‘Last night’, says the Argentinian founder of Jazztel Martin Varsavsky, ‘I was at a business-dinner in Madrid. There were twelve of us. The other eleven were all defending Franco, while I was saying that it wasn’t just a terrible dictatorship, but that Franco kept Spain for almost four decades in the prehistory of economic, social and political advancement’.
Can you imagine the subject at a similar dinner setting in Berlin?
These are the economic elites –especially those of Madrid– whose fortune did not arise from free competition or the entrepreneurial spirit. A good part of the moneyed families got rich through their proximity to power: with monopolies, awards and contracts from the Administration. Contracts from the very same “public titty” that they go on to criticize so furiously later on.
That’s to say, contracts with taxpayer money: those very taxes that they will later try to avoid paying.
Curiously, it’s a leftie who coins the phrase: ‘a true patriot is one who pays his taxes’. And here’s Pedro Sánchez in a similar vein: ‘We seek to compete on quality not on precariousness. To do so we need fair taxation: those who have the most must pay more’.
Which brings us to Rafael de Pino, the founder of Ferrovial back in 1950 (a Nationalist engineer who married well), and more to the point, to his son Rafael del Pino Calvo Sotelo, holder of the third largest fortune in Spain.
The news is that one of the largest Spanish multinationals, Ferrovial, has decided to leave Spain. Or to be more precise, to move its registered office to the Netherlands. Ferrovial doesn't have a construction or service business there, or anything like that. Therefore, it is not known exactly why they are leaving. The group chaired by Rafael del Pino has been very unclear in explaining the reasons that has led his company to flee Spain.
One conservative source in Spain blames the commies: “The pressure against banks and energy companies; the ‘tax on the rich’ - in reality a punishment for successful professionals; the government’s fiscal and labour policy; the constant increases in the minimum wage; the instability generated by Podemos’ attempts to impose an interventionist framework similar to that of Latin American populism; and the demonisation of the creation of profits, wherever they come from and whatever their context, have not contributed to generating an attractive climate for companies”.
To say that over there in Amsterdam one will have more access to obtain financing sounds like an excuse. Ferrovial can seek financial resources anywhere in the European Union, as so many companies do, without moving their headquarters. We read that the company is known for constructing public buildings, or railways (it started out in the fifties as the nationalised Renfe’s builder of choice). The beneficial tax-system enjoyed in the Netherlands is soon coming to a close, so why move? The Spanish one, by the way varies from an average Corporate Tax of 17% for companies with over 5,000 employees, down to as little as 3.59% on profits.
One reason for the relocation could be that the Americans hold around 30% of Ferrovial shares, and considering the Biden Plan to repair the US public infrastructure, the Netherlands and Wall Street have a close working relationship.
Del Pino had been promising the PP leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo only last month that he would be working for ‘a better and more prosperous Spain’. Conversely, following the surprise announcement, Feijóo has been criticising Pedro Sánchez for his indignant reaction to the news of the Ferrovial move, calling Sánchez a ‘hooligan’ and that he should ease his level of tension against Spanish Business. Over on the other side, Ione Belarra, president of Unidas Podemos, has unkindly called Ferrovial ‘a pirate company’ and says that all the public money spent on it ‘should be returned to the Spanish taxpayers’.
“The choice is simple: either Podemos and interventionism, or companies and prosperity” says another conservative opinion.
The bottom line, as a bean-counter would say, is that the company stands to save some forty million euros in taxes by its move to Amsterdam.
Biting at Rafael del Pino’s heels, the fourth richest man in Spain is Juan Roig, the owner of Mercadona (where the price of the shopping-cart seems to be continually on the rise) with his 3,400 million euros kept under the counter next to the shotgun. Standing well in front of Rafael del Pino (3,800 million) and his third position in the wealth list is Nº 2 Sandra Ortega and her dad, Nº 1 Amancio Ortega. The two of them can lay claim between them to 58,900 million euros.
But, you know, is it enough?
