Daniel Sancho is a handsome looking chap with long hair, a big physique and a winning smile. He looks like our idea of Tarzan. His parents are both noted Spanish actors and Daniel’s been working as a cook doing podcasts and videos from his kitchen in Thailand.
When not cooking up a storm, the twenty-nine-year-old appears to have other pastimes, including the apparent murder and dismemberment of a Colombian friend called Edwin Arrieta, a plastic surgeon, on August 1st. Bits of Edwin were later found by the police is his kitchen, with other parts scattered between a rubbish dump and the sea. ‘It took me three hours to dismember him’, says the accused.
Daniel (with his handcuffed hands blurred in one video) has confessed, says Marca (and a hundred other news-sources): ‘I’m guilty, but I was held by Edwin like a hostage’, and he was duly hauled off by the police (after a dinner and night in a fancy hotel, paid for by the cops) and is now cooling his heels in a Thai jail. The Spanish media think it was a case of ‘yachting’ (that’s to say: a hetero earning money from gay sex).
Messages in Daniel’s phone apparently show Edwin threatening to kill him if he broke off a relationship between them. A mess. Daniel admits ‘I did it, but I was trapped by Edwin’.
‘I’m sorry this all happened’ says Daniel to a cameraman (and no doubt a clutch of reporters). ‘Don’t forget me’, he tells his friends before passing the prison gates.
Premeditated murder is frowned upon in Thailand, and Daniel could end up with life imprisonment or even a lethal injection at the Bang Kwang Prison in Bangkok. Of course, there’s a thing out there called ‘the Gay Panic Defence’, where, um, a normal person loses his cool when trapped in a homosexual relationship. Maybe that’ll fly…
The Spanish naturalist Frank Cuesta, whose wife spent over six years in a Thai prison (for possession of 0.005g of cocaine) says that prison there ‘is very hard – and very expensive’.
The reason this is the lead story in every newspaper in Spain (and here at the BoT) is that there’s not much else going on at the moment (besides global melting, the Ukrainian War, Donald Trump being threatened with jail, Brexit fallout and the Spanish political crisis).
Meanwhile, in Poland, another Spaniard, a war-correspondent for Público called Pablo González, has been held for the past eighteen months accused (but not charged) of spying. There’s nothing much in the media about his situation, nor any apparent effort from the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to resolve his case.
He’s not as pretty as Daniel though. There’s that.
From The Majorca Daily Bulletin here: ‘One in five Balearic residents are foreign. Colombians, Italians and Moroccans move to the island in large numbers. Balearic emigration has doubled in ten years’.
Fixing the headline’. At the joke site Así Viva España, a headline from the ABC which reads ‘Half of all Spaniards renounce buying a home’ has the ‘renounce’ crossed out and written in red ink above it: ‘can’t afford to’. Sad to say, like all the best jokes – it’s true.
From RTVE here: ‘Young people delay emancipation (that’s to say, moving out from their parents’ home) until they reach the age of 30, the highest in the last two decades’.
From Cinco Días here: ‘Large companies shoot their profit margins up to all-time highs. The relationship between results and sales stood at 13.7% in June, seven tenths more than in all of 2022’. We read that ‘…one of the groups that presents the largest margins on sales is the suppliers of electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning, which is made up of some 11,500 companies. Specifically, their sales margins reached a ratio of 28.4% in the second quarter of 2023, some 10 percentage points higher than before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic’.
There are 443 different cars available in the Spanish showrooms, or 661 if we consider the different power units available says Xataca here, but only 53 of them (let’s say… 12%) of all of these automobiles are available to the Spaniard with an average income (which stands at 18,286€ per year according to the INE). The average new car price, says the article, is way beyond the general reach, at a staggering 45,000€.
The knives are out. ‘The former vice president of Vox Juan Jara calls for Santiago Abascal's resignation. “Abascal doesn’t like work. He likes to live well, the sea, boats, the beach and eating. He has a serious laziness problem”, he says in an interview with El Plural here.
There are sundry anti-Vox stories on the reader-driven Reddit page here. Is this party going to follow Ciudadanos and Podemos (and many others) back into obscurity?
‘Manipulating economic data for political purposes is a dastardly and short-sighted tactic’ says an editorial at Diario16 here. ‘Feijóo and the PP misrepresent the economic reality to justify their pessimistic statements. However, the statistics present a different picture: the biggest rise was registered in January, with a 15.6% increase in the creation of companies. During the month of June, the number of new commercial companies experienced an increase of 14.5%, reaching a total of 10,206 companies. This upward trend has been maintained for six consecutive months, challenging the apocalyptic narrative held by the Partido Popular’.
The key to the PSOE strategy, agrees all newspapers, is to court the incorrigible Carles Puigdemont who is currently on the lam from Spanish justice in Waterloo (Belgium). With the support of Puigdemont’s Junts per Catalunya, a small party (seven deputies) all-out set on Catalonian independence, then Pedro Sánchez can be president once again, but at what a price for Spain! The alternative is to either give everything to the PP to run a minority government or merely sit quietly and tease things out until another election late this year, while gathering political strength in Europe. On Thursday August 17th (today), Congress is constituted (they’ll need a Speaker) and we shall see what happens next.
The first motion of censure in this new political season has occurred in the small municipality of Irijo (O Irixo) in Galicia, where the PP has been removed from power by an agreement with the PSOE and a local party. 20Minutos reports here.
‘For the fifth time, Spain holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, one of the EU’s seven most important institutions. What are Spain’s priorities and how will they be translated into concrete actions? What does it mean for Spain to fill this position in terms of influence, decision-making and advancing the European agenda? How might it be conditioned by the national and international context? The Elcano Royal Institute contributes to the analysis of Spain’s priorities for the Presidency with this special dossier’.
