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
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The Vox candidate for the regional Madrid elections is Rocío Monasterio. She is the kind of candidate that, like Donald Trump before her, makes it easy for journalists to fill their stories. El Español for example reports that ‘Monastery asks for the vote for an election in which «Spain will decide between totalitarianism or freedom»’.
It seems that either Rocío or I have misunderstood all along the word ‘totalitarianism’.
Or maybe she thinks it’s a good thing?
I spent the first few years on my time in Spain under the aegis of Franco. I can’t say that it was much of a burden – for a young foreigner living in what would become one day in the far future a tourist town, where the local people were generally grateful for our presence. We brought with us money, culture and, here and there, some young women with short skirts.
My only story of Francoist Spain is once being locked up in the nearby town’s clink for a few days in 1971 along with my father by some highly apologetic guardias civiles (my dad used to send a crate of wine to the local cuartel each Christmas). We had sawed down Mojácar’s first billboard, an advertisement for (or all things) an early souvenir /nicknack shop run by an irascible Frenchman. The local judge cut up quite strongly and was all for giving us a couple of months more in the uncomfortable jail, but my dad’s cousin was the British ambassador, so that was all sorted out soon enough to everyone’s’ satisfaction (except the judge’s, who was sent to the Basque Country for his sins). I was just seventeen, but after having spent time banged up in the ayuntamiento’s cellars, I decided I was mature enough to leave behind me my school in Seville.
Franco doesn’t enter the story, but both Francoist Spain and having some useful contacts (we foreigners usually don’t) certainly does.
Wiki says ‘Francoist Spain, known in Spain as the Francoist dictatorship … Months after the start of the Spanish Civil War in July 1936, Franco emerged … During the 1950s the regime also changed from being openly totalitarian and using severe repression to an authoritarian system with limited pluralism…’.
Spanish friends remember the times, when they were at university perhaps or working abroad in menial jobs in France, Germany or Argentina. Or maybe they had a cousin or an uncle in some useful position that could help them find a position (or get them out of jail).
The regime was strict and often brutal. The Holocaust Encyclopaedia on the Civil War notes that ‘It was the breeding ground for mass atrocities. About 200,000 people died as the result of systematic killings, mob violence, torture, or other brutalities’.
Unsurprisingly, the history of Spain since the uprising in 1936 until the death of the caudillo has been largely, and wisely, dropped from society, the syllabus and the soap-box.
And then, along came Vox.
Perhaps the arrival of Vox and its supporters, wrapped in flags and nostalgic for the older, simpler times, together with the exhumation in October 2019 of the dictator from his tomb in the ghastly Valle de los Caídos has brought about a loosening of stories from the past. This week, we read of an improbable British plot to invade Spain and depose Franco in 1943; a story of one of Franco’s senior generals who wrote a recently published diary showing his ‘disgust at the violence and corruption’ of the times and the sad story of the Franco Foundation who have been told they can’t have their statue of the Generalísimo returned.
So we return to Rocío and her circle. Al Descubierto brings us the top dozen names on the Vox list for Madrid (the polls lean towards maybe eleven seats for the party). ‘Anti-rights campaigners, aristocrats, ultra-Catholic militants and members of the El Yunque sect’, they say, naming them. The party won’t win, but it will have an influence on Ayuso’s leadership, and she’s no leftie either…
From Spanish Property Insight here: ‘Spanish home sales involving foreign buyers were down 25% in 2020, thanks mainly to the coronavirus pandemic. There were 47,293 Spanish home sales involving foreign buyers in 2020, down 24.7% compared to the previous year, according to the latest data from the Association of Spanish Land Registrars…’.
From Público here: ‘Small-sized companies and the self-employed are finding it increasingly difficult to keep a shop or office open – so tens of thousands of them, whose businesses do not require having a door open to the public or hosting a production process, have ended up closing them. Sometimes, the business has closed down too; but in others, the ventures have opted for teleworking and replacing the face-to-face meetings of the partners or the staff with telematic (online) meetings using Zoom or other systems…’.
