Business over Tapas Nº 538 Prepared by Lenox Napier

Servicio de noticias en lengua inglesa

Actualidad 15/05/2024 Redacción Redacción
Londres
Londres

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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Opinion: 

And how are our friends the banks doing?

The banks used to – vaguely and no-doubt erroneously – be thought to be more of a service for citizens than their current behaviour - a kind of inspiration for the vultures, hyenas and other consumers of the dead, the dying and the weak.

The banks make their money from the manager’s office rather than the teller’s desk, as the widow’s mite is placed into the drawer where it will start to earn interest, only, not for the widow, poor dear - but down the line - for the share-holders.

The banks know that small beer doesn’t make one a major player. You need some big investors with stories of major profits ahead.

So how did the banks become so unpopular? Less branches, more commissions, improper evictions and a diminishing service.

Now we have the case of the hostile bid from the second-largest bank in Spain towards the fourth. It started friendly enough, but the smaller bank said it wasn’t a high-enough offer. All this during last-week’s frenzy of the Catalonian elections. That fourth largest bank, that’s from the city of Sabadell in Catalonia (although their head-office these days is safely moored in Alicante) with 19,213 slightly worried employees.

The putative pirate, the Borg as it were, is the BBVA (the name is an amalgam of distant banks). The head office is in Bilbao, and there are 121,486 employees. The president of the BBVA is Carlos Torres and last year he took home 7.6 million euros (not much by the standards of Amancio Ortega, who expects to pocket some 3,000 million euros in 2024, but still enough to keep the wolf from the door).

And those shareholders: wealthy leeches who can’t even claim a loyalty towards the company whose paper they hold, the employees, the traditions and the products it makes.

Although, of course it’s true that the banks only make the one product. Money.

My bank (I’ll send you my account details by separate cover) is a lot smaller. It’s one of those Cajas that used to be run by the Church. These days, of course, it maintains a stand just inside the Cathedral door in case the Messiah returns unexpectedly. But for the rest of us, it takes our moolah, charges us for the pleasure, and makes its real money from investments, projects, deals, the resale of homes it has expropriated from those who couldn’t meet the mortgage, and other worthwhile and marvellous devices too numerous to mention.

The politicians (well, those who don’t plan a future in la banca) are against the merger. There will be less banks. There aren’t many already with Santander, BBVA, Caixabank and Sabadell being the Big Four and taking up, between them, 75% of all deposits and, if there’s a fusion, why, there’ll be even less competition.

Fewer branches too. The widow will have to take a bus to get to the nearest counting-house.

Something from the pueblo: my bank was burgled over the May-day holiday.

Two weeks later, it’s still shut.   

After I wrote the above, I found this headline from El Mundo: ‘Banco Santander, in favour of the BBVA's takeover bid for Sabadell: "It makes sense and it benefits shareholders"’. Well, that’s all right then.

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Housing:

Progress has been made, after a two decade’s long struggle to “legalize” a significant number of “illegal” houses built in Jalón valley’s (Vall de Pop) Lliber – leaving about 80% yet to go, but a significant advance. One should remember the historic involvement of AUN (“Abusos Urbanisticos No!”) and Lliber’s offshoot, AULN (Thanks Chuck).

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Tourism:

From Idealista here: ‘Spain received more than 16.1 million international tourists in the first quarter of the year, which is 17.7% more than in the same period of 2023, according to data disclosed by the National Institute of Statistics (INE) last week. Furthermore, these tourists spent €21,948 million in Spain between January and March, 27.2% more, ending the first quarter of the year as a "historic" period for tourism, which included Easter Week this year. "International tourist arrivals and tourist spending in Spain experienced notable growth in March, marking the end of a historic first quarter of the year for tourism" says the Ministry of Industry and Tourism…’ 

The BBC reports that ‘Spain's Balearic Islands are expanding curbs on street drinking and further restricting party boats in a bid to crack down on alcohol-fuelled holidays in tourist areas. The government says the toughening of a law passed in 2020 will apply to popular hotspots including Playa de Palma and Magaluf in Majorca and Sant Antoni in Ibiza…’

Here and there we read of shootings, murders, smuggling, drugs, mafias and other crimes and criminals in Marbella, which is nowadays a city rather than a sleepy town. But, says The Olive Press here, not to worry as the ‘Costa del Globalised Crime’ (as per The Sunday Times) is much safer and more peaceful than the media likes to portray it. Sleep safe! 

