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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July 2 2020 Nº 357
The news of permission for a small hotel to be allowed in the Cabo de Gata, facing the famous Beach of the Genoveses, came as a shock last week, and a petition calling for its summary removal is going strong.
In fact, there is already a building there, some distance away from the beach and partially hidden by a decaying prickly pear plantation (the ecologists are generally against chumbos as they are an ‘invasive plant’). The construction is an old vegetable-rope factory, of all things, and has been used recently as a modest tapa-bar with space available for rent for weddings and other events. It’s called el Cortijo de las Chiqueras (‘The Pig-farm’ in colloquial Spanish).
The Cabo de Gata is important because, although 73% of Almería is ‘protected’ one way or another, much of the province is inhospitable desert and this, without doubt, is the first bit that developers would be pleased to get their hands on. The Cabo de Gata – Nijar Natural Park is 45,663ha (176 sq miles) in size and we are told, ‘…is Andalucía’s largest coastal protected area, a wild and isolated landscape with some of Europe’s most original geological features’. It’s certainly very pretty (once you have successfully passed the distressing belt of plastic farms that guards it).
The plan is to turn the building into a small four-star hotel with, we are told, thirty rooms and a pool.
The nearby resort of San José (here) would normally be enough for any visitor’s needs, with several hotels and innumerable restaurants, and there are many campsites and hotels stretching towards the nearby provincial capital which is less than 40 kilometres away.
Oddly, just one family owns much of the park surrounding the superb beaches of Las Genoveses and Mónsul, a family that successfully stopped the coastal motorway from passing through the park many years ago. Doña Pakyta (as the old matriarch was known) famously left her home in the city to become an art museum. The future hotelito belongs to her heirs.
But now, with local people clamouring for jobs in the tourist sector, and the lesson of the Hotel Algarrobico gently rotting in the hot sun some 60kms to the north-west apparently forgotten, the prospect of a new hotel is being well received locally. Permission, that hardest of all indulgences, has now been granted by the Junta de Andalucía (the Junta, now under the control of the PP, looks favourably on investment, it says, ‘to offset the huge losses caused by the pandemic’) and all systems are apparently ‘go’.
Many years ago, there were people living in what is now the park, and today, there are a number of abandoned and ruined cortijos. Will these all be available for conversion into summer homes, or boutique restaurants, or perhaps a campsite or two in the years to come?
The PSOE-A talks of the threat of ‘cementing the natural park’ and calls for the Junta to reverse its ruling. As we know, the party has always been ferociously against urbanising anything outside the cities, but maybe it has a point here. The party has made a complaint to the European Commission saying that the Andalusian Government is putting the Cabo de Gata ‘at serious risk’. An article in another local newspaper says that the PSOE was once in favour of the project and that it was in fact the PP who nobly pared it back to the current 30 rooms. So in politics, you pays your money and you takes your choice, as usual. El Mundo ingeniously says that the Junta ‘…has not authorized a hotel establishment, but merely «a rehabilitation of the Las Chiqueras farmhouse»’. Really? I’ll take vanilla.
From the evidently back-to-nature Ruralidades we read, ‘…It is clear that tourism or rather, tourism entrepreneurs, pay no attention to anything nor to anyone; for them the environment is nothing more than something one either puts in the safe or in the bank. We have seen it in all the municipalities of the coast. Everything is designed for the opportunities of tourism, that tireless and insatiable predator of the territory, as if the entire coastline were its property…’.
The location of the proposed hotel, plus a blistering attack against the plan, can be seen at a page run by Los Amigos del Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata – Níjar here and Change.org has the petition to sign here. Spanish Shilling
‘The collapse of foreign demand shakes housing prices in the coast. Selling a home in the middle of the post-covid era seems to be forcing sellers to assume a price adjustment compared to the figures from just four months ago’. El Confidencial has a graphic showing the average fall in house prises in coastal provinces February to June.
‘Coronavirus triggers pessimism among real estate professionals. The value of second homes, commercial premises and locales will be the most affected by the crisis’ according to
La Vanguardia here.
