José Antonio Sierra
The spirit of Europe, and the modern 21st Century life we aspire to, must allow us to live our lives, or what remains of them, in the country of our choice, free from jingoism and disrespect. We are no longer strangers or foreigners, we are all one, free and equal. Obvious enough, but tell that to the opinion makers: the ecologists and the politicians!
The useful American site International Living features articles on ‘…the most desirable – and cheapest – retirement havens on earth’. Here it has an article called ‘Low-cost Real Estate in Spain’s idyllic mountain towns: property for less than $110,000 in Andalucía’. Another article we found: ‘Valencia, a city you can afford’.
The article last week from the eccentric ecologist about us inmigrantes climáticos raised a few hackles. A lawyer for the AUAN says that he is sure that the writer Rafael Yus Ramos has opinions that don’t represent the bulk of the Ecologistas en Acción. The article also comes under heavy criticism in El Indálico here and some letters to the BoT (at bottom of page). The unrepentant Yus Ramos, sticking to the same topic, has another article which deals with the political aspirations of the local Northern Europeans, or ‘…los delincuentes británicos…‘ as he calls us, called ‘The British Gray Power and the Reversal of Andalucian Socialism’ here. The Olive Press also carries the story.
An article from Bloomberg: ‘British Lead Charge as Cheap Spain Beach Homes Sell’.
From Kyero: ‘…one more show of improvement for the Spanish housing industry – real estate investment in 2014 topped 10 billion euros for just the second time on record. It’s a figure only beaten in 2007, and shows the renewed confidence that has returned to Spanish real estate after 7 long years ago of hardship’.
The PSOE initiative in the Senate to insist on full compensation for home-owners who bought ‘in good faith’ before their homes are demolished has almost certainly been refused by the Government majority (the vote is on March 12th). Indeed, the AUAN has already remonstrated against the PP’s attitude according to La Vanguardia. Meanwhile, The British Embassy has been asked about this matter and states: “The British Embassy are of course in close touch with the associations, that they are concerned by the situation in which many find themselves, especially because of the threat of demolition, and continue to work with the Spanish authorities, at a national, regional and local level to highlight the problem, and encourage a lasting and fair solution”.
New rules in Castilla y León for tourist apartment rentals (it’s to fight ‘el intrusismo‘ and ‘competencia desleal‘): minimum occupation of one month a year; a limit of two months for any one client and that it is advertised through approved media outlets. The apartments or homes have to be next to each other, which means there must be ‘more than one’ under offer. This all to improve the region’s reputation as a tourist destination. More at Hosteltur.
The Sevilla Card, a tourist ‘culture card’ that is meant to get one onto tour buses, into museums and other attractions in that City and which sells for between 40 and 64 euros has a glitch. It hasn’t been honoured by the Town Hall since January 1st. Story here.
Last Week’s tax amnesty on undeclared income document from Asfemp SL didn’t open. Sorry about that. Ask me for a copy by email.
Finance Minister Luis de Guindos foresees ‘five good years’ of growth for the Spanish economy with annual figures of 2.5 to 3%. ‘We shall not only come out of recession, but we shall heal the wounds caused by the longest and harshest crisis ever suffered by Spain’, he said on Wednesday in Barcelona. The ABC has more.
The Financial Times reckons that Spain’s Luis de Guindos is the worst Minister of Economy in Europe, says El Huff Post guardedly. ‘He should try and convince economists and the markets that the Spanish economy can be repaired and avoid an unpleasant fate for Europe’, the FT reputedly says (the FT has a pay-wall).
‘Spanish utility Iberdrola SA will buy UIL Holdings Corp for about $3 billion to create a new listed power and gas company and expand in the United States, where it hopes to offset falling profits at home…’. From Reuters.
Five Spaniards drop out of ‘Forbes’ list: El País in English has the story.
‘The Spanish property developer Martinsa Fadesa said on Monday it would file for liquidation bankruptcy in one of the country’s biggest insolvencies, which comes as the sector shows signs of recovery from a 2008 real estate collapse…’. From The Local. Martinsa Fadesa owes some seven billion Euros to its creditors…’ La Sexta also reports on the collapse with a look at the disgraced Director Fernando Martín. El Mundo says the crash of the company has cost the taxpayer 1,000 million euros (i.e. one billion).
And for those ordinary folk with problems paying back their hipotecas, mortgages, Spain is one of only three European countries (Bulgaria and Greece) without fair bankruptcy laws and legal protection from creditors. El Diario shows in a report with graphics how many people are at risk of losing their homes and what protection (such as the new ‘Ley de Segunda Oportunidad’) exists.
