Política, Brexit, turismo, actualidad, finanzas, Cataluña, ecologismo, medios o corrupción son algunos de los temas que trata este boletín informativo

08/04/24. Opinión. El periodista Lenox Napier repasa la actualidad española en su boletín semanal Business Over Tapas, al que puede suscribirse por 60 euros anuales. Puede obtener más información en su web (AQUÍ) o en su perfil (AQUÍ). EL OBSERVADOR / www.revistaelobservador.com ofrece este contenido tres días después de su lanzamiento...

Editorial:

We are surrounded by louche pintadas and graffiti, somebody’s initials in blue, black, red or silver spray-paint, squirted furtively but ambitiously over an old door, on a wall, on a shop-front, on the side of a ruined house.

Forget the Banksys and the news-items that show up here and there like ‘Andalucía is home to two of the prettiest street-paintings in the world’ – here, we talk about the jungle of aggressive balloon letters painted at night to dismay the local residents. It’s grim vandalism: a kind of Call of the Worthless. ‘Urban art is an industry, graffiti is just ego’ says a columnist.
The street-artists know that Society has no room for them, that there’ll be no chance for them to be remembered, raised, honoured or respected. Theirs is the sour realisation that they are the detritus of modern-life.
Have you seen the pictures of the underground trains in Barcelona? Cohorts of feeble-minded nitwits are out every night, spray-cans at the ready.
Did you know, it cost the city 11.5 million euros to repair them last year?
Did you see the old ruin covered in competing letrasets near the motorway, or the besmirched shutters in front of the entrance to the bar that closed down last year, or the ruined and unreadable street-signs or that odd message on the bridge (how on earth did they get up there, anyway?). What about the daubed political comments, crossed out by opposing idiots who get their ideals from comic-books? Will my vote change because I suddenly see a Pedro Xanche maricón inked onto a wall?
The offensive doodle must either be removed (I saw a can in my local Chinese shop which claims that it will lift it) or painted over by either the owner or the council. Why bother? It’ll probably be back tomorrow.
One answer is to employ municipal graffiti-removers – pay them with a one euro surcharge applied on all the spray-cans sold in the shops.
The town hall is busy planting trees, gussying up the fancy buildings and spending a fortune on tourist campaigns, while the secret hoards of scribblers are out night after night befouling the walls and alleyways (preferably where these idiots can’t be seen, or denounced, or arrested).
It gets worse. There’s a new phenomenon in Spain called el turismo vandalico, where foreign tourists come here to paint. Not with watercolours, but with spray-cans. Tenerife is particularly punished with this kind of visitor.
A book in the Valencian language says that it is ‘…all about our popular culture, which - among other things - helps to understand how those graffiti that emerged as a spontaneous countercultural outbreak have evolved from the primary scream to today’s sophistication…’ Yer, right on. That’s no doubt how Rembrandt started his artistic career.
The defacement lies in its unstated threat. We are out there. 
Vandalism isn’t just a colourful splash on a shop-front. In its more extreme moments, it can be worse: where one paints some crap on a castle wall, or gouges out one’s initials on a prehistoric relic, or cuts down a famous ancient tree.
The message is: I may not be going anywhere, but I’m here nonetheless.

Housing:

From EuroNews here (with video): ‘Dozens of families from Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and Venezuela have chosen Madrid as a residential and investment destination, transforming Madrid into a new Miami, both in terms of residence and investment destination’. All of which, says As, makes the rents go up, and forces some long-term residents to move away.

As the price of rents and shares become even more alarming, The Olive Press has a piece about a sofa for rent in Puerto Banus (Marbella) at 400€ per month – giving truth to the expression ‘scuse me, coming through’.

Tourism:

This talk of turismofobia. The Guardian has ‘“A family used to live here”: The Spanish sticker rebellion battling tourist lets. Tired of over-tourism pushing up rental prices, Málaga locals have found a novel way to vent their anger’. The news of these stickers now being found in cities all over Spain has reached the media abroad (says El Huff Post redundantly). Meanwhile, at least in the Canaries, says Canarias Ahora here, the authorities are fighting back: ‘The Chamber of Commerce warns that turismofobia can have “serious” consequences for the economy of the Canary Islands. Tourism currently represents 35% of the Canary Islands GDP and 40% of employment, although the CoC recognizes that “we must reflect on the tourism model.”

