CLICK HERE for our
FREE Weekly News Bulletin
Spanish news round-up week ending 27th January 2017
Winter weather again grabs the headlines across Spain with heavy snow and waves of over ten metres
In the southeast of Spain residents were breathing a sigh of relief on Sunday and Monday as the extreme winter weather conditions moved further inland and northwards, but the meteorological phenomena which brought snow to the beaches last week still made themselves felt further north on the coast, with waves reaching heights of between six and eight metres in many places.
All along the coastline in the provinces of Girona, Barcelona, Tarragona, Castellón, Valencia and the Balearic Islands damage to seafront promenades was reported, and road surfaces were destroyed and campsites hurriedly evacuated, as the waves and strong winds combined to bring down trees and flood pedestrian underpasses.
The official meteorological office of Catalunya reported a maximum wave height of 10.8 metres in Begur, in the province of Girona, and wind speeds reached 96 km/h in the same location, while in Badalona the railway tracks were flooded.
Other sources provided different data: the State meteorological agency reported a maximum wave height of 5.3 metres in Valencia, comfortably the highest in the last 25 years, while the port authorities measured a wave of 6.45 metres, almost a full metre higher than the previous record, at the same location.
Íñigo de la Serna, the Minister of Development, announced on Tuesday that this Friday Cabinet was set to declare parts of the region of Valencia a disaster area, and that aid will be supplied to help repair the damage. In respect of the need to restore beaches and replenish them with sand, the Minister reassured those present that the government will work “intensely” to ensure that the coastline and beaches are in prime condition by Easter, when the hotels of the Costa Blanca traditionally welcome the first wave of sun-and-sand tourists of the year.
In Alicante the severe weather had gruesome consequences on the Playa de Urbanova, where the waves are believed to have been responsible for the appearance of human remains dating from 20 years ago.
On the plus side, though, reservoirs which were almost empty are now reported to be full, as is the case in those of Guadalest and Beniarrés, and the clouds bringing a new band of rain and snow which is sweeping across northern Spain on Friday and Saturday also have several silver linings.
On the one hand, the rain is much needed in Galicia, where levels in the reservoirs have dropped so low that “ghost villages” which were flooded 50 years ago have re-emerged from the water, and on the other, children in the Catalunya province of Girona have been gifted two days off school to play in the snow due to road closures.
Electricity costs soar to record levels
As was reported last week, the cold weather has coincided with a sharp rise in the cost of electricity, and as a result consumers associations report that homeowners are likely to notice an increase of around 20 euros in their January bills, with the average bill for the first three weeks of the year having gone up from 67.84€ in 2016 to 86.96€ this year.
This is due not only to the economic law of supply and demand, but also to the reduced contribution of wind power during this winter, to the fact that the level of water in Spain’s reservoirs is around 20% lower than usual at this time of year and hydro-electricity production is therefore lower, and to the decision to export power to France, where five nuclear power stations are currently closed for technical reviews.
In Spain, all six of the nuclear power stations are currently working at full capacity except the one at Garoña, which was in the news this week when Spain’s Nuclear Safety Council met to begin debating whether to extend the working life of the facility in the province of Burgos, as has been requested by Nuclenor, the company which owns it. It is considered highly possible that if the working life of Garoña is extended to 60 years, the same will apply to Spain’s five other active nuclear power stations.
Immigration and refugees
Illegal immigration across the Mediterranean doubled in 2016: 8,162 foreigners without documentation succeeded in crossing into mainland Spain, approximately double the total for 2015, marking a return to levels of illegal immigration last seen in 2006 and 2007. This total excludes those who entered the Canary Islands and the north African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.
Spain has now received over 1,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees: the progress being made towards meeting Spain’s quota of refugees to be taken in from Eastern Europe continues to be painfully slow, but on Monday another 55 landed at Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas airport from Greece to begin a new life in this country.
This brings the total of refugees accepted by Spain since the EU quotas were decided up to 1,034, still a long way short of the target of 17,337 which, in theory, ought to be reached by September this year, and this week King Felipe VI stressed the need for the country to do “more and better” to help those fleeing conflict zones.
Barcelona airport was home to Vietnamese youngsters for 4 days over Xmas: it was revealed on Tuesday that over Christmas two young Vietnamese girls effectively lived for four days in the airport of Barcelona-El Prat without anyone noticing, wandering around the restricted access area of Terminal 1 with no documentation and no flight tickets. They were finally detained on 27th December, close to the departure gates on international flights, and it is still not clear how they avoided detection when arriving at Barcelona, why they remained in the airport for so long, or what their plan was.
Former Spanish President accuses Trump of failing to respect 500 million people worldwide
One of Donald Trump’s first decisions after he was officially sworn in as the 45th President of the USA was to remove the Spanish language version of the White House website, a gesture which has caused considerable concern and which has won him few friends in this country.
Among those who spoke out against the decision on Monday was José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who was President of the Spanish government from 2004 to 2011: speaking in Salamanca, Sr Zapatero called for the current government to demand a “rectification”, while at the same time reprimanding Mr Trump for his “inconsiderate” gesture and his failure to take into account that over 500 million people speak Spanish as their first language throughout the world.
British press overreacting to Catalan independence referendum? Sensationalist headlines claim that Spain is on the point of collapsing.
It came as something of a surprise this week to read in the British press that Spain is “in crisis” following statements made by Carles Puigdemont, the president of the regional government in Catalunya, to the effect that he intends to hold an independence referendum this autumn.
The Daily Express reports that “Spain could be on the brink of collapse” following Sr Puigdemont’s comments, but if this is the case it certainly appears to have escaped the notice of anyone in the Spanish media!
This may be just a case of sensationalism on the part of the Express, and in Spain coverage focused instead on the criticism of the president’s trip, with Xavier García Albiol, the leader of the PP in Catalunya, lamenting that the regional president had “made a fool of himself” in Brussels.
Hospitals and medical matters
Shock baby death in Pilar de la Horadada: a 3-day-old baby died after not having the umbilical cord cut in Pinar de Campoverde, and the circumstances surrounding the 16-year-old Estonian mother are being treated as suspicious.
Sick 4-year-old returned to Malaga hospital after mother arrested in Cuenca: a 22-year-old Moroccan woman was arrested by the Policía Nacional at the AVE high-speed rail station in Cuenca (Castilla-La Mancha) on Tuesday, after she took her 4-year-old son out of the Hospital Materno-Infantil in Málaga despite doctors warning that he was in urgent need of a lung transplant. When the police caught up with them the little boy was experiencing serious difficulties in breathing and was beginning to turn blue.
Ibiza hospital cancels operations due to plague of flies: 56 operations which were scheduled for Thursday and Friday have been postponed, although one of the theatres remains on stand-by to carry out any emergency procedures which might arise.
Uproar over “unnecessary” death of 8-year-old girl in Catalunya: the Spanish press are expressing outrage over the death last Sunday morning of an 8-year-old girl in Blanes, in the province of Girona, after it emerged that she passed away after having waited for between two and four hours for an ambulance to arrive at the local hospital nearest her home in Blanes.
Valencia fire brigade called in to remove penis ring: a radial saw was used to free a trapped member in Lliria hospital, where the patient was diagnosed at being at risk of necrosis due to the blood supply being restricted in his nether regions.
Nature and the environment
3-ton baby whale returned to the sea in A Coruña: the young finback whale was rescued at the beach of Bares but is unlikely to survive.
Cantabria is home to the deepest underground vertical pit in Spain: Cavers and potholers in the northern Spanish region of Cantabria have discovered one of the deepest underground vertical pits in the world in the south-east of the region, in the area known as the Macizo de Porracolina.
The remarkable pit has been measured at a depth of an astounding 435 metres: for anyone who has stood at the top of the Eiffel tower, that’s over 100 metres more than the height of Paris’ best known landmark.
Crime and punishment
Albacete men arrested for shooting sick horse: the body of the horse was found buried in the town of Alpera.
Madrid school bus crash driver tests positive for cocaine: 14 children suffered minor injuries when their coach overturned in Fuenlabrada on Wednesday, and the driver’s mother has since defended him on the grounds that he had taken cocaine five days previously at a party, “just like any other person”.
Ourense man shoots 88-year-old father before committing suicide: investigators are searching for a motive behind the incident at a family-run hostel in Baños de Molgas.
Young Granada thief ordered to cut the hair of the Judge: Judge Emilio Calatayud often surprises those appearing before him with his unusual punishments, and the latest, involving a teenager who broke into a hairdresser’s and stole 600 euros in cash and a hair dryer has attracted substantial media coverage this week.
Mexican Consul in Barcelona resigns after over fake cancer drug accusations: Fidel Herrera Beltran became Consul in Barcelona in October 2015 and is accused of purchasing fake pharmaceuticals for the treatment of cancer patients when he was governor of Veracruz.
Unemployment fell by half a million last year: the Active Population Survey relating to the final quarter of 2016 reports that the number of people out of work dropped by 83,000 between 1st October and 31st December to 4,237,800, and that in the whole of last year the figure fell by 11.33%, or 541,700. The unemployment rate now stands at 18.63%, its lowest level for seven years.
Osborne bull branding escapes court ban: the iconic bull is not a national symbol of Spain, according to the Supreme Court, and allegations made by the company Badtoro have therefore not been accepted.
Spain consolidates its reputation for corruption: so prominent have high-profile corruption trials been over the last 12 months that it may seem surprising that Spain scored 58 points out of 100 for honesty and transparency, the same as in 2015. This total places Spain 41st in the transparency rankings out of a total of 167 countries, tied with Brunei and Costa Rica and below others such as Botswana, Bhutan and Chile.
First nudist restaurant in Spain opens in Tenerife: dining in the altogether at Granadilla de Abona at least solves the perennial problem of what to wear!
Melilla politicians move to shed honour received from Franco: it was in Melilla that the uprising of Franco’s supporters in the military began on 17th July 1936, and on 1st March 1962 the dictator awarded the city the title of “Adelantada del Movimiento Nacional” in recognition of its role in his seizure of power after the three-year Civil War.
But this title is currently preoccupying opposition politicians in the Autonomous City, and Rosa Martínez of the Equo (Unidos Podemos) party protests that “the city has been weighed down by this unwanted honour”.
Mercadona unveils energy-efficient supermarkets in Alicante and Finestrat: Alicante stores are at the forefront of the Mercadona corporate facelift.
Spanish notaries report increase in 3rd quarter property sales: both sales figures and prices rose in comparison with the equivalent period the year before, although in terms of price the upward movement was minimal at only 0.1%. Increases in the number of residential property transactions finalized before notaries were reported in almost all of Spain’s 17 regions, and in overall terms the number of sales recorded rose by 8.8% to 102,500.
Spanish mortgage activity up by 32 per cent in November: during November of last year, according to the government’s central statistics unit, there were 25,413 mortgages registered, representing an impressive increase of 32.2% over the figure for the same month in 2015. Increases are reported in all 17 of Spain’s regions, the most significant being those of 70.5% in Asturias, 63% in Madrid, 60% in the Balearic Islands and 58.1% in the Comunidad Valenciana.
It is hard to know exactly what a “normal” level of mortgage activity would be in this country, but it could be that now, with property prices seemingly having bottomed out and interest rates low (the average on new mortgages in November was just 3.22%), an acceptable level is being reached.
Would you like to receive this bulletin?
If you enjoyed this free weekly round-up, then please forward it on to your friends. If you have received this from a friend and would like to have it sent directly, then click Register for weekly bulletin to sign up.
NONE OF THE TODAY PRODUCTS HARVEST, OR SELL EMAILS IN ANY WAY and we GUARANTEE your details will not be passed on, sold, or used for any other purpose, and are maintained in an off-site facility from which you can unsubscribe at any time.
Cádiz Province, Andalucia
Granada Province: Andalucia
Huelva Province, Andalucía
Jaén Province, Andalucia
Málaga Province, Andalucía
Region of Andalucia
Seville Province, Andalucía
Córdoba Province, Andalucia
Autonomous Community of Galicia
Castilla La Mancha
Castilla y León
Airlines and Travel SpainCaso BárcenasCaso NóosEbola SpainGibraltarProperty in SpainRodrigo Rato BankiaSareb, Bad Bank, Banco MaloSpanish separatism/ETATourism SpainWeekly Bulletin Spanish NewsWeekly Bulletin Spanish Property