Friday, March 24, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 24.3.17

More comments have come in about about Spain and Galicia in the first half of the 20th century. Eamon has told me that, when he first arrived in La Coruña, there were knife sharpeners(afiladores) in the streets during the day and watchmen(serenos) patrolling them during the night. And my friend Ian has advised that, in the towns and villages he visited in the late 50s, drinking water was only available from a pump in the main square. And that there was a guardia civil on every corner.

Reader Maria has commented on the aspects of poverty at the time of her grandmother here in Galicia. Going further back still – to the late 1830s – here's what George Borrow had to say about Galicia, when he first entered it, on horseback: The villages were mostly an assemblage of wretched cabins; the roofs were thatched, dank, and moist, and not infrequently covered with rank vegetation. There were dunghills before the doors, and no lack of pools and puddles. Immense swine were stalking about, intermingled with naked children. The interior of the cabins corresponded with their external appearance: they were filled with filth and misery.

When you look at today's Spain and marvel at such things as its ultra-modern road and high-speed rail network, you can be forgiven for forgetting that, back in the 60s, Spain was officially part of the Developing World. No wonder Spaniards love the EU, the source of massive largesse. Only relatively recently did Poland take over as the biggest beneficiary of this. Which is ironic as - in contrast to Spain - Poland is not showing much gratitude. In fact, it's threatening to replace the UK as the bad boy on the EU block. See the article at the end of this post on this.

By the way . . .There was the occasional knife sharpener on the streets of my street when I was a kid.

Back to modern Spain . . . Here, from The Local, is a list of the 'strange' things Spanish parents do with their kids:

And here's a scarcely believable account of a suit taken out by a teenager against his mother, for taking his mobile phone off him. He accused her of maltreatment.

Here's The Local's list of the Top Ten paradors in Spain. I featured No. 1 here a few months ago, of course.

As for the Spanish economy, here's something that reflects the macro-micro void I keep banging on about.

I read conflicting reports about the Spanish construction industry. Generally speaking, it's still in the doldrums. Pontevedra, for example, has only 10% of the number of active architects it had back in the boom. (As if we care). But, in Madrid, huge investment is going into office premises. Which Spain thinks is a major positive factor in her favour in the current Continental war to get bits of the London financial business post Brexit.

On the latter, Don Quijones reports that Frankfurt is the way-ahead favourite to bag the biz. See here on this.

Over in the USA, Trump's healthcare reforms - which will hit the poor - have been held up by Republican extremists who don't think it goes far enough. They insist the law must more accurately reflect the 'character' of the nation. Jeez. Some more people who deserve to be shot.

Finally . . . El País tells us that almost two people are processed every day for political corruption here in Spain. One wonders when – or, indeed, if – the Spanish public will eventually rebel against this in any serious way. Not while it continues to put the PP in power, of course. Which they might well have another chance to do quite soon. The government has had a couple of reverses in parliament and President Rajoy is threatening to go for a new and larger mandate. This doesn't concern me, of course. I might pay taxes but I have no vote. Revolutions have been incited by less.

Today's cartoon:-


































Poles threaten to spoil EU’s birthday party

European leaders heading for Rome this weekend to shrug off Brexit gloom and celebrate the EU’s 60th birthday are ruining the party mood with bickering and finger pointing.

Heads of government minus Theresa May, will gather at the Campidoglio palace tomorrow to commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Rome in 1957.

Smiles may seem forced, however, amid threats from Poland and Greece not to sign a joint declaration on the EU’s future. Beata Szydlo, the Polish prime minister, is upset by a reference to a multispeed Europe in the document. Brussels officials see it as giving members greater leeway as they integrate their economies, but Poland fears it will be left behind in a second division.

“It’s an incentive to create sub-groups, to exclude, to abandon joint decisions,” Ms Szydlo said.

Greece says it will sign the declaration only if it mentions protecting jobs — an issue seen as important because of demands from international lenders to make lay-offs easier. One diplomat warned that Greece would not get far by sabotaging the declaration. “We won’t be blackmailed by one member state which is linking one EU issue with a totally different one,” he said.

