CLICK HERE for our
FREE Weekly News Bulletin
Spanish News Today news round-up, 20th June 2014
The proclamation of Felipe VI as King and the World Cup dominate the news
To say that it’s been an unusual week for the news would be understating the case. All the media have been dominated by just two main national stories, and regional and local issues have taken a back seat as the eyes of the nation have focused almost exclusively on the proclamation of Felipe VI as king and the footballing disasters in Brazil.
First, the new King. Felipe VI was officially proclaimed monarch on Thursday morning, although there was little of the celebratory atmosphere which is associated by some with such a momentous occasion. Such has been the ambivalent relationship between the Spanish and their monarchy over the last hundred years or so that there were no street parties, and the actual ceremony itself was a fairly muted affair with little of the pomp and circumstance which might have been expected. The succession itself has been implemented in the space of just 17 days since Juan Carlos announced his abdication, and in the intervening period there have been demonstrations demanding a referendum on the future of the monarchy, uncertainty over the new status of Juan Carlos (he will retain the honorary title of King) and various hurried procedures to make sure that all was in place for the proclamation on Thursday including a massive security operation. Order forms for portraits of Felipe VI were despatched to all of the country’s 8,000-plus Town Halls, 2,000 dignitaries and politicians from all over Spain were invited to a small scale official reception following the ceremony, and a small flag-making firm in Valencia received a rush job to produce 120,000 flags in a week for those lining the route followed by the new king on his way from parliament to the Palacio Real.
As for the football, from Catalunya to the Canaries, from the Balearics to Galicia, Spaniards are feeling roughly the same as Roy Hodgson this morning: “numb”. If it was reasonable to expect that England might progress beyond the group stage of the World Cup, then most pundits were practically certain that Spain, the title holders, would get at least that far if not quite a lot further, but hugely disappointing performances for both teams mean that their future in the tournament is non-existent for Spain, and just an outside possibility for England. Bar owners however, in both nations, may need to start cancelling extra deliveries as interest is likely to drop off with the disappearance of the national teams.
Despite the preoccupation with these two issues, there have been other stories of interest in the national news. On the southern coast of Spain, in the Canary Islands and in the north African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, the pressure from would-be illegal immigrants continues to be intense, although the installation of anti-climbing mesh on the border fence in Melilla appears to be making the frontier more secure. There is some concern, though, regarding what happens to those immigrants who are intercepted and detained, as the authorities fail in their attempts to repatriate almost half of them.
Another important issue concerns the continuing conflict caused by the closure of four Coca-Cola bottling plants earlier in the year. It has now been ruled in court that the forced redundancy program which accompanied the closures was not legal, and that the management also acted illegally in response to the workers’ strike which ensued: this means, in theory, that Coca-Cola Iberian Partners are obliged to re-employ the 821 people released in the spring and pay them the salaries corresponding to the intervening period. More fights ahead on that story.
Spain’s taxi-drivers, meanwhile, are furious. They claim they are losing trade to car-sharing websites, and staged a 24-hour strike on 11th June to publicize their demands that something should be done about it. In response the government has announced this week that efforts will be made to ensure that those benefitting financially from car-sharing will be made to pay tax, but the Minister for the Economy, Luis de Guindos, has urged the drivers to face up to modern reality and adapt to new technologies rather than keep fighting them.
Elsewhere, the nine bankrupt toll motorways around Spain are continuing to lose money despite a slight increase in traffic volume on some of them, and still on the roads the Guardia Civil imposed 2,500 drink- and drug-related fines on drivers during a week-long campaign: this is part of the DGT’s efforts to reduce the number of deaths on Spain’s roads by a thousand a year.
In a week when Cabinet is due to approve the government’s plans to reform Spain’s taxation system, there were a couple of reminders of the problems which sparked the economic crisis in the first place: a top ECB spokesman estimated that the rescue of the country’s banking sector will end up costing the country 30,000 million euros, and Bankia were found guilty in an important court decision of failing to inform a customer properly of the risks inherent in purchasing its shares, so must now make a substantial repayment. At the same time, as all levels of government continue to face crippling levels of debt, a further injection of 3,000 million euros was made into regional government funds, enabling the administration in Catalunya and Valencia to settle their debts with dispensing chemists, who were finding themselves in the impossible situation of being unable to stock their shelves as they had not been compensated for supplying prescribed medicines to patients in recent months.
