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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June 11 2020            Nº 354

Editorial: 

It’s a truism that the poor could always do with some extra money but the rich never seem to have enough. Thus we have the disturbing phenomena of tax evasion and other legal or semi-legal measures designed to protect or increase wealth and then, on the other side of the fulcrum, we are blessed, occasionally, with philanthropic gestures, breadcrumbs brushed from the table of giants. 

The suggestion to increase tax on the wealthy (those with over a million euros) has met with resistance not only from the right, but also from the heartland of the PSOE. While President Sánchez supports Podemos’ proposals, many of the regional ‘barons’ are in discord.  After all, perhaps even more wealthy folk will be shortly considering moving their portfolios to the Cayman Islands…

But this week, the poor have something to cheer about, as the Minimum Vital Income was approved on Wednesday in Congress by all the parties except for Vox, which abstained. 

La Vanguardia says ‘It is estimated that some 850,000 households and 2.3 million people will benefit at a cost to the exchequer of around 3,000 million euros each year’. 

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Housing:

From Spanish Property Insight here: ‘Property sector fears closure of thousands of estate agents, and loss of 35,000 jobs, but would-be survivors are looking towards a coronavirus dividend’. 

‘Estate agents are reporting a surge in online searches for overseas properties as locked-down Britons rethink where they want to live, or indulge their fantasies of owning a bolthole in the sun. Searches for properties in Spain, particularly in locations such as the Costa del Sol, were up 34% year on year during May…’. The Guardian reports here

‘Why in Spain do we live crowded into flats, even in villages’ asks Explica here. 66% of Spaniards live in apartments against the EU average of 40% says the article. Following from ‘…after the war and under the Franco dictatorship, when the Spanish left the countryside en masse to go live in the city. At that time the aspiration of many families was to have a house in property to develop, a value that promoted the Franco regime. Sometimes the inaugurations of the housing blocks included ceremonies and the blessing of a priest…’. 

El Español explains here how (and whether) to gift a property to one’s descendent. 

Plans for the macro-urbanization of Valdevaqueros beach have been knocked down by the Supreme Court, which has dismissed the appeal to revive a project approved in Tarifa (Cádiz) in 2012 that sought to build 350 homes and 1,400 hotel beds. More at As here

Eldiario.es brings us more on the ‘true history of Costa de Madrid, the protected mountain on which British magnates hope to build 650 homes and a hotel. The area was declared a Centre of National Tourist Interest in 1967 and Enrique Sarasola (father of Kike Sarasola of Room Mate fame) urbanized it. The Reuben brothers, owners of land in the Balearic Islands, have bought the remaining part to build’. The likelihood is, that despite some issues, permission will be granted to go ahead with the project. The nearby village is called San Martín de Valdeiglesias.

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Tourism:

‘Tourism enters its ‘new normal’: there are now more reservations than cancellations say eldiario.es here but without international clients until July 1st. 

The new Turespaña promotional video is here

The International Civil Aviation Organization has prohibited overhead baggage on all flights (small bags under the seat are permitted) to help cut down on any physical contact between passengers says Preferente here

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Seniors:

Much has been written about the ‘negligence’ shown towards seniors living in residences. Stories of those showing symptoms of coronavirus being barred from being sent to hospital abound (particularly in Madrid). The political responsibility for this is being passed around like a hot potato. The UGT union says here that ‘Residences have become «death spaces» due to political negligence’. More on this in ‘Coronavirus’ below. 

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Finance:

From Ecoteuve here:  «To pay these pensions in Spain, the work of immigrants is necessary,» says journalist David Cantero on Informativos Telecinco. «They contribute 10% of the income to Social Security, while they hardly receive back 1%. The data comes from a UGT campaign that tries to demonstrate the many hoaxes on immigration. The foreign population also helps to alleviate the aging of our country. If all foreigners were to suddenly leave Spain, we would lose 15% of the population,» he concludes (video here).

Inditex (Zara, Massimo Dutti etc) is to close up to 1,200 stores worldwide, including 250 in Spain in the coming months, leaving them with a planned total of around 6,700 to 6,900 stores. The company is looking to grow its online sales by 25% in the next eighteen months. 