‘Since the pandemic began, the media have agreed on one particular idea: that Spain has a historic opportunity to become the preferred destination for teleworkers worldwide. Its good climate, lifestyle, tourist and gastronomic attractions make the country an attractive place to work without having to go to the office. The boom in remote work that has accelerated the pandemic and its consequent lockdowns in mid-2020 has turned what once seemed like a fantasy into reality…’. Business Insider says that four out of the ten best cities in the world for teleworking are Spanish: Valencia, Alicante, Málaga and Madrid. Also, and why not, small villages in the middle of nowhere have become attractive – as long as they have broadband. The worry is, of course, that well-known Spanish phenomenon ‘la gentrificación’. Prices can rise out of the ordinary neighbours reach. The article has another interesting word: ‘La disneyficación’. Indeed, there’s even a book on the subject ‘First We Take Manhattan: la destrucción creativa de las ciudades’ (here). Meanwhile, here’s a video promoting Málaga City as a place to live and telework.
From ABC Sevilla here: ‘Green light to Lista, the new Andalusian land law, which puts an end to the tangle of 235 legal texts’. The LOUA has gone, succeeded by the Lista, a new law on the building of homes within the region. Up to five hundred PGOUs (municipal general plans) have been bounced by the bureaucratic impediments of the earlier rules. Now the rules ‘will be clear and simple, adapted to the reality of Andalucía, easy to understand and to apply’ says Marifrán Carazo, the Regional Minister of Development, Infrastructures and Spatial Planning. From now on, there will be just two types of classifiable land: urban and rustic. (Thanks to Gerardo).
From Property Investor Today, a puff piece: ‘As a result of Brexit, which has changed the rules on buying Spanish property, more Brits are being hit by Spain’s hidden holiday home tax. That’s according to accountancy firm Spanish Taxes Online, which is based out of Lanzarote. “Life used to be so much simpler for British owners of holiday homes in Spain,” says Nick Ball, marketing director, “Buy a place in the Spanish sun, jet out whenever you fancy, stay as long as you like and rent out any vacant weeks to other holidaymakers.”…’
El País in English says ‘Spain will not require coronavirus tests or quarantines for travellers arriving with ‘vaccine passports’. The European Union’s ‘Digital Green Certificate’ is due to come into force in June, and will allow for people to arrive in the country ‘in a safer manner,’ according to the Health Ministry’.
From David Jackson here: ‘Why vaccine passports are a bad idea’. His argument is sound.
From 20Minutos here: ‘The «disastrous» start of 2021 and the slowness in vaccination reduce the recovery of tourism in Spain. The tourist association Exceltur says that tourism will contribute 53% more to the Spanish economy this year than it was able to in 2020, although it will only be slightly more than half (52.5%) of where it was before the outbreak of the pandemic, thanks in part due to a disastrous start to the year…’.
From Teleprensa here: ‘Málaga will host the 1st National Hospitality Forum to discuss the future of the hospitality industry on Monday April 26th. Hostelería de España, together with Hostelería de Andalucía, are the organisers of the event.
The Imserso program (vacations for seniors) is currently due to return in October.
‘The Second Vice President and Minister of Economic Affairs Nadia Calviño, said last week that «it is not the time to raise taxes because the priority right now for the Spanish Government is to boost economic growth and job creation», This is why, as she pointed out, «that taxes have not been raised this year as has been demonstrated in the General State Budgets«…’. Europa Press reports here.
‘Spain’s government has outlined where it is considering spending European Union funds to help the economy recover, and which it believes will create up to 800,000 jobs. President Pedro Sánchez calls the reform plan ‘the greatest opportunity for Spain since its entry into the EU’, and forecasts it will increase the country’s GDP by two percentage points at least over the next two years or so, on top of any other rises this may experience through the end of the ‘State of Alarm’ and businesses being able to reopen in full nationwide…’. The article continues at Think Spain here.
