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Weekly Report”

Business over Tapas (Nº 541)

Business over Tapas (Nº 541)

  • A digest of this week's Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners: Prepared by Lenox Napier. Consultant: José Antonio Sierra

miércoles 05 de junio de 2024, 23:54h

05JUN24 – MADRID.- For subscriptions and other information about this site, go to businessovertapas.com - email: [email protected] ***Now with Facebook Page (Like!)*** Note: Underlined words or phrases are links to the Internet. Right click and press 'Control' on your keyboard to access. Business over Tapas and its writers are not responsible for unauthorised copying or other improper use of this material. Subscription and e-mail information in our archives is never released to third parties.

Editorial:

The arrival of June means summer is here, which brings with it hot days and steamy nights, lots of visitors to dodge (or greet, depending on one’s age and inclination) and above all, lots of noise.

There are fiestas and concerts plus, if you live anywhere south of Madrid, the Moors and Christians thrashes – which in our town’s case means three days of very noisy cap-guns, stunning outfits, parades and music from the marching bands.

I live in the campo, which has its own challenges. The visitors tend to have six legs, come out in swarms, and bite. A dab of repellent behind each ear usually keeps them away – or failing that, a green incense coil does the trick. The noise is provided by the hordes of brightly-coloured Argentinian parrots (‘cotorras’) who come and perch outside my window, the barking of the dogs who weren’t invited to the fiesta, and me shouting at the wild boar which have recently multiplied in my neck of the desert.

The pigs will come out at night and dig for grubs and the tender roots which are an unappreciated detail of my flower beds and modest fruit orchard. They will also pull down rocks from the stone terraces which are a fixture of southern Spain. They have noses like bulldozers. Sad to relate, I have found that putting the rocks back where they were doesn’t seem to work as it should. There must be a lot more to building a good terraza than meets the eye.

Oddly, the most destructive brute of all is a charming looking kind of wild goat called an ibex (or maybe it’s an arruí, a Barbary sheep, say the local naturalists doubtfully). It looks like a deer and it can stand on a thimble. Or, if there isn’t one to hand, then the top of a fruit tree will do. This cabra montes doesn’t just eat the fruit, or the geraniums when dallying in my garden; it breaks off the branches, or throws down heavy planter-boxes, while one of them even bit off an entire potted shrub the other day and then pooped in the suddenly empty and unappealing flowerpot, bloody thing!

There are about twenty of them local to me, and I’m told that they have moved, like the wild pigs, down from the hills and into the municipality. For most of my life, I had never seen a single one, but now I must rush outside and go ‘Hoo!’ several times a night.

Maybe I should get a dog to frighten them off, but the last one died of leishmaniasis, which comes from the no-see-ums – the tiny biting flies.

I was just talking on the phone with my son, who is in Missouri. There, they have a lake full of a kind of aggressive fish called an alligator gar which he tells me makes a barracuda look like a beginner. One simply can’t swim there and these things apparently reproduce at an amazing rate. They are from foreign-parts, he says, and thus an invasive species. A bit like the ibex and the cotorras, or maybe (to stretch a point), your humble correspondent.

Housing:

rosion in Alicante. From El Salto Diario here: ‘The sea does not wait: a portrait of the regression of the Alicante coast. The coastline shrinks year after year due to maritime storms and the damage caused by dams, ports, and breakwaters in the currents, which modify the sandy surface’. Some interesting photos show the shrinking coastline.

From The Majorca Daily Bulletin here: ‘The Balearics - one of the regions with the highest increase in squatting’. The article notes that ‘There are different types of squatter. "Some act as if the property were theirs. They repair it, paint it; I have even come across fibre optics being installed at their request." Then there are those who rent out rooms. Others use them as drug flats or for prostitution…’. The answer appears to be to hire the services of an anti-squatter group like the one recommended by the journalist.