What happens when a vivienda de protección oficial (a council-owned house rented to the deserving poor) is abruptly sold off – here by the Comunidad de Madrid – to a vulture fund? Well, the rent goes up. From InfoLibre here: ‘An 84 year old has a vulture fund in his home: "They have put the rent up from 200 to 625 euros and now they want me to leave"’.
Is there anybody left? According to iNews here, ‘British expats are abandoning ‘the English ghetto’ of the Costa del Sol to live in ‘authentic Spain’. With house prices rising along the Costas, an increasing number of foreigners are buying up houses or entire abandoned villages in Castile and Leon, Galicia, La Rioja, Navarre and other previously unfashionable regions’.
Extremadura is becoming a tourist destination says ECD here, with fourteen new four and five star hotels opening there in the past two years. The article suggests that the regional tourist board is courting Portuguese visitors.
The local residents don’t always especially like the tourists – unless they happen to own a souvenir shop or a guest-house – and, as El Diario de Avisos (from The Canary Islands) says, ‘The debate about tourism, about its massification and quality, is on everyone's lips, ever since Lanzarote recognized that it wanted to make an effort to find higher quality tourism (read: ‘wealthier’). Now controversy has arisen from a piece in The Daily Mail…’. The article is titled: ‘I'm not surprised holiday islands are turning away 'obnoxious' drunken Britons - but some say these countries 'encourage' tourists to get 'shitfaced'’.
Well, fine. But when someone works all year long and then has a two-week holiday to relax with, then they probably won’t be staying in their hotel room reading Thomas Mann.
The Olive Press reports that the UK government has decided to impose its own ETIAS-style visitor tax on foreign visa-exempt visitors to the United Kingdom from next year.
The ING Group has a newsletter called Think. Here it says ‘In February, Spain's service sector experienced a significant pick-up in activity, while the manufacturing sector recorded growth for the first time since June 2022. However, the downside of this is that inflation will remain high for longer’. It warns that ‘Despite the rebound, interest rate hikes will likely further slow growth’.
Christine Lagarde sees the economy of Spain as doing better than that of the rest of the European countries. The president of the European Central Bank rules out a recession in the euro area as a whole and specifically in Spain, despite acknowledging that the objective of rate hikes is to control household and business consumption, and insisting that it is "the right tool” to fight against inflation’. Headline from elDiario.es here.
‘BlackRock has strengthened its position in the two largest Spanish banks, Santander and BBVA. As reported by the US fund, its holdings reach 6.2% and 7.4%, respectively, which makes it the largest shareholder of both banks and establishes itself as a reference investor in Spanish banking…’. Item from Cinco Dias (El País) here.
‘Ferrovial gambles 9,000M€ of offshore wind investment in Spain in five separate government permits. In recent months, while preparing to leave for the Netherlands, the company has requested authorization from the Ministry of Ecological Transition to install 2.2 GW in floating wind turbines, although there are at least 13 other competitors looking for their share of a maximum production of 3GW by 2030’. El Confidencial reports here.
It’s time for the Modelo 720: From a reader – ‘The model 720 is a form that must be completed by all residents of Spain and submitted to the tax authority if you hold assets outside of Spain worth over 50,000€ in different financial categories. The 720 model is divided into three categories: bank accounts, properties / real estate and others (such as company shares, insurance policies and so on). Latest date to present is March 31st.
A foolish question maybe, but do the opposition leaders think they could do it better, or maybe rescue the country, or have they no respect for majority votes - or do they just fancy a crack at the job? In short - is it about us, or is it about them? Who knows. From 20Minutos here, ‘Feijóo calls on Sánchez for general elections in May after the 'Caso Mediador' (see Corruption below) and the attacks on Ferrovial (see Editorial above): "They have gone from deception to drift, to decadence, to degeneration" says the PP leader.