From Spanish Property Insight, we are apprised that ‘Covid-19 will increase the cost of new homes and renovations’. The article says ‘New sanitary regulations, and social distancing in the workplace, coupled with less responsive planning departments, will drive up the cost of building work, warn industry experts…’.
Emigrate.co.uk says ‘Survey shows Spain still favourite for British expat retirees’ here.
‘Zurgena council has had its bank accounts frozen by a Judge after they refused to cooperate in paying compensation to seven British couples who were ripped off by dodgy local builders in 2005. The town planner was later found to have been handing out planning consent against regulations. The council has to pay the Brits €646,292.61 in total, but hasn’t been cooperating with the magistrate’ (Thanks to David). Story at La Voz de Almería here.
The Granada diputación (provincial council) is fighting depopulation in its smaller municipalities by providing useful programs including job creation says Ideal here.
The Mayor of Orea (Guadalajara) has won the Rural Pride Award 2020 for her fight against depopulation says Nueva Alcarria here.
As Spain’s Covid-19 crisis recedes, the spectre of Brexit has returned for British property buyers says The Olive Press here. ‘…the ticking Brexit clock has left many Brits thinking that now could actually be the perfect time to up sticks…’.
‘As the country reopens to tourism after the strictest lockdown in Europe, Spaniards are wary of Covid-19 taking hold again’. As The Guardian asks, ‘Will British tourists undo all that hard work?’. From the same source: ‘Britons to be allowed to holiday abroad from July via ‘air bridges’. Ministers also expected to end policy of quarantining arrivals to the UK for 14 days…’. Here.
No one doubts that tourism, safe tourism, is needed to reactivate the economy. El Español says ‘…In the new normal of the tourism sector, there is still some uncertainty regarding the risk of outbreaks or the increase in imported infections, at least until there is a vaccine. Meanwhile, citizens and tourists arriving in Spain will have to get used to hygiene and safety measures in commercial establishments, bars, restaurants and hotels, and also in beaches, museums and cultural venues. The important thing at present, at least for the tourism industry in our country, is to offer a safe destination to reactivate this vital sector of the Spanish economy. In our country there are more than 166,500 tourist accommodations and approximately 315,000 bars and restaurants; in all employing more than two million people…’.
‘Banco de España: tourism will not rise before mid-2021. It predicts a 60% drop in tourist activity this year, both in Spain and globally’ says Hosteltur here.
‘Barcelona’s epic tourism boom is over, now the crisis begins’. Wolf Street reports that ‘…no one knows just how many foreign tourists will actually come. Some of the business owners I’ve spoken to are not exactly optimistic. “We’ll be lucky if we get half the normal number in July and August,” says the owner of a small cafe in Barceloneta that specializes in fine cakes and sandwiches. This summer, she says, is now “all about damage control.”…’
Spain prohibits the docking of cruise ships ‘indefinitely’ says Economía Digital here.
According to a statement from the Hacienda union Gestha, ‘Companies are paying 21,000 million less in taxes than they did in 2007, despite a 23% rise in profits’. The article is at Kaosenlared here.
Teleworking is all very well, but if the Government fiddles with the rules too much, we’ll just employ people living in Portugal says the head of the CEOE employers association.
It’s still hard for seniors living in residences, says BoT’s José Antonio Sierra writing from a Málaga care-home, with ‘The Government announced at the time that the healthy elderly living in residences could leave the centres as of Sunday, June 21, 2020. But some centres have their own protocol to dissuade their residents from going for a walk after more than three months of confinement…’. The full article is at Aquí Madrid here.
From La Vanguardia here: ‘Sánchez warns of the «failure» of the PP when trying to bring down the Government in the midst of crisis. The president contrasts the formula of «Save yourself if you can» of the Partido Popular with the «No one left behind» of the socialists.
From Noticias de Navarra here, ‘Ana Beltrán, a deputy from the PP answering a question in the Congreso: says she would like to outlaw the PNV, Podemos, ERC and the JxCat’. Meanwhile, says El Plural here, the Vox deputy Lourdes Méndez Monasterio says in an interview that if she could she would exile ex-president José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero from Spain!