Unemployment fell slightly in February, with a small improvement in 14 of Spain’s 17 autonomies. Nevertheless, Andalucía, Castilla La Mancha and Madrid all saw rises in unemployment. Less than 10% of the new contracts signed are full ‘indefinidos‘ contracts.
According to this site, the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Junker has told Spain’s Mariano Rajoy that in view of the current unemployment figures, that ‘…while Spain may be improving, you can’t tell people that the crisis is over’. Junker also maintains that ‘the honest thing is to say that we continue to be in grave difficulties while the unemployment figures don’t fall to normal levels. We are in the middle of a crisis. That hasn’t changed’. ‘Reality check for Rajoy’, is the title.
The Government is working hard to warn supporters to be on the lookout for any ‘illegal’ financing by Podemos and its supporters. The rules on ‘Crowd-funding’ have been tightened and there is little or no mention of the party appearing on the RTVE news programs (unless there is some scandal). La Sexta has more here. Of course, Podemos has no Government funding, unlike the traditional parties.
The fear is that Podemos is bankrolled or supported by Venezuela. Here‘s the opinion of
The Miami Herald: ‘Hugo Chávez dreamed of a sweeping “Bolivarian” revolution that would blanket the hemisphere. He was able to consolidate power outside of Venezuela, including Ecuador, Argentina, Bolivia and Nicaragua, in part by interfering in their electoral politics and campaigns. Today, that international socialist movement is rearing its ugly head once again. This time, it’s in Spain, where there is a paper trail that shows Venezuela is helping bankroll the radical left-wing “Podemos” (We Can) Party that is gaining in power…’.
And, from another point of view: here‘s Economist Mark Blyth writing for Truthout: ‘Continued Austerity Will Be Catastrophic for Greece and Europe’.
‘Greece’s leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras accused Spain and Portugal on Saturday of leading a conservative conspiracy to topple his anti-austerity government, saying they feared their own radical forces before elections this year…’. From Reuters. The Spanish Government was quick to deny these charges and hit back. More here from The Guardian. Coincidently, Spain’s Luis de Guindos has since said that Greece will need a third rescue of some 30 to 50 billion euros, and that Spain would have to pay its part: the European finance ministers quickly replied by saying ‘there are no plans for a third bail-out of Greece’.
A right-wing video from Periodista Digital strongly denounces Podemos…
About 500 people gathered in Madrid on Sunday in an anti-Podemos rally organised by the magnificently named ‘Movimiento Español Venezolano AntiPodemos’. Story and video at El Huff Post here.
‘In this country of 8,112 town halls, of 17 autonomous regions (plus Ceuta and Melilla), there are never enough politicians, wasting time, effort and above all, money. There is talk of ending the autonomies and saving enormous amounts of cash, but this will never happen (the system was originally created mainly to keep the Catalonians and the Basques happy, what you gonna do?). As for town halls – there shouldn’t be more than a thousand across Spain, as recommends Alberto Rivera from the political group Ciudadanos. Meanwhile, Almería’s 102 municipalities has just grown by one more as Berja apparently leaves Balanegra this month…’. From Lenox’ blog: The Entertainer Online.
Interviu is a weekly magazine with a mixture of hard reporting and soft curves. Here it features an article about where the money for training courses for workers in Madrid went. Some nine million euros. To give us a clue, the article is titled: ‘The Training Course Money went on Bribes, Cocaine and Whores’.
Susana Díaz says she will lower taxes in Andalucía if re-elected and will open a department against fraud and corruption. Ideal has the story here. The host of the Más Claro Agua show on TV13, Isabel Durán ironises ‘Wow, how she fights against corruption’. Video here.
Pedro Sánchez, national leader of the PSOE, is not admired by Susana Díaz, and he has been granted just two meetings in Andalucía during the campaign… (This way, when she wins, she will have done it all by herself…).
The IU/Los Verdes/Convocatoria por Andalucía party, led by Antonio Maíllo, has presented its program in Seville. ‘We are lefties, we don’t hide it’, says Maíllo here. To make things more interesting, Maíllo is openly gay.
The official campaign period of fifteen days countdown for the Andalucian elections begin on Friday.
All the Andalucian polls, here.
Elections in Andalucía
By Per Svensson
On 26th of January the young and ambitious president of the Junta de Andalucia, Susana Díaz from the Spanish socialist party, PSOE, decided to call snap elections to the regional parliament for the 22nd of March, instead of waiting until 2016, which was legally possible, or indeed following the example of almost all other regions and twinning it with the local elections of May 24th. In the last regional election, in 2012, the PSOE won, without obtaining an absolute majority. Susana Díaz had to form a coalition with the far left IU (Izquerda Unida/Los Verdes).