El País recommends a visit to Almería City (Thanks Charles). It’s peaceful and pleasant, if a bit second-division (I’ve been living there for the past eight years). 

We’ve been reading once again about the Blue Flags. Yes, your favourite beach-resort is bristling with them. They show tidiness, cleanliness, safety and a lifesaver perched in a tree; but apparently, says El Observador here, the Blue Flag agency ADEAC charges for the distinction (some 290,000€ in 2023, plus upkeep and other costs normally paid by the regional governments). We read: ‘ADEAC does not perform any type of analysis and “its beaches” are consequently no better than others. A study maintains that las banderas azules do not provide measures that promote the good condition of beaches, and are limited to requiring compliance with current regulations, but this occurs for free anyway and is obligatorily for all beaches in Spain...’ 

‘The citizens of the Balearic Islands join the 'Canarian wave' against tourist overcrowding. The Balearic archipelago surpasses the Canary Islands in the number of visitors, but environmentalists regret that the measures of the PP Government are aimed at "suppressing everything that they consider an obstacle to tourist development." On May 24 there will be a protest in Ibiza and, the next day, another in Mallorca’. elDiario.es has the story

Click-bait from El Español here. ‘The city chosen by the British as being the best in Southern Spain’. Well, chosen by The Times anyway. The city in question (and I must agree with them) is Granada. 

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Seniors:

The Imserso subsidised holidays for the elderly are well and good, but there is a low-cost alternative, which includes trips abroad, says El Español here

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Finance:

Opinion from the Director of La Razón here: ‘The reasons for the BBVA's hostile takeover of the Banco de Sabadell are reduced to raising the share-value for the benefit of the larger funds and thus achieving multimillion-dollar remunerations for Carlos Torres (CEO of the BBVA) and his team. The driving force behind the professional life of the managers of large companies, who are the true owners, moves in the realm of greed and power. It is a project of cold and aseptic growth where there is no room for feelings…’ The piece ends with ‘…The takeover bid for Sabadell is a huge nonsense in all areas, except for the interests of Torres, its directors and the major investors who will obtain huge benefits’. 

Burgillos, a town in the province of Seville, had an 'unrecoverable' 13.5 million euro debt with some banks, which, sad to say, an American vulture fund picked up for just seven million (discounted). It's now standing at 27 million and the vultures want to cash in – or seize all the town’s assets.  

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Politics:

The result from the Catalonian elections on Sunday went well for the socialists. From elDiario.es here: ‘The PSC (PSOE) wins the Catalan elections with 42 seats and the independence movement loses its absolute majority’. Not enough to win an absolute majority, but certainly the largest party. elDiario.es says: ‘…That today the independence movement has lost the majority is a direct consequence of an outstretched hand and dialogue from Madrid, which has revealed the contradictions of the independence project and has made its discourse less effective’.

An opinion from Onda Cero here: ‘The PSC candidate Salvador Illa wins. Pedro Sánchez wins. The Catalonian independence movement falters’.

The results: PSC 42 (up from 33 in 2021); Junts 35 (32); ERC 20 (33), PP 15 (3); Vox 11 (11); Comuns 6 (8); CUP 4 (9) and Aliança Catalana 2 (0). Ciudadanos disappeared 0 (6), having got less votes even than Pacma the animalist party. El Mundo (a conservative newspaper) changes the focus with ‘The PP exceeds all expectations and quintuples its results. With 15 deputies and 11% of the votes, the party sees Feijóo's plan reinforced and believe that they have taken a "leap" towards clearly winning both the European elections and towards taking the government of Spain in the future’.

CadenaSer ran an opinion piece from Àngels Barceló here to say that there is really no difference to be found between the PP and Vox: immigration, okupas, student protests and so on during the Catalonian election campaigning. With video.    

The outgoing Catalonian president Pere Aragonès (ERC) saw his party drop from 33 to just 20 seats. He immediately quit his seat, allowing for a change in direction for the party. The likely result, as things stood on Wednesday, would be Salvador Illa to become the regional president, with ERC taking the speakership of the Generalitat. Los Comuns making up the numbers. 

7,291 has become a feature recently. A couple of huge billboards in Madrid (now removed by the court) says “7291. No, they wouldn’t have died just anyway”. This, from a local party called Más Madrid, is a protest against the words of Isabel Díaz Ayuso, the regional PP leader who mismanaged the elderly patients in the residencies during the pandemic. 