‘CaixaBank, the largest bank in Spain, plans to lay off 18% of its staff, 8,291 workers. The financial institution intends to close 1,534 of its offices across Spain, a 27% reduction.
This comes barely one month after it confirmed its merger with Bankia, on March 26, which made it Spain’s largest lender…’. Item from Catalan News here.
From El Confidencial here: ‘Brexit hits Spain through credit cards: millions more in fees. Starting in October, the ‘exchange rates’ with the United Kingdom will rise to 1.5%. The result: «When a UK citizen makes a purchase in Europe, the trader will have to face a higher cost in charges from the card companies»
The CIS poll for April in intention of vote maintains a lead for the PSOE nationally. The figures at El Periódico give the PSOE 31.5%, the PP 20.6%, Vox in third at 15.4%, UP next with 10.7% and Ciudadanos at 6.7%.
El Español (pay-walled article) says that PSOE provincial organisations in three Andalusian provinces – Granada, Huelva and Jaén – are calling for primaries to oust Susana Díaz from the leadership of the party. elDiario.es says that the candidate preferred by the PSOE in Madrid, Juan Espadas, was unable to move the primaries forward in an angry debate on Tuesday as the Seville-controlled regional party sticks behind Susana Díaz. (Here in Spain, losing candidates in elections aren’t automatically ousted in favour of someone else. Oddly).
Madrid. Regional elections for May 4th:
As the polls settle down towards agreement and campaigning officially starts, it looks like la derecha now enjoys a 77% chance of winning. While the PSOE leader Ángel Gabilondo makes his political attacks on the current regional president Isabel Díaz Ayuso, Ayuso for her part is setting her guns on Pedro Sánchez. And where is Pablo Casado while all this is going on? Somehow, he’s been sidelined.
Which parties remember the elderly in their party videos? And which ones don’t. 65yMás says that there are more than a million voters over 65 years old in the region. With videos.
An editorial at La Marea picks apart Ayuso’s neo-liberal plans to drastically cut taxes. See, the poor may lose their services and benefits, but the State can always pick up the difference. The article is titled ‘Ayuso breaks Spain. The Madrid president promises an improbable tax cut. Her policies are already impoverishing and dividing the rest of the country’.
A Vox poster contrasts the small pension Grannie gets with the large sum received by the young unattached immigrants (known, apparently, as Los Menas). El Español says that the ugly campaign is being investigated by the prosecutor as a possible ‘hate crime’. The truth behind the aid given to Los Menas is explained by Maldito Bulo here. ABC reports (with video) that the Vox messiah Santiago Abascal says to (an admittedly slightly overweight) transport minister José Luis Ábalos – ‘if you don’t like the poster, come on and take it down yourself. You need the exercise’!
Two months after the elections – negotiations between the two leading parties are still stalled. ‘No agreement before May 26 would mean fresh elections’ says Catalan News.
Gibraltar is doing well with the corona-crisis, says EuropaSur, with no reported cases in eighteen days (Monday).
An article from The Telegraph (paywall) here called ‘‘Coiled spring’: The UK’s economic surge has taken the world by surprise’ includes this swipe at the EU: ‘…The EU is now trapped by its zero-tolerance policy on rare blood clots, as if it had the luxury of treating vaccines like a routine drug when 3,000 Europeans a day are dying from Covid, many from blood clots caused by the disease itself…’ (here reproduced in full at The Brisbane Times). My thanks to John for the link. The EU has since changed course on the blot-clot issue.
Spanish Property Insight says here that: ‘…Brits (and other non-EU nationals) with EU spouses are not bound by the 90/180 day rule, and can live in Spain without having to get a visa – something that has not been widely reported in the British press’.