 Talk to the Hacienda people by videoconference, why not? Genbeta explains here

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Politics:

From Bloomberg here: ‘The Rage against Pedro Sanchez is tearing Spain apart. The lockdown riled up the prime minister’s opponents in Madrid but their resentments go a lot further back’. The behaviour of the opposition is staggering, says the article ‘…as the worst of the lockdown trauma starts to fade, the vitriol has only gotten worse. The opposition is stirring legitimate criticism with paranoia, crackpot conspiracy theories and ancient resentments into a toxic brew…’. The article is reviewed in Spanish here. A similar article from Jacobin is titled ‘The Spanish right wants to create another Venezuela’ here. It says ‘…the conservative People’s Party (PP) and the far-right Vox have unrelentingly refused to accept this government — denying both the legitimacy of the electoral result and the coalition that eventually formed. For the PP and Vox, this government is “undemocratic,” born of an “institutional coup,” and propped up by “separatists” (i.e., the Catalan national parties) and “terrorists” (i.e., Bildu, the left-wing nationalist party in the Basque Country, which mass media usually associate with the disbanded terrorist group ETA)…’. 

‘The president of the Centre for Sociological Research (CIS), José Félix Tezanos, says that the «anti-system positions» of various Spanish leaders that encourage aggressive personal harassment and saucepan-bashing strategies is «to try to achieve by way of hatred, insult and extremism what they can’t achieve through the ballot box «…. Item from El Español here

Pablo Casado blames Sánchez for the current tension and seeks the vote of the moderate left says La Vanguardia here. Heh. 

One of the fronts open against the Government is the nostalgic wing of the Guardia Civil which brings this report from VoxPópuli here: ‘Pablo Iglesias criticizes the Guardia Civil officers who base their reports with content taken from «extreme right-wing websites». The second vice president says that the reputation of the corps is harmed by those commanders who make reports with these far-right press-clippings’. OKDiario is mentioned as an example. Iglesias’ comments followed the sacking by the Interior Minister of the senior commander Diego Pérez de los Cobos last month. El Español writes that ‘The State Attorney says that the Guardia Civil makes «creative literature» in its reports to the judge regarding the go-ahead or otherwise of the feminist demonstrations of March 8th, dismissing the Guardia’s investigation as «biased and partial» and for incurring «omissions» and «essential inaccuracies».

‘The leadership of the Popular Party has asked in writing to all its members that in their public statements they hold the second vice president of the Government, Pablo Iglesias, responsible for the disaster of the Madrid residences, despite the fact that the management of these centres where more than 6,000 elderly folk have died since the start of the pandemic – according to the latest figures provided by the regional administration itself – depends directly on the Government of the Community of Madrid, chaired by the popular Isabel Díaz Ayuso, who governs in coalition with Ciudadanos…’. Eldiario.es reports here

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Europe:

‘UK economy likely to suffer worst Covid-19 damage, says OECD. Forecast slump in GDP of 11.5% will exceed falls by France, Italy, Spain and Germany’. Item from The Guardian

‘Orlando Figes (wiki): The historian of British origin has written a book called ‘The Europeans,’ which is a beautiful and imposing cosmopolitan history of the European culture that unified the continent in the 19th century’. Thus, El Confidencial here

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The Coronavirus:

‘Coronavirus confinement measures may have saved 450,000 lives in Spain. A new study of eleven European countries concludes that lockdown has had a large effect on reducing transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus’ says El País in English here. The original study is called ‘The effect of large-scale anti-contagion policies on the COVID-19 pandemic’ at Nature Magazine here.

The ‘new normal’ – from June 21st – will be a recommended distance of 1.5 metres between people and the obligation to wear face-masks says Nius here, to continue until a vaccine or an effective treatment for the virus is introduced. ‘…The Government spokesperson, María Jesús Montero, has insisted that the Government wants to convey both «prudence» and «caution» at this stage of the transition. «We must not think that we are already safe», she said because «the virus continues to be a security threat.» Montero insists that the State of Alarm (which hopefully ends on June 21st) has served to «combat the spread of the virus»’.

The main coronavirus story at present is the high number of deaths reported from Spanish nursing-homes. Were residencias told not to send sick patients with Covid-19 symptoms to hospital, and if so, then who is to blame for this? 