...

Gibraltar: 

From El Español (jumping the gun) here ‘The Government confirms to the mayors of the Campo de Gibraltar (Wiki lists these as Algeciras, Los Barrios, La Línea de la Concepción, San Roque, Tarifa, Castellar de la Frontera, Jimena de la Frontera and San Martín del Tesorillo), the end of the frontier post known as la verja and a joint use of the airport. The Andalusian Government demands its own fiscal status for the Campo de Gibraltar and its incorporation into the ongoing negotiations’. The final agreement between Spain and the UK ‘…will entail the shared use of the airport, so national flights will be able to land in this Gibraltar space and bringing the revitalization of the area both from a tourist and economic point of view’. The two foreign ministers – Álbares and Cameron – are due to meet (or here https://archive.ph/L3Zr6) in Brussels with the final details today Thursday.

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European elections June 9: 

From The Guardian here: ‘Up to 450 million citizens in the EU’s 27 member states will go to the polls between 6 and 9 June to elect more than 700 members of the European parliament, the world’s only directly elected transnational assembly. The European parliament elections – more commonly called the European elections – take place every five years and, since the parliament plays an essential role in elaborating EU law, help shape the political direction of the bloc…’ 

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Courts:

This one is painful. Chemtrails from aircraft jointly financed by Portuguese and Irish interests have been removing urgently needed rain-bearing clouds from the Spanish skies over Salamanca, says a plaintiff to the court there. He claims he has proof! The judge is investigating. 

A fuss brews about police agents ‘infiltrated’ into social and student groups. One of them was found to be throwing rocks during a protest. Another was gathering information through sexual relationships. So far, half a dozen have been identified in the last eighteen months according to El Salto Diario here, with ten questions and (non)answers from the Ministry of the Interior.  Several of the agents have similar phone-numbers, as if they were acquired at the same time… 

...

Media:  

El Salto Diario looks at the 3,686 institutional advertising campaigns ‘chosen without prior competition’ in Galicia in the last five years. Almost eleven million euros went to fund the friendly (servile) media there.

What sort of media law do we need to control the fake news, asks El Salto Diario here

Menéame is a useful site for alternative news items (with links) chosen by subscribers. It also (currently) has a depressing number of stories and critical cartoons regarding events occurring at the other end of the Mediterranean. 

Another Julian Assange is the Spanish journalist languishing so far for 27 months in a Polish prison with barely any contacts from his family except for censored letters and, worse still, without any charges being presented against him beyond the loose accusation of ‘spying’ (which, I suppose, it what journalists do). Pablo Gónzalez was finally able to receive a rare visit from his friends and family this week says Público here

From Colin Davies (who normally lives and writes from Galicia but is currently in the UK) here: ‘GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation, the law that obliges companies to bombard us with the privacy notices no one reads. Or almost no one. Back in February a British company included an offer of a free bottle of excellent wine in the middle of theirs to the first person who said they’d come across it. This took three months to happen – highlighting how little we all engage with the reams of legal red tape that have increasingly come to define our digital lives’. (I confess to using an app which removes this crap from my pc).

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Ecology:  

Holaluz, The fashionable electricity company in Spain, is going bankrupt’. El Huff Post says that ‘They are attempting a desperate move to try to avoid disaster’. 

From InSpain News here: ‘In 2023, for the first time, 30% of global energy production will have come from renewable energy. Spain was one of the leading countries in this area, with more than half its production coming from renewable sources. This puts Spain on the map worldwide as a pioneer in the transition to sustainable energy sources, mainly solar and wind energy. Spain also appears to be the eleventh country in the EU with the least CO2 emissions…’

‘The Junta de Andalucía authorizes the filling of swimming pools in the province of Málaga this summer. The Andalusian Executive says that no decision has yet been made regarding other areas affected by the drought, such as Cádiz and Almería’. 20Minutos has more. In Almería, says the local paper on Wednesday, the town halls can authorize the use of private swimming pools, as long as they meet certain guidelines…

In Andalucía and Extremadura, we’ve fallen out with el meloncillo: the mongoose. Good news says El Periódico for the cazadores, the hunters, and sad news for the conservationists. 

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Various:

This turismofobia will never do, says the Costa del Sol tourist board, and they’ve roped in over a hundred schools to teach the young students that tourism is good. Málaga Hoy has the story here

The Kelly Movement is the hotel and apartment cleaners who are paid pitifully. From LaSexta here (with video): ‘Eulalia Corralero, founder of the Kelly Movement and a floor-cleaner, says that "I don't know who benefits from tourism, but it's not the workers"’. 