Why the hurry?
There were several reasons for the Andalucian president to call the sudden, early elections. The most obvious one was that the coalition with IU was falling apart. Groups within the leftist federation were preferring a collaboration with the strong, new political force that entered the Spanish political scene in 2014, based on the protest movement against the corrupt political establishment (the Partido Popular and the Socialist Party), that has ruled Spain from the death of dictator Franco and has doubtlessly led the country into the gravest economical crisis in the last 75 years. Díaz hoped to reinforce the position of her own party before the general elections to take place in December and also her own position within the PSOE, where she is manoeuvring to become the national candidate for next prime minister.
There is also a mega time bomb ticking under the chair of Susana Díaz: the police investigation into the scams of pensions granted to friends and relatives of the PSOE leaders (a scam called ERE) and the made-up training courses for unemployed youth (60% of the under thirties are unemployed), now known as the ‘Operación Edu’. The young unemployed got a diploma, the companies organizing the seminars got the money. The EU-funds involved may amount to as much as two billion euros. The previous PSOE presidents Chávez and Griñán are suspected, and Díaz has been in the Junta and PSOE leadership for several years. Is she using the elections as a legal defence?
Another important reason for the snap regional election is the rapid and radical change in vote intention by the electorate that has taken place over the last twelve months. At the beginning of 2014 the parties of the establishment ruled supreme, without taking the suffering of the people into serious account (please read once more the excellent outburst of Angel Medina in BoT 101!). Neither did the politicians take great notice of the registration of a new party called Podemos in February. That changed one month later, when that new and inexperienced party won five seats in the European elections and almost 8% of the total vote……. An almost meteoric increase for Podemos in the opinion polls over the following months made it clear for party boss Diaz: we have to call elections before Podemos have time to get organized all over Andalucía!
A flurry of opinion polls over the last months has confirmed that a political tsunami has hit the coasts of Spain and a blizzard is building up over the interior, with winds of change so strong that they may sweep out the corrupt brotherhood of the ‘PPSOE’:
The two power-sharing parties gathered 80% of the total votes in the 2009 European elections. PP got 44.6% of total vote in the 2012 national elections, PSOE was down to 28.8% after the disastrous Zapatero-government (altogether 73.4% for the brotherhood).
In December 2014 the opinion researchers of DYM found a vote intention of only 16.7% for PSOE, 26.1 for PP and 29.6% for Podemos! The trend was confirmed in a poll by Sigma Dos on the 2nd of February this year: PP 27.1%, PSOE 21.4 and Podemos 26.3. On February 10th, the opinion researchers Metroscopia found that the mood among the voters was 20.9 for PP, 18.3 for PSOE and 27.7 for Podemos!
Now, we all know that opinion researchers may miss the real election results. We also know that Andalucía is different from the rest of Spain. But the best proof on the advances of Podemos among voters in Andalucía is the intense campaign of slander, suspicion and false accusations that the old parties are heaping on the young leaders of the party that may be called upon to form or take part in governments of Spain, Andalucía and a great number of town halls before the end of this year!
Podemos and the European citizens
Most of the Europeans living as residents or non-residents in Spain (maybe two million people), are staying out of party politics not to get their hands dirty, while some others are no doubt into local politics exactly to get their hands on some of the dirty money floating around, especially in the property sector. But from time to time all of us are looking for an influential party to defend our interests: when friends are being defrauded when buying their home in Spain; when the government invents taxes exclusively directed at us; when we are fined for not filing a declaration of assets in our home country; when we are ‘culled’ from the local list of habitants, denying us the right of a vote in local elections in spite of local taxes paid; or when our houses are classed as ‘illegal’ and refused water and electricity; or even worse, when our homes are bulldozed over our heads due to incompetence and greed in the administration.
No, we Europeans need a ‘big brother’ in Spanish politics. I am personally convinced, only Podemos fits the bill. We must not make the mistake of linking up with the old corrupt parties, now on the list of ‘also ran’. We must go for the party that in 12 months has won the hearts of a majority of the Spanish. And we must not only be lookers-on, we must join this new power and help it form a program also for the Europeans in Spain.
I have joined Podemos.
Dropping the people of the ‘Spanish Sahara’ back in 1976 was not Spain’s greatest moment, and now we read that the troubled region is preparing for another armed conflict against Morocco as the Frente de Liberación Polisario, based in camps in Algeria, prepares an ultimatum for April.