From Colomone, an interesting piece about the Euro. Could other countries be considering joining the Euro-zone? To switch to the euro, a country must be in the EU – indeed those that joined after 1995 should by charter change their national currency into the euro or have a special dispensation (viz. Andorra, Mónaco, San Marino and the Vatican); should meet the Maastricht Criteria and thirdly, have the political will. The article says that Bulgaria and Croatia are close to joining, while the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Romania have no plans to join and Denmark, Iceland and Sweden have decided against. Two other countries that use the euro (unofficially) are Montenegro and Kosovo.
One pro-Brexit reader sends us this: ‘The EU will become a regional minnow as Global Britain forges ahead’. This laughable piece comes from The Express here.
The European Medicines Agency confirmed the efficacy and safety of Janssen and the pharmaceutical company has delivered the first shipment of 146,000 doses to the Spanish Government. Another 154,000 will arrive next week and 5.5 million more before summer.
From El Levante, some good news. After the continuing vaccine supply problems that European countries including Spain continue to endure, welcome news that the American Novavax vaccine is to be made here in Galicia. It looks like the European Medicines Agency approval will be soon, and the vaccine has an excellent protection rate of between 86% and 96%, depending on the virus strain.
From Contrainformación here: The UDEF (Spain’s fraud police) have confirmed that the notorious Caja B was operated by the PP and that the hand-written notes from the ex party-treasurer Luis Bárcenas’ are «real». Furthermore, the chief inspector of the UDEF denounces that «they received serious pressure» from the PP to stop this investigation. Europa Press says here that computer experts from the Spanish fraud squad have ratified that the pen-drive of Luis Bárcenas with the ‘b accounts’ from the PP has not been manipulated or modified since the 1990s. La Ser says that the PP paid for the reforms on their building at Calle Génova in ‘black money’. The amount disclosed was €1,500,000.
Long exempt from any inquiry (due, they say, to a little black book of secrets best left unopened), the ex-president of Catalonia Jodi Pujol, his wife Marta Ferrusola and their seven children are now being processed by the National Audience says Crónica Global.
From Investing.com here: ‘The Supreme Court has ratified the sentence imposed on the former president of Sanitas Marcial Francisco Gómez Sequeira for two crimes against the Public Treasury and has fined him 4.2 million euros.
‘A primary problem in our western cultures is that most people read news not for information but for affirmation’. The Times, as found at Colin Davies.
Karlos Arguiñano, the opinionated and entertaining TV chef has won the Premio Nacional de Televisión 2021. The prize is awarded each year by the Ministry of Culture. More here.
There has been a fuss following the interview with Miguel Bosé, an eccentric pop singer. The interview by Jordi Evolé on LaSexta can be seen here (register for free) or a clip here. elDiario.es reckons that ‘Putting someone on television to proclaim that men are superior to women, or that one race is superior to another, or that a virus is transmitted by 5G or that vaccines are designed by a cabal of billionaires to control you is not journalism, it’s just ignorance’. From the (stoned?) interview here: Miguel Bosé on el franquísmo.
Gosh, there are some remarkable stories on the Global247News page.
‘For the first time, Spain has approved a bill to combat climate change and its effects. This document will go to the Senate for approval, so that we would have the first Law on Climate Change and Energy Transition in our country. … The main objective is to reach so-called “climate neutrality” by 2050, i.e. to achieve full decarbonisation’. From The Corner here.
Navarra has eliminated the need for a licencia de obra – a building licence – from the town hall for those installing solar panels. The region now joins most of Spain (less Murcia, Madrid, País Vasco, Asturias, La Rioja and Cantabria) in speeding up installation time.
The Local says ‘Spain’s Ministry of Inclusion has just published its latest report on the country’s foreign resident population in 2020, showing a new record, rises in the country’s British and Italian population and insight into where foreigners like to move to in Spain…’. The figures for Brit residents given here are ‘381,448 registered by December 31st 2020’ quoted as being ‘according to the Ministry of Inclusion’, while the National Statistics Institute, the INE, gives the equally exact and extremely variant figure of 262,885 Brits residing in Spain (taken from the padrón). The full article is reproduced here.
From ION Comunicación here: ‘More than 100,000 dogs could cease to be considered ‘potentially dangerous’ if the legislative change in which the Government is working is successful, according to estimates by the Royal Canine Society of Spain (RSCE) based on its own records. In this way, these animals would free themselves from the stigmatization that this figure supposes today, which criminalizes them and their guardians’. The once dangerous dogs – Rottweiler, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Bull Terrier, Dogo Argentino, Akita Inu, Tosa Inu, Fila Brasileiro, Pit Bull Terrier, Boxer, Doberman, Presa Canario, Bull Mastiff, Mastín Napolitano and Dogo de Burdeos – are now safe.
Apparently, they just need to be taught to be social.
Something like that!
We meet ‘Madicke, the Senegalese who came to Spain with nothing and now gives employment to some of his neighbours: «It’s my way of saying thanks»’. The feel-good story comes from NIUS here.
BoT is no fan of ‘The Beautiful Game’. From Colin Davies’ Thoughts from Galicia comes ‘Not very surprising to see the proposal for an exclusive European super-league being driven by the infamously greedy president of Real Madrid. He claims that there’s a crisis in football, meaning that he and his billionaire colleagues aren’t making enough money. Unlike the obscenely-paid players and their agents. Pérez is described in this article on the 12 men who’ve ruined football as ‘the seedy face of a greedy game’…’. There’s apparently a happy ending to all this – as the six English clubs involved lead the movement to pull out. By Wednesday afternoon, only four of the original twelve (twenty were planned) were still in. We end with Marca on Wednesday evening and its report: ‘The 72 hours of the Super League: chronology of a failure’. That thing went down like the Titanic, it says.
‘I’m very worried about the new super-league’, says an opinion piece in elDiario.es here. ‘The end result being that the rich get richer while the small-fry will quietly close their doors for ever. To say nothing of the corruption, greed and huge wages. Huh? No, not that – I meant the super-league of the Spanish banks: the BBVA, Santander, CaixaBank and a few others. In fifteen years, we have passed from 62 banks to just ten (nine, soon, with Unicaja merging with Liberbank). In the past fifteen years, too, 22,000 branches have been closed and 100,000 jobs lost in the sector.
A company called Next Electric Motors from Alicante brings out its electric scooters and motorbikes, viewed at ECD here.
One point of the new Law on Climate Change and Energy Transition is to limit traffic circulation in any town/city over 50,000 inhabitants. The 150 towns that are over this size must open up low emission urban zones to restrict traffic and inter alia improve our lungs.
Instead of just giving discounts on new electric cars in a campaign of sustainability, Xataca says that there should also be aid given to the bicycle industry and its customers. ‘€7,000 for an electric car and nothing for a bike: why does Spain insists on subsidizing a luxury?’ Ciclosfera says that there isn’t enough encouragement for cycling as a form of transport. It makes the point that ‘the Government could promote this if it wanted to’, but there is no mention of cycling in the España Puede plan.
The Government has accepted the EU’s ruling that the number of toll-roads should be increased in Spain. Many autovías will soon be de peaje.
Trucks will be able to cross Spain by train from Zaragoza to Algeciras and back from 2023 says EuropaSur here. The transport minister José Luis Ábalos shows his support for a project that he believes will lead the change in the transport model in Spain. Adif is working to adapt the clearance of the tunnels to make it possible for the necessary 4.20m high semi-trailers to pass safely. By 2030, there will be 600,000 trips by lorry saved by this system.
From InSpain News here: ‘Change to secrets law could shed light on the Franco regime’. It says that ‘The Spanish government is reforming the Franco-era state secrets law which prevents papers from the Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship from being published. The coalition government established a commission composed of the Ministries of Defence, Internal Affairs and Foreign Affairs, led by the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister’s offices…’.
From Eye on Spain here: ‘Meet Spain’s (only) genuine Norwegian olive farmers’. An excerpt from this enjoyable tale: ‘…Thank goodness for Google Earth, I think as my husband and I pass the town of Álora (Málaga) and continue up and down on increasingly narrow country roads. To be sure we are on the right track, as we stop at a farm where a pack of rat-faced mutts spill out of every crack in the combined house and barn. The farmer nods and says “¡Pues sí! – Absolutely! Finca La Colina is just at the other side of the valley”. And sure enough, after another steep incline and driving across a nearly dried up creek, we arrived at our destination halfway up the next hill…’.
‘The life and death of Francisco Goya: the mystery of his life-changing illness which robbed him of his hearing. The Olive Press has the details here. ‘Often referred to as both the last of the Old Masters and the first of the Moderns, he died in 1828 at the age of 82 after years of battling a severe and undiagnosed illness. He was struck down with sickness in 1793, and thereafter his work became darker and more pessimistic. Academics now believe he may have had syphilis…’.
A side-issue from the story of the Palomares bombs is told by The New York Post here (a mid-air accident involving a B-52 nuclear bomber in January 1966 over Eastern Almería). The American soldiers sent to work in the ‘clean-up’ were never allowed government medical aid for their radiation-sickness until now, fifty five years later. It says, ‘…About 1,600 servicemen were sent to the crash site area to recover the weapons and clean up the contamination. They were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation daily for weeks or months at a time, and later developed various forms of cancer, blood disorders, heart and lung dysfunction and other sicknesses, according to a class-action lawsuit against the VA by veterans denied benefits…’.
Here’s an interesting site – Literary Rambles looks at Spanish-language writers and books
(Thanks to Brett for leading me to this page, and for the particular essay on empty Spain).
From the sublime to the ridiculous, here’s my piece called Buck Naked at Eye on Spain.
Hmmm, would BoT readers know the answers to these questions about Spain?
What is it about lists of ten? Here’s one from La Vanguardia called ‘These ten pueblos are competing to be the capital of rural tourism in 2021’. You can vote on your preferred choice (and help spoil it). Nice pictures!
This could be of use to readers.
Directive 93/13/CEE (here) prohibits abusive clauses in contracts between professionals and consumers. It is still extant and seems to be frequently ignored in Spain.
Many thanks for this latest edition of BoT. I’ll read it more attentively but for now I have had a look at the link to the photos of Galicia by the American Ruth Matilda Anderson. Interesting, and a reminder to me to get on with my project to publish some photos I took over forty years ago.
One way of publishing them is to use an American site, ‘Blurb‘ (here), which enables you to sell the photo books you create, including thru Amazon, who take a 15 per cent cut.
Reading your Blog like every week. Yep history of Spain is super interesting!
I thought Huelva was first football club in Spain, also initiated by British miners (from: ‘Morbo, The story of Spanish football’, by Phil Ball – Amazon).
Regards and keep on the very good work,
Item regarding commissions on bank transfers from the UK, as sent to The Costa News here: ‘Spanish banks which are charging British residents for money transfers up to €50,000 from the UK at a higher rate than they charge for national transfers ‘are doing so unlawfully’ if the transfer is completed via IBAN. This was the assessment made by the co-founder of the now-defunct British Expats Association, David R. Burrage.
He advised that Britons who have been ‘ripped off’ in this manner should first check with the ‘source’ so as to ensure they are forwarding money by IBAN and not SWIFT, ‘as banks are permitted to charge with the latter function which relate to world-wide transfers’.
Mr Burrage noted that the procedure falls under EU rules, namely Regulation (EU) Nº 260/2012, which amended earlier Regulations on charges for cross-border payments in euros – and ‘there are penalties for a bank’s failure to comply with the regulation’ under Article 11 of the Regulation.
Even though the UK has left the European Union, Britain remains a member of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA).
International business magazine Finance Monthly notes that refusing to accept payment from the IBAN code of a SEPA member ‘is a violation of EU rules’.
They added: “Some European banks, notably in Spain and Italy, have introduced recent charges to payments coming from or going to the UK…’.
Enviado por Jose Antonio Sierra