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Spain today

Business over Tapas Nº 536

Business over Tapas Nº 536

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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Apologies – most of this week’s BoT is focused on Pedro Sánchez desperate five days of Temptation in the Wilderness (well, the Moncloa anyway).

 

Editorial:

At Business over Tapas, the subject of fake-news, media manipulation, lawfare and assorted bulos is often raised. The perpetrators are always the same. The target is always the same. Only the methods vary.

They can’t attack the Government on the economy – it’s the second highest growth in the Western world – so they must attack with invention, insults and calumny. Knife in the back stuff.

José María Aznar said in November last year in reaction to the then new government: ‘»What can be done? Well, he who can speak, let him speak. He who can do, let him do. He who can contribute, let him contribute. He who can move, let him move. He who can try…» Just like that Aznar spoke directly and without a shadow of shame just after declaring Sánchez «a danger to Spanish democracy», with Feijóo sitting just next to him’.

One wonders what they want. Could they maybe do better and make Spain the strongest economy in the world? The last PP president Mariano Rajoy certainly couldn’t.

So we come to Pedro Sánchez and his bombshell last Wednesday evening: Sick of the attacks against him – and more importantly, against his wife, he threatened to quit come Monday.

Monday rolling around after a nail-biting five-day wait, and following large demos calling on Pedro to stay, the president announced that he would follow the wishes of the electorate (well, slightly over half of it anyway), and stay on.

The straw that almost broke the donkey’s back had been the unfounded attack on his wife by Manos Limpias, a far-right organisation remembered without pleasure as being the creators of the fake PISA scandal (Pablo Iglesias and his supposed fortune in a Venezuelan bank).

Over the weekend, the PSOE and its allies in the Government had come out to back Pedro Sánchez, with the general coordinator of EH Bildu, Arnaldo Otegi, denouncing the “permanent lawfare” within the Spanish judicial system and the attempt to turn Pedro Sánchez into “little less than a criminal and a traitor who makes agreements with people of all kinds”.

The drama also coincided with the first few days of the Catalonian political campaign, leaving that important subject to lurk in an inner page.

There are a lot of dodgy journalists, scriveners and hacks, plus any number of bloggers and youtubers who will invent fake news, post inflammatory opinion or who simply write what they are told to. For example, the Tweet seen by 110,000 (by Saturday) from one Alberto Caliu: ‘Pedro Sánchez should be arrested along with his wife and all of his government and partners and imprisoned, preferably without a trial’.

We remember how hostile invention got the better of both President Lula in Brazil, and President Silva in Portugal. In France, Macron is suing some ‘conservative commentator’ who claims that his wife is really a man. We certainly have seen the effect of these scurrilous attacks from the right and far-right in Spain with a number of honest politicians forced to resign through judiciously inserted false and misleading news.

Or are the Russians ultimately behind all of this deception?

At the same time, most reporters are honourable and working to find the news where and how it may come out; and several hundreds of them, plus many others, signed a letter on Friday calling for the end of ‘The Mud Machine’. Meanwhile, without backing down, Manos Limpias admitted on Friday that their complaint against Begoña Gómez ‘may be based on false information’.

The Corner, a conservative Spanish web-site, says ‘The PSOE denies the evidence and backs Pedro Sánchez, who, surrounded by corruption, speaks of “harassment” and lashes out against the right, the ultra-right, the judges, the press…’

And of course we believe what we want to believe, without allowing facts or common sense to get in the way.

In the days to come, the upset over this past weekend will be measured against its impact on both the Catalonian and the European elections – both by proper journalists and observers and also, inevitably, by the fantasists and the flat-earthers.

Tourism:

From La Razón here: ‘The British press damages the image of Spain by harshly attacking Benidorm, Mallorca and the Canary Islands. Several English media are redoubling their efforts to alert their citizens about the risks they run if they travel to our country’. The story complains about The Mirror, the Daily Mail and The Sun. ‘…The latest reports criticizing our country risk deterring foreign tourists, something that would have significant negative economic consequences, especially in areas that depend heavily on tourism’.

Finance:

From Infobae here: ‘Madrid City Hall has toughened its fight against the proliferation of housing for tourist use (VUT) in the capital, a market that has exploded after the pandemic and which, according to sources from the council, “in most cases don’t have the correct licences”. With this new offensive, it aims to avoid “the desertification of the city centre, the problems of coexistence with neighbours, the reduction of residential housing and the impact on tourism”.’ Fines for illegal tourist apartments to be as high as 190,000€.

‘“In the US they think we’re communists!” The 70,000 workers showing the world another way to earn a living’. The article from The Guardian looks at ‘The Basque Country’s Mondragón Corporation: the globe’s largest industrial co-operative, with workers paying for the right to share in its profits – and its losses. In return for giving more to their employer, they expect more back’. The co-op controls Fagor, Eroski and many others. It also operates its own university.

From Reuters here: ‘Spain sees US-style economic boost from immigrant workers’. The article notes that Spain is seeing a virtuous circle where an influx of foreign workers is boosting the supply of labour and raising its economic growth rate – a rare feat in the European Union’ and that ‘Skilled immigrants helping Spain’s economy outpace European peers’.

From El Economista: ‘Spain’s economy is flying: GDP beats all forecasts due to the surge in investment and exports. The economy grows 0.7% quarterly and defies all forecasts’. From the RTVE here: ‘The public deficit falls 33% in the first quarter, to 667 million euros’.

The BBVA and Sabadell banks are looking to merge ‘to create a 73,000 million banking giant’ says the financial press, without talk of any likely reduction in the number of branch offices or staff. 20Minutos has some details here.

‘Goodbye to working 40 hours: the new working day confirmed in 2024’. The PSOE and Sumar have now agreed to reduce the maximum working day in 2024 without any reduction in salary. The new week to be approved this summer will be 38.5 hours, with 37.5 in 2025. El Huff Post has the details.

Politics:

El Mundo says: ‘Pedro Sánchez continues as President of the Government and asks society to join him in his «cleansing» offensive against the «mud». He appeared outside the gates of La Moncloa after keeping the country on standby for five days, in an institutional statement without questions or the presence of the press’. El Confidencial is worried that ‘The judiciary fear «the final blow» to their independence after Sánchez’s return. They suspect that a «breeding ground» is being created to undertake reforms with the ultimate goal of achieving «the seizure of the Supreme Court»’.

And let’s not forget The Church. ‘Bishop Munilla of Orihuela-Alicante accuses Pedro Sánchez of “putting his ego at the centre” and calls of him to “let Justice take its course”’.

And what next – having attacked his wife, would they go after his two daughters?

Sánchez recognises that he didn’t do enough to combat the harassment towards Iglesias, Montero and Podemos. A short clip from an interview with the President on national TV on Monday.

Should Sánchez have stayed, or quit? What do you think? (Monday afternoon)

20Minutos: 26% stay. 58% go.

El Huff Post: 85% stay. 15% go.

La Región: 49% stay. 51% go.

Atlántico: 44% stay. 48% go.

Heraldo: 34% stay. 66% go.

El Plural 91% stay. 9% go.

A quick survey by the CIS gives the PSOE a boost following the news that Sánchez will stay on says El Mundo here, with the PSOE now almost ten points ahead of the PP.

Catalonia elections May 12:

……

Europe:

From The Guardian here: ‘Pedro Sánchez may have decided to stay on as Spanish prime minister, but what made him hesitate – the “harassment and bullying” of him and his wife by his political opponents – is unlikely to go away anytime soon, in Spain or elsewhere in Europe. In an ever more polarised political sphere and on a social media battlefield where reality coexists with the wildest fictions, politicians across the continent have to live – or not – with being targets of surreal accusations, “lawfare” and increasingly ugly abuse…’

‘To get ahead of any possible reactionary movements and protect access and the right to safe and free abortion for all European women. That is the objective of “My voice, my decision”, a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) promoted by eight countries that launched a campaign to collect signatures this week. To achieve this, they need to raise a minimum of one million before June 5’. La Marea has the story here.

Corruption:

From Crónica Libre here: «We manage Manos Limpias.» The audios that demonstrate that the PP has controlled the far-right organization since as long ago as 2014’.

From a feisty elDiario.es here: ‘Feijóo says that he would never allow his wife to sign any contract with the administration… although he did let his sister do just that with the Xunta de Galicia. Eulen, the company where Micaela Núñez is a director, signed contracts for 37 million euros with the regional administration during the thirteen years of government of the conservative leader’.

Courts:

Jueces para la Democracia (a left-wing association) warns of the risk of legal complaints based only on articles gleaned from the press. The Manos Libres union recognizes that its complaint against Begoña Gómez for alleged crimes of influence peddling and corruption in business is based solely on journalistic information’. Público has the story here.

‘The National Court refuses to summon Begoña Gómez: The request is based on unverified journalistic information and without indications of her intervention’. From La Cadena Ser.

From Europa Press here: ‘Manos Limpias regrets that Sánchez has not resigned and announces more evidence to come that this time will point to the president himself’.

Media:

El Salto Diario says ‘what did you expect, Pedro?’ and goes on to list the main offenders in the world of fake news and who finances them.

So, who writes and who believes fake news? According to a major study by Meta (Facebook and Instagram), a whopping 97% of invented or manipulated stories when shared, come from right-wing sympathisers. The story at Marca here. Meanwhile, says 20Minutos here, ‘Brussels opens an investigation against Meta for not controlling posted disinformation about the European elections’.

An examination of some of the worst bulos from the Partido Popular. La Sexta title here:  ‘Ignacio Escolar criticizes the PP’s strategy: «I have heard Ayuso say that Sánchez is a tyrant who is going to imprison the opposition»’. With video.

Público looks at El Debate, a site which continues to provide false information to its gullible readers. The PSOE says that are ‘up to here’ with Bieito Rubido (ex-ABC), the director of this particular bulomedia. With video and stimulating comments on Twitter. A (not so) similar take on El Debate (and its funding) can be found at El Mundo here.

El Huff Post brings us the six years of attacks against “Begoño”, the wife of Pedro Sánchez.

From El Huff Post here: ‘This is how a fake-news story is made: Begoña Gómez or the media plot to create a shadow of corruption. Years of bulos, half-truths and headlines have come together to create a complaint that has blown up the framework of Spanish politics’. Seven press cuttings, variously from El Confidencial, VozPópuli, Libertad Digital, The Objective and EsDiario plus a piece on TeleMadrid (which they later retracted), the far-right Manos Limpias takes yet-another bogus case to a sympathetic judge…

Influencers, says Wiki here: ‘Certain internet celebrities may function as lifestyle gurus promoting a particular lifestyle or attitude. In this capacity they act as key amplifiers of trends across various genres…’ These individuals can sometimes be dangerous, leading their followers into scams and cons. From Cadena Ser here: The Government is to introduce controls over influencers, including a formal ‘State Registry of Audiovisual Providers’. The first thing, says the article, is to define what an influencer is based on three criteria that must be met simultaneously:

  • An annual income equal to or greater than 300,000 euros.
  • One million or more followers in a video sharing app or 2 million or more in all applications.
  • To broadcast at least 24 videos a year.

Ecology:

‘The Doñana wetlands in southern Spain have regained their splendour after heavy rainfall as satellite images show dramatic change. Doñana is considered one of the most important national parks in Spain. The photos show the difference between April 2023 and April 2024, with many crediting recent rainfall with Doñana’s burst of life. In the past few years, the park has suffered intense drought, leaving large swathes with no water.  However, thanks to downpours starting in November 2023, the situation has improved, leading many species to return to their natural habitat…’ Item from The Olive Press here.

The current state of all reservoirs in Spain (our local one at Cuevas de Almanzora is at just 6.8% with 11Hm3).

From Sur in English here: ‘Giving up hope in the face of climate change is increasing in Spain, and at a remarkable rate. It is growing to the point that the percentage of Spanish ‘doomers’, the people who think global warming cannot be stopped (at one in four), is among the highest in Europe…’

A Murcian woman, Teresa Vicente, has won the Goldman 2024 prize for Europe down to her efforts in trying to save the Mar Menor in her home province. With video.

Various:

A two-page spread in El Mundo about the great-grandson of Franco, is titled: ‘Luis Alfonso de Borbón: «The work of my great-grandfather Franco is still there, his achievements continue to benefit us»’. Público is unimpressed here: ‘Luis Alfonso de Borbón and the «apology for a fascist and genocidal dictator»’. One can never please everybody.

Maybe we should be staying in some obscure and ugly town in the middle of nowhere for our hols. From Energy Monitor here: ‘Over-tourism is harming the climate. What can be done about it? New initiatives aim to draw people out of the world’s most popular destinations to lessen tourists’ impact on the Earth’. At least they’d be pleased to see you…

‘The wine of the future will be more expensive and will taste different: La Rioja applies measures to resist the effects of the climate crisis, including high altitude vineyards, adapted varieties and a lot of innovation. Spanish viticulture is forced to apply new techniques in the face of rising temperatures, lack of rain and extreme phenomena’. From elDiario.es here.

An article about an enjoyable evening at a restaurant. How do they have that meal ready so quickly? Well, says RTVE, as often as not, they were cooked beforehand and just heated up for your dining pleasure. Really, says the Consumers Federation, they should tell you.

Students at the University of Valencia have begun an ‘indefinite’ sit-in – similar to those taking place in American universities – to protest the invasion of Gaza.

Our friend Amancio Ortega takes 1,423 million euros in dividends from Inditex this week.

One day, I might just drop by for a drink. ‘Work on Granada province’s new 82-kilometre coastal path to start after summer and this is what it will involve. At some point in the future it is expected that the Andalusian province’s Senda Litoral will connect with Málaga’s in the west and Almería to the east’. Sur in English has the story.