Southern states are already on a war footing after Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch eurogroup chief, accused them of wasting money on “drinks and women”. Luigi Di Maio, the probable prime ministerial candidate for the Italian Five Star Movement, which is leading the polls, said yesterday: “The euro made us poorer and we are now being humiliated too.”

Tensions will run high outside the signing ceremony tomorrow as police patrol a barricaded city centre and Predator drones fly overhead.

Riot police will be on hand as 30,000 demonstrators criss-cross Rome in numerous marches, including potentially violent hard-left and hard-right anti-EU protesters, and pro-Brussels marchers.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 23.3.17

My thanks to readers Eamon and Maria for adding details of Galician and Madrid aspects of the things I cited from Arturo's Barea's book yesterday. Check these out in yesterday's Comments. On a point of detail, the barquilleros used to sort of sell barquellos and these were not the filloas(pancakes) of Galicia but wafers of some sort. Here's an article on Madrid's last dealer in these.

And here's something on the trade of Barea's mother, who was a washerwoman down at the river Manzanares. They all lost their work when it was 'canalised'. Or channelled, I guess.

Am I being unfair about Spanish social norms? This is a foto of a group of 3 young women – and their 3 large plastic bags – blocking the pavement this morning. 


The thing to bear in mind is that not only is there a strip of grass to the side of the pavement but also a bench half a metre from the path as well. I've advanced a number of theories for this sort of thing over the years – lack of antennae; individualismo; poor consideration for others; pragmatism; a love of spontaneity; a failure to think ahead or, even a hatred of planning. But the truth is I still have no idea why this sort of thing happens more in Spain than in any of the other 5 countries I've lived in. And I should be inured to it by now. As, indeed, I must be as I didn't get remotely annoyed. If only because, when I got within half a metre of them, the women all shuffled a bit to the left, so that I had enough room to pass without having to step into the road. One must be grateful for small mercies.

Just after I passed these women I went into the A Barca mall to check on an upcoming event there. On the top floor, there are 10 locales – 1 (Chinese) restaurant, 2 bar/cafés and 7 shops. Every one of these except the Café Games has closed in the last 2 years or so. Of course, I've confessed to a total inability to understand the Pontevedra 'retail' scene – I passed a restaurant yesterday which is being fitted out for its 4th incarnation in 10 years – and am forced to include it probably does have more to do with money laundering than with any serious attempt to sell things.

Which reminds me . . . 

They say you're never far from a rat in Londom. Well, the same is true of addicts on this drug-financed western coast of Galicia. Apart from the incessant beggars, there's also a group of men - and the occasional women - who gather and argue in the old quarter. And sometimes shout at each other and then fight. I wouldn't mind but they do this under some soportales within a few metres of my table outside my regular bar. 


Something should be done about it . . . 

If you're trying to effect major change in society, it helps to go with the human grain. My ex stepson reminded me this week that I always told him this when arguing against his teenage love of communism. I had the same thought this morning when reading that the survival of the EU depends on rapid formation of a superstate. Have they not realised by now how concerned the various national populations – as opposed to their leaders - are at this prospect? Maybe over a 100 years, as one philosopher said last week, but surely not within the next 5 to 10 years. It's because of this that one can have no faith in the survival of 'the project'. If only they had gone slower. And not introduced the euro. And not seriously damaged several already weak economies in the process. And not allowed Germany to come to dominate Europe so quickly and comprehensively. But they did. And did. And did. And did. Meaning that their salaries and pensions are now at risk. Which is quite possibly all they really care about.

