahara is our Palestine, an honourable and mistreated people for which we are responsible and for whom we are ready to betray as soon as realpolitik squeezes our necks a little’. Indeed, Izquierda Unida and Podemos both reject the agreement, and say that the only solution to the Saharan issue is a regional referendum.
El Español reports that ‘The Polisario Front accuses Sánchez of "succumbing to blackmail" from Rabat and labels Spain’s position as "hypocritical"’. The ECSaharaui understandably goes a little further. ‘The Polisario Front warns that Sánchez's decision will legitimize repression, war crimes and crimes against humanity’. The Algerians call it ‘Spain’s second betrayal of the Sahara’ says El Huff Post here as the Algerian ambassador to Madrid is recalled to Algiers for consultations. On the brighter side, after ten months away, the Moroccan one is now back in Madrid.
Pedro Sánchez said on Wednesday during a snap visit to Ceuta and Melilla on Spain’s relations with Morocco that ‘There was a problem that needed to be addressed’.
A summary of the advantages for (almost) all concerned is here. Morocco gets the Western Sahara as ‘an autonomous region’. Spain gets Moroccan acceptance of its territories in North Africa plus a commitment to control the illegal immigrants. Algeria can now concentrate on its gas -and later green hydrogen- exports to Spain (and Europe) – or not, as the case may be.
It’s a tricky one for the Far-right. Spanish empire, nostalgia and betrayal on the one hand, yet a load of North Africans who don’t know their place on the other… (And, of course, vice-versa for the far left).
For those looking to move to one of those places that everyone has moved away from, there’s a group calling themselves HolaPueblo who are looking to bring settlers to some eighty declining municipalities. They’ll even help you find a job says EuropaPress.
‘The Balearic regional government has set up a working group to look at the options available to reduce the number of foreign buyers of holiday homes on the islands. Rents are high, house prices are even higher, and social housing barely exists, so it’s hardly surprising that housing access has become a political hot-potato in the Balearics, where the physical reality of islands coupled, with a dysfunctional planning system, mean that building land is scarce…’ Item from Spanish Property Insight here.
‘The number of properties bought by non-resident foreigners in Spain increased by 51.17% in 2021 to 43,827 transactions, and recovered the rate lost in 2020 due to the pandemic and mobility restrictions. In the Canary Islands, sales to resident foreigners still remain below those of 2019, at 9.2% of all transactions, although for non-residents it increased by 56.42% in 2021, with 4,441 sales. Foreigners, whether residents or non-residents, represent 12.61% of all homebuyers in Spain, according to the Real Estate Registry Statistics of the College of Registrars, corresponding to the fourth quarter of 2021…’. Found at Canarian Weekly.
From Schengen Visa Info here: ‘Travelling to Spain in Spring 2022: Entry Rules Explained’ (March 19th).
‘The Government estimates the impact of the loss of Russian tourism at 1,400 million euros. Destinations such as Salou (Tarragona) are identified as being particularly affected by the sudden halt caused by the invasion of Ukraine’ says El País (paywall) here.
February figures for overnight stays in hotels show more foreigners than national customers says Hosteltur here. There were 13,600,000 pernoctations (if that word exists in English) with around 7.5 million of them taken by foreign visitors. Average hotel prices were up on 2021 figures by around 45% (!) and a room averaged at almost 88€ per night (in the hope that this includes breakfast). The Canary Islands accounted for 51% of all foreign overnight-stays across Spain in February.
Age in Spain: useful guides here. Moving to Spain – or going back! Work, income, taxes, and benefits. Accessing benefits and pensions in Spain. Healthcare in Spain. Residency. Driving in Spain.
From The Nomad Today here ‘IRPF 2022: Check your tax data before submitting the Income Tax return’.
Algeria, says a Tweet here quoting the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas, had reduced its gas flow to Spain (Medgaz undersea pipe: Beni Saf – Almería Wiki) by 90% from as early as March 7th (down from 319,055 MWh to 26,485MWh).
El HuffPost carries the CIS poll for March here. The PSOE leads the PP by 7.7%. elDiario.es has their own poll – giving the PSOE a lead over the PP of 7.6%. Lastly, the DYM poll at 20Minutos here gives the PSOE a smaller lead of 4.5%. Nonetheless, there is no doubt but that this is a bad week for the Government (Sahara, strikes and inflation).
Coming to save the day from communism, the Neo-fascist parties of Europe will be meeting up in Madrid on Saturday March 26th. Their poster boasts: ‘The New Heroes of the 21th Century’ (sic). ECD says that eight far-right parties will be in attendance, including Spain’s Falange and Democracia Nacional parties, plus Nick Griffin (BNP) and Claus Cremer (Germany’s NPD) and others.
The PP’s putative leader Núñez Feijóo says that the consensus with the PSOE over foreign policy is ‘broken’ following the "reckless swerve" by Pedro Sánchez over the Sahara.
An interview with the President of Melilla, Eduardo de Castro, at elDiario.es here: ‘"For Melilla, the Government resuming relations with Morocco is very good news"’.
