The modern evangelical church can be something to see. Largely born-again in recent times, it can have an enormous impact on believers.
With few exceptions, it leans sharply towards The Right (despite the teachings of Jesus which might suggest otherwise). Donald Trump - despite his obvious flaws - could safely say that he was elected thanks to the overwhelming support of the Christian evangelicals.
Today, we read that 'Evangelicalism must have an unending supply of enemies', such as Satan and of course the Democrats ('the Liberals') as they ponder on the manifest evils of Wokism, inappropriate library-books, George Soros, guns, drag shows and abortion.
However it may have come about, the movement is popular in Latin America.
So, by a circuitous route, we come to Spain.
Spain is of course a staunchly Catholic country - if in these times it can lay claim to any religion - and the Catholic influence (inevitably) is Conservative and broadly in line with the Partido Popular (or even Vox). There are some other strands of Christian worship here, but the one that is growing the fastest is the evangelical movement (currently with some 4,200 temples mostly serving Barcelona and Madrid) - particularly noteworthy within the Latin American community. Indeed, one Church, called the Iglesia Cristo Viene (24,000 likes on Facebook) and based in Usera, Madrid, has a strong link to the Partido Popular, reciprocated in kind, as the PP looks for the hispanoamericano vote - the objective being to "unite relations" with these religious groups "around the project and the program" of the party. A report this weekend speaks of 'The evangelical pastor Yadira Maestre, the leading religious extremist of the PP who warns of pacts with The Devil and The Damned. The pastor has become an important ally of Isabel Díaz Ayuso and Alberto Núñez Feijóo in the search to capture the Latino vote'. A video shows Yadira (a Columbian immigrant) in splendid form (Hallelujah!) as she assures the congregation that 'When the country is finally ruled by The Just, then we shall have peace'.
Another clip shows her in full flow asking the crowd for their blessing for Feijóo.
Turns out too, that La Iglesia Cristo Viene also offers 'spiritual retreats' to cure those afflicted with homosexuality. The PP later, either embarrassed by the zealotry, or perhaps leant on by the Catholic orthodoxy, abruptly removed all links to the recent events with the excitable cultists from its official webpage.
From Cinco Días here: 'The sale of housing to foreigners shoots up by 45% in 2022, with 88,800 operations. Almost 9,000 of these transactions exceeded 500,000 euros, another absolute record'. The Brits lead (despite paperwork issues) at 11% of homes, followed by the Germans at 9.5% and the French at 7%. Of those homes bought by foreigners, 20,865 were on the Costa Blanca says Spanish Property Insight here. The Costa del Sol lagged behind with 13,908 foreign sales in 2022.
Spanish News Today brings us 'From tax cuts to free land: Spanish towns and villages offer incentives to reverse depopulation'.
From The Olive Press here: 'The authorities have identified 7,600 illegally-built homes in the Vega Baja area of the Costa Blanca that can be legalised. ... Licence issuing is the responsibility of individual municipalities who can obtain funding to help them oversee the process.' This normally allows for water, sewage and electric connections.
From The Majorca Daily Bulletin here: 'The Balearic Environment Commission has presented a report to the Council of Mallorca which calls on the Council to definitively remove the possibility of allowing new tourist accommodation places (beds) in resorts that are defined as "saturated" - these are Arenal (Llucmajor), Magalluf, Palmanova, Playa de Palma and Santa Ponsa.'
From The Corner here: 'The Spanish economy grew by 5.5% in 2022 after a slim 0.2% year-end GDP rebound'.
Pedro Sánchez is in Beijing (this Thursday and Friday) with an understanding from Brussels to convince the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, to use his influence on Vladimir Putin to force a ceasefire as soon as possible in Ukraine.
From The Guardian here: 'The Spanish PM to discuss Ukraine with Xi Jinping on visit to China. Pedro Sánchez says he will tell Chinese leader it must be Ukrainians who 'lay down conditions' for any peace agreement. From CNN Español here: 'Spain and China are united by 50 years of diplomatic relations, with ties that go back to March 9, 1973. Economically, China stands out as Spain's main partner in Asia and the leading destination for Spanish exports in the region, according to the most recent report from the Economic and Commercial Office of Spain in Beijing.
