Business over Tapas Nº 531

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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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Editorial:

There comes a time, perhaps, when your Spanish might be described as being pretty damn good. You can read the instructions, the newspaper and the nice letter from the power company, and you can understand the news on the TV – understand the words, that is, if not the context.

The context, because the background is all important. We must grasp the culture to know what’s going on, and indeed, why it’s going on. Take a course in Spanish politics, history, geography and art. Get a Spanish companion and go together to a wedding or a matanza – a pig killing. Go to the football game. Join the local train spotters group. Speak loudly and often.

But let’s look at a rarely mentioned corner of the pronunciation jungle. You have mastered the jota and you can roll your rr more or less, but how do you pronounce foreign words in Spanish?

Answer: as a Spaniard would.

Let’s sit down and start with a drink – a soda pop. There’s Sprite (pronounced espry), there’s 7Up (siete oop, maybe? No, they’ll just call it seben), Pepsi Cola is pesi and then there’s Schweppes (no one can pronounce that in any language, but in Spanish it’s just called eshwehs) and thus, to no one’s great surprise, we all drink La Casera.

Do you see the difficulty?

Some foreign place-names have been spanishified. There’s Londres for London, Edimburgo up in Scotland, and (for some reason) Cornualles for Cornwall. But if you go to Middle Wallop, then you are in for a treat. It’s pronounced Mid.del gualop. Wolverhampton becomes Guolberhanton. For Heathrow, you drop the second h. Liverpool has a b.

As for Worcestershire, don’t even try.

Now me, I’m from Norfolk, and luckily, that’s more or less the way you would say it if you were talking in Spanish.

It’s all about communication of course; saying it in a way that the listener will understand. After all, we are in espain.

Oh, and by the way, jappy easter.

(Pido disculpas a él que se siente ofendido por lo anterior)

Housing:

‘How to know if a home is being sold at a fair price in Spain. To know how much a house is worth, you need to take into account its characteristics and the market situation’. A useful guide from Idealista (in English) here.

Paloma Pérez Bravo, CEO of VIVA Sotheby’s International Realty, tells El Confidencial that “A house worth a million euros is not luxury. After three, we can start talking about luxury”.

From El Huff Post here: ‘The Benidorm town hall has given the green light to the final project of the Ensanche Levante plan, which foresees around twenty hotels and more than 2,300 apartments to be built in skyscrapers with a minimum height of 20 floors. “The vertical city model characteristic of Benidorm that has made us a benchmark in terms of sustainability will be adhered to”, says the city’s mayor, Toni Pérez (PP), who governs the city with an absolute majority…’

 

Infobae has five castles for sale – if anybody is in the market…

Tourism:

‘Spain to tackle decrease in UK visitor durations’ claims an article at Travel Weekly here. The slightly futile piece says that British tourists have dropped their stay in Spain from 7.29 days in 2019 to just 6.91 days last year. The answer, apparently, is to tell tourists about Spain’s ‘excellence and sustainability’, particularly its high-speed trains.

From an opinion piece in The Majorca Daily Bulletin, we read that ‘…Manuel Butler, UK director of the Spanish Tourist Office, revealed this week that while Britons last year spent less time in Spain on shorter holidays, they spent more, nearly £17 billion (19,800 million euros): 12% more than in 2019. And on the back of that, the idea of the new marketing strategy is to target wealthier, generally older holidaymakers. Could this be the first step of an overall review of tourism promotion across all markets with an aim to having fewer tourists but ones with bigger wallets and deeper pockets?…’

The Olive Press covers the ‘Tourists Go Home’ phenomenon. Here’s a quote: ‘…The latest campaign kicked off in Tenerife this month, when the holiday island made global headlines following a series of graffiti messages scrawled on walls and buildings, reading ‘tourists go home’, ‘your paradise, our misery’, and ‘the average salary in Canary Islands is €1,200.’ The Olive Press went out to investigate, discovering that tensions are very much bubbling under and it’s likely to spread to mainland Spain anytime soon…’

Finance:

‘Who is obliged to file the 2023-2024 declaración de la renta income tax return? The campaign begins next April 3, and will run until July 1’. El Huff Post reports here.

From La Cadena Ser here: ‘A Hacienda technician explains the reason why “the rich do not pay taxes”. We read: ‘All the data points to this although we are waiting for a change. It is true that small steps have been taken, but we can continue affirming that the wealthy do not pay according to their capacity: companies, inheritances, assets… What is needed is greater political will when it comes to the control of large fortunes,” says Carlos Cruzado, president of the Union of Technicians of the Ministry of Finance (GESTHA), co-author with José María Mollinedo of the essay ‘The rich do not pay IRPF. Keys to facing the tax debate’.