Can Spain power Europe? A video on YouTube reckons it could… ‘Once an economic underdog, Spain is now emerging as a European energy powerhouse. Amidst its robust economy and large renewables potentials, as well as strategic gas transit position from Africa, Spain is poised to revolutionise Europe's energy landscape. But can Europe ever truly move away from Russia?’ The video is from TDLR.
A few days ago, the well-known Moroccan outlet Hespress, the most widely read in the country, claimed that the North African kingdom is carrying out a discreet project to "recover" Ceuta and Melilla and to take over the Canary Islands. The answer from the European Commission is that these territories are part of the European Union. More here.
The Spanish reaction to last week’s Brexit Brit from Torrevieja, on YouTube. With many comments. Mostly referencing the notorious British weakness for piracy.
From the EWN here: ‘Albania’s Rising Tourism, Could It Topple Spain Off The Top Spot?’ Heh, heh. Short answer? No.
More from Doñana with The Guardian here. ‘Water wars: meet the guardians of one of Europe’s most vital wetlands. Doñana national park in Andalucía is being threatened by drought, over-consumption and right-wing MPs. Seven people who work there describe the fragile ecosystem and what it means to them’.
From Phys.org here: ‘The largest permanent lagoon in drought-hit Doñana natural park, home of one of Europe's largest wetlands, has completely dried out for the second summer in a row. A huge patch of cracked white earth has replaced the waters of the Santa Olalla lagoon, which usually houses abundant aquatic life and huge colonies of migrating birds…’
‘The catch in the Mar Menor (Murcia) falls by 90% and the fishing association fears having to close down because there is no income to be had. “Many fishermen have not been paid for a while. This has never happened before” says senior skipper, José Blaya’. The report adds: ‘Of the 80 that make up the San Pedro del Pinatar fishing fleet, only two continue to work in the lagoon’. La Verdad has the story here (or here).
From The Wall Street Journal here: ‘Fill a glass with tap water in Barcelona these days and one-fifth of it will be processed seawater. Another fifth will be treated wastewater derived from toilets, showers and other urban uses. This mix is emerging as the drinking water of the future in Mediterranean countries. The region is becoming warmer and drier more quickly than most places on Earth, forcing people and governments to act faster here than elsewhere to find new freshwater supplies…’ Which is why we mostly drink our water out of plastic bottles…
‘There are some posters displayed in various Mallorca coves that prohibit swimming in English while in Catalan they indicate that there is no danger’ Catalunya Press has the mischievous story here.
Our tax euros at work: ‘Andalucía finalizes subsidies for municipalities that organize bullfights and promote bullfighting. The Ministry of the Presidency makes public a draft order that will regulate aid, under a non-competitive competition regime, for the towns attached to the Bullfighting Municipalities Network of Andalucía, established this year’. elDiario.es has the item here.
A link for museophiles: The nine oddest museums in Spain are at Público here. These include a funeral carriage museum at the Cementerio de Montjüic in Barcelona, the museum of torture in Santillana del Mar and the chamber pot museum in Ciudad Rodrigo.
The masterful Valencian painter Joaquín Sorolla died in 1923, a hundred years ago. The Palacio Real in Madrid has an exhibition called ‘Sorolla a través de la luz’ until September 24th. The Olive Press features some of his finest paintings here.
‘75 years on, Franco’s cruel punishment haunts Spanish mountain village of El Acebuchal, half an hour’s drive from Nerja (Málaga). Fascist troops cleared the settlement in punishment for aiding the guerrillas’. The story is at The Guardian here (Thanks to Mike).
An interesting piece from eleven years ago from El País in English surfaces here:
‘The El Algarrobico hotel complex had all the necessary permits - however, erecting it was also going to mean getting rid of a mountain in the middle of the protected Cabo de Gata-Níjar park, a Unesco Biosphere Reserve, just 28 meters from the shoreline.
In over two years, the building works had managed to construct 94 percent of the structure of this 20-level, 400-room hotel without anyone so much as batting an eyelid. The stoppage "left us speechless, because at all times we had a clear conscience that we were acting in accordance with the law," says the architect of the hotel, Ubaldo Gómiz…’. Over a decade later, the gigantic hulk continues to rot under the fierce sun (to no one’s benefit).
Blogger Maria was in Santiago de Compostela the other day. So, apparently, was everybody else. From Spanish Views From a Small Town here.
‘We were still a little stuck about what we wanted to do for work, until I one day realised in Salamanca that I had not had a single good cup of coffee since arriving in Spain’. The story at The Irish Times is titled: ‘“Coffee is something people don’t seem to want to give up, despite the Spanish heat”, says an Irish coffee roaster in Nerja’. (!)
20Minutos brings us to Albarracín in Teruel – ‘One of the most beautiful towns in Spain with medieval walls and a spectacular setting’. The same site also has time for a visit to Altea (Alicante) with some nice photos (Thanks to Charles).
For those worried about the recent BoT leader on plastic recycling, Reader Jake sends us this link: ‘Recycling study demonstrates new possibilities for a circular plastics economy powered by renewable energy’.
Maria found an earlier version of today’s editorial here.
‘If this had been any old Spaniard, he would have rotted in a Thai jail for ten years before the Spanish Foreign Ministry would have taken notice of any petitions made on his behalf. Not that he doesn't deserve any less, if he is truly guilty of what was done. But, a famous name gets you places...’
For those who have trouble opening a page thanks to a pay-wall: https://archive.is/ seems to be working again (thanks to anon).
Amarral with Días de Verano on YouTube here. The singer Eva Amaral was in the news this week after showing her breasts to concertgoers (the Facebook version soon vanished