As recognized by the Spanish Foreign Ministry, bilateral trade between the two countries is characterized by a "chronic deficit". As an example, in 2020 exports to China were 8,169 million euros, while imports amounted to 29,333 million euros...'
The municipal and (most) regional elections are just two months away now (May 28th) and El País looks into some suspicious movement on the padrón - the local registry - of a number of smaller municipios, where a few dozen extra votes can flip a town hall one way or another. Along with the manipulation of postal votes (in my old pueblo, said to be bought for anything up to 500? a pop), registering as being a citizen and therefore able to vote when one in reality lives elsewhere is nothing new.
Will Podemos accept the leadership by Yolanda Díaz of the far-left within a single identity? All the other groups from the izquierda are on board. It's getting close to the time when Sumar is officially presented and the question is as to whether Podemos leaders can doff the hat to this initiative (Pablo Iglesias' party is looking for open primaries with a view to taking - at least partial - control). At play is the continuation of the PSOE pact with the groups to their left (Pedro Sánchez would certainly prefer to partner with Yolanda Díaz over the currently abrasive union with Podemos). Alberto Garzón, leader of the IU (the minor partner in Unidas Podemos) is openly critical of Podemos' reticence in piling in to the Sumar movement says 20Minutos here. A poll this week at Electomanía shows 67.7% of Podemos supporters in favour of a union with Sumar (with 20.7% against).
With the departure to municipal politics of two ministers (running as PSOE candidates for mayor of Madrid and Las Palmas respectively), meet Héctor Gómez, the new Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism; and José Manuel Miñones, the new Minister of Health.
'In application of the principle that says that it is good to keep your friends close, but better to keep your enemies closer, Alberto Núñez Feijóo accompanied Isabel Díaz Ayuso to an act of the PP in Madrid dedicated to the Latino community. Under the surreal slogan of "Europe is Hispanic" - a finding that will surprise Germans, French or Swedes - the party continued its campaign to get closer to immigrants of Latin American origin, a growing reserve of votes which will doubtless be growing in the future.'. elDiario.es has the story here.
From Antena3 here: 'The Federation of Evangelical Religious Entities of Spain (FEREDE) has asked their evangelical preachers to "avoid using their pastoral influence to condition the vote of believers" following the participation of an evangelical pastor in an event that was held this past weekend of the European People's Party under the slogan 'Europe is Hispanic'. The president of the PP, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, the president of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, and the mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, all intervened in the event.'
InfoLibre runs an editorial considering the idea that 'any vote counts' under the shadow of the weekend prayer-meeting with the Evangelicals. It continues by taking a swipe at Núñez Feijóo, who, it says, sees himself as a candidate of the centre while we wonder if that's just another invention. '.Feijóo, yes, he may not know how to go on a protest march, but he will go on a trip to Europe to speak ill of Spain there, as many times as necessary; or draw an apocalyptic and false image of the current situation in our country and put sticks in the wheels that make it difficult to deliver more aid funds, which are so necessary after the effort we have made to get out of the quicksand of the recent pandemic.'
Contrasting the partisan reaction to corruption, we read in 20Minutos that 'The PSOE wants to raise the "ethical standards" against corruption and targets the PP in the middle of an election year. "The two models can be confronted: one of a very high demand, and that of the PP, which coexists naturally with crimes," they say from the Government'. The Government coalition tends to quickly fire its occasional corrupt element says the article, while the PP usually hangs on as long as it can. In a similar vein, and looking at the courts, La Cope says: 'The PP needs to control the judiciary to cover up its crimes. The Minister of the Presidency, Félix Bolaños, claims that the PP wants to control the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) (blocked for four years by the PP) "to cover up the crimes it commits and stop the progressive laws" of the Government'.