Finally . . . Our weather this year is bizarre. December and January were a great deal less wet than usual and we had a temperature of 28 degrees in Pontevedra last Friday. And ice on my car windscreen at 8.30 last night. I blame it on the boogy.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 22.3.17

I've just finished the first of 3 volumes comprising the autobiography of Arturo Barea, entitled The Forging of a Rebel. This first part is called The Forge and is a tremendous read. On the back cover it says Orwell described it as excellent and, when I got to the end of it, I saw that the British historian, Paul Preston, had written: There is no book in any language which more vividly recreates the years of poverty, political corruption and social violence which finally erupted into the Spanish Civil War. So, you won't be surprised to hear I'm awaiting delivery of the second volume. Meanwhile: Here's a few things about the Madrid of 1907-1914. It was a time when:-
  • Poverty in Madrid was at what are now considered Third World levels
  • Spanish employers were even more ruthless with employees than they are today
  • All mayors and priests were fat.
  • Parents believed they had a right to tell their children what they had to do with their lives.
  • Priests were either feared and obeyed or detested and ignored
  • Priests commonly had 'nieces' who lived with them. Wives, even.
  • People ate paciencias, which no one in my bar recognises but which is described by the Royal Academy as: Un bollo redondo y muy pequeño hecho con harina, huevo, almendra y azúcar y cocido en el horno.
  • The daily wage for new bank clerks - after a year of earning nothing while on probation - was less than 1 peseta. Or 25 pesetas a month.
  • Families were large
  • Merluza (hake) was as popular a fish as it is today.
  • Cocido (stew) was eaten every day by the poor, put on in the morning and left to stew all day.
  • The midday meal took place at 12 noon, not 3pm, at least in poor houses and in the villages
  • Monkey nuts and roasted chick peas were also as popular as they are today. Well, the latter anyway.
  • Night watchmen patrolled the streets, bawling the hour and the weather.
  • Poor farmers pulled the plough themselves
  • His uncle only shaved on Thursdays and Sundays - As priests do.
  • The cruelty to bulls in villages was beyond belief, if not description.
  • Poor, starving, terrified teenagers pretending to be toreros were regularly gored in the villages.
  • Barea's uncle belonged to a race of men which has almost disappeared; he was a craftsman [a blacksmith] and a gentleman.
  • Cobwebs were placed over cuts and grazes.
  • Poor relatives fought like cats - in front of the notary - over the estate of their not-so-dear departed.
  • Corrupt priests still sold indulgences and benedictions 'blessed by the Pope'. And double, triple or quadruple charged for the same Mass for the dead.
  • At picnics in the villages, sheep and rabbits were strung up in the trees and skinned.
  • Young boys from Galicia came to Madrid on foot with a tin box full of thin rolled wafers [filloas?] slung around their shoulders.
  • Corporal punishment was routinely dished out to kids, not only by parents and relatives but also by anyone in the street who took offence to their activities or words.
  • Park keepers beat kids with a stick if they transgressed
  • Carpenters, masons, tailors and the like barely earned enough to keep death from the door of their families
  • 'Hide and seek' was called 'I spy' in Spanish. 
  • Town councils and the Catholic Church fleeced you when you had to move a body from its temporary grave
  • What is the modern Lavapies barrio in Madrid was then called El Avapies. It contained within it the desperately poor 'quarter of the injuries'. Or El barrio de las injurias which looked like part of modern day Calcutta. Where naked gypsies squatted in the sun killing the lice which the swarthy fingers of their mother or sister plucked from their hair, one by one.
  • Priests told boys in their care: Playing with your parts is fornication. And Woman is sin. For the sake of Woman the human race fell from grace, and all the saints suffered the temptations of evil. In short: Woman is evil. Men who sleep with them go to Hell. It is a sin to come near a woman.
  • Village priests forbade the teachers to show children how to read and write.
  • The first question asked of a new employee - much like today - was: Who got you in here?
  • Two banks - Banco de Urquijo and Banco de Vizcaya - had made themselves masters of the Public Utilities of Madrid and of almost all the industries of Bilbao.
  • Banks sometimes forced their clerks to work from 7am until 1 in the next morning. Albeit probably with a short break for lunch and dinner. Certainly the lucky clerks had a coffee bought for them each night.
  • Notaries - as they still are - were God.
  • The Parque del Oeste was known as The English Park, at least by Barea. 
  • Men 'killed the worm' by drinking brandy or 'cheap spirits' with their first coffee of the day. As they still do in villages.
  • People went to the pictures (movies) at midnight, as they still do.
  • All male clerks were being replaced by very much cheaper young girls. As were the attendants in shops and department stores.
  • People with many years of low-paid service were summarily sacked if found to be a member of a trade union.
By the way, I recognise some of these from my own childhood - e. g. the corporal punishments - but not a lot.