The PP has signed up a disaffected councillor from Ciudadanos for 90,000€ a year (the highest political wage currently in Andalucía) to be paid by the diputación (provincial council) to keep the town hall of Málaga. The story here.
The leader of Vox in Andalucía, the judge Francisco Serrano, has quit the party to become an independent in the regional parliament (after some misunderstanding with the law).
The rescheduled Basque and Galician regional elections are upon us (July 12th) and in the Basque Country, the polls give a slight advance for the ruling PNV. They will still need the support of their junior ally, the PSE (local name for PSOE). However. In Galicia, the PP are expected to return safely with their leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo (poll results here).
Vox appear likely to earn nul points in both elections, and the talk is of one of their national deputies (from Almería) getting a bloodied eyebrow from a thrown stone in Sestao (here) and their vice-president Ortega Smith insulting the Galician president in Orense here.
The rich should pay less tax proportionally, since they create wealth. Thus sayeth Isabel Díaz Ayuso, the president of the Madrid Region. Meanwhile, ‘It’s just business’, an article at eldiario.es looks at the activities of the Madrid PP during the past quarter century.
Revolving doors. From eldiario.es we read of two fresh faces as independent directors at Enagás, the former socialist ministers José Blanco and José Montilla. ‘…The president of Enagás, Antonio Llardén, has defended that those elected «do not lack experience and knowledge of the sector» and has justified their appointment due to the current crisis. «We are facing exceptional circumstances and with consequences that are difficult to foresee, and these additions to the highest management body will reinforce it by adding to the talent of the Board-room with their fresh viewpoints»…’.
‘UK ditches healthcare coverage for pensioners moving to EU after Brexit transition’. An item from Europe Street here.
‘Rights of UK citizens in EU at risk as member states’ legislation not yet in place. Experts express concern over the loss of Britons’ free movement rights after Brexit’. The Guardian reports here. ‘…“Anxiety levels are very high,” Michael Harris, a member of the EU-wide activist group British in Europe (BIE) told the Brexit select committee on Tuesday.
Harris raised particular concerns for an estimated 100,000 British citizens in southern Spain, many of whom have lived there “under the radar” and said it would be a huge challenge to communicate to them by the end of the year, with particular difficulties in reaching elderly people and those in care homes.
Spain, home to more than 300,000 Britons, has said it will be implementing a “declaratory” system, which means British people who live there will not be illegal when the transition period ends…’.
‘Britons being refused job interviews in Europe because of Brexit, MPs told’. MSN here.
The PP has been trying to sabotage aid from the EU to Spain (for its own political ends). ‘The MEPs of the Popular Party have been making declarations in Brussels for a few days with the aim of attacking and discrediting the Spanish Government, joining those who ask that aid from Europe be subject to severe controls and strict conditionality’ said Público on June 17th here. ‘Government Spokesperson María Jesús Montero was very hard with the PP in the press conference after the Council of Ministers last week, accusing the main opposition party of working in Europe against the interests of Spain. «I have never seen anything like it,» said Montero visibly upset. «I do not know of any other political opposition in the EU with similar behaviour» she said (La Vanguardia here). From Diario16 here ‘The report that the PP sent to Brussels compares Spain with a Chavista dictatorship (Ah, Venezuela they mean) that does not respect freedoms’.
‘Angela Merkel: UK must live with consequences of weaker ties to EU. German leader signals trade compromise less likely as she hardens tone on no-deal Brexit’. The Guardian reports here.
Family Members of EU citizens who are permanent residents in the EU do not require a visa when visiting another Member State. From an EU ruling here, ‘In the case of C-754/18 Ryanair the Court of Justice of the European Union has concluded that a non-EU national who holds a permanent residence card from one EU state, is under EU law, exempt from any domestic law requirement to hold a visa to enter another EU state’.
‘The head of the public residences in Madrid resigns, after explaining in a letter to which the Cadena SER has had access that he is leaving for health reasons’. We read that ‘…the manager of the Madrid Agency for Social Care (AMAS), Óscar Álvarez, who has only lasted nine months in office, has resigned in the midst of a crisis due to the management of the 25 public residences in Madrid carried out by the regional government…’.