The former Councillor for Housing Professor Josep Maria Montaner has published his book Urban Lawfare, the judicial offensive against the Barcelona of Ada Colau (Amazon). 'In recent years there has been a tendency to judicialize politics. And this judicial war also reaches urban projects. This is what we call urban lawfare. In the case of Barcelona, governed by Ada Colau and Barcelona en Comú, the increase in complaints has been flagrant. This book explains the cases within each urban area of conflict, highlighting the lobbies that are stopping the transformations of cities as they exploit their human and patrimonial resources.'
Headline from InfoLibre here: 'The paradox of crime in Barcelona: crime is down while citizen concern is rising. The Catalan capital has reduced infractions by 16% since 2019, but insecurity is the first problem for residents: "Sensitivity is manipulated for economic and political purposes," says Amadeu Recasens, a security expert'.
From Sur in English here: 'Fabian Picardo, the chief minister of Gibraltar, referred to the negotiations over Gibraltar's future relationship with the EU "entering the final stretch" after a meeting with the UK's foreign secretary James Cleverly in London last week.'.
However, from The Financial Times here, 'Passport rift between UK and Spain leaves Gibraltar in limbo. Spain insists its police force must be allowed to do passport checks at the British territory's airport'. It says '.If they cannot reach a deal the land border could be gummed up by full checks on the 30,000 people who cross it every day, jeopardising Gibraltar's economy by hindering the Spanish workers who fill roughly half of its jobs.'.
(Thanks to Jake)
'Motor vehicles and pedestrians will no longer have to wait for landing planes when Gibraltar's runway tunnel and new access road opens this Friday' says The Olive Press noting that the tunnel 'is built to British standards'.
'Brussels - The European Union decisively approved this Tuesday the law that will prohibit, as of 2035, sales in community territory of all new cars and vans that emit CO2, after weeks of last-minute tensions due to the surprise blockade from Germany.'. The item comes from EFE here.
The Members of the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee have agreed on a draft legislation that updates the way single work and residence permits for third-country nationals are issued. A report updating the 2011 Single permit directive has now been approved by the committee, which establishes that there should be a single administrative procedure in the EU, for the issuance of work and residence permits for non-EU nationals. . The decision comes at a time when all EU Member States are on the hunt for foreign workers, in particular, in fields like health care, IT, agriculture, and construction. Several of the EU countries have already announced changes to their laws on foreign employers, in order to lure more third-country citizens to move to their territory and work in fields where there is a lack of workers.'. Item found at SVI here.
elDiario.es commissioned a survey which states that '74% of the population believes that the public health service has worsened and a majority supports paying more taxes to improve it. The perception of the deterioration of public health services exceeds 60% among voters of all parties. Even those who have private insurance support paying more taxes if that brought about better care in the public system'.
The four-year blockage of the CGPJ by the conservative judges is the reason given for one progressive judge to quit her post this week. elDiario.es reports that Concepción Sáez considers her continuation in the Council of Judges to be 'a waste of time'. Following this, says El País here, all of the liberal judges in the council are now considering a mass resignation (which could leave the CGPJ as inoperative), or, as El Huff Post says here, maybe not quite yet.
Nothing to see here (The president of the Junta de Castilla y León in alliance with Vox, Alfonso Fernández Mañueco, has been accused of giving the socialist attorney Rosa Rubio the finger -'una peineta'- during the parliamentary plenary session last Wednesday).
The ETA prisoners were displaced to prisons all over Spain but recently, those still locked up have now been moved back to prisons within the Basque Country or Navarre, causing some indignation from the right-wing. El Mundo (paywall), for example.
ECD reports that the PSOE will ease up its criticism of the hostile elements in the media, in the hope of better reportage during the run-up to the elections.
El Plural looks at 'The marriage between Isabel Díaz Ayuso and the conservative TV host Ana Rosa Quintana: fifteen interviews during the current regional government and over eleven million euros in institutional finance for Telemadrid'.
Print sales are once again in retreat in Spain as we either get our news from the TV or the Internet. Or maybe the hairdresser. El País is now at just 56,500 copies daily (back in 2007, it was 450,000 copies daily). The second largest is La Vanguardia at 54,000 copies daily.