Galicia Press here: ‘In a private care-home you are 30 times more likely to die with coronavirus than in a public residence’.

El País in English here: ‘Scandal over Covid-19 deaths at Madrid nursing homes sparks fierce political row’. 

Eldiario.es here: ‘The disaster of the residences in Madrid opens an unprecedented gap in the Government of Isabel Díaz Ayuso’.

Jotapov here: ‘Groups on the right are trying to blame the vice president for the tragedy that occurred in the nursing homes during the pandemic’ (video).

El HuffPost here: ‘Iglesias: «What happened in the Madrid residences is a scandal, if not a crime»’.

Spanish Revolution here: Rafael Hernando (PP senator) calls Iglesias «coletas» (ponytail) in a tweet and accuses him of the deaths in the residences, ignoring that it was Ayuso’s order’. 

Antena3 (video) here: ‘Madrid acknowledges that it advised «by mistake» not to refer the elderly from residences to hospitals for the coronavirus’.

RTVE (audio) here: Alberto Reyero, counsellor of Social Policies of the Community of Madrid, insists that there was a protocol “signed by a general director of the health department for the exclusion of people with dependency and disability to come from the residences to the hospitals”

Opinión Pública here: ‘The bastions on the right, Galicia and Castilla y León also denied the help of the elderly in the residences’

InfoLibre here: ‘The Vitalia Home Leganés (Madrid) residence where 96 people have died has annual benefits of one million euros’.

El Confidencial here: ‘Zero deaths. How the largest Asturian residence defeated the Covid’

From Twitter (@mariaemjota) ‘62 complaints are open against Fernando Simón for his handling of the pandemic, including various presented by the Guardia Civil. How many complaints have the Guardia Civil presented against Díaz Ayuso, after we found out that she prohibited the hospitalisation of elderly care-patients?’ Another, un-attributable quote: ‘imagine the order to refuse hospital treatment for elderly care-patients came from a PSOE/UP government rather than a conservative one. Imagine how much ink would be spilt writing that story up over and again’.  

The Catalonian Emergency Medical Service foresees ‘a return of the coronavirus in October, peaking at Christmas and with half the intensity of the current one’.  The story is at eldiario.es here

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Corruption:

The ERTE or furlough (here) is a temporary strategy whereby workers can be sent home until the crisis is over, with the social security paying them at 70% of their normal wage. From El País in English, we read that the scheme might be extended in certain cases until the end on the year. Inevitably, work inspectors have discovered cases where the ERTE money was being claimed improperly. Público writes of 20,000 cases during the pandemic.  

Mariano Rajoy’s interior minister was Jorge Fernández Díaz, a far-right character who is remembered today for cutting a few corners to try to defeat political rivals. We remember his Pablo Iglesias pogrom. El Huff Post looks at his legacy here. ‘…His party, the PP, excluded him as a candidate after the arrival of Pablo Casado to the presidency of the party. The former director of El Mundo David Jiménez refers to him as «the chief plumber of the State sewers» (here). When he took the job of Interior Minister in 2011, within two years he had gotten rid of three general commissioners of the judicial police. Two of them were investigating the corruption of the PP…’. One of Fernández Díaz’ commissars in his ‘political brigade’, Eugenio Pino, together with an agent called Bonifacio Díez Sevillano, is currently in the dock for trying to frame Jordi Pujol Ferrusola.

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Courts:

Spain’s Supreme Court prosecutor has opened an investigation into former King Juan Carlos as part of a probe into a high-speed train contract in Saudi Arabia, the general prosecutor said in a statement on Monday. The Supreme Court’s prosecutor will investigate whether the former king can be included in the case as he was protected by immunity until June 2014 when he abdicated in favour of his son Felipe, the statement said…’. Reuters here. The story is also reported in eldiario.es here. As forecast back in BoT 351, Juan Carlos has now decided to go and live quietly in the Dominican Republic says Diario16 here.  

