Monday, January 12, 2009

Spain’s population has grown by more than 10% in the last few years, mostly as a result of pretty uncontrolled immigration necessary to provide labour for the construction boom. With this over, the government has tried to bribe people to go home by offering them lump sum payments equivalent, I think, to two years’ dole. There were said to be 100,000 people targeted, with an expectation that 20,000 would take up the offer. In fact, only 800 have so far leaped at the chance to lose their residence status and work permits. So not a huge success.

Those Czechs are real cards! If you don’t believe me, click here.

Here’s a report from someone who attended the demonstration against Andalucian property abuses on Friday. And, even more interesting, here’s an overview from the man behind it all, Lenox Napier. It would be nice to think someone important in Spain was pondering his words but I rather doubt it. Incidentally, reports of the numbers demonstrating vary from 200 to 2,000, with the lower one coming from the El País on-line report I cited the other day. My guess is they didn’t attend but called a local official who felt it best to downplay things. In official terminology, he would be known by that frequent Spanish epithet - ‘a liar’.

I may think their service is poor but there's no doubting the capacity of Spanish banks to make money. Two of them - Banco Santandar and the BBVA - are reported to be among the top four earners in the world - the others being HSBC and Citibank. As it happens, I have experience of both of the latter. And it was infinitely less irritating than that with the BBVA. But, if Spanish customers are happy, who am I to moan?

The Spanish president was in Galicia over the weekend, bolstering the profile of the local socialist party in advance of our March regional elections. He promised us the AVE high-speed train will definitely be here by 2012 and that his [central] government will help promote the Galician language. But, after the farce of the last 12 months, quite why anyone would believe a word he says is utterly beyond me.

I learn from Google Alerts that this part of Spain is known as the Costa de Marisco – The Seafood Coast. This may well be so but I have to say this is the first time I’ve heard it in eight years. Did I mention that Google Alerts never cites my blog?

And talking of our coast, I read today that yet another speedboat has been abandoned in some cove or other. A six-engined job, with the power of 300 horses, we’re told. They must have money to burn, these drug smugglers.

If you have a problem with hiccups, click here. And if you want to belong to a loose association of people with a common interest in Galicia, click here.

Finally, I accidentally zapped into the Euro News channel this morning, where I was relieved to hear that – though the EU can’t do much in Gaza or on the Russia-Ukraine border – it’s achieving singular success in containing the continent-wide problem of the grey squirrel. For this we need a superstate?


moscow said...

Brilliant the Czechs! I believe Spain is just one vast concrete slab. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw Germany. The picture is too small to see well. But it looks like "Autobahn" tracks, only that you can make up a 'Hakenkreuz'/Svastika with them buy re-fitting the pieces. Am I wrong?

Colin said...

I don't recall seeing the picture when I read the article but I've found a slighly larger/fuller version here and downloaded it and blown it up on my screen. And I fear you are right! It would be nice to have a full list of the 'national stereotypes' so we know what the artist claims he meant.

BTW - Here's an article I thought you might like to see

Colin said...

PS I've just read the text of the article I cited. It gives a fuller list of what things mean. And it endorses your comment re the swastika.

Colin said...


You may already have seen the FT on the theme of the moment. . .

PS I have lost your email when my destop machine was 'fixed' by wiping most of the hard disk.

Midnight Golfer said...

The more I read about this situation, and the fact that the Spanish press has remained mute on it, the more I lament not driving up to Almeria last week to attend.
As an American, with a short attention span, the YouTube video I just watched about the Priors really just made it all "sink in."
It makes you wonder if personal property means anything anymore.
Do you own your property?
Your home?
Your own self?

I think I do, and I know I would have had to have been pulled kicking and screaming out of that house, or had it topple down on top of me. But I'm still young and idealistic.

moscow said...

Well, the end of the Euro... as I said...wishful thinking. The guy pulls out a lot of graphics and makes it all sound cooly and factually plausible...very Oxbridge. Know the type. Pure fiction, though.

Overall, it all just underpins what I have written. The writing is on the wall: painful structural reforms. Along the way, there will be blood. Someone will have to tell the Unions to get lost. Vested interests and semi-monopolies will have to be broken up. A lot of people will become extremely unhappy. Serves them right - them Spaniards. They'll have to stop navel-gazing. Learn languages. Work harder. And all thanks to the Euro. Ain't that marvellous?

Colin said...

Well, as I say, I'm personally encouraged by our conviction that Spain won't be forced out of the eurozone. I don't want my assets devalued, alongside my pension . . . .

But I still wonder about the feasibility of Spain making - during tough times - the changes it didn't make during the easy times. A massively lost opportunity for which the price will be enormous???

Sorry to tell you I'll be citing more negativity tonight . . .

PS All of this assumes you're not joking when you say "Someone will have to tell the unions to get lost". And the regions??

But, yes, it will be marvellous if the EU/eruozone can take the strain and thus compel Spain to reform itself, however late it all is.

Then again, wasn't Mrs Thatcher's downfall the poll tax riots? If the British can riot, surely them hot-blooded Spaniards can. . .

Lenox said...

¡Ay España! The country that takes the most cash out of the European Union... and has the least respect for those Europeans that want to live there.
Just the mere anecdote of several hundred old foreigners tottering around a modern Spanish city, disrupting the traffic and waving banners written in English, would be enough to guarantee a story in any other European country - much less bother about what the foreigners want (to know that they can spend their final years here, confident that no politiquillo de mierda is going to knock down their house).
Here - the press was silent!

Colin said...

Yes, really quite astonishing, isn't it. One can only guess at the underlying reasons.