The book is beautifully written and very well translated. A representative paragraph: The sunlight, speckled with flies, streamed through the small square window above my head. The room smelled of the village, the sun-dried grain in the corn-loft opposite, of furze burning in the kitchen, of clinging reek from the chicken coop and of dung in the stables, and of the mud walls of the house, baked by the sun and covered with whitewash.

Returning to the present day . . . When I went to get an up-to-date certificado de empadronamiento from the Poio town hall, the nonplussed lady clerk was incredulous that I didn't have an ID card, only a by-now tattered A4 sheet which confirms I am a resident and gives my NIE number. Lenox of Business over Tapas has advised that we Brits are in this unfortunate position because a couple of Brits compained a few years ago that we were above ID cards. The result is that most of us now have to carry our bloody passports around. Or at least a Spanish driving licence. They should be shot.

Don Quijones reports that: The Euro Group President, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, has managed to offend just about every Southern European nation with the following comment (in reference to recent EU bailouts), at a time when relations between Europe’s north and south are already strained: “You can’t just spend all your money on alcohol and women and then ask for help.” DQ adds thatIt’s fair to say that Dijsselbloem was not speaking literally, but he could have chosen a far better metaphor to illustrate his point — preferably one that doesn’t depict Southern Europeans as alcoholics and prostitutes.

Oddly enough, I also read yesterday that going to a brothel is now de riguer amongst Spain's 20 year old males.

Today's cartoon:-


Finally . . . An interesting article:-

Erdogan threatens a summer of chaos for the EU: Roger Boyes, The Times

The street-wise but pious kid from Istanbul’s harbour district is both a victim and a fighter. According to the film The Chief, the young Tayyip Erdogan was a frequent mosque-goer, protested when a referee refused to interrupt a football game for prayers and was chucked into jail for reciting a poem that goes: “the minarets are our bayonets, and the faithful our soldiers”.

Across Europe’s Turkish communities, where the film is being shown this week, audiences may well be dabbing their eyes and declaring: “That’s our boy!” President Erdogan’s spin doctors certainly hope so. There are four million registered voters outside Turkey and the referendum on April 16 — over boosting the president’s powers to near-Putin levels — is looking as if it could be a near-run thing.

If he wins approval, the Turkish constitution will be changed, handing executive powers to the president. Mr Erdogan will be able to hire and fire ministers, rule by edict and curb parliament. In theory he will be able to rule until 2029, giving him the chance to enter the 1,100 rooms of his long-awaited new palace and inspect the silk wallpaper. That sounds like a further, decisive lurch towards autocratic rule, and it is. One of many concerns is that he will use his extended powers to declare all-out war on the Kurds, thus sprinkling kerosene on the Middle East bonfire.

Mr Erdogan’s supporters say he is creating a strong state and correcting the 1982 constitution. Drawn up at a time when the Turkish general staff thought itself better placed than any civilian government to define the country’s interests, the constitution gave a crucial role to a national security council half-filled by army officers. Mr Erdogan believed he had tamed the army — but then came last July’s botched coup.

The past few months have seen him unleash an extraordinary purge. Critical academics have been sacked, newspapers closed down, journalists jailed; it has become a society of snitches who denounce those with suspect loyalties. There is a hysterical undercurrent to today’s Turkey, a touch of King Lear about Mr Erdogan himself and a lick of black Dario Fo-style farce about the behaviour of his followers. A Turkish farmers’ association said it would respond to the recent Dutch deportation of one of Ankara’s cabinet ministers by expelling 40 Holstein Friesian cows. One farmer even chose to slaughter his Dutch cow in protest at the Hague’s supposed neo-Nazi high-handedness.