It’s time for the barones, the regional presidents, to make up their ‘party lists’ for the upcoming elections in May. There is nevertheless some concern in Madrid as all Pablo Casado appointed mayors have been erased in favour of others, more aligned to Isabel Díaz Ayuso. Four of them have been told to go: the mayors of Majadahonda, Pozuelo de Alarcón, Colmenar Viejo and Villaviciosa de Odón. One can’t entirely blame her... El País reports here.
The PP deputy Alberto Casero resigns both from the party and from his position as a diputado following the Supreme Court's announcement to try him for embezzlement and prevarication (to do with his previous post as mayor of Trujillo, Cáceres). La CadenaSer has the story here.
The PP has removed party-membership for the mayor of Villar de Cañas (Cuenca) following from irresponsible remarks he made to a reporter last month concerning Irene Montoro.
Podemos is without doubt the group which has changed Spanish politics the most in the last ten years, but is it now time to bow out and hand over the reins to a larger movement run by Yolanda Díaz (currently, Spain’s most popular politician) and her Sumar movement? The point is clear – a mixture of left-wing groups all pushing in different directions will only allow other parties to their right to enjoy a comfortable majority. As the old workers’ call goes ‘Together, we can’t be defeated’. The future is down to the founder of Podemos, now retired from active politics, and instead the director of a brand-new TV broadcaster called La R(e)D. Unfortunately, Pablo Iglesias says : ‘Soy militante de Podemos y no quiero ser militante de Sumar’ – arguing that the way forward is to have public meetings and open primaries rather than ‘deals struck behind closed doors’. Thus launching what may become a huge schism into the far-left from Day One. There’s more on this here.
From Catalan News here: ‘The modification to the only-yes-means-yes law passed the first vote in Congress on Tuesday evening. Yet, the proposal, put forward by the PSOE, was not backed by its usual left-wing allies, including junior coalition partner in government Unidas Podemos, but rather by the conservative Partido Popular and Ciudadanos, as well as the centre-right PDeCAT from Catalonia, and EAJ-PNV from the Basque Country. The law, which found consensus between both cabinet coalition members, was approved last August and came into force in September. It stated that consent has to be explicit before sexual relationships, and otherwise the acts will be considered sexual assault, and subsequently, a crime – yet, it had an undesired effect: it provided a loophole for hundreds of offenders across Spain, who managed to have their sentences lowered…’. The PSOE and Unidas Podemos both say that their parliamentary alliance will stand, despite this disagreement.
Parliament has agreed to Vox's motion of no confidence by meeting the requirements, admitting the motion for processing but still without a date for the debate and the vote.
El País has interviewed Vox’s chosen candidate for president of Spain for their motion of censure to be debated shortly. Ramón Tamames may seem an odd choice, since he was an anti-Francoist and an early member of the Partido Comunista de España. According to a piece at Público, he’s also a bit wonky on his current politics. They say ‘The presentation photo of Vox's motion of no confidence, which looks like halfway between a group of whiskey patrons and a zombie movie poster (here), already warned us that the Vox movement was not going to do much for itself politically although it was going to be a source of endless comedy. And time only confirms it. It turns out that the ultra-right candidate to preside over the Government in this motion, an ex-communist of almost 90 years of age, is turning out to be a disaster ahead of time. This Tuesday, El País has published an interview with him and, well, it is difficult to choose just one example, because all of it is one funny moment after another…’. Tamames says, for example, ‘You know, I’m not doing this to help Vox’. The El País interview with video is here.
‘The equality and feminism minister for Catalonia: 'Sexual violence is about power, not sex'. Item from Catalan News here.
From El Huff Post here: ‘The Northern Ireland agreement is sorted, but now, what about Gibraltar: the other loose end of Brexit? Madrid, London and El Peñón (i.e., Gibraltar) have completed more than a dozen negotiating rounds, but have not yet agreed on the future relationship between Europe and the colony. It seems close.
