Business over Tapas

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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September 26 2019            Nº 319

Editorial: 

Thomas Cook, the world’s second largest travel company, has closed operations, leaving a huge number of travellers stuck in hotels and airports around the globe. El País says ‘The collapse of the British travel group Thomas Cook has delivered a massive blow to the Spanish tourism industry. Around 3.6 million passengers travel to Spain on Thomas Cooks’ regular and chartered flights each year, the majority of whom (3.2 million) fly to the Balearic and Canary Islands, according to data from the Spanish airport authority AENA. The British travel group also works with 20 hotels in the Balearic Islands, 20 in the Canary Islands and six in the rest of the country, according to the company’s webpage’. 

There were some 70,000 passengers in Spain when the company pancaked. 

Thomas Cook invented package tours, offering visits to attractions by train in 1841 between certain British cities. It grew from this small beginning to a huge tour company, until its dramatic end on Monday.  ‘…Around 9,000 UK staff and 21,000 worldwide were left without jobs and 600,000 customers left abroad, triggering the UK’s largest peacetime repatriation’ says Wiki here.

What caused the collapse? An article back in May from The Independent says ‘Thomas Cook blames Brexit uncertainty as it announces £1.5bn loss’. So, there’s that. Beyond the politics of course comes the greed. From The Guardian this Monday: ‘Former Thomas Cook bosses under fire for excessive pay. CEOs of the collapsed travel firm received more than £35m in 12 years despite financial woes’.  Then we read of hedge funds making a massive killing out of the death of the company.  

The Guardian again: ‘UK ministers accused of sealing Thomas Cook’s fate. Offers from Spain and Turkey to save firm reportedly had no support from Westminster’.

As for Spain: ‘Goodbye to Magaluf? Thomas Cook’s bankruptcy threatens ‘drunken tourism’

The company that just went bust was one of those that offered this type of ‘low cost’ tour packages for the British’ here . ‘Thomas Cook’s bankruptcy will impact «dramatically» on tourism in Spain … It will have a «dramatic» impact on the Canary Isles tourism sector, as stated by the Federation of Hospitality and Tourism Entrepreneurs of Las Palmas. But not only in the Canary Islands. Spain is the main destination for all-inclusive operator customers. Aena figures at 3.6 million customers that the different airlines of the group sent to Spanish cities during the past year…’. An article from Las Provincias here. There’s a list of the forty hotels collaborating with Thomas Cook in Spain here. From a sad Facebook post: ‘Thomas Cook have ceased trading. I have just rebooked flights to come down and they have gone up £200 since Saturday. Be prepared for high increases’. Finally, El País looks at ‘Operation Matterhorn’, the repatriation of 150,000 clients and a million holidays booked. The thought is (as another Facebook posting notes), thank heavens for the EU rule ‘Package Travel Directive 2015/2302/EU’ that protects European travellers for cancellation, repatriation and refunds.  

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Housing:

From IPE Real Assets here: ‘This summer, and after nearly three decades of setbacks and political deadlock, Madrid Nuevo Norte (MNN) was given the green light by the city’s local authority, marking the beginning of one of the largest urban-regeneration projects in Europe.

MNN will not only transform Madrid’s skyline but it will also help consolidate Spain’s capital as one of Europe’s leading cities and transform it into a magnet for investors…’. 

Lifestyle migrants from the rich West are helping to gentrify Spanish cities like Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca’, says Spanish Property Insight here. 

Or, on the other hand… From The New York Times here: ‘A Cave for Living, Built From a Traditional Spanish Toolshed. In Mallorca’s craggy countryside, a pair of cottages combine primordiality and hypermodernism’.

‘It is not an amnesty, but almost. In Andalucía there are about 327,000 homes (listed by area) built without legal coverage. One day someone decided to build their house where they shouldn’t, without the infrastructure for sanitation, water supply and electricity. Time passed without the Administrations acting properly and now they are in limbo, waiting for a kind of redemption. It has arrived in the form of a law approved this Tuesday by the Andalusian Government. These houses are called in the administrative language AFO (asimilado fuera de ordenación)…’. El País doesn’t sound totally convinced. Teleprensa is a bit more upbeat: ‘The Governing Council approves the law that will solve the problem of irregular housing. Andalucía ends years of legal and urban chaos with a standard based on environmental protection and a simplification of procedures’. 

(Zurgena, Almería) ‘British expats to be awarded up to €150,000 some 12 years after dream homes in southern Spain were declared illegal. Judge Marta Ines Sierra also gave promoters six months to proceed with the demolition of the buildings…’. The Olive Press reports. 

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Tourism:

Have you any idea how dangerous it is travelling to Spain? The British Government warns its citizens about, oh, ‘balconing’, floods, listeriosis, er, ‘road-pirates’, violent attacks from fellow-Brits and so on. Luckily, Spain has one of the lower crime, rape and murder rates around – so there’s that. Found at ABC (with video) here. 

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Seniors:

‘When the cost of senior care means selling up the family home. Many relatives in the Madrid region are struggling to pay for nursing homes for their parents, with the average price nearly as high as €2,000 a month’. An item from El País in English here. 

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Finance:

‘James Benamor, the British star of usurious loans, lands in Alicante’ says El Confidencial here. Benamor’s Amigo Loans use a gimmick – the loan (at a huge interest) must be guaranteed by a second person (who is then the target of the company, following any irregularity in the return). The Alicante version, headquartered in the Centro Comercial Torre Golf, is called Moneymas (here) which offers ‘up to 5,000€ in 24 hours at 41.16% interest (TAE 49.9%)’. Last year, The Daily Mail described Benamor as one ‘…who paints himself as a friend of the poor but made his fortune exploiting society’s most vulnerable’. 

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Politics:

The main political story this week is that the party of the ex-mayoress of Madrid Manuela Carmena, now headed up by ex-Podemos founder Iñigo Errejón, and until now known as Más Madrid, has voted in committee to run in the national elections of November 10th. This will eclipse Pablo Iglesias and the Unidas Podemos – sworn enemies yet with hugely similar politics. How will this help the main champion of the Izquierda, the PSOE? ‘The moderate Left versus the pointless left’, claims Cuarto Poder here, saying that the PSOE is more concerned about the stay-at-home voter than the squabble between Iglesias and Errejon.  As the journalist Jordi Évole, quoting his grandfather, says, ‘the only time the izquierda is ever united is when it’s in prison together’. 

More on Errejon’s party at El País here. A name-change to ‘Más País’ with El Mundo here.

Twitter and Facebook have closed down ‘hundreds’ of fake accounts operated by the PP and ‘used to manipulate public opinion’ says ElDiario.es here. 

Between one thing and another, elections are due to cost the taxpayer some 600 million euros in 2019 says VozPópuli here. 

Pacma, the animal-rights political party (‘Rover for President’) has a new candidate in Laura Duarte (the one who famously muddled up a friendly steer with a fighting bull). 

Juan José Cortés, the Nº 1 on the PP list for Huelva, mentioned last week in the BoT for his miraculous recovery from a complete invalidity as he entered politics, may have a relapse if the rumours of his ejection by the party pan out. The poor man will need another medical apparently… 

Spaniards can contact the INE and ask to not receive party political mailings for the upcoming elections. El Huff Post says that so far, 481,000 people have done just that. 

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Gibraltar:

Video from Deutsche Welle here: ‘Gibraltar: Brexit’s other border. The future of the border in Ireland has dominated Brexit discourse for the last two years. But there’s another border at Spain’s southern tip that could become extremely complicated for the region’s workers whenever, or if, the UK finally leaves the European Union’.

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Courts:

From The Guardian here: ‘Spain to move Franco’s remains after court gives go-ahead. Government says transfer of body to municipal cemetery will occur as soon as possible’. 

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Brexit: 

Things don’t appear to be calming down in Westminster…

La Vanguardia runs a piece attempting to explain why the Brits support Brexit. It includes this gem: ‘…And I would say that the nostalgia of that imperial past is what moves the English collective unconscious to persuade themselves that they will live better outside Europe, and that Brexit is a step that they are taking pushed by the devils of their proud racist and imperialist sub-consciousness. Cecil Rhodes wrote: «The English are the best race in the world and the greater part of the world they occupy, the better it is for humanity,» and Lord Cromer, the English consul in Egypt during the times of Lawrence of Arabia: «The world is divided between the British and the lower races”…’. A bit close to the bone, maybe? The article concludes that, strictly speaking, if the British were to return Gibraltar to its previous owner, this would in point of fact be the Catalonians. 

‘Spain will remove rights for British residents post-Brexit if the UK does not reciprocate.

The Spanish government has already passed a royal decree that covers nearly all areas of daily life for the more than 300,000 Britons officially registered in the country, but wants to see London respond in kind’. An item from El País in English here. 

From Euronews with video here: ‘The UK has forgotten us’: Britons hold anti-Brexit protest in Málaga’.

The Corner on the other hand opines that ‘Hard Brexit faces no credible challenge’ here. 

It seems like it only took a few minutes before the British ex-pats in Spain started to react in horror to the result of the referendum held in the UK in late June 2016 – look at that, they said: the bloody British electorate have ditched us.

We may not be Falkland Islanders, but we had still expected a slight bit of concern from our fellow-Brits trapped over there in the xenophobic atmosphere of 21st Century UK. After all, we did put in our time there alongside them at one point (before a sensible and well-planned exit to a far better place to live). We still have our British accents, our British pride and our British passports – although it looks like, in the not too distant future, only our accents will remain.