The Guardian brings us ‘‘Massive and exciting impact’: a show celebrates Spain’s first abstract art museum. The exhibition explores how a Spanish-Filipino artist in 1966 opened a trailblazing cultural outpost in Cuenca’s ‘hanging houses’’.

What to do if you want to write an SMS or a WhatsApp to a friend in Arabic when you only have a western keyboard? Why, you use el alfabeto de chat árabe says Wiki España here. We read ‘El arabizi (عربيزي) is the informal alphabet in Latin script that is commonly used by Arabic speakers in messaging, social networks, and other Internet sites when they cannot use the Arabic alphabet for technical reasons…’ Both characters and numerals are used as letters in this particular text.

Letters:

Eugene Smith Photos from Time

Wow that brings back some memories Lenox!

Early 60s I drove my Wolsey Hornet Mini from Sussex to Sitges with four up and luggage on the roof rack! We had rented Villa Windsor for 14 of us and had a lovely daily maid who filled the Cold Room with a big ice block every morning before organising brekkie for all and then cleaning, making beds etc. Incredible woman.

Anyway being Patriotic Brits we had brought and hung on the upstairs balcony a large Union Jack.

The next day we were almost dragged from our beds by four Guardia Civil who looked just like the ones in the said Eugene Smith photo. All 14 of us were frogmarched in a line to HQ where to my amazement the Major spoke English and promptly told us we had insulted Spain and Franco by not having an even bigger Spanish Flag hung on the railing!! You won’t find one here but I have a spare for the Flagpole he said and as Villa Windsor is owned by a friend of mine you can borrow it.

The next day they checked to make sure we had hung it!

On the lovely Sitges beach there was a Pedalo Hire outfit but with only four Pedalos so each would be loaded with three people the extra person sat on the cover of the drum.

At lunchtime the same GC arrested us again for overloading the Pedalos!

This War with numerous variations continued for 14 days and the only relief was when a German Group got into even more trouble than us!

My other memories were adjusting the clutch, possible in those days, on the heights of the Pyrenees in Andorra due to our car being overloaded, and the vast size of potholes on the Barça coast road, some maybe 20/30 feet long so I had to be careful. On that same winding and narrow coast road one regularly got stuck behind big trucks but they all had a back facing lamp on the roof and when the driver switched it to Green you could overtake, albeit completely blind! Brilliant idea long since scrubbed sadly but those really were the days in Franco’s Spain Lenox. Spanish O Levels got me a long way too and much appreciated! But I got lumbered with everything including shopping and Restaurant Menus!

Robin

I forgot to add Lenox that as we were leaving the Villa the Major came to collect his enormous Flag, so on the spur of the moment I offered him ours. Why would I want that?

For when you come to England I said! Much laughter, he was well educated for sure and happily took out Union Jack.

That archaic Law still exists today by the way and if you want to hang your National Flag, like for St George’s Day, always hang a bigger Spanish Flag and if on a Flagpole your National Flag should be below the Spanish. Protocol!

Heh! Many thanks for your amusing tale, Lenox 

Beggars can’t be Choosers

Thanks Lenox. This was a delightful read. We are going to look for that book by Laurie Lee. Our most successful beggar here in Álora can be spotted at the open door of the smaller church in the village centre. We stop and watch to see the villagers stick their hands in their pockets as they approach the church door. He hardly drops his hand or he must extend it again for the next coin. Haven’t seen him buy beers but will keep an eye open now that you have mentioned it.

Salmon

Short-term Rentals Bring Problems for the Long-term Residents

Our family bought an end-terrace ‘town-house’ in 2008 in Los Alcazares (on the Mar Menor, just north of Cartagena) near La Manga and we use it for family holidays at different times of the year. Our experiences of short-term’ holiday rentals of apartments on our small Estate of 42 units almost exactly mirrors yours and we avoid going out during the summer months as the place is packed with rowdy holidaymakers who have rented from absentee northern European Owners and – you’re so right – they (like Clark Gable in ‘Gone with the Wind’) just ‘don’t give a damn’! To compound the problem we are actually now having to endure this same Short Term Lets chaos in the apartment building we now live in in Ayr (Scotland), which is also a seaside resort. It’s actually probably worse here for us than in Spain as the STLs are operating here all year round and we have had to endure four incidents of ‘pop-up brothels’ and one drugs den over the past 4 years ! We will continue to keep going over to our place in Spain – if not in the high season! We have every sympathy for the Spanish whose lives have also been affected by the ‘mass tourism’ malady and we sincerely hope someone somewhere will find a solution to this horrible plague in the not-too-distant future! (Good article, Lenox)

UKArranView

Finally:

From Catalonia, a civil-war song. Jaleo with Ebri Knight and La Maria. At YouTube here.

 

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