From SVI here: ‘Simon Calder, travel correspondent at the Independent, claims that around 200 nationals of the United Kingdom are turned away at European Union airports daily, due to the bloc’s travel rules’. We are reminded that, ‘As third-country nationals, Britons must make sure their passports meet two important rules: *Their passports must be valid between three to six months beyond the date they plan to exit the EU. *Their passport must not be older than ten years on the date of planned departure from the EU’.

Finance:

From EuroNews here: ‘The Spanish economy is thriving, with tourism, domestic spending, and investment set to continue propelling growth this year. Spain's economy is witnessing a positive momentum, outshining its European peers with robust growth figures, buoyed by a healthy domestic consumption and a strong investment climate...’

Unemployment, while still high, fell in March says Europa Press here. It now stands at 2.72 million people.

Income tax season – known as La Renta – started on Wednesday. The campaign ends on July 1st. El País has the details here.

‘On Monday, 1 April, the price of electricity on the wholesale market was €0 for ten hours and for another three it was negative for the first time in the history of Spain. Specifically, the megawatt hour (MWh) was quoted at €-0.01, according to the Iberian Energy Market Operator (OMIE). However, the reality is that the price of energy on the wholesale market is only one of the factors that contribute to the price of electricity. There are fixed costs for the user in terms of tolls, charges and system adjustments that meant that the megawatt-hour finally cost between €10 and €18 in each of these hours.
The price drop in the wholesale electricity market is due to the Nelson storm, which had brought rain and strong winds that help renewables to operate at full capacity. Hydroelectric and wind power are two of the cheapest forms of power generation, helping prices to plummet…’ Item from The Corner here.

Politics:

After the Easter hols, it all starts again says El Huff Post here.

‘The harsh climate to which Spanish politics has succumbed in recent weeks will now have two exclusive forums in which to roam freely. The absolute majority of the PP in the Senado and the PSOE-Sumar bloc in the Congreso have activated investigative commissions in both chambers to confront each other with accusations of corruption, to discredit each other and, each according to their interests, to clarify what happened in the purchase of medical supplies during the pandemic. The conservatives will focus on the ‘Koldo case’ and the socialists on the businesses of Isabel Díaz Ayuso's partner…’ More at El Periódico here.

‘Feijóo has a plan to replace the PSOE Speaker (la presidenta del Congreso in Spanish) Francina Armengol in Congress with the PP deputy Cuca Gamarra’ says ECM here. We read that ‘He hopes to force the Speaker's departure with the 'Koldo case' (the Canary Islands had bought overpriced face-masks through Koldo García when Armengol was president there) and he is looking for support from the PNV that would guarantee him a majority to obtain the presidency of the Chamber’. Wishful thinking perhaps. 

Pedro Sánchez was in the Middle East this week. From Syria, Sánchez demanded that Israel clarify the circumstances of the “brutal attack” by the IDF in Gaza which occurred on Monday afternoon causing the death of seven aid workers in a humanitarian aid convoy from the Spanish chef José Andrés' World Central Kitchen after the WCK convoy delivered 100 tons of food to a warehouse in central Gaza. El País says that Benjamin Netanyahu responded by saying that the attack “was not intentional” and that “this happens in times of war”. The Huff Post (USA) reports here on the attack. The attack took place in three cars, spread over 2.5 kilometres says El Mundo. The reaction from José Andrés to this attack on Twitter: ‘Today @WCKitchen lost several of our sisters and brothers in an IDF air strike in Gaza. I am heartbroken and grieving for their families and friends and our whole WCK family. These are people… angels… I served alongside in Ukraine, Gaza, Turkey, Morocco, Bahamas, Indonesia. They are not faceless… they are not nameless. The Israeli government needs to stop this indiscriminate killing. It needs to stop restricting humanitarian aid, stop killing civilians and aid workers, and stop using food as a weapon. No more innocent lives lost. Peace starts with our shared humanity. It needs to start now’.
President Sánchez has been in meetings with leaders in Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. During this trip, he told journalists that Spain plans to recognise the State of Palestine before the summer.

Catalonia elections May 12:

From Catalan News here: ‘The outgoing President, Pere Aragonès, proposes a new independence referendum within the framework of the Spanish Constitution. 'Do you want Catalonia to be an independent state?' would be the wording of the question posed to the electorate. The Spanish government quickly ruled out any chance of a referendum, with spokesperson Pilar Alegría saying that the proposal from Aragonès amounted to a bid for votes in the upcoming Catalan election’. Would a referendum work for the secessionists? Evidently not, says the fact-finding site Newtral here.

Corruption:

Koldo García: "Over the face-mask issue, I'm not going to miss a day. For other things I’ve done, it might be possible”. 20Minutos has the interview here. He is accused of taking massive commissions for supplying face-masks to several ministries and regional governments at the beginning of the pandemic.

 

Luis Rubiales was arrested on Wednesday at the Barajas airport as he returned from a trip to the Dominican Republic ‘as part of a corruption investigation about the relocation of the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia’ (Wiki). He was later released and must now wait for an appointment with the courts.

Courts:

Poor Mónica Oltra from Compromís and ex-vice president of the Valencian Community, who resigned two years ago after what was evidently false accusations against her. These have now, finally, been shelved by the courts. ‘"This will go down in the history of infamy": the words of Mónica Oltra when she resigned in 2022’: Público looks at the background to this story here. A notorious example of lawfare, says elDiario.es here. No doubt a lack of space in the leading conservative front pages means there was no room for them to cover the reinsertion of Ms. Oltra says El Nacional here. The Cadena Ser asks ‘Who will restore the personal and professional damage done to Mónica Oltra? What might have happened in the regional elections without that accusation? Are all those who accused her of a crime that she did not commit without evidence going to ask for forgiveness?’

Media:

Somebody with a sense of humour recounts the meteoric rise of Isabel Díaz Ayuso here. A taste: ‘…President of the Community of Madrid since 2019, her achievements include the undignified agony of 7,291 elderly folk during the covid-19 pandemic ("they were going to die anyway"), a bold campaign in favour of flower pots on balconies to combat climate change, the promotion of drinking draft beers in times of the pandemic and the prosperity of her own family, which has managed to fatten its accounts thanks to a creative relationship with the Administration. Her boyfriend is a "rascal" (‘bigardo’ in the original) who suffers the iniquitous persecution of the Hacienda...’
A little more seriously, the question arises – is Ayuso’s day coming to an end?

The Secretary General of the PSOE in Madrid Juan Lobato is interviewed in Público under the headline "In the eyes of the PP, Ayuso no longer has a place in a possible succession of Feijóo". He says ‘…I see her more touched than ever. For several things. First, because of the repetition. The brother first, now the boyfriend. Second, she wanted to be like a new PP totally different from the previous one. What is happening reminds everyone of Esperanza Aguirre, Ignacio González, Cristina Cifuentes, Paco Granados...’ (previous Madrid leaders who fell foul of corruption).

We sometimes look at ‘institutional advertising’ – where the authorities place large adverts in favoured publications (actually, in all of them except the foreign-language ones). This helps remind the publishers where their daily bread comes from. But, the more one supports the regime, the richer the pickings. From El Salto Diario here: ‘The institutional advertising of the Madrid City Council once again shows how public money is inflated to media related to the PP while those who are bothersome are discriminated against’. The main benefactors are OkDiario, The Objective, El Debate, Libertad Digital, La Razón, El Español and ABC. A similar phenomenon happens in the PP-controlled city hall of Seville says Público here. The left-wing ctxt says that ‘the fake-news industry is reinforced by institutional advertising’ and gives chapter and verse here.
Madrid alone (Region and City Hall) spent 60 million euros in 2022 and 2023.

Ecology:

After all the talk of drought, how are the reservoirs following the Easter visit of Storm Nelson? Telecinco says that ‘The reservoirs are 11.6 points higher than the same date a year ago, although they stand at two tenths below the average of the last ten years’. The water possession is now at 63.1%, or 35,375hm3. While refreshed, both Andalucía and Catalonia remain somewhat short of water. The western regions of Spain caught more water during the storms, and thus are now better prepared for the summer. My local reservoir (Cuevas de Almanzora) is at just 8% with 12.48hm3. You can check yours at embalses.net here.

One region that received plenty of water was the Coto Doñana national park in Huelva says El Correo here.

La Razón wonders why the notorious Hotel El Algarrobico hulk remains standing on a beach outside Carboneras. The town hall refuses to rezone the land as part of the 49,512 hectares of the Cabo de Gata – Níjar national park (we are talking a few hundred metres), but the real reason must be that once the town hall is shown to have defrauded the builder back in 2003, there is going to be a dreadful reckoning…

Various:

Does Spain belong to the Spaniards? A TikToker answers that “Spain belongs to the taxpayers, to that person who gets up at eight in the morning to go to work, to pay taxes so that there continues to be public healthcare and education. Spain belongs to that person. Because this is not an issue of nationalities and it never has been, it is an issue of who contributes to the community”.

Some Spanish slang for the young Generation Z TikToker folk, at 20Minutos here.

(This is going to take a while) Headline at El Español here: The construction of the 40 kilometre tunnel that will link Spain and Morocco through Gibraltar continues. The initial project estimates the depth of the corridor at 100 meters in Mediterranean waters’.

Spiked considers Spain’s ‘trans equality’ law to be ‘a predator’s charter’. It says that ‘The new law has taken a shredder to women’s rights. As anyone could have predicted, single-sex spaces have been all but abolished. And many other legal protections that women once fought for have disappeared overnight’. (Thanks to Colin)

From El Placer de la Lectura here comes ‘The nine essential classics of Spanish literature’.

The only museum dedicated to the Spanish Civil War, says elDiario.es here – is loaded on a website from Canada. It’s El museo virtual de la Guerra Civil Española with text in Spanish, English or French and lots of never-seen-before photos here. One of the organisers explains why it’s based in Canada: ‘In Spain there is the fear of facing our history. The past is thought to be problematic and it is considered preferable not to talk about it rather than to focus on it by making our history available to the public’. Then there’s the politics, of course…

For some odd reason, the one-time vice president of Spain and political renegade Pablo Iglesias – he of the pony-tail (now shorn) – has just opened a bar in Madrid called La Taberna Garibaldi. Cheers, Pablo, I’ll have a caña. Unsurprisingly, not everyone is excited, and there have been a few problems, including the Google page posting that it ‘was temporarily closed’.

Having learned Spanish mostly by my regular trips to the (open-air) pipa-theatre in the sixties and seventies, I can relate to this: ‘Strange film titles in Spain, gone with the translation’, from Fascinating Spain here. They miss out a lot of course, including Golfus de Roma (sic) for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

See Spain:

From Fascinating Spain here: ‘In the 1980s Matavenero was a ghost town. León‘s weather had left ruins where once there were houses. At least three fires had broken out within its boundaries. It was the result of 30 years of neglect. Luckily, the Rainbow Family, an international hippie movement born in the United States in the 1970s, took notice of the village. They wanted to start an ecological life project and that ‘lost land’ seemed perfect for it. That is how Matavenero came back to life…’ The population of this ‘hippy-village’ today is around 200 souls (with video).

Letters:

Keep writing, Lenox. Can’t remember the last time I used Lea & Perrins in a Spanish
Steak-house, but probably pre-1965, and I think we asked for salsa inglesa.
E.J.

I remember, recently arrived, in the tienda de ultramarinos below our flat in Madrid, an abuela had picked up a large plastic bottle and was pondering over the word COKE on the label. ‘Ko-kay’ she said, ‘¿que es eso?’
The shop-keeper turned the bottle around ‘Mire, Coke es Coca Cola, pero ¡en inglés!
Cheers, Jake.

Finally:

Everybody Knows Official Music Video: Se Muere Por Volver by Javier Limón ft. Nella on YouTube here.