The story of how the Andalusian health system (the SAS) is, in some way, being privatised, is dealt with in a video on YouTube here with an earnest but rather boring young fellow under the heading: ‘Juanma Moreno sells out the public health system and benefits the pharmaceuticals companies such as Bidafarma (his wife Manuela Villena is the institutional relations manager there)’. In short, if the private doctors and clinics use – and pay for – the services of the public hospitals, then sooner or later, there will be those who won’t get the treatment they need and deserve. According to EPE here, the private health insurers charge the health service seven times more than the cost of the public health doctors in Andalucía.
From Techmonitor (Monday) here: ‘A leading hospital in Barcelona has been shut down due to an ongoing cyber-attack by a criminal gang called RansomHouse. Staff at the Hospital Clinic Barcelona facility’s laboratories, pharmacies and emergency services have been reduced to using pen and paper. There are no indications of when the services will be back in operation…’
Between the upcoming regional and municipal elections (May 28th), along with the scandal of ‘Tito Berni’, the PSOE deputy caught with his friends in a scam involving prostitutes and cocaine (the PSOE threw him under a bus within eight hours of the story breaking), The next few months are warming up nicely. An opinion piece from El Mundo leads with ‘Corrupt, you say? Well, which party is he from?’ – A reasonable question. I’ll pontificate once I know whether he’s one of ours or one of theirs. We are reminded of the old days of the bipartisan system with ‘Oh yeah? And what about your guys!’ (¡y tú, más!).
Antonio Navarro Tacoronte, known as ‘el Mediador’ has given his alias to the enquiry into the Canaries cocaine and prostitutes issue, to do with selling favours through political or other means. The political connection was the now disgraced ex-deputy for the PSOE Juan Bernardo Fuentes, the third man in the scandal being a (now imprisoned) Guardia Civil general. The Caso Mediador is playing well in the conservative media, but we’ll go here with the story at the RTVE.
El Salto Diario has a messy title here: ‘The Plan Oro, Zaplana, la Gürtel, the friends of the Emeritus and the financing of the digital media of Eduardo Inda’. We are invited to ‘…wade through the sewers that uncovers the communicating vessels between plots such as Gürtel, Taula, Erial, Lezo, the dark businesses of Oleguer Pujol, the scams of el Pequeño Nicolás (a picaresque alleged conman) in which friends of the Emeritus are involved and the more than doubtful financing of Eduardo Inda's OKDiario…’. We’ll leave you to get on with it.
From Sur in English here: ‘Fuengirola police chief arrested on coercion and failure to prosecute crime charges. Along with the 63-year-old National Police commissioner, investigating officers have also arrested a well-known businessman in the area who works in the real estate sector’. A few more details (plus the realtor’s identity) at elDiario.es here.
From LaSexta here: ‘The former president of Murcia Pedro Antonio Sánchez, sentenced to three years in prison for the 'Caso Auditorio' (involving his previous job as mayor of Puerto Lumbreras). According to sources from the Superior Court of Justice of Murcia, he is considered the author of a continued crime of prevarication in competition with one of falsehood.
Crónica Libre reports that the viewing figures for TVE1 are going from bad to worse, with the national channel only averaging around 8.7% of the cake in February. The most popular TV for the Spaniards is Antena3 at 14.2%, followed by the execrable Tele5 at 11%. TVE2 is a gloomy 2.8% of viewers. The balance comes from regional or pay-for channels.
ECD says that ‘Ferrovial is trying to put out the fires that have grown after its decision to move its headquarters from Spain to the Netherlands, fuelled by the Government's indignation over this operation. The cabinet of Pedro Sánchez has reputedly told journalists that the President will never more pick up the phone from Ferrovial’s Rafael del Pino…’.
The story goes that the Podemos minister Irene Montoro (and wife of Pablo Iglesias) has bought an expensive loft in a fancy part of Madrid for 1.5 million euros. As Maldita says here, it’s nothing more than another bulo…
The hoaxer who said that Pedro Sánchez's wife was really a transsexual: "God has entrusted me with this spiritual battle". Pilar Baselga asks her followers on Telegram for financial help to put together her defence and says: "I know they are watching me".