Spain has the second largest number of foreigners in Europe, says El Boletín, with 5,072,680; behind Germany with 7,696,413. The UK takes the third place.
The Ministro de Sanidad has asked the private TV stations to move forward their ‘prime time’ shows, to follow the example of RTVE which moved its main night show forward (slightly) so that it finishes by midnight. This to help us get up for work the next morning.
An essay called (roughly) ‘Crony Capitalism and the Good Ole Boys’ appears in El Confidencial. The article tells of Spanish protectionism, cronyism and monopolization. A taste: ‘…Basically, because the Establishment has designed policies to protect the large Spanish multinationals – which the Government cheerfully identifies as ‘Marca España‘ – to the detriment of the general interest. There is, in this sense, an old (and famous) sentence of Adam Smith that sums it up. The Scottish Economist argued that “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”…’.
A full-page advert featuring a hearse carrying solar energy plates with the message ‘the reform in electricity laws from the Government has buried the photovoltaic industry’ has annoyed the Authorities. Lawyers for the Government nevertheless say that the advert is lawful. Story and ‘that advert’ here.
‘Current figures indicate that poverty and social exclusion affect 27.3% of the population in Spain: 12,866,000 people. This is one of the main points extracted from the latest report ‘The State of Poverty. Track indicator of poverty and social exclusion in Spain 2009 – 2013 ‘, which analyzes the social situation in Spain and its autonomous communities…’. From The European anti-Poverty Network.
Massive flooding at ‘niveles apocalípticos‘ along the Ebro and in Zaragoza has caused the Government to consider breaking the environmental laws that prohibit (!) dredging. Meanwhile,and by way of contrast, here‘s an article that says you shouldn’t clean the rivers.
The traffic authority has green-lighted new mega-trucks for Spanish motorways: vehicles of up to sixty tons weight and 25.25m in length. Story here.
The Cantabrian Government had asked for 500 teachers, with temporary contracts. They offered 560€ per month… and nobody came. The story here.
Dolphins appear to have been the cause of a record number of torn fishing nets, causing 370,000€ of damage in the second half of 2014 to the fishing fleet of Adra (Almería).
Spain’s guilds and price-fixers: this time, it’s the sugar people. ‘Sugar is good for you and is vital for cognitive functions and physical activity’ says an ‘expert’ in La Razón. In reality, says the WHO, recommended sugar intake needs to be reduced by half. The sugar companies use politicians, advertising and false science, according to this.
El País has been losing readers, reputation, advertising and influence recently, and its turn to the Right has failed to stop the rot. 469,000 daily copies in 2004 to today’s 259,000. The paper’s friendly handing of Rajoy doesn’t suit the readership much either. Story here.
‘Lawnmowers, golf buggies and electric scooters may soon need car insurance if the EU gets its way. In a contentious new directive, insurance rates would rise considerably for all motorists with additional vehicles…’. From The Olive Press.
‘In 1999, religion ceased to be a compulsory subject in Spanish schools but the current right-of-centre party has brought it back and also again made one’s mark in the subject relevant to the end of school average and to the question of grants. Worse, it has spelt out a guide for the teaching of religion guaranteed to offend the faithless. In particular, pupils must be taught to ‘recognise with wonder and try hard to understand the divine origin of the cosmos, and to perceive this does not come from chaos or chance.» This, of course, is Creationism and we can expect that an incoming left-of-centre government will reverse these changes if they get in this November. In a country which has only the trappings of Catholicism, where 80% don’t practice and a similar percentage rejects key Catholic doctrines, you have to wonder why and how the Church still has enough power to influence the PP party to this degree. Opus Dei?’ From Colin Davies’ Thoughts From Galicia.
Reddit has a sub-section on the Spanish Civil War here.
The story of the English neighbourhood (‘el Barrio Inglés‘) in Bella Vista, Huelva. This is the still intact XIX century managers’ homes for the Río Tinto Company, where Spain’s first football pitch (and Río Tinto Football Club, 1878) and tennis courts were installed.
An interesting blog from a couple with some spare rooms in Moratinos on the Camino de Santiago. Big Fun in a Tiny Pueblo here.
El Bierzo and the Mencía grape. We are in the province of León for a visit. ‘El Bierzo, located in the North-West of Spain, is a mountainous region crossed by the Road to Santiago (Way of Saint James) which the pilgrims used to call the “Spanish Switzerland”. This extreme mountain feature is what makes it, together with its climate and soil, one of the ideal regions worldwide to grow vineyards…’. From Max Abroad: the Best of Spain.
Some useful tips for translators and essayists in Spanish here.