How could they have been so stupid?

Well, they were and we are stuck here in Spain without a lifeline. We can hardly sell up and go ‘back’. Firstly, the high price of a home over in the UK would have us all ending up living in protected housing in Anglesey. Secondly, who on earth would want to live in a society that appears to be inspired by the early days of Nazi Germany?

So, over in Europe, we British ex-pats are in shock. Will the Boris creature start laying fresh new rules on the Europeans living in the United Kingdom? Work permits perhaps, or special new registration, or visas or quotas, or even, in certain cases (penury would be an obvious example), deportation? We worry because the European authorities, with their affronted electorate’s insistence, would do precisely the same to us.

We have learned that we are little more than pawns in the politics of ‘Brexit’.

But remember this London: you really don’t want one and a half million indignant ex-pats all being sent back to your tender care. Imagine the reaction of your home-grown fascist groups and their critical posts on Facebook!

From another age, from another fall-out with those who no longer wanted to be British, a quote: “The distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers, and New Englanders are no more. I Am Not A Virginian, But An American!”― Patrick Henry.

Friends, I am a European.                                                                           Lenox Dixit

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Ecology: 

ElDiario.es looks at the endless pressure on La Doñana National Park (Wiki). Among other things, the PP wants to build a motorway through it. 

Pedro Sánchez says in New York that he will bring to Spain the ‘Green New Deal’ of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. On his first day in the United States, the acting president sought to align himself with the environmental movement developed by the Democratic congresswoman’ with a speech at the ‘Climate Week’. From El Mundo here.

‘The Spanish face Climate Change’ – survey results analysed at Instituto Real Elcano here.

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Various:

Glassdoor is a popular webpage which allows people to criticise their place of employment and their bosses. It’s a sort of Tripadvisor for companies (somebody recently sent me the link to a heartfelt complaint about working for a local free-sheet). glassdoor.es has now landed in Spain according to El Confidencial here.  

There’s a thing called La Maldición de Gürtel: the Curse of the Gurtel Inquiry. What happens is that suspects mysteriously die before they can offer their story in court. So far, nine have died, says El Español here, although to be fair, the inquiry has been going since 2009. 

The Philippine fast-food Jollibee is opening up a chain of restaurants in Spain. 

 

A group of ex-Muslims based in Granada are helping those who seek apostasy from the religion. Tricky stuff, no doubt. Granada Digital talks to la Asociación de Exmusulmanes. 

Otura is a town in Granada where the ‘Queen of the Fiestas’ this year is a 16 year-old Muslim girl. The local Vox party made a fuss because she’s not a Spanish girl – only, she is. The far-right cabal has now been denounced for xenophobia. El País has the story here. 

You know how foreign athletes get their Spanish naturalisation papers toot sweet… Here’s a story of one who is indignant because he hasn’t been given Spanish nationality on the fast-track when another one – the 16 year-old Barcelona footballer Ansu Fati (Guinea-Bissau) – did. The story is at Cuatro here. 

Ten utopian architectural wonders they finally never built from El País here. 

Seven out of ten Spaniards feel ‘tired or very tired’ says a survey at 20 Minutos. 

El Español blames Thomas Cook for the drunken balconeers who overran Magaluf. 

The Councilor for Education in the Junta de Andalucía, Javier Imbroda, is the owner of the Medac Institute, which works closely with private schools. Cronica Sur wonders if the current cutback to the region’s public education system is suspicious. Article and video here. 

‘Supreme Court rules in favour of the exhumation of Franco. The judges examining the appeal by the former dictator’s family have decided that his remains should be taken to the El Pardo cemetery, where his wife is buried’. Headline at El País in English. Pedro Sánchez is backing naming October 31stt as ‘Memorial Day’ for Franco’s victims, says El Español. 

The 500th anniversary of the hispano-tlaxcalteca treaty was celebrated on Monday. It seems like yesterday. The story at El Sol de Tlaxcala (Mexico) here. 

An interesting story from National Geographic here about Magellan and Juan Sebastian Elcano. Magellan was the first to sail around the world (only, he wasn’t – he was killed by natives in the Philippines). His captain Elcano completed the famous voyage. 

‘Iranian officials in Tehran remove one of 283 museum items on loan from Alicante as lithograph showed Queen Isabella II with ‘too much cleavage’. Officials from the Iranian Ministry of Culture ordered the immediate removal of the painting from the National Museum of Iran…’. (Heh!). Item from The Olive Press here. 

A wealthy Saudi called Turki Al-Sheikh has bought the Almería football club for 20 million euros. He’s pumping money into it, well done him. On Friday, he’s shelling out with a free concert in downtown Almería, all welcome!

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See Spain:

Over 100 interconnected wine cellars hide beneath Aranda de Duero says Eye on Spain.

 

Enviado por José Antonio Sierra