La Revista Jara y Sedal is the magazine aimed at the outdoorsy type. There are a lot of farmers, hunters, bullfighters and so on concerned with the townies and their lack of understanding about the part that animals play in our lives. Thus we get titles like this one: ‘The new animal protection law will force spending public money to guarantee the "rights" of rats and pigeons. The law will oblige city councils to control urban fauna "guaranteeing the rights of animals." So it will urge them to choose non-lethal methods first’. It’s probably superfluous to add that the powerful hunting movement in Spain is championed by Vox.
The end of the war in Ukraine, says the eccentric ex-Minister of the Interior Jorge Fernández Díaz writing in La Razón on Sunday, will come thanks to the intervention of the Immaculate Heart of María. Other newspapers are not so sure…
From Europa Press here: ‘The promoters of the offshore wind-farm 'Mar de Ágata' off the Cabo de Gata (Almería) have abandoned the project’. The promoters, Sener Renewable Investments and BlueFloat Energy say that the Ministry of Ecological Transition has ruled the area to be unsuitable.
Satellite data suggests that cities are warming faster than the surrounding countryside – extensive building, transport, air conditioners and also, because the city councils keep cutting down the trees. In Italy, says the report, ‘there is a National Recovery Plan, which provides for the planting of 6.6 million trees and the creation of 6,600 hectares of "urban forest" in the 14 metropolitan cities of Italy’. "We already know that high temperatures in urban environments are associated with negative health outcomes, such as cardiorespiratory failure, hospital admissions and premature deaths," says Tamara Iungman from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health. The article is at SinPermiso here.
A YouTube video here on the frightening El Yunque sect. The title says: ‘We look at the ultra-Catholic sect – infiltrated (?) into Vox and Hazte Oír, both in Spain and in Mexico’.
The Renfe people are sick of the graffiti which covers their trains. They say it is ubiquitous and it costs some 25 million euros of public funds to clean the daubs off. They sent out a press release on the subject which, in a piece of clever promotion… well, just have a look at the link.
The Andalusian Higher Court has ruled that gaming saloons may once again be permitted within a limit of 500m from schools and sports stadia in Cádiz.
Barcelona's Hospital Clínic website went down over the weekend after a ransom-ware cyber-attack says Catalan News here.
Stromboli, perhaps the last video club in the world, is in the Valencian barrio of Ruzafa. Its owner says, ‘So what, I’m happy’. El Confidencial talks with Daniel Gascó here.
Not very famous perhaps, but here is the case of a Spanish home in a forgotten village called La Fontañera on the Spanish/Portuguese frontier which one day got a new – and larger – kitchen, thus expanding Spain’s territory by a few metres at the expense of its neighbour. Oddly, the house belongs to a Canadian woman. The story at Fronteras Blog.
Meet Bluff, the man who drew cartoons of Franco, and got executed for his pains.
An article here at La Opinión de Málaga on the oldest city in Spain – Los Millares in Santa Fe de Mondújar, Almería. Some 7,200 years ago, the settlement had around 1500 inhabitants says the article. The remains are open to the public (More in English here).
What happens to all that paperwork generated by the vast Spanish bureaucracy once the final stamp has been put on the cover of the folder? See Eye on Spain for the answer…
The Marina Alta Classic Car Club (here) raised almost 2,000€ in 2022 for their local Teulada-Moraira Alzheimer's charity, a club which operates a Day Care Centre for up to 20 people enabling carers to go to work or just to take a much needed break. They have a small bus which collects people daily. Sylvia Tatnell is the President and Richard Rihan the Treasurer. From the MACCC, Peter Alt, President and Robin Fenton, Vice President. This year’s chosen charity is Project 4 All (here), delivering hot meals to the Homeless and those in need on the Costa Blanca.
I must admit that I’d had a glass of wine beforehand, but this is terrific! Ladilla Rusa with Todos los días lo mismo on YouTube here. It’s gonna become an anthem!