A couple of items from the transport sector are also worth mentioning: firstly, the government has confirmed its plans for the partial privatization of Aena, the company which manages all of Spain’s operational airports and which until now has been State-owned. The aim is to make the company more cost-efficient, and if Ryanair pursue their initial interest in acquiring a significant shareholding a vastly different approach to profitability may soon be needed! At the same time, Renfe have confirmed that the new AVE services between Alicante and Madrid are proving hugely popular, proving that is speed is combined with affordability there is still a market for an efficient rail service in 21st-century Spain.
Other items making the news have included the seizure by Almería police of 59 tortoises, the arrival of USS Ross in Cádiz as part of the UN anti-missile shield, the Ministry for Development being found responsible for a stray dog on an Andalucía motorway and having to pay compensation to the family of a man who died after colliding with it, and a couple of accidents involving falls.
These were not just ordinary falls, though. One sounds like a piece of slapstick comedy, but of course it was no laughing matter for the blind man who fell down a manhole in Galicia, and the other involved two base-jumpers who jumped from the roof of the Hotel Bali in Benidorm and suffered injuries when colliding with a terrace on the way down. Organizers of the event in which they were taking part say that the cause of the accidents is not known, but in general terms people who leap off the top of 186-metre buildings must surely be aware that some risk of injury might be involved!
Spanish property news summary
There has been a definite change of mood in the Spanish property sector over the last couple of months, with a feeling of relief pervading the market as it seems that something close to stability has been reached at last. It may still prove to be a false dawn, but this week saw further confirmation that the number of sales being made is higher than last year – at least in twelve of the country’s seventeen regions – and the situation in some parts of the country, such as the Costa Blanca, is even giving rise to a limited recovery in the construction sector.
An example is the case of Torrevieja. In this resort on the Alicante coast, which is particularly popular with British residential tourists, building licences are being granted at a rate which suggests sustainable growth, and a similar situation exists in next-door Orihuela. Of course this is not representative of the situation in Spain as a whole, as the market in Torrevieja relies heavily on non-Spanish buyers: over half of the population are foreigners, and in a sense the local economy is a microcosm of the much commented phenomenon of demand being falsely stimulated by foreigners picking up bargains at rock-bottom prices. So successful has Torrevieja been, though, that in absolute terms there are more sales being made here than in any other municipality in the whole country except five, and these are Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville and Zaragoza. Not bad for a town with only around 100,000 inhabitants!
If 2014 is indeed to mark the end of the crisis in the market, it’s time to take stock as the dust settles and learn from the experience. This is what the IMF recommends other countries should do, as it detects that other countries are in danger of allowing their own property bubbles to develop, and Spanish real estate analysts are being very careful not to get carried away by the relatively good news which is now starting to come in regarding sales and prices.
Murcia regional news summary, 14th to 20th June 2014
Away from the royal family and footballing drama, the most unusual event in the Region of Murcia this week actually happened more than once: it rained! This has been the driest year in the Region since comparable records were first kept in 1941 and also one of the warmest, but on Monday and Tuesday water fell out of the sky in varying amounts all over the Region.
This provided welcome relief to most farmers, but not necessarily in parts of Caravaca de la Cruz, where 42 millimetres in half an hour caused flooding and the rain turned to hail, destroying the few crops that had survived the drought over the previous couple of months. There was also a forest fire in Caravaca, underlining how high the risk is following the dry winter and spring: for some people it never rains but it pours…
Despite the rain, though, the summer officially gets under way this weekend and the Region’s beaches are well-prepared. In Cartagena the lifeguard and first-aid services are being increased at the municipality’s Blue Flag beaches, and the coastline was also in the news when a study was published reporting that the posidonia seagrass meadows which lie just offshore may have shrunk by almost a third since the 1960s: this has serious effects on the marine environment and coastal erosion, and conservationists are warning that a serious effort needs to be made to protect the meadows.
The Corvera airport saga continues, with regional minister Manuel Campos still adamant that it could open before the end of this year – he has been in Brussels again this week trying to convince European Commission officials to allow the proposed loan to Aeromur to go ahead – and another long-running story to resurface this week concerns the arrival of illegal immigrants from north Africa in small boats. Eight of them were intercepted off the coast of Cartagena at the weekend, and data were published showing that only two thirds of those placed in Immigrant Detention Centres are successfully deported and repatriated. Although this might seem a poor success rate for the authorities, it is higher than the national average of only just over 50%.