The Chief may be crude propaganda but it does at least recall why Mr Erdogan was once rated by the West: he was a moderniser, someone who wanted to redress the balance between Islam and Kemalist secularism. We were so sure that Mr Erdogan had got that balance right that we held up his brand of political Islam as being a desirable destination for the rebels of the Arab Spring.

That has vanished now and the big question is: who lost Turkey? People still ask the same question about Russia. When Vladimir Putin appeared in 1999-2000 it was all about engagement: getting him involved in the G8, signing him up for the Nato-Russia strategic council.

It seemed to be going that way with Turkey at the beginning. Turkey signed an association agreement with the EEC in 1963 and became a formal candidate for the EU in 1999. By the time Erdogan became prime minister in 2003 it seemed as if he was going to be the man to make it happen: he agreed to scrap the death penalty, to move towards an independent judiciary, to protect Kurdish rights.

And yet we never really wanted Turkey in the club. Turkey’s swelling population, its Muslim identity, its proximity to troublespots, made it a difficult proposition. Then came the terror attacks in Madrid and London. Centre-right parties discovered Europe’s Christian identity and failed to break the bad news to Mr Erdogan. Instead he was offered weasel words such as “privileged partnership”— by which point it was clear to the Turks that they were destined to remain, as they had always been for Europeans, The Other. The more dependent the EU becomes on Mr Erdogan to act as a holding pen for refugees, the more uncomfortable this Otherness becomes. Last week he was campaigning against the European Court of Justice ruling against the wearing of headscarves and religious symbols in the workplace. Christian Europe, he said, has “started a struggle between the cross and the crescent”. Mevlut Cavusoglu, his foreign minister, recently barred from the Netherlands, warned: “You have begun to collapse, Europe . . . holy wars will soon begin in Europe.”

It is the migrant deal with the EU that allows Mr Cavusoglu to declare: “Turkey is in command.” That flawed bargain, sealed in a moment of desperation, is about to fall apart. If he wins the referendum in April, the Turkish president will see himself at the pinnacle of his power. He will be tempted to take one of two options: to abandon the deal altogether and watch the EU struggle with 15,000 more refugees washing up every day, or to release migrants in controlled doses that end up crippling Greece and Bulgaria, piling pressure on Brussels to give Turks visa-free access to Europe.

The Mediterranean is getting calmer; drought and famine in Africa is driving people towards the sea and the German general election is approaching fast. Forget Russian cyberhacking, Mr Erdogan has in his hands the most disruptive weapon of all: the ability to demonstrate that European governments cannot control their borders. Prepare for a summer of chaos.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 21.3.17

In one of those questionable surveys, Spain has been adjudged to rank as only the 34th country in the world as regards 'happiness'. The latter is measured using GDP per capita, life expectancy, social support (as measured by having someone to count on in times of trouble), trust (as measured by a perceived absence of corruption in government and business), perceived freedom to make life decisions, and generosity (as measured by recent donations). Astonishingly, the UK came in at 19th. And the USA at 14th. You'll surely be able to guess where No. 1 is. As ever.

Spain is famous for the longevity of its people, attributed to the Mediterranean diet. And perhaps lower levels of stress. So, it comes as at least a surprise - but possibly a shock - to read that a quarter of the population is obese. But at least we know what the main causes are - white bread and the malign influence of US culture.