Los Paraísos Ingleses de Almería’. elDiario.es finds two small pueblos in Almería where the foreigners (mainly Brits) have brought them back from the dead. The two villages mentioned are Partaloa and Bédar (I had a house in Bédar during the seventies). Xataca fields a similar article, but manages a few jokes – ‘A British paradise and the home of spoken Spanglish’.

Tourism:

From The Guardian here: ‘Spain fines budget airlines €150 million over ‘abusive’ cabin bag and seat charges. The carriers easyJet, Volotea, Vueling and Ryanair face being banned from charging for carry-on luggage’. Cadena Ser has more details here.

An enjoyable article at Eye on Spain here deals with ‘Morocco by Rail’. C’mon, it’s just a skip over the straits of Gibraltar…

‘Tourists go home’ – the BBC asks why, here. Xataca also worries about the issue of over-tourism here. The Guardian editorialises here. The Times brings us ‘The real Ibiza: locals packed into slums while rich tourists live it up’.

From a post at Brexpats in Spain International: “When travelling to another country in the EU particularly say from the UK, is the Spanish TIE valid as EES biometric identification?”. This is the official answer from the British Embassy: “The Commission confirm that the TIE is uniform EU format so if you use it at any border in the Schengen area it will be recognised as a residency document and you don’t have to register with EES”.

The German tour-operator FTI Group (the third largest in Germany) has declared bankruptcy and many destinations on the Spanish islands are threatened by lost bookings.

Seniors:

The diputación de Málaga (similar to a county council) are offering English lessons to the elderly, ‘to help older people on their trips abroad or even in their daily life in our province, which has an increasingly higher percentage of foreign population’. La Cadena Ser has the story (and the link to their Seniors Page) here.

Finance:

From La Información here: ‘The record arrival and spending of tourists underpins GDP growth for the second quarter’. The article says that ‘Spain received 24 million international travellers between January and April, 14.5% more than in the same period of the previous year; spending a total of 31,513 million euros in national territory, up by 22.6% over 2023’.

The Corner reports that ‘Spanish listed companies will distribute at least 6,300 million euros in dividends to their shareholders in June and July, according to data compiled by Europa Press, with Iberdrola’s dividend, which will arrive a few days before the start of August, standing out…’

‘Employment breaks a new record with more than 21.3 million workers in May. The labour market adds more than half a million working people in a year and unemployment falls by almost 60,000 in the last month, to 2.6 million, the lowest figure in May since 2008’. elDiario.es has more.

From El Economista here. ‘Spain will continue to be Europe's economic champion in 2025. Brussels maintains its growth forecast of 1.7% for Spain in 2024, double the euro-zone average’.

Politics:

The leader of the PP said this Monday that his party is open to a motion of censure if there is “an appropriate context” (that’s to say, if they can get the support of Carles Puigdemont – the Catalonian golpista). The reaction of Pedro Sánchez: “They are absolutely desperate”’.

Pedro Sánchez has written a ‘Letter to the People’ (here) regarding the charges against his wife Begoña Gómez (see Courts below).

He says:

Tuesday, June 4th. My wife and I have learned today, through the media, of the summons to Begoña as being investigated on July 5. This decision has been announced just five days before the elections to the European Parliament are held, which is rather peculiar. Usually, the unwritten rule has been followed of not issuing resolutions that could affect the normal development of an electoral campaign and, therefore, the citizen vote. In this case, it is evident that this practice has not been respected. I leave it to the reader to draw his own conclusions from it. I would like to tell you that we are both absolutely calm. There is nothing behind this accusation, just a crude setup promoted by some right-wing associations.

However, there is a political reading that I feel obliged to share with you. As you may remember, in an earlier letter I denounced the drift of the reactionary coalition led by Sr. Feijóo (PP) and Sr. Abascal (Vox), to use all means within their reach in order to break me on both the political and personal level. Their goal is for me to give in, to resign. Even, as we learned yesterday, trying to force my departure from the Presidency of the Government with a motion of censure through an unnatural alliance. For them, everything is worth it.

What they did not achieve at the polls, they intend to achieve in a spurious manner. I know that as the frustration and impotence of this reactionary coalition increases, the pace of the fake-news mud machine was not going to stop, but rather accelerate. Faced with this certainty, I asked myself a few weeks back whether or not it was worth continuing in the exercise of my responsibilities. I want to tell you that my decision to continue leading the Presidency of the Government is firmer than ever. That the task of the progressive government coalition is more necessary than ever. Our horizon remains unchanged: to consolidate the strength of economic growth and job creation (as we have just known today), to redistribute the fruits of that growth between the middle class and workers to fight against the great injustice of inequality; to regenerate democratic life demanding fair play above the mud that some try to spread, to make advance in rights and freedoms without taking a single step back; and to contribute to peace in the world, with special attention to both Ukraine and Palestine.

These next few days, you will witness a careful choreography designed by the far-right coalition to try to condition the elections and weaken the Government. Begoña and I know perfectly well why they attack her. Neither of us are naive. They do it because she is my partner. She is a hard-working and honest woman who claims her right to work without giving it up for the responsibilities of her husband. A right that I defend in my family life and for which I work as President of the Government of Spain to guarantee that men and women have the same opportunities and the same rights.

These days you will read and hear a lot of noise and even more fury in those digital tabloids created to spread fake-news, on the television and radio talk shows in the service of amplifying this misinformation, and in tribunes where Sr. Feijóo and Sr. Abascal will be found. All lies. A big hoax. Once more. As for me, you may rest assured: they won't break me. And, given that they are trying to interfere in the electoral result of June 9, I hope their promoters - Sr. Feijóo and Sr. Abascal - find the response they deserve at the polls: condemnation and rejection of their machinations. There are a few days of noise left before the elections and a few more to come before the summer. But there are also more than three years of Government, of progress and advances.

Sincerely,

Pedro Sanchez

Gabriel Rufián (the spokesperson for the ERC in Madrid) ironically summarizes the summons to Begoña Gómez thus: "I see that the Judicial Party is also in campaign mode".

‘A judge cannot open an investigation to see if something falls, a judge must begin with some evidence and investigate from there. Otherwise, we could all be guilty of something’.

When this whole mess is finally resolved, one side or the other is going to look very foolish. Unfortunately, that’ll be after the European elections.

European elections June 9:

What’s this thing about left-handers (‘los zurdos’)? It started with the eccentric Argentinian president Javier Milei calling the Spanish PSOE and its supporters zurdos, and has now been adopted by that party. So, if you see a ‘Votar con la zurda’ (video), you know they are saying ‘Vote with your left hand’ (RTVE here).

Everyone becomes excitable during elections. The PSOE junior-partner Sumar says that they are the only true socialist party, while the PP’s nemesis Vox ‘warns the Government: "Do not take another step forward because you are going to find us standing in front of you, physically if necessary"’. Vox: ‘Más muros y menos moros’. Here and here.

All fair in politics (apparently!). A Partido Popular video of a young mother writing to Pedro Sánchez about the future for her two young children is a cute little piece of propaganda, which fails at the first hurdle – since the video comes from Shutterstock.

The CIS (a pro-socialist polling company) warns that the ‘far-right agitator Alvise Pérez’ and his ‘Se Acabó la Fiesta' (The Party’s Over) looks set to take fifth place in the number of votes, just behind Sumar with over 5%. The same poll gives the PSOE a small lead over the PP. The Sigma Dos poll however gives the PP the edge. Supporters of the colourful Luis ‘Alvise’ Pérez (mainly young and male) are described here.

‘On Monday, the candidates for the European elections from the PP, PSOE, Vox, Sumar, Podemos and Ciudadanos exchanged ideas in the TV debate organized by the Cadena Ser, El País and El HuffPosthere.

Europe:

‘The grim life in the United Kingdom outside of the European Union’. elDiario.es looks at Brexitland here. María lives in Oxford. She writes, ‘When I tell them in Spain that the United Kingdom is falling apart, my interlocutor's reaction usually oscillates between surprise and scepticism. It is something that is difficult to believe in reference to one of the largest economies in the world, the country where modern parliamentarianism was born, where the head of state is crowned with gold and diamonds, and where blind admiration continues to enjoy the most respected accent in the world…’ The article is savage.

From The BBC here: ‘European elections 2024: eleven important things to watch for’.

Health:

From The Olive Press here: ‘Covid cases in Spain have quadrupled in mid-May despite the warmer weather, but infection rates are still much lower than a year ago’. The president of the Spanish Society of Epidemiology Oscar Zurriaga stressed that the current Covid case figures do not indicate that ‘we are in a moment of increased problems’.

‘The Spain that scratches itself: the incessant outbreaks of scabies (‘sarna’ in Spanish) warn that something more serious is happening’ says El Confidencial here. Where does this come from? Nobody seems to have any idea.

‘Private healthcare revolts against the Government. The Spanish Private Health Alliance (ASPE) charges against Health Minister Mónica García's decision to implement the Public Management Law of the National Health System, which intends "to put a stop to the incessant profit that has been paid by the different attentions of our health”. The employers' association has presented its allegations to the bill to shield public health, warning that it would be “incompatible” with the Constitution. The minister says that “la sanidad no se vende, la sanidad se defiende” (Healthcare is not for sale, healthcare is for all)’. The article continues, ‘As she explained, it has been shown that the new management formulas have not led to improvements in the health of the population, "but rather improvements in the obscene profits of some companies" at the expense of the budget of the National Health System’. The story is at El Boletín here.

Corruption:

The chances of one’s details – credit cards, ID numbers, bank accounts and so on (even passwords) – falling into the hands of cyber-criminals is on the increase. A number of major companies and agencies have been hacked over the past couple of weeks, including Tráfico: ‘A massive hole in the DGT: all the data of 34 million drivers are put up for sale, including license plates, ID, owner, valid insurance...’ says El Confidencial here.

Banco Santander staff and '30 million' customers hacked’ says the BBC here.

Telefónica hacked (here)

Iberdrola hacked (here)

Evo Banco hacked (here)

Decathlon hacked (here)

Ticketmaster investigating cyber-attack as personal details of 560 million customers stolen’ says ITV here.

‘Urgent warning to all iPhone and Android users’ says The Daily Mail here.

El Economista looks at another kind of cyber-attack, where the point is to bring a company’s web-service down. ‘The reason why this pro-Russian hacker group is attacking Spain non-stop’. Agencies such as the Parlament Catalán, the web of the Casa Real, the Foreign Ministry, the Metro de Madrid, the ports of Valencia and Las Palmas… The pro-Russian hackers say on Twitter (!) that they are against Spain’s support for the Ukraine.

Courts:

Begoña Gómez has abruptly been called to testify on July 5th over the accusations of crimes of influence peddling and corruption in business. elDiario.es says that the order, artfully given just days before the European elections, is based solely on the spurious complaint from Manos Limpias, which comes from press cuttings. Both the UCO (Serious Crimes Unit) of the Guardia Civil and the chief prosecutor for Madrid say that there are no crimes to answer. Indeed, even the ‘witnesses’ have yet to be interrogated by the crusading judge. Lawfare? Nooo.

From an editorial here: ‘Hey, it’s probably all just a coincidence. It’s no doubt also a coincidence that a judge agrees to open a case based on press clippings without evidence against a certain Begoña Gómez, who is the wife of the President of the Government. I bet it’s also merely a coincidence that he decides to go ahead despite the fact that the Guardia Civil puts a report on his desk saying that there is no indication of a crime. Life is like that, full of coincidences; and thus the judge decides, without there being any new evidence, nor having statements from any witnesses, nor receiving any news of any kind, to charge this Begoña Gómez five days before the European Elections. The Magistrate Juan Carlos Peinado has called her to testify as under investigation on July 5 at ten in the morning’.

From La Vanguardia here: The Government expresses its “stupor” at the summons of Begoña Gómez: “It defies procedural logic”. “The matter will be filed sooner or later, but it is being used within the framework of a campaign to help a certain electoral option”, say sources from within the Government

Media:

From Servimedia here: Fake-news and misinformation that have been spread about the wife of Pedro Sánchez, Begoña Gómez’. One of the most popular among conspiracy theorists and those hoping to cause harm is that Begoña was born male, and thus they call her ‘Begoño’ (mind you, Michelle Obama, Brigitte Macron and Jacinda Ardern have, to a lesser or greater degree, all been afforded the same attention). There are other inventions, too, as we are seeing…

The director of El Confidencial has now retracted his information about Begoña Gómez's activities before the judge says Crónica Libre here.

It’s time for a new ‘democratic’ press law, says the director of elDiario.es here. The current one was redacted in 1966 under the Franco regime. He says: “There is a need for a regulation of the press, precisely to protect the right of citizens to receive truthful information. Because a part of what might appear to be journalism, and is not, has become a polluting industry that is poisoning society".

Miguel Ríos, the veteran pop singer, said on a TV show earlier this week that ‘the other day, I heard someone in the opposition parties in government refer to someone else as un traidor, a traitor. Now there’s a word I haven’t heard since the old Franco times’.

EU vs Disinfo (here) is a site that ‘identifies, analyses and raises awareness of disinformation and interference’ (often from Russia). Under the chapter on EU elections it says: ‘Information manipulators see elections as an opportunity to advance their own goals by smearing leaders, exploiting existing political issues, sowing distrust and eroding the credibility in the democratic system and its institutions…’ Some interesting stuff here.

Ecology:

From Sur in English here: ‘Spain could be hit with 'major cockroach infestations' this summer. One of the greatest risks posed by the insects is the spread of harmful bacteria and viruses capable of transmitting diseases to humans, experts warn’.

(There were rats, rats, big as bloomin’ cats, in the stores… - an old song from a boozy past). ‘The plague of super-rats is spreading across the world’, says El Comercio here. The article notes that ‘In Spain, genetic mutations have already been identified in rats from twelve autonomous communities capable of resisting all rodenticides’.

Various:

Foreign residents make up over 60% of the population of some ten municipalities in Spain says VozPópuli here. There are now 8.9 million (18%) foreign-born residents in Spain.

Having enthused in last week’s editorial about Spanish women’s football, I can only note here that Real Madrid’s (men’s team) won the European Champions League against Dortmund this past Saturday. Well done them. And talking of football, 20Minutos has ‘This is the luxurious 11 million euro villa where Kylian Mbappé (Real Madrid’s latest signing) will live in Madrid: it is 1,000m2 in size built on 15,000 metres of land, has seven bed-rooms, several swimming pools, golf...’

As the Government plans to control under-age access to improper bits of the Internet through a kind of parental control on computers, tablets and cell-phones (here), Elon Musk is apparently now allowing porn on Twitter (which probably explains why he has changed the name of this medium to X).

There is doubtlessly few things more enjoyable than being a volunteer on an archaeological dig (under the hot Spanish sun). Mind you, as El Periódico says, you need to keep safe. ‘The 'Me Too' in Spanish archaeology: between 33 and 51% of female workers have suffered sexual harassment’.

A book on graffiti in Madrid. Some people seem to admire ‘street art’. The story here.

Finally:

This one is a protest song about the goings-on (to not use another g-word) in Palestine. It’s from Residente and Amul Murkas and is called Bajo los Escombros. Under the rubble. On YouTube here.

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