The marine world was also in the headlines as dive centres protested at the implementation of new restrictions on the number of divers allowed to visit the protected area of Cabo de Palos and Isla Hormigas, and another underwater story concerned the 7-metre torpedo recovered from the marina in Puerto de Mazarrón.
Back on dry land, the Town Halls of Cartagena, Fuente Álamo, Lorca and Águilas are concerned about the future of the Cartagena-Vera ghost motorway. The road passes through all four municipalities, and the current debate about what to do with it could have a negative effect on Town Hall tax revenue: they are joining forces with three Town Halls in Almería to seek advice.
Two thousand years after they left, the Romans are still making the news in Cartagena. Barely a month seems to go by without a new discovery being made, and this week archaeologists have been presenting wall-paintings of the muses which were discovered recently in the area of the forum. The historical heritage of the city continues to grow impressively, and on a similar note in the city of Murcia one of the earlier figures created by master-sculptor Francisco Salzillo has just been re-dated as a result of a handwritten note found inside the wooden figure of “La Dolorosa”.
The Murcia today site has an extensive What’s on and cultural section, as well as many suggestions for days out. The site is updated daily. Click through to www.murciatoday.com
Valencia regional news, 13th to 20th June 2014
In Valencia, as in Murcia, the regional news has largely been buried beneath the proclamation of the new king and the World Cup, but in the province of Alicante both residents and flocks of visitors are preparing for the Bonfires of San Juan. If the city of Valencia takes the spotlight in March with the Fallas, it’s now Alicante’s turn, and the streets will be filled with enormous statues and tableaux made of papier mâché between now and next Thursday evening. These spectacular ironic tableaux are works of art in themselves, and as the population takes to the streets the city centre is closed off to road traffic until the fiestas are over.
One of the main features of the celebrations in Alicante is noise: firecrackers are the order of the day, and the explosions can be quite deafening, especially during the culmination of the midsummer celebrations on the night of 24th June, when the statues are ceremoniously burnt during a night of fire and partying. One word of warning: visitors should definitely consider parking out of town and taking public transport into the centre.
Elsewhere in the Comunitat Valenciana, it is now virtually certain that the region’s chemists will be paid all amounts owed by the regional government in the next couple of weeks, and this should ensure that they do not join the ranks of those living below the poverty line: an alarming report has concluded that a quarter of all those living in Valencia don’t have enough to make ends meet.
The warmer than usual weather and the drought were interrupted earlier in the week by brief showers in most of the region, but the dry conditions are still a fire risk, as residents of Paterna will confirm (a fire there destroyed 30 hectares), and the hordes of visitors arriving by road, air and train will be hoping for sunny conditions during the fiestas on the Costa Blanca. It has been confirmed by Renfe that the AVE high-speed rail service has been a great success since it was inaugurated a year ago, and more and more visitors are using it to visit the province of Alicante from Madrid.
Those arriving this weekend will find that the summer beach services - including police officers on quad bikes in Guardamar del Segura - are now fully operational except in Orihuela, where there have been difficulties in ensuring that lifeguard cover is provided. They should also be warned that prices on the toll section of the Mediterranean motorway have just been increased by 77% for the summer: avoid this stretch of road or carry plenty of cash!
Local news in Torrevieja includes the fact that the shuttle bus service to Alicante-Elche airport is proving more and more popular, the controversial rubbish collection contract is soon to be put out to tender by the Town Hall after ten problematic years, tickets are now on sale for the Habaneras festival and the problems of storage space at the Palacio de Justicia have been eased by the arrival of 15-year-old second-hand furniture from Alicante.
Meanwhile, in Valencia the new Ikea store is finally open. Thousands queued outside on Wednesday, joining those who had claimed their places at the head of the line by camping out since the weekend, and for these die-hard fans of the Swedish chain the long wait is finally over.
Both news and what’s on events are updated on a daily basis, click through to www.valenciatoday.es at any time during the week to see the latest information.
This week currency exchange rates have nearly hit a 20 month high for those changing money from sterling to euros, making Spanish property even better value and giving those who transfer their pensions across to Spain more for their money. If you still use a bank to transfer money, ask for a quote to use a money transfer service, youll be amazed how much more you get for your pounds using this method!
Click for this weeks currency round up showing the exchange rate between Sterling and the Euro.
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.
We GUARANTEE your details will not be passed on, sold, or used for any other purpose, and are maintained in an isolated off-site facility from which you can unsubscribe at any time.
Images: Copyrighted Murcia Today and Efe. Full or partial reproduction prohibited.
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