Changing spain?:
  1. A major Spanish company – and a state-owned one at that – has been fined for abusing its dominant position.
  2. Spanish banks have had some constraints forced on them as regards home repossessions.
  3. Not before time, new rules have been established for unbuilt properties down south.
  4. The authorities in the nearby resort of Sanxenxo/Sanjenjo - The Marbella of Galicia - have announced they'll be introducing an ordinance designed to reduce noise levels in summer.
Back to my application of a 25% reduction in my electricity bill. I do hope that the folk in the HQ of GasNaturalFenosa can read Gallego. For my certificado de empadramiento is only in this language - in contrast to the 2010 version, which was only in Spanish. The text, in fact, is so short it would be easy to have it in both languages on an A4 sheet. But this is obviously too simple. I guess it makes sense to someone. To the Galician nationalists, at least. Incidentally, the Voz de Galicia yesterday reported that our electricity bills rose 22% last winter. My low-use discount will help to compensate for that.

In 1990 the British Secretary of State for Industry – Nicholas Ridley – was fired by Maggie Thatcher for saying that the EU was a German racket to take over Europe. When one looks at these statistics of electorate support for Social Democratic parties in Europe over the past 5 years or so, one can certainly see evidence of something:-
Spain: Down from 44 to 23%
Greece: Down from 44 to 6%
Holland: Down from 25 to 6%
France: Down from 52 to 13%
Germany: Up from 26 to 31%
Voters in Germany certainly seem to be happier with the status quo than elsewhere. And are said to be about to replace Mrs. Merkel by someone universally seen as an EU fanatic. Possibly just a convenience.

Which reminds me . . . Is it fanciful to see the core countries of the EU accepting a 2-speed institution as an admission of defeat for their grand project? Well, I think so anyway. On this subject, there's a short article at the end of this post from one of my favourite columnists.

The governing PP party is having a conference down in Andalucia. Their slogan is We Believe in Andalucia. I don't know why political parties bother with these things. Why not Simply Better. Which is all they're trying to tell us. By the way, the PP has never governed Andalucia since the inception of democracy in 1978. Which is odd as there's a real affinity - the region is universally seen as the most corrupt in Spain. Even by the purblind EU Commission.

Finally . . . I had the bizarre experience of the postman yesterday quoting the first 3 numbers of my NIE yesterday, when I stumbled over it. Is there an easy explanation for this? Do all foreigners have 356 as their first 3 numbers? The letter was from the Tax Office, of course. Telling me - for the second time - that they rejected my appeal in respect of an 'overcharge'. I can only surmise that the chap I spoke to personally did something alongside the computer's standard rejection of all appeals. But the computer was quicker.

Today's cartoon:-


ARTICLE

Europe has forgotten what it means for a nation to govern itself. Article 50 will remind them. Janet Daley, Daily Telegraph

So it begins. This is either going to be the most tedious two years of argy-bargy, mind-numbing detail, procrastination, futile grandstanding, and empty threats ending with something that looks remarkably like the present arrangements... or it isn’t.

What could and should happen is that the UK creates not just a stunning precedent in the modern European era of a country leaving what was supposed to be an everlasting relationship, but an entirely new model of the nation state fit for the 21st century.

Europe has almost forgotten – sometimes with good historical reasons – what pride in nationality might mean, and how democratically responsive governments in touch with their populations might have something valuable to offer the world. Ironically, the idea of the self-governing state directly answerable to its own people was lost in the terrible shame of the twentieth century’s nationalist crimes. But the EU now finds itself harbouring a return to just the kind of populist nativism which it was designed to prevent. Will this generation of British politicians have the vision and the strength of character to re-invent nationhood? Who knows?

Until this moment, I suspect that at least some of the EU establishment doubted that Theresa May would go through with it. Presumably this is why Donald Tusk has to be given forty-eight hours to make a formal response to the announcement of the actual date: he and his colleagues must be allowed to come to terms with the reality that some political leaders mean what they say. Yes, this is really happening. 

March 29th will be the first day of the rest of our lives.


HAPPY SPRINGTIME TO ALL OUR READERS!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 20.3.17

Spain's population soared by10% - from 40 to 44m - during the 2000-2008 phony boom, mostly by virtue of easily-absorbed immigrants from Catholic, Spanish-speaking ex-colonies in South America. Many of these have now gone back and more are leaving all the time, as the construction industry remains firmly in the doldrums. These immigrants were the main victims of the rapacious banks which threw mortgages around like confetti and then, when things went belly-up, displayed the red-in-tooth-and-claw nature of Spanish banks by evicting them en masse. Which is why said banks are loaded with useless – but still over-valued – properties on their balance sheets.