We have just received the disgusting rant (See Housing above) from one of the so-called ecologists, a piece of work called Rafael Yus, who we were aware of some time ago following another incredible rant attacking all things to do with ex-pats living in Spain, particularly anywhere rural. He now seems to have popped his head above the parapet once again and we think this answers our letter in BoT 99 very conclusively. We hope this will be a huge wake up call to people who might have thought that our letter was alarmist – note the direct attack on SOHA in this latest text.
At the risk of being repetitive, we have seen this coming for a long time and it is one of the reasons why we have no faith whatsoever in Podemos and have been continuously warning about it. We already knew this was the view held by IU/the Green Party because they and their environmentalist cronies have brought down the coalition at the Junta de Andalucía and halted any attempts by PSOE (albeit rather feeble attempts) to legalise the so-called illegal properties.
The so-called ecologists are a particularly nasty group of people affiliated with far left political parties who are weighed down with political ideology, none of which they genuinely believe but they hide behind it and use environmentalism as a way of controlling peoples’ lives. Putting it bluntly, they are raving communists who are not very bright and think that all property is theft and as previously stated by one of the groups, they want everyone to live in «compact cities» because that is how they have decided they want people to live – you cannot negotiate with people like that, it a form of extremism and it is either their way or no way.
This dysfunctional view must be vigorously challenged at all levels and these activists need to be exposed for the hypocrites that they are. Where were they 15 years ago when all the rural properties were being built? Why were they not out waving their little banners then? It is worth noting that the state sat back and did nothing for years while happily taking all the money and tax revenue that this building and the people who moved to Spain generated. Why did they not erect huge signs all over the Andalucian countryside telling us we are not welcome there and warning us not to buy land and build houses? If any of this crowd ever do get any power, you might as well write off the whole region because they will wreak havoc and you will not be able to move for the rubble once they start their program of licence revocations followed by mass demolitions. Their politics are the politics of envy and their rhetoric makes them appear stupid and jealous. They are racist and no better than the Chelsea fans who threw the black person off the train in Paris last week.
This is frightening stuff and even though it is a minority view, these people seem to have a lot of sway and it would be dangerous to underestimate the harm they could do to the ex-pats in rural Andalucía. They clearly hate us, have no respect for us whatsoever and they are not afraid to voice their hatred. We are in no doubt that Podemos (who actually «admire» Venezuela, probably because they bankroll them) will be singing from the same hymn sheet as IU/the Greens if they gain any power and this needs to be widely publicised.
We hope that Sur and The Olive Press will publish this horrible rant because people need to be aware of the situation and know what they are up against even if they cannot vote. We would urge SOHA/AUAN and everyone else not to back the far left «nasty parties» who hold these extremist views and we would hope that the other more central political parties are working hard to expose them for what they are.
Most foreign property owners will take one look at that essay and wish they had never clapped eyes on Spain let alone bought property there. If all else fails, these radicals might want to think about a repatriation scheme whereby they pay all the foreigners the value of their escrituras to leave the Spanish countryside – make no mistake about it, the uptake would be in the region of 90%. It would cost a huge amount of Spanish taxpayers’ money (we had previously calculated a figure of approx. €6 billion) but these people would consider it as money well spent to get rid of us and our filthy money. That way, they can bulldoze away to their heart’s desire and the whole place can go to hell.
Jane G and Robert C
An indignant letter from the Almanzora Valley: I have felt for some time that the Spanish want us all to go back to where we came from. They think that by sweeping the last 30 odd years under the carpet that they can forget about the con-trick that has deprived many of us of a stress-free, quiet, enjoyable last few years of our lives. They have short memories! Ex-pats have ploughed millions of Euros into the Spanish economy making many Spanish richer than they could have dreamed. I did not go to Spain to steal Spanish jobs, I am retired and employed local Spanish lawyers, builders, carpenters, architects, electricians etc. I bought all the plants from local garden centres, bought furniture from the local shop and had a kitchen installed using Spanish workers. The local shops are used for groceries, hobbies and newspapers, the local internet supplier benefits from my use of the internet not to mention the banks and bars/restaurants. So I would argue strongly that rather than being inmigrantes or delincuentes as Sr. Yus Ramos suggests that by being immigrants we are adding to the Spanish economy. Of course the Junta must be spending an awful lot of money, Spanish taxes, on all the court cases so maybe he is taking that into account when he suggests that we are delincuentes. Not of our making Señor. Get your house in order before blaming us for Spain’s problems.
From John: «The Budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest (we) become bankrupt. People must again learn to work instead of living on public assistance.» – Cicero, 55 BC. Some things never change!
A digest of this week’s Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners:
with Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner
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