The parliamentary seat that belonged to the Podemos deputy, the tall dreadlocked Alberto Rodríguez, who was ejected following his presumed kicking of a cop in 2014, has remained vacant ever since. Rodriguez was ejected for one month, but 150 days later, he still hasn’t been allowed back and now the Canaries branch of Podemos says that they will leave the UP 35th seat permanently vacant for the rest of the legislature. InfoLibre has more here.
An anti-Pedro Sánchez article at The Corner here looks at the history of the PSOE. Frankly, reading it made my eyes water.
The transport-workers strike, originally organised by a minority ‘union’ of owner/operators, has now grown, despite an offer from the Government to ease the cost of diesel for professionals by 500 million euros says elDiario.es here. Apart from the long lines of trucks (honking their horns as they drove past my barrio on Saturday evening), the problems of other industries – notably those connected to agriculture (milk, grain, fish and so on) – is causing shortages. An average truck-driver’s wage, says El Periódico, is between 1,400 and 1,600 a month (and presumably he doesn’t pay the petrol bill), and the autónomos will earn 2,000€ per month. While the conservative-controlled media often shies away from workers’ protests, it’s nice to see them support this one in such detail. The local Almería paper put the losses to the provincial fruit and veg business at ten million euros per day. One chilling news-item from La Voz de Galicia here (paywall): ‘A fleet of eighteen trucks carrying Estrella de Galicia beer from Zamora was escorted by units of the Guardia Civil…’ Later, Heineken warned that supermarkets will soon be running out of their product (Yikes!). The Government says it hopes to resolve the issue today, Thursday.
A second widely-reported protest occurred on Saturday in Madrid (and elsewhere, for those who couldn’t make the trip) as the farmers came out with their complaints. This one got short shrift from LaSexta here, saying that the piece-work people live under plastic while the gentlemen prance around on horseback, making the point that the whole exercise was organised by the far-right. The Andalusian Hunting Federation paid 400,000€ out of funds for 320 buses to head for Madrid to join the demo according to their own news-site called Todo Montería. El Mundo says that farmers came from all over Spain to demonstrate, claiming that ‘we are ruined’. Público contrasts what the right-wing says and what it does in the campo.
From Catalan News – the touchy subject of only using/speaking Catalan in schools here: ‘"Language learning is not about quotas, but about teaching," Catalan education minister Josep González-Cambray reaffirmed on Tuesday, only three days before the deadline to implement the Supreme Court ruling which establishes that 25% of all classes in schools should be taught in Spanish…’.
Brett Hetherington writes about the land he loves in ‘My Catalonia’ here.
Family and public doctors are abandoning their jobs in the Health Centres says elDiario.es here in preference for either a space in the urgencias in public hospitals, or they will likely join the private sector. The low wages will be the major factor says the report.
‘Spain’s health authorities have said that from Monday March 28th, those who test positive for Covid-19 have no need to self-isolate if they are under 60 years old and are asymptomatic or have only mild symptoms…’, from The Olive Press here.
Paywalls are a nuisance. Even if we go around them to highlight a news item, readers won’t be able to follow (which is why we try to either not consult them, or to explain in more detail than usual if we do). Opinion or entertainment is one thing, but straight news belongs, we think, to everyone.
The reason for this indignant screed is that a useful site (which probably breaks a thousand laws) is at No More Paywalls here. It seems to work fairly well!
A Government Paper from the Ministry of Ecology here: ‘Spain is in a situation of meteorological drought after the second driest winter since 1961’. (Mind you, it looks like a week of rain right now)
Feral cats and cat colonies are responsible for a massive number of bird kills. A paper from the Museum of Natural Science in Madrid looks at the reaction from the birdies. In the city of Madrid alone, there are 1,171 colonies of feral cats. Science Direct has the story here and Diario Sur also writes it up here.
The Guardian returns to the Doñana issue: ‘UK supermarkets urge Andalucía against huge strawberry farm expansion. Environmentalists fear for area near Doñana national park in Spain over plan which would legitimise illegal farms and wells’
New traffic rules now in force are listed at El Mundo here.
From Eye on Spain here: ‘How to import a foreign vehicle to Spain and re-register it onto Spanish number plates’.
From The Guardian here: ‘A Spanish driver who ate hash cakes claims diplomatic immunity from a non-existent state. The man was arrested after driving erratically and he failed to convince officers with his ID from ‘La República Errante Menda Lerenda’ (The Wandering Republic of Yours Truly). The REML has a webpage in English here.
An opinion piece at elDiario.es here frowns on the country folk and their use of animals. ‘The rural world as an excuse to abuse animals’ says the title. ‘Country lobbies (mainly hunting associations) demonstrated in Madrid this past weekend against the Animal Protection Law and in defence of "tradition". They want the greyhounds, the podencos and all the other dogs they use in their hunts to continue to be chained up’ (and worse). ‘They already have a licence to kill’, says the article, ‘but they want another to mistreat’. These people, insists the article, mixed in with the normal farmers during the protest, but they are a very different kettle of fish (if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor). The bullfight boyos are also in their ranks, thunders the article disapprovingly.
Eye on Spain runs one of my tales here about doing the shopping in our village sometime in the Sixties. Well at least you got a plastic bag…
This is Rita Payés with her family performing Nunca Vas a Comprender on YouTube here. A really nice cool samba.