‘In January 2024, the highest recorded number of foreign-born residents in Spain was reached, 8.8 million people. This figure represents 18.1% of the population, one percentage point more than in 2023, distributed very unevenly among the autonomous communities…’ The Corner, a right-wing financial publication in English has the story (with a nice photograph of us immigrants – I mean, the startled-looking ones at the top left of course).

Politics:

The Easter holidays have slightly dampened the usual enthusiasm to excoriate the opposition parties, although Isabel Díaz Ayuso, on a visit to Chile, seems to be in good form as always.

Euzkera elections April 21:

From El País here: Only some 13% of Basques want independence, says the latest poll for the region which finds the PNV and EH Bildu neck and neck at 28 seats each. Third place is the PSOE with 11. The PP can expect six councillors.

Catalonia elections May 12:

The PP had hoped to absorb Ciudadanos for the Catalonian and European elections, but the deal fell through, and the Ciudadanos party leader Adrián Vázquez has since resigned. The PP candidate has now been chosen: Alejandro Fernández.

From El Periódico here: over at Junts per Catalunya, the new party name for these regional elections (to include a few minor parties) will be Junts + Puigdemont per Catalunya.

Gibraltar:

‘The little known rule Brits travelling to Spain via Gibraltar need to know about as some refused entry. People looking to travel to Spain from Gibraltar for short term trips may have difficulty crossing the border’ says Gloucestershire Live here. Another fallout from Brexit.

Gibraltar prepares an underground pipeline to drink Spain’s water in the event of an emergency drought says El Huff Post indignantly.

……

Europe:

La Cadena Ser reports from Brussels that ‘President Sánchez agrees with Ireland, Malta and Slovenia outside the European Council to take steps to recognize the Palestinian state’.

From La Moncloa (Government page in English) here: ‘Sánchez reiterates Spain’s support for Ukraine and calls on the defence sector to play a key role in European Industrial Defence Strategy’.

El Español says that the fall in socialist and liberal support brings the far-right to a likely second place in Europe following the June elections.

Le Monde (in English) says that ‘A lasting drought takes hold of Mediterranean region. Water shortages are affecting areas stretching from North Africa to Italy, as well as Portugal, Spain, France, Malta, Romania and Greece’.

Corruption:

More on Ayuso’s boyfriend and his commissions here (short video). A medical-supply and private hospital company called Quirón appears to be the largest customer of the boyfriend. Quirón has received over 700 million euros from the CAM (the Madrid Region) in the last three years. The buck stops here?

From Firstpost here: ‘Spanish football federation sack directors linked with corruption probe’. We read that ‘…Police searched the RFEF federation headquarters on the outskirts of Madrid last week, along with disgraced former chief Luis Rubiales’ property in Granada. The 46-year-old is currently in the Dominican Republic but is set to return to Spain on April 6, according to Spanish media, who report the investigation concerns contracts signed by Rubiales to take the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia, among other matters…’

Courts:

The Telegram app (similar to WhatsApp) was abruptly deemed illegal on Saturday in Spain with the Internet providers given just three hours to pull the plug. Around 8.5 million users were affected but the crusading judge Santiago Pedraz from the Audiencia Nacional (Spanish High Court – Wiki) was adamant – he had received a complaint from a media company that people were watching football games for free. As for the 8,490,000 customers who weren’t, well – too bad, hey?

Understandably, a lot of people were angry – likening this exercise to something out of North Korea or Russia or Iran, while Telegram-users were posting advice about VPNs and other useful ways around the blockade.

By Monday, the penny had dropped for the crusading judge – as one might say: just because the yogurt has gone bad, you don’t need to unplug the fridge – and he called off the boycott.

The fact-checking site Maldita says that ‘In Spain, the Report on the Evolution of Hate Crimes 2022 (latest version available) recorded 1,869 hate crimes and incidents in that year, the main motivation was racist or xenophobic-based, with 755 crimes, 18% more than in 2021. To this figure we must add hate crimes against the Roma (Gypsy) population, another expression of racism that, however, is recorded separately. In 2022, 22 crimes of this nature were recorded’.

El País in English reports that ‘Dani Alves pays one million euros bail for release from jail in Spain while waiting appeal of rape conviction. The Brazilian soccer player was found guilty of raping a woman in a nightclub in December 2022 and sentenced to four years and six months in prison’.

Media:

Full marks to the ABC for its opinion piece here: ‘Politicians must urgently reconsider their treatment of journalism. Coercion, accusations and the de-legitimization of any critical media are incompatible with democracy’.

Opinion from La Cadena Ser here: ‘I’ve said this before, but I thought we had already reached the limit a long time ago. Where does the Partido Popular place the limit? In their strategy of destroying everything, to try to reverse what they consider to be the great injustice of not being in the Government, the PP have already crossed all the red lines and muddied the political debate to a point of difficult return…’

‘The press faces a serious crisis as the price of paper triples and aggravated supply problems. A ton of cellulose has gone from costing 400 euros to 1,200. Factories have started to prioritize cardboard production over paper’. Headline from ECD here. It must be hard, above all, for free newspapers to maintain their distribution numbers.

El Iberico, el periódico en español de Londres, here. Good stuff, including telling you how to be rude en inglés and where it’s gonna snow in the UK this week.

Ecology:

‘International tourism is already encountering drought in Spain. Experts ask that the 85 million annual tourists, who spend on average more water than residents, to be responsible’. The story at El País here. The article compares the average daily water consumption of a Spaniard with that of a care-free tourist.

From Sur in English here: ‘Recent rain improves reservoir levels in the Axarquía and on the Costa del Sol, with up to 120mm forecast to fall in some areas this week’.

From Andalucía Today here: ‘After weeks of summary weather, January beach days and soaring temperatures, Spain has been hit with a delayed winter right in the middle of one of the most eagerly-anticipated holidays in the year. And if Easter has been a wash out so far, that’s nothing compared with what is to come, according to the meteorologists…’

‘Where water-stress will be the highest by 2050’ (world map at Reddit here).

It’s long been known that many beach-bars are in breach of the law. Whether they are too close to the sea, or are too large, or are permanent constructs (or have a basement!). elDiario.es reports that ‘The State has challenged a third of the chiringuitos authorized by the Junta de Andalucía for illegal occupation of the coastline. Málaga holds almost half of the 163 unfavourable transcripts that Costas has issued since 2011. The Government has appealed 32 permits through the courts’. Andalucía has around five hundred beach-bars.

Various:

El Huff Post considers the Spanish (or rather ‘Francoist’) Official Secrets Law which – since 1968 – keeps all the secrets secret.

Staying in the high Alpujarras with The Guardian here: ‘It’s like travelling back 700 years: healthy pleasures in rural Andalucía’.

El País says the best book about Spain is simply called España and comes from Michael Reid, a journalist from The Economist. Available in English at Amazon here: Spain: The Trials and Triumphs of a Modern European Country, is described as ‘An incisive account of modern Spain, from the death of Franco to the Catalan referendum and beyond’.

A Load of Bull – An Englishman’s Adventures in Madrid by Tim Parfitt. ‘Reissued with a new introduction and extra chapters, A Load of Bull is the hilarious true story of an Englishman sent to Madrid to help launch Spanish Vogue’. At Amazon here.

From Five Books here, author Jason Webster (Wiki) chooses five books that illustrate the power of the Spanish imagination (thanks to Brett for the link).

‘‘Caprichos,’ ‘Disasters,’ ‘Disparates’ and ‘Tauromaquia’: All of Goya’s prints, together for the first time in one exhibition. The San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid displays more than 200 works that the Spanish genius left in four famous series: ‘Not even he ever saw them all together in his lifetime’’. El País in English has the story here.

ByGonely brings us some posters from the great Catalonian artist Ramón Casas (1866 – 1932). Wiki says of him: ‘…as a graphic designer, his posters and postcards helped to define the Catalan art movement known as modernisme’.

From Sur in English here: ‘La Alpujarra railway, a dream that vanished a century ago. Several projects to link Granada and Almería provinces with Torre del Mar in Málaga province by train were considered, but never realised, at the beginning of the 20th century’.

El Confidencial says that ‘the happiest city in Spain is Almería’.

We have some problems with the wild boar. Actually, it looks like everyone does.

An article at elDiario.es compliments this week’s BoT editorial. It considers the Spanish tradition of spanishifying British royal names – except for Kate Middleton. El Rey Carlos de Inglaterra, etc.

A sad tale from a stork’s nest webcam on YouTube here.

See Spain:

El Huff Post here: ‘Cuenca (Wiki), the forgotten Spanish city that is a world heritage site and with a dream Parador Hotel. This destination combines history, heritage, nature, gastronomy and breathing space’.

An opinion piece about Toledo from Trendencias here. ‘They say it is the most beautiful city in Spain, but I was ready to leave after five minutes’.

Finally:

Thrones of Semana Santa on YouTube here. Superb camera-work and music.

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