Talking of banks . . . Here and here are Don Quijones' latest insights into what's going on in the EU.

One of the main organs of the EU is the Council of Europe. This has decided that the British government is suppressing the rights of the people of Cornwall, by not chucking more money at them so they can resurrect their dead language. The Council also demands that the UK government stops the “Disneyfication” of such landmarks as Tintagel Castle. Ye gods!

Time to remind ourselves that: The European Union has been the all-time champion at devising barriers to economic flexibility and vitality, with the predictable consequence that youth unemployment in many member countries is now at its highest levels in living memory. But this monumental failure doesn't, of course, stop it giving lectures to national governments how how to run their internal affairs. It can't go on.

US Nutters Corner: Gordon Klingenschmitt, host of a conservative Christian talk-show, reported that atheists had got a public high school to remove a Ten Commandments from outside the building and insisted that the only reason was that they were controlled by demonic spirits. Not because it was illegal, then?

Down in southern Spain, one British consul has come up with the idea of consulting Brits about their mood, terming them Our Local Ambassadors. Or OLA. I'm confident that, when this initiative reaches Galicia, I'll be top of the list of those to be consulted on Brexit. Or perhaps not. Click here for more on this.

Here in Galicia, the local business community and municipal governments seem very upset that the economic growth of nearby North Portugal is greater than ours. I haven't heard it yet but doubtless I'll soon read that this competition is unfair. Or competencia desloyal as it's termed here. Perhaps Spain will ask the EU to tell Portugal to stop being so entrepreneurial. The classic example of which is Oporto's airport, which now dwarfs Galicia's 3 'international' tiddler facilities. Which, believe me, it didn't when I first used it in 1998.

Finally, here's a cartoon which, for obvious reasons, I had intended to include yesterday:-

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 19.3.17

Nice to read that the new cash-crop for Spain is the pistachio. I love 'em.

If you're likely to be driving in Spain, here's something you need to be aware of. Especially if you're going to be in Galicia, it seems.

Quick citations;.

I heard the word 'surveil' used as a verb by a US reporter and checked with Google Ngram. To my surprise, it's several hundred years old, though possibly mostly in the USA. But its use has shot up since the 1960s, having bubbled along at the same rate for many, many years.  As with the noun 'surveillance'.

Talking of words . . . I read that Brits really like swear words. Well, nothing like the Spanish, believe me. Anyway, the favourite British swear word is said to be 'shite'. Compare this with the Spanish favourite - cabrón - which combines the taboo rating of both cunt and, say, motherfucker. Even though its literal meaning is just 'billygoat'. Go figure. By the way . . . The swear word favoured by Americans is said to be 'sucks', while Australians prefer 'boob'? It takes all sorts.

An interesting bit of advice - The three rules of com­puter security devised by the NSA cryptographer Robert Morris Sr are: 1) Do not own a computer. 2) Do not power it on. 3) Do not use it.

Finally . . . Here's a wonderful article for all male readers, from one of my favourite columnists. Not to mention all female readers.

Today's cartoons: All on the same theme:-












Postcript: I did the bridge experiment yesterday morning on the way into town. The result: 
Meetings: 5
Failure to make any move to avoid me: 5. 
One person did stop 1 metre from me, to allow me to walk around him. The other 4 – for whatever reason – would quite happily have walked right into me, if I hadn't taken evasive action. And I didn't have my head down, by the way.

I rest my case.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 18.3.17

A character in the UK comedy series Benidorm this week uttered the line: It's not my fault if the Spanish have a fiesta every time the mayor farts. I was reminded of this yesterday when I walked past a large beer tent in Plaza de España erected in honour of St. bloody Patrick. Patricio in Spanish, by the way. I would have said 'marquee' for tent but this would have confