Thursday, 19 April 2018

Losing our Residencias

Another subject not touched on by the Spanish authorities - *Residence Cards*: An idiot Englishman from the Costa Blanca managed in about 2008 to get us those ridiculous sheets of paper from the Ministry of the Interior (the police) after enormous effort, because he claimed that we should not have identity cards. The silly A4 paper (later reduced to a card which, since it carries no photograph is by itself almost useless) says that the bearer, as a 'community citizen' - ciudadano comunitario - has the right to live in Spain, blah blah. So, if we Brits leave the umbrella of the EU, we shall no longer be 'community citizens' and our paper plus passport combo won't be worth nowt. We also will not be 'residents' as this was rescinded in 2008. However, no doubt a load of paperwork and a quick visit to the Spanish Embassy in London would obtain us a new Tarjeta de Residencia no Comunitaria (if the rules haven't been tightened up by then)...
Once again - it's the job of the Ministerio del Interior to tell us what is happening and what paperwork - if any - they will want from us. 

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

The British Vote in Local Elections

This is the list for Somos Mojácar in the last election. Since we don't have any idea (because we are not of any importance), it is hard to know whether, following Brexit, those with a Union Flag next to their name will be on the same list in May 2019. That's Jessica, Adele, me, Gid, Keith, Nikky, Mark, Brian and Liam.
In Mojácar, there are some Brits on other party lists too - will there be any in the 2019 elections?
In other towns across the province, some Brits feature in local government, or in the opposition parties, or simply on a party-list. Will they still be there in 2019? The same thing in other provinces as well. The Ministry of the Interior could clear this up in an instant, but, fuggit, why bother?
How many Brits are involved - even peripherally - in local Spanish politics? Will they lose their rights to stand for office? Will British residents in Spain lose their rights to vote?
Does anyone care?

Friday, 13 April 2018

The End of the Government Within Weeks.

My editorial for Thursday's Business over Tapas began with this: 
'The Partido Popular are now looking for a replacement for Cristina Cifuentes following the scandal surrounding her master’s degree – sometimes known by the press as ‘Mastergate’. Cifuentes was lauded as the clean broom that swept away the years of corruption in the party, with her job as president of the Madrid community. Now another senior PP politician, Pablo Casado, has been found to have a master’s of equally dubious merit. Indeed, it begins to look like the King Juan Carlos University was handing these things out like sweets. Casado has cheerfully admitted: ‘I was not required to attend class nor to take exams: that was what I was told at the beginning of the master, and that was my case’...
Several stories of secretaries with impeccable PP contacts within the university are now surfacing and on Friday, the University fired the director of the master's degree of Ms Cifuentes in the classic case of closing the gate after the toro has escaped. 
Also on Friday, several other PP deputies were found to have 'adjusted' their curricula  in the parliamentary register. Not before one senior PP member, the Minister for Tourism (no less) was also found to have egg on his chin
To add fuel to the fire - a Podemos deputy was also caught in the inquiry, but, being Podemos, he instantly resigned
Supporters of the Partido Popular's unconventional way of acquiring titles (usually by taking 20% of the classes and paying a wallop for the rest) were encouraged to find that the PSOE leader for the Madrid Region calling for Cifuentes' resignation was himself allegedly guilty of a fake master's. 
The days of '...y tú mas...' (Oh yeah? and what about you?) are back.
Cifuentes may not want to resign, one source suggests, as she would lose her aforamiento (parliamentary immunity) and would become available to the judges for questioning in the Púnica Investigation. 
Now (in passing), a senior police chief has been outed as another client of the express-titles from the same URJC. 
Pressure now comes from the Spanish electorate, and also from the European Union. In short, this can not continue. The Partido Popular is committing suicide in the plain light of day say the columnists.
My Thursday editorial ended with:

'...As for the university and its apparent taste for base commercial practice – it too is now under investigation'. 
My item today ends with this:
The Government of Spain is now bound to fall within weeks. Either with a motion of censure, an interruption from the Constitutional Court or from the abrupt resignation of Mariano Rajoy. 

Monday, 9 April 2018

The Far Right Doesn't Like The German Court Decision

The court in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, released Carles Puigdemont last week after the Spanish plea for arrest and deportation back to Spain for rebellion was deemed to be unacceptable by the Germans.
Queue celebrations in Catalonia, savage disbelief in Madrid.
The far-right radio host Federico Jimenez Losántos went on record on Es.Radio to say that the Germans should know that such a slight would never be forgiven, and he felt that an explosion in the German breweries might be a plan and to remember that Spain has two hundred thousand Germans living in the Balearic Island - possible hostages.
The German courts are now looking at Losantos.
But there was worse to come. An Alt-right newspaper called Alerta Digital, in allusion to the terror attack on a German café in Munster last weekend, lead with a headline that 'Karma exists' (the article was later taken down).
Now we read that a rap artist has made a musical version of Losantos' remarks - in the hope that maybe someone will be arrested for disseminating hatred... (only far-left people get arrested for this, of course, so who knows who0 will carry the can).
And there it was: once again, we all fell out.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

The Chains of Office

Spain’s leading political problem is the Catalonian issue, brought about by poor management and policies from Madrid over the years. Barcelona could have been a partner, but instead, it has become a vassal. As the tension built slowly up, and the threat of a unilateral declaration of independence loomed, Madrid came in swinging. Now several Catalonian politicians are in prison in Madrid, without charge. Others are in exile. They are either rebels, or political prisoners. The subject feeds upon itself and Madrid is seen as a beast.

Thursday this week turned out to be an interesting day for the courts. The Swiss have two Catalonian ‘rebels’ that Madrid urgently wants (that’s to say, they are in exile there peacefully enough), and the Spanish have Herve Falciani, the whistle-blower who walked out of HSBC in Geneva in 2008 with a long list of those who had improperly stashed their swag in offshore accounts, including more than a few Spanish politicians and captains of industry. How about a deal, the prosecutor thought, nabbing Falciani off the street in Madrid – he had come from France to give a talk at a Madrid University titled ‘When telling the truth is a wonderful thing’ on Wednesday.

The Swiss – who have Falciani pencilled in for five years behind bars for breaking the Helvetian Eleventh Commandment – didn’t have much chance to weigh the possible trade before a humble Spanish judge in a cholera of rage defied the public prosecutor for his misuse of the law, unlocked the cell door to Falciani and said in effect, ‘scram!’, but, not too far. Just in case.

At the same time in Germany, the court there decided that Carles Puigdemont, the ringleader of the Catalonian rebellion, wasn’t a rebel after all, and with what passes in Schleswig-Holstein for a merry gesture, they eased the manacles off the independence leader’s leg and, with a burning Apfelstrudel in his hand, Puigdemont was politely escorted to the prison gates. Auf Wiedersehen, said the jailer with a leer.

Meanwhile in Madrid (at the time of writing) another person of interest was holding on to her chains of office with a vice-like grip. Cristina Cifuentes had taken on the job as president of the Madrid Region just a couple of years ago offering a clean sweep after the quite horribly venal previous incumbent (currently not in prison). "The era of the corrupt has come to an end in the Madrid Community," said Cifuentes in her day.

A small news-site called El Diario recently claimed that her master’s degree from the King Juan Carlos University was a fake. She couldn’t have been studying there when she said, because she was here instead. The signatures on the document were false and so on. Very bad. Ms Cifuentes, after hiding out for a week, decided to make a statement. A lengthy one, since she is, after all, a politician. The three-hour long presentation by the president of the Madrid Community, a region that overlooks the wherewithal of six and a half million people, convinced nobody. Even El País was sceptical. ‘She convinced nobody’ it said.

So the PSOE, in the Madrid opposition along with Podemos (the fellow with a pony-tail) said they were calling for a motion of confidence. The ruling Partido Popular, (perhaps feeling a trifle uneasy) found that the fourth party in the government, Ciudadanos, would cautious support their leader. The rebellion was short by one vote. The motion would fall.

Ms Cifuentes, evidently fearing her return to Civvy Street, is remaining firm. I’m not leaving, she thundered as the PP-controlled Spanish national television turned their focus on to another subject. I know, those pesky Catalonians...

We are left with this question – ‘Why in Spain would most politicians rather die than resign?’ The answer might be that, this is all they know. In other countries, disgraced politicians blithely return to their previous occupations... here, well they often have no previous occupation...

Ms Cifuentes, for example, has been involved in politics since she was sixteen. A politician might attempt to stay on in their post, when they should resign, because they are short on moral qualities. They could find that other politicians, similarly blemished, will attempt to support their often hard to believe claims. They were hoping for an ambassadorship or a seat on the board of a major corporation.  Perhaps the problem is that our politicians think that the public are fools – and, judging by the way we pardon their corruption and gross ineptitude, perhaps they have a point.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Fresh Trouble for the Partido Popular

The story of whether Cristina Cifuentes had somehow claimed a fake master’s degree from the Juan Carlos University leads the news this week. Cifuentes is the President of the Community of Madrid since 24 June 2015, following on from the disgraced Ignacio González. She is a ‘clean brush’ after the González wave of corruption. "The era of the corrupt has come to an end in the Madrid Community," said Cifuentes in her day.
Ms Cifuentes gave a presentation in the Asamblea de Madrid, the regional parliament, this Wednesday afternoon (April 4), saying that the title was genuine. She furthermore claimed that the scandal was fabricated to try and destabilise the Government – a classic piece of ‘fake news’, nothing more. Even El País was unimpressed ('Cifuentes didn't convince' was their Thursday headline).

‘The document that Cristina Cifuentes used to try to prove that she completed her master's degree at the Rey Juan Carlos University in 2012 was fabricated on March 21st; just hours after the scandal broke. At least two of the three women professors' signatures that appear in the supposed act of presentation of the master's dissertation of the president of Madrid were falsified, as confirmed to El Confidencial by sources at the university's Institute of Public Law, the body on which the degree depends...’. 
The PSOE has since announced that it will call for a vote of confidence in the Madrid regional government, which Ciudadanos says it won’t support until a full enquiry is carried out.
We are left with this question – ‘Why in Spain would most politicians rather die than resign?’. The answer might be that, this is all they know. In other countries, disgraced politicians blithely return to their previous occupations... here, they often have no previous occupation...

Monday, 2 April 2018

A Picture Worth a Thousand Words (Well, the first one, anyway)

The Entertainer: How it all began, in April 1985... and how it all ended, seventeen years later as an 'insert' in a 'new' newspaper, in the early months of 2002. After a few weeks of this (as below), the Euro Weekly dropped the insert 'Entertainer' pages while adopting for itself its edition numeration  - Nº 870 or so - and returned to life as a full-blown freebie.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

The End of the Affair

The Diario de Almería has printed an article saying that the new phase of the grotesque Mojácar sea-wall (the 'paseo maritimo' with its pavement, its bicycle path, its gardens and wall) has now got the approval of the authorities. The paseo maritimo will therefore be extended from its current terminus at the Red Cross along the sea as far as the Maui beach-bar.
Since the road is narrow near the Maui, an area where the Patio, Aku Aku, El Cid and a couple of others are located, the new six-metre wide construction, elevated for protection from the Sea-Gods, will needfully go through the area currently occupied by the chiringuitos, leaving them with half or less of their current space.
They will not survive.
The cost of this abomination is three million euros. The town hall claims it doesn't have enough in its budget to finish the new ayuntamiento under the mirador in the village (the real reason being, of course, the so-far unnoticed and highly intrusive head to the lift shaft), but it can merrily shell out for the sea-wall which is proposed not for residents, but for the tourists. The mayoress says "it is well proven, a sea-wall is a necessity for any coastal tourist municipality. Due to the experience gathered from our already built stretches, it establishes adequate accessibility to the sea shore, providing the beaches with showers, drainage, sanitation, public lighting, street furniture, gardening and playground services. In short, it creates an essential framework for tourism".
The Maui and all have very little sand as it is. Now they will not even be able to see the sand with the sea-wall interrupting the view. where will the beach beds go (don't the tourists use beach beds?).
While Costacabana, the resort outside Almería which has no beach-bars (nothing is perfect) has recently built eight piers to attract both sand, bathers and fishermen, in Mojácar we don't want these things for some reason.
And all this for a cycle path which no one uses.
And what of the next stage (it will take the terrace of the Trufi, according to the owners)? Will it perforate the Pirata, the Cava and the Dolce Vita? Should they be demolished? What
do the tourists want?
The point of removing as many foreign-owned or foreign-run businesses is obvious. 
Work for the paseo maritimo is to begin this year, says the newspaper.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Spaniards Abroad

While nobody has any idea about how many European foreigners live in Spain (the number is based exclusively on the town hall registries known as el padrón), the number of Spaniards living abroad is also something of a guess. But here, there's no such thing as guesswork. Thus, there are apparently 2,482,808 Spaniards resident outside Spain (according to the bean-counters over at the INE), 3.2% up from a year ago (numbers for January 1st). One has to ask – how much does the Spanish National Statistics Institute cost the tax-payer? Anyhow, quibbles aside, El Huff Post has the information here.  The reality is that a number of these ‘Spaniards’ are in reality children or even grandchildren of Spanish settlers abroad – and many of these have never set foot in Spain in their life.  

20 Minutos, on the same subject (and clearly not admirers of the INE), says there are one million more españoles living outside Spain than there were before the ‘crisis’ began. 

The number of Spaniards currently living in the UK ‘has grown despite Brexit fears’ by (we are told) 10.5%  (the INE again) over the past year to stand today at anywhere between 75,500 and double this figure says El Ibérico here – or to some 200,000 if you prefer El País here).
A popular weekly TV program on Spaniards who live in out-of-the-way places is called Españoles en el Mundo. You can find it here.