The far-right 7NN TV has closed down after 18 months of activity and reported losses of 5.5 million euros says El Independiente here. It's also reported - from El Periódico here - that the Podemos-backing La Última Hora news-site has closed to merge forces with Canal Red (Pablo Iglesias' TV/Video channel).
From EuroNews here: 'Climate change will change Europe forever, says the IPCC'.
From Meteored here: '2023 enters an unknown frontier: more heat and high temperatures. We all have in mind the year 2022 in Spain as the warmest year in modern records with an intense, muggy and prolonged summer including several heat waves. Also 2022 was a warm year globally. Now we are observing and predicting data which bring us to conclude that we have entered an uncharted frontier' (The article provides lots of graphics).
From WGNO here: 'When Josep Altarriba looks across his parched fields, the Spanish farmer can't remember a time of such widespread drought in Catalonia. If it doesn't rain in the next two weeks, he says there's little chance of saving the harvest. What can be done? For the mountain villagers of L'Espunyola, the answer is divine intervention. On Sunday, around 250 residents brought back the faded practice of a special Mass and procession to pray to Our Lady of the Torrents, a local virgin associated with rainfall.'
From Spain's News here: 'More allergies, more jellyfish in the sea, less 'pata negra' ham... and other effects of climate change'. An odd title, but an interesting (if gloomy) look at the scene as on World Climate Day, which is celebrated every March 26th. (Thanks to Brett)
'The era of 'mega forest fires' has begun in Spain. Is climate change to blame?' Item from EuroNews here.
Mallorca will become the first destination in the world to have hydrogen-powered transport for tourists says The Olive Press here. 'Mini buses running on hydrogen and operated by TUI will be used this summer to transfer tourists between Mallorca airport and hotels.'
Newtral brings us 'The lowdown on the evangelicals in Spain: data, subgroups and beliefs of the second largest confession of the country by number of centres. In 20 years, the number of evangelical parishes in Spain has tripled, among other factors due to the arrival of Latin American migrants who practice this religion'. The article provides the number of houses of worship of each religion in Spain (including 4,322 Evangelicals, 1,750 Mosques and 69 Anglican churches).
El Viajero Fisgón has 'Eight Spanish sects that will make your hair stand on end' (November 2021). It claims there are around 200 sects in Spain while dealing here with the better-known ones.
The remains of the founder of the Falange, José Antonio Primo de Rivera, are now ready to be removed from their resting place in what used to be called El Valle de los Caidos.
Facebook is a funny place. There's a page there called 'Boicot a los productos de Cataluña', with 14,000 followers who presumably think that Catalonia should be part of Spain. while hating Catalonia. Maybe they should insist on its departure!
We try and enthuse about moving to Spain to live (because it's a great country, good people, nice food, astounding geography and loads of culture), but then along comes a film about a foreign couple moving to rural Galicia where things rapidly go very wrong. As Bestias described here at The Guardian. The plot is based on real events (here).
Passenger rail in the US vs. Spain - a video on YouTube here. 'This video explores the user experience of Spain's Alta Velocidad Española, the continuing expansion of the AVE (including new providers Ouigo and Iryo), and what the US can learn (but probably won't) from a high speed rail system that's often criticized as overly politicized and overbuilt'.
From elDiario.es here. 'An interview with Macià Blázquez, geographer: "The tourist use of housing generates some very serious problems". Blázquez has spent decades studying the economic circuits that connect capital with tourism and its impact on societies. "Quality tourism should mean a better redistribution of wealth," he feels. Does 'quality tourism' mean 'more spending money'? Well, of course, but at what cost to the host resort.
That waitress story gets told by the ABC here (the clients were Spaniards visiting New York, who only left a 10% dinner tip of $70) and by The Mirror here which includes the line '.despite going above and beyond for her table' (the diners are simply listed as 'Europeans' in this version).
I don't know if anyone uses the BoT to help improve (or learn) their English, but 'ere's a piece I wrote.
Heh! Enjoy this one - with André Rieu, his orchestra, an appreciative crowd and a friendly bull, performing España Cañí on YouTube.