Not only tired of the tourists, says Genbeta here, now some cities have had enough of the digital nomads.

‘Seventy five per cent of all the money earned through tourism in the Canary Islands doesn’t remain on the islands’. An interview with the leader of the protest Canarias se Agota movement at ctxt here. The Canaries could receive up to 19 million visitors in 2024.   

Although the Spanish approach is a little different to the Anglo one when it comes to the knotty subject of los toros, we were a bit surprised by this Guardian headline: ‘Bullfighting firm in Seville to give free tickets to under-eights. Company says move is best way to introduce tradition’. 

May 16 is el día de la tauromaquia – Bullfight Day. Servitoro has all the fixtures here.

From Sur in English here: ‘Fake gas inspectors are back in Spain: all you need to know to avoid falling victim to this scam. They turn up at your home pretending to be employees of utility companies, but they should never be let inside the house’. 

The Spanish continue to live in awe of the British tabloids. Here’s 20Minutos on The Sun and its favourite Spanish beers. (Cruzcampo and Estrella Galicia!) 

The item of the week: El Independiente de Granada recalls the demise of that city’s Teatro Alhambra which was closed down after the projection of a pornographic movie in the far-off days of 1917. The script and finance for the movie came from (of all people) King Alfonso XIII (wiki), but it met with the frontal attack from La Iglesia. Unsurprisingly. Alfonso was known to be very fond of a slap and a tickle and he financed several porn flix during his tenure on the throne says YouTube here

El País reports on the seventh yacht to be sunk by orcas since 2020 in the Straits of Gibraltar.

An invernadero, a plastic farm in Viator (Almería), was found by the police to be cultivating 2,000 marijuana plants last week (these busts are practically a daily occurrence) with the detail, in this case, that the greenhouse belongs to the Sareb, the ‘bad bank’.

The most frightful and largest bidonville in Europe is said to be La Cañada Real outside Madrid. It is ‘…a dangerous no-go zone due to it being Europe's largest illicit drug supermarket ran by gypsy clans’, says Adventure Elliot on YouTube here.

The Citroën Ami has suffered a redesign, with a new version now available for city-folk. 

In all the excitement of campaigning in Barcelona last week, we see the Vox leader losing his cool after an insult. Santiago Abascal is recorded insulting someone at a political event on Friday, May 10. A woman calls out: "Shame on you," to which the Vox representative replies "Shut your mouth you stupid woman, get the fuck out of here, go take a shower, stinky", or words to that effect. 

Literary issues: How do you translate a word that doesn’t exist? elDiario.es looks at writers and their inventions. 

From Hackaday here: ‘A recent report by cyber security services company Imperva pins the level of automated traffic (‘bots’) at roughly fifty percent of total traffic, with about 32% of all traffic attributed to ‘bad bots’…’  (that’s bots they’re talking about, nor BoTs). 

How to check out a scam website with Scamadviser (Thanks Chuck)

You can type in an ñ on an English keyboard, says a reader. Alt + 164 gets you an ñ and you go with Alt + 165 to produce a capital Ñ (Thanks Jake).

Gracious me – La Voz de Almería has done a write-up on ‘The Mojaquero guiri who has dedicated his life to journalism. Idealist, committed and lover of Almeria culture, this is Lenox Napier’. Good stuff, eh? 

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See Spain: 

Al-Andalus, a long, luxurious and decidedly expensive ‘Belle-Époque’ train-ride around Andalucía is described at Ideal here.   

Here’s El Huff Post with Bocairent (Valencia): ‘The unknown medieval town in Spain with labyrinthine alleys, hanging houses and palaces’. The tourist board does a better job with lots of photos here

Spain’s oldest church is in Baños de Cerrato (Palencia). The Basílica de San Juan de Baños is in good maintained condition and was built back in 661 AD. Apparently, it was built with stone from earlier Roman constructions. 

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Letters: 

On ‘Banking Blues’:

The Banco Santander in Rianxo (La Coruña) will now only serve its clients by appointment. Otherwise, clients can only use the ATM or go to other towns to speak with a person.

Maria. 

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Finally:

 

Califato ¾ and No Me Pisas Que Llevo Chanclas team up in this ‘Arabian’ oddity called Xancla Lebantá on YouTube here.

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