About half of all the bottles sold as ‘crianza‘ – aged, coming from the Valdepeñas region have been purposefully mislabelled.
The Maro Cliffs golf course could compromise the candidacy of the Cueva de Nerja as a world heritage site says eldiario.es here.
The ‘illegal’ hotel, golf course and urbanisation at the Isla de Valdecañas (Cáceres) will not be demolished, rules the Superior Court of Extremadura.
After 52 years, the family that ran the island off Benidorm has been ejected by the courts.
‘Spain on Tuesday shut down eight of its fifteen coal-fired power stations on grounds they were unprofitable and in order to comply with European regulations on industrial emissions…’ An item from Barron’s here. La Vanguardia reports seven closures (with an eighth to follow soon) here.
Ecologistas en Accion have published their 48 ‘Black Flag’ beaches, seen here in the ABC.
‘Think your country is crowded? These maps reveal the truth about population density across Europe’. From The Conversation, we learn that the most densely populated square kilometre of Europe is in Barcelona.
The Spanish answer to David Icke (Wiki) is the singer Miguel Bosé (who lives in Mexico). Like Icke, Miguel is a conspiracy theorist who thinks, among other things, that Bill Gates is putting microchips into his vaccines to control us mortals. From Explica (in English) here: ‘…After assuring that “the coronavirus is the great lie of the governments”, the singer launched another conspiracy theory by affirming that vaccines against this disease are part of a master plan drawn up by Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, in alliance with Pedro Sánchez, President of the Spanish government to control the world…’. Twitter has reportedly blocked him as from this Tuesday. His hit from 1984, Amante Bandido is here.
The Government is preparing to illegalise the Fundación Franco and to order the police to fine those who avow it. School-children are to be taught more about the horrors of the dictadura. From Jacobin Magazine we read that ‘Franco’s stooges still dominate the Spanish economy’. The article considers a book by Antonio Maestre called Franquismo SA.
A lengthy article at Al Descubierto here looks at a shadowy far-right group called the Asociación Española de Abogados Cristianos, the Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers. The AEAC – joined at the hip, says the article, to ‘the paramilitary ultra-Catholic organisation’ El Yunque (Wiki) – is currently denouncing the Guardia Civil for using its (trendy) new logo on the Día del Orgullo Gay June 28th, with their badge adorning an LGTBI flag (here) (not that everyone else was thrilled – Twitter reactions here…). The AEAC webpage ‘For the legal defence of Christian values since 2008’ is here. The AEAC, similar to Hazte Oir (Wiki), fights on four broad fronts: against abortion, gay rights, euthanasia and in defence of ‘religious freedom’.
‘The day Spain realised that it had been conned’. Napoleonic Spain at Eye on Spain here.
The various ‘free market’ electricity plans are analysed by FACUA, the Consumers’ association. The most expensive, they say, is Holaluz.
The ‘b’ and the ‘v’ issue in Spain: In Roman times it was said that Spaniards were lucky because they pronounced living the same way as drinking – ‘Beati hispani quibus vivere est bibere’. Heh! For a serious study on how the ‘b’ and ‘v’ confusion came about, see here.
From Culture Trip here: ‘The 15 things Spain definitely does better than the US’. A useful article with nice photos.
‘The oldest settlement in Spain was built 5,200 years ago near Almería City. Researchers from Granada certify the dating of the town of Los Millares, which came to have six hectares and almost 1,500 inhabitants, a human concentration unknown until then. The city was formed around a sacred megalithic necropolis made up of 80 monumental tombs’. The story is at Público here. More on the site and how to visit is here at Andalucía Tourism.
‘There was a civilisation on the Balearic Island of Menorca which built strange stone constructions known as talayots, taulas or navetas throughout the 1st millennium B.C. It is fairly easy to follow a route around the island to visit these wonders…’. Eye on Spain has the route and the pictures here.
‘Eight mountain lakes in Spain’ with Mucha Montaña is here (nice photos).
Enviado por José Antonio Sierra