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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 April 16 2020            Nº 346

Editorial: 

Tourism seems to be one of the largest losers for this year. In short, there won’t be hardly anyone travelling by air (or sea) in the remains of 2020, thanks to the coronavirus. It’s not just the consideration that no one wants to be cooped up in a metal coffin (coughing) flying through the skies from one airport to another, followed by a bus ride and two weeks sharing the same hotel restaurant and swimming pool with strangers, or of course to be trapped in a cruise-liner with two thousand others and the people in the next cabin with runny noses. 

Oh, the local businesses will be more anxious than ever to welcome what trade they can find, but they will be forced to adopt government restrictions which will put a large dent in their takings. Just for an example – the distance between tables. 

Many businesses in the service sector will go bust, including many/most of those foreign-owned bars and restaurants, which may be paying over-the-top rents to inflexible local landlords, and who rely primarily on tourism. 

From La Ser comes:  ‘The European Union advises against «booking» and the summer holidays for «July and August»’. It also notes that ‘According to Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, the isolation of the elderly could be extended «until the end of the year»’. 

While some Spanish voices turn hopefully towards an increase in domestic tourism in 2020, again, the prospect won’t offer much encouragement to the foreign-owned bars and restaurants on the costas

Certainly, Easter was a bust, with the industry losing 18,000 million euros over the Semana Santa.  The forecast for the remainder of 2020 anticipates a loss to the industry of 54,000 million euros – around 80% of the previously expected haul for the year. 

The Canaries, a traditional tourist destination, where 87% of visitors are foreigners, expects to lose around 80% of its usual visitor numbers in 2020, says the regional government, which means a forecasted loss of 30% of the islands’ GDP. A similar situation awaits Mallorca. 

Tourism, says El Confidencial gloomily, will return to the España of the fifties. 

……

Housing:

‘Homeowners are already lowering the price of their homes in fear of a major market crash’. The valuations given to houses today have dropped in just a month by something between 10 and 20% says El País here. Right now, it’s even harder to sell, since it’s impossible to show the property to prospective buyers (beyond some kind of home-video, which won’t show the cracks – or the neighbour’s dog…).

«There will be opportunities, but the price of housing will not drop». The president of the association of real estate agencies (Fadei) doubts that the national market will suffer a general drop in prices’. From El Español here. He’s probably crossing his fingers.

While, on the other hand, ‘Up to 60,000€ off on apartment sales over fears of a drawn-out crisis’ says El Correo Gallego here

‘A petition against the proposed new 680-home luxury golf complex near the Costa del Sol gains momentum during the Covid-19 confinement. «It will destroy one of the most important things that Nerja has as a tourist asset: its landscape». The Olive Press reports here. A video of the proposed ‘destruction’ of the area from Revista el Observador is here

Did the Government recently publish a rule in the State Bulletin (BOE) to say that they can expropriate empty homes for the use of victims of gender violence? Well, no – however the regional governments can rent (empty) houses or hotel rooms to help battered women at their discretion. Maldita explains here. The bulo also reaches Diario16 here

……

Tourism:

Should the governments bail out the airlines (after all, it ain’t like they’re banks)? As we see at Nueva Tribuna, not everyone is enthusiastic about the 200,000 million euros asked for by IATA to rescue ‘dozens’ of airlines. 

……

Seniors:

The worry is that those in nursing homes or care communities are dying of coronavirus at a high rate. Not because old people are weaker or have complications or other existing conditions, but the fact that they are in a protected environment, where the Covid-19 should not so easily enter. BoT journalist  J. A. Sierra says that in reality there are many people who come in from outside, including cooks, cleaners and gardeners. He also tells us that the elderly are not duly careful about ‘keeping their distance’ and that many care homes are run by Catholic organisations… with their weekly Mass.

We ask: Are the residents of care homes a drain on the economy? Is there a sinister policy involved? Some links and follow-up here:

‘Six positives for coronavirus at a residence in Íllar (Almería) from which a worker was isolated by the virus. The residence has about 70 concerted places and was disinfected by the Military Emergency Unit (UME) just days ago’: La Voz de Almería here

‘The ‘death map’ of the multinational DomusVi: more than 150 elderly deceased in eight of their residences. DomusVi, controlled by a British investment fund (Intermediate Capital Group, wiki), has featured in a significant part of the saddest headlines in recent weeks about the drama experienced in Spanish residences’. InfoLibre here

DomusVi in Spain employs more than 21,000 workers. It is the largest network of centres and services for people. It offers the most specialized care for the elderly and mental health in the country. It manages more than 25,000 places in 198 nursing homes and day care centres…’.  The DomusVi page is here.  

DomusVi warns its staff at Aldán (Pontevedra) that those leaking information to the media will be sacked’. Morrazo Noticias here

‘Private and government-supported nursing homes in the Community of Madrid are demanding that workers sign confidentiality clauses that prevent them from reporting to the media what is happening in these centres, in the midst of the crisis’. El Plural here.

‘A local mayor declares war against the Administration to save 60 elderly residents in a care home: without tests and without treatment. 80% of the residents and half of the workforce at the Valderrobres nursing home (Teruel) have tested positive. Aragón only registers about 25% of these cases’. El Español here

‘The president of the Madrid Region Isabel Díaz Ayuso has concealed from the Government that 2,383 elderly in the autonomy have died from Covid-19’. Nuevo Diario here.

‘Deaths in nursing homes in Madrid have tripled since the PP took over the responsibilities from Ciudadanos. The 1,065 cases accounted for until March 26 had led Isabel Díaz Ayuso to withdraw sanitary powers from the residences from the C’s. Since then, up to April 8 there have been another 3,685 deaths’. VozPópuli here

‘The Association in Defence of Public Pensions, ADEPPU, has reported that 57% of the elderly deceased throughout the country belong to the Community of Madrid Care Homes, whose management is led by the PP regional president Isabel Díaz Ayuso’. La Hora Digital here

‘…Senior centres are the true ground zero of the coronavirus crisis in Spain. Nearly 10,000 elderly people living in nursing homes died in March and the first two weeks of April…’: InfoLibre here

 ‘A residence in San Juan de Aznalfarache (Seville) has hidden 24 deaths from coronavirus: «We didn’t know what has happened to grandmother». Cuatro here

‘More than 200 elderly people from a residence run by the Diputación de Valladolid test positive for coronavirus. The centre has 223 places and only nine people have tested negative’. ElDiario.es here

‘Relatives of those admitted to a residence in Barcelona: «No one knows what happens in there». Five families denounce the lack of information in a social health centre in the Catalan capital that cares for those affected by the coronavirus’. El País here

‘Government closes nursing home in Mallorca as 90% of elderly residents test positive for coronavirus’. The Olive Press here.

‘Residences and hospitals have high rates of new infections from the coronavirus. Confinement makes health and senior centres ideal targets for the disease’ El País here.

‘At least 11,600 people have died in social service run care centres from coronavirus. The figure includes deaths in centres for the elderly and people with disabilities. The Government still has not offered the global data’. El País (April 15th) here

 ‘As Spain struggles desperately to cope with almost 120,000 coronavirus infections, it barely has the strength to help its overwhelmed care homes and their elderly residents, singularly vulnerable to the respiratory disease…’. Reuters here

‘Coronavirus: The grim crisis in Europe’s care homes’. BBC News here

‘About half of all Covid-19 deaths appear to be happening in care homes in some European countries including Spain, according to early figures gathered by UK-based academics who are warning that the same effort must be put into fighting the virus in care homes as in the NHS…’. The Guardian here

…and so we return to Almería: ‘Five deceased and 45 positives in a nursing home in Roquetas’. La Voz de Almería here

From BoT 344: ‘Parking for the Elderly S.A.. Multinationals and vulture funds control 75% of the beds in centres for the elderly. In Spain the business is worth at least 4,500 million euros annually. The coronavirus massacre … has been brewing for years’. A major report on the big business of the residencias at CTXT here

From The Gatestone Institute (a far-right think tank wiki) here: ‘With well over a half-million confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Europe, a growing number of regional medical authorities have begun issuing guidelines and protocols that call for hospitals to prioritize younger patients over those who are older. In Italy and Spain, the two countries most affected by the coronavirus pandemic in Europe, doctors in overwhelmed intensive care units have for weeks been making life or death decisions about who receives emergency treatment. The new protocols, however, amount to government directives that instruct medical personnel effectively to abandon elderly patients to their fate…’.

From La Cadena Ser here: ‘The Government prohibits discriminating against coronavirus patients based on their age when deciding to enter the ICU. It is an ethical guide to conclusions and recommendations to help in decision-making at the hospital level’.

‘The PSOE is weighing the possibility of bringing Vox to court for accusing the Government of applying euthanasia to the elderly’ says Europa Press here. This follows from another Europa Press report from Monday saying that Vox makes the accusation of wilful euthanasia against the elderly here

Imserso (wiki) vacations will not be resumed at least until the end of June says Hosteltur

……

Finance:

‘The IMF forecasts this year the biggest recession since the Great Depression of 1929

Chairwoman Kristalina Georgieva paints an even gloomier picture than the one she projected two weeks ago’. El País has the story here. Rajoy’s minister of Economy and current Vice President of the European Central Bank Luis de Guindos: in an interview with La Vanguardia: «The situation of the economy is the most serious since the Civil War». 

‘The EU overcomes the blockade of the Netherlands and mobilizes 540,000 million euros against the coronavirus crisis. The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Spain and France have agreed that there are no conditions in the credits of the rescue fund «while the crisis of Covid-19 lasts», says ElDiario.es here. Spain’s Economy minister Nadia Calviño tweeted ‘We have reached a good agreement in the Euro-group, with a triple safety net for workers, business and regions in the fight against Covid-19. We will continue working on common financing mechanisms for an economic recovery’. 

‘The IMF announced this Friday April 10th the creation of a group of external advisers on the economic impact of the coronavirus and explained that Spain’s Ana Botín, president of the Banco Santander, will be one of its 12 members’. From 20 Minutos here

From Wolf Street here: ‘In one of the many paradoxes of the new world we live in, Western European countries that have seen millions of jobs wiped out in a matter of weeks are now facing an acute shortage of agricultural labourers. Farmers in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the UK and other parts of Western Europe have come to rely on huge numbers of cheap labour from Eastern Europe, North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Now, those workers are either no longer able to make it to the farms or are choosing to stay with their families in their home countries…’. 

Job losses by municipality here

The CaixaBank is putting its finishing touches to its new presence in Luxembourg. The CaixaBank Wealth Management Luxembourg is aimed at wealthy Spaniards and they’ll need a minimum of 500,000€ to open an account. 

……

Politics:

Analysis from Politico here (thanks to Lorna): In a nutshell, ‘…the PP and Ciudadanos are trying to strike a balance between showing loyalty to the government at such a difficult time and representing millions of voters — including many business leaders — who disapprove of the government’s response…’. 

El Mundo says that ‘The PP has postponed the meeting with Pedro Sánchez until next week claiming that «his desire to agree a united front is not credible».  The government has invited all party leaders for discussions, although Santiago Abascal from Vox has refused to meet with the president to address the coronavirus crisis’. Even Pedro J Ramírez at El Español thinks that ‘Casado should pact with Sánchez’. 

‘The opposition blames government for “turning Spain into a mortuary” during question and answer session in Congress’. The headline from El País in English, which also recounts how Pablo Casado is concerned that Pedro Sánchez doesn’t wear a black tie to mourn the victims of coronavirus (and that Pablo Iglesias doesn’t wear a tie at all). 

ElDiario.es writes that Ciudadanos has made clear its distance from the PP and Vox: «Ciudadanos is loyal to the state, we are not going to seek political advantage from this crisis», says a spokesperson for the party. Their leader Inés Arrimadas adds «It’s now time for unity».

El Confidencial asks ‘Why is there so much animosity towards Pedro Sánchez among the Spanish elites? The Sánchez-Iglesias coalition is perceived as one of the main problems in Spain, and the wealthier social classes are generally convinced. But the problem is bigger’

A spat on Twitter has broken out this week between Vox and the PP. In the Green corner, Rocío Monasterio. In the Blue, Rafael Hernando. 

Vox has four MEPs. One of them is Hermann Tertsch who thinks it’s fun to have a laugh at the PSOE by posting a picture featuring loads of coffins outside their head office. ‘This is how they should wake up out their centre in the Calle Ferraz (Madrid)’, he tweets.

An opinion piece at El Huff Post suggests that the right-wing are waiting for a milestone total of 20,000 dead to bring about (with a little help from them) the fall of Sánchez.

‘The coup against the Government by the law firms has been aborted’ says Diario16 dramatically here.  ‘The strategy of certain firms, some closely linked to the extreme right, to serve as a tool to wear down the Government has been aborted by the complaints presented by associations of lawyers who still believe in ethics and are firmly against the «anything goes» strategy of the far-right’. 

The article begins: ‘In these days of confinement, of social responsibility to stop Covid-19, people are at home receiving hate messages launched through social networks by the extreme right, messages that in the vast majority of times are published by bots – false profiles behind which there is nothing else but an organization. If this bombardment of hate messages helps make us look for culprits for our misfortunes, we have the perfect breeding ground to create disaffection towards the legitimate leaders, elected by the people, which only seeks to overthrow the Government to be occupied, for better or worse, by the ultras. Something like what happened in July 1936 here in Spain or with the fall of the Weimar Republic in Germany.

There have been many sectors that have joined this strategy of the ultras, either through the generation of hate messages, or through opposition to the decisions made by the Executive.

If to all this we add items about some lawyers who are offering their services for free to aid «victims of the coronavirus» we do nothing but increase the confusion of the citizenry, we find ourselves in a situation of blind collaboration by certain law firms with the far-right strategy.

As we have been reporting in Diario16, the Asociación Libre de Abogadas y Abogados (here) has filed different complaints with the bar associations to stop these practices…’. 

One group of lawyers – close to both Vox and Hazte Oir (don’t ask) – is the Asociación de Abogados Cristianos (here). 

‘Spanish leader lashes out at China for misinformation on Covid-19’. The headline comes from the Big News Network and refers to the MEP Herman Tertsch, which describes the politician as ‘A senior Spanish member of the European Parliament and Vice-Chairman of the Conservatives Group’, without mentioning that Tertsch is the MEP representative for the far-right Vox party (the one with the coffins in Ferraz, above). ‘…Tertsch’, it says, ‘has lashed out at China for lying and misinforming the world about the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed over a hundred thousand people worldwide, devastated the global economy and still continues to perish people across the continents…’. 

From The Guardian here ‘The coronavirus crisis has exposed the truth about the EU: it’s not a real union’. 

……

The Coronavirus:

President Sánchez warns that the state of alarm will be extended until May 11th.

From El Español here: Macarena Olona (Vox) in an interview accuses the TVE of being «at the service of the government’s criminal management». «They spread their sanitised version while hiding the great misfortune that Spain is suffering,» said the deputy.

Some nurses, cashiers and other professionals are receiving calls to move away from their frightened neighbours. ‘While this is going on, we ask you to consider moving home’ says an unsigned note found at El País here

Last Wednesday midday, the numbers stood at 146,690 cases reported with 14,555 deaths and 48,021 so far recovered. A week later, April 15th midday, the figures were 177,663 diagnosed, with 18,579 deaths reported and 70,853 recovered. 

Lenox’ article on his lockdown at Spanish Shilling here

……

Corruption:

El Confidencial finds a politician who owns five apartments in Madrid, yet claims a monthly housing allowance of over 1,800€.

Mediapro, the Catalonia-based sports channel, is understandably short on income at the present time, but it is also being sued in an American court for its participation in a ‘corrupt and criminal’ network known as the ‘FIFA-Gate Inquiry’.  Here and here

……

Media: 

‘The extreme right declares war on fact-checking journalism in Spain emulating Bolsonaro and Trump. The harassment of fact-checkers such as Newtral and Maldita (similar to Snopes in the USA, Full Fact in the UK…) for their ideology and the conspiracy theory that claims that there is «censorship» on digital platforms replicates the campaigns detected in Brazil and the US used to inflame the public’. Item from ElDiario.es here. It says ‘The independent fact-checking agencies have become one of the most uncomfortable elements for politicians who base their messages to the public on false data and uncontested information. Beyond Donald Trump and his habitual attacks on the US press, other leaders such as the Brazilian Jair Bolsonaro, the Philippine Rodrigo Duterte or the Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdogan have harassed the journalists in charge of this task. «Unfortunately, it is a growing trend around the world to see populist leaders attack fact-checkers,» says Baybars Örsek, director of the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) (here)…’.

Meet the far-right ‘influencer’ Alvise Pérez (real name Luis Pérez) who produces many of those items of fake news to devastating effect. Here

The Andalusian government has been giving juicy campaigns to the news-groups who speak well of them says Última Hora here. The media in question, we are told, are the right-wing OKDiario, El Mundo, ABC, Cope and Libertad Digital

With advertising down, it’s not surprising the media is in trouble, and the English-language free press in Spain, which gets no funding from the regional government or institutional advertising, even more so. The Olive Press is seeking support and donations here.

……

Ecology: 

El País is pleased to report that ‘Lockdown has halved pollution in the eighty most populous cities of Spain. Limits to traffic have caused nitrogen dioxide levels to plummet. Madrid, Paris and Rome are among the European capitals where pollution has fallen the most’. 

‘Europe’s largest solar park goes online despite Covid-19. Iberdrola’s 500 MW Núñez de Balboa solar park has started commercial operations, following the completion of construction in December’. PV Magazine reports here

The Guardian looks at the bacterium which attacks olive trees (among other fruit trees).

……

Various:

How much is Ex-king Juan Carlos I worth? Merca2 takes a stab at the answer here

‘Citroën AMI: the electric car that doesn’t need a driving license will arrive in Spain later this year. The Citroën AMI, an electric vehicle that can be driven from the age of 14, will meet the demand for «agile and sustainable» mobility’. From Híbridos y Eléctricos here

Eye on Spain writes of the Sephardic Jews here.

A Spanish food-critic takes a look at Britain’s favourite sauces and condiments. Oddly, he doesn’t think much of Branston Pickle or (gasp!) HP Sauce! The Guardian reports here

Brett Hetherington writes of cellist Pau Casals in Standing in a Spanish Doorway here

……

See Spain:

Ten places to visit in the Basque Country with Eye on Spain here

……

Finally:

The Doors: Spanish Caravan live version on YouTube here

Enviado por José Antonio Sierra