A case against the Government representative for Madrid for allowing the 8-M feminist march to go ahead will continue despite pressure from the State Prosecutor. While it’s hard to know afterwards whether the feminist march (here) and not, for example, the Vistalegre meeting (here) or the various football matches held on that day were responsible in some way for exacerbating coronavirus infections, it’s nevertheless the case that the World Health Organisation only labelled the coronavirus as a pandemic on March 11th. However, for those who argue that the (various) events of March 8th should not necessarily have been called off by the organisers, it should be remembered that the first major event to be postponed (or rather, cancelled) due to coronavirus fears in Spain was the Barcelona Mobile World Congress (24 – 26 February) which was abandoned as early as February 12th.

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Media: 

We’ve found a news-page linked to Vox called España es Voz (here) for those with a conservative turn of mind.  Its April poll asking ‘Whether the King should dissolve parliament, bring in the army and take control’ (here) is now going viral on WhatsApp and other social media says eldiario.es here

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Ecology: 

‘The EU will make a preliminary investigation against the last four presidents of the Murcia Region, of the PP, for the destruction of the Mar Menor. The Murcian lawyer Diego de Ramón asks for responsibilities from Ramón Luis Valcárcel to Fernando López Miras, all men of the PP, for the mismanagement of European aid for the salty lagoon and the lack of control in the spills’. The story is at eldiario.es here.

Público reports that Helios Aragón Exploration, a subsidiary of Pan American Energy (Wiki), has received permits from the Government of Aragón with a three-year contract to search for sites for future oil extraction in a large area (900kms2) of the lower Pyrenees.  

A green group has given the President of Andalucía the Atila Award for environmental destruction over his controversial deregulation bill says The Olive Press here.  

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Various:

Colin Davies writes a full and useful blog about Spain from his home in Pontevedra called Thoughts from Galicia here. He raises a good point: ‘I cited Spanish racism yesterday but forgot to mention a comment one hears quite often here on this subject: «I’m certainly not a racist but I hate gypsies.»’. A subject best avoided…

El Salto Diario enthuses about the Minimum Life Wage being introduced by the Government to help the nation’s poorest (money which inevitably will quickly be back in circulation again), yet worries that these funds will be sent to bank accounts where, inevitably, meaty commissions will be charged… 

Facua, the consumers association, reminds us that it is illegal to make a surcharge to customers for the Covid-19.

Another reference to ‘El Coletas’, the ponytailed Pablo Iglesias: a Vox councillor from Seville called Manuel Pérez posts on Twitter: ‘Ponytail, all I can say is you haven’t got long to live’. Poor Mr Ponytail. A Vox councillor from his home in Galapagar (Madrid) says she will be banging her saucepan outside his house ‘…until you get bored and bugger off to Venezuela where you belong’ (or words to that effect). 

The popular football coach Vicente del Bosque in a radio interview says ‘to be a patriot is to pay one’s taxes in Spain’ before extricating himself from any perceived criticism of Amancio Ortega and his philanthropy. Cadena Ser (video) here

Cádiz has a reputation in Spain. Here, Resolvieno la Incógnita tells of the mythical kingdom of Sarasa, a name created in 1898 by a writer called Adolfo Suárez de Figueroa y Ortega to describe an unnamed city in the south of Spain to be the capital of hedonistic activities including homosexuality. It has long been assumed that he meant Cádiz. Adolfo was briefly arrested for his calumny, but the name stuck…  

Velázquez painted two versions of Las meninas. The second one is in a small museum in Dorset (UK) called Kingston House. The story is at Meridianos here

The Bewitched Man (wiki), a painting by Goya (large copy at The National Gallery here), shows a man who believes he is bewitched and that his life depends on keeping a lamp alight (from the play by Antonio de Zamora El hechizado por fuerza). 

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See Spain:

From Friends of the Spanish Maestrazgo here, we read ‘The empty Maestrazgo (a region in Teruel) has just 0.2 inhabitants more per square kilometre than Siberia…’. 

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Letters:

After 32 Years living on the Costa Blanca, I have to admit that if you had asked me, from our long experience here Lenox, how many British Expat families do you feel are totally committed to living here and have no thoughts of returning to the UK, I too would have guessed Two out of Three families! Yahoo Finance (here) are more likely to be believed however! Best wishes and stay safe everyone, the Tourists are coming! 

Robin

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Finally:

Pau Donés, the vocalist of Jarabe de Palo, died this week at just 53 years of age. Here’s a song he wrote: La Flaca on YouTube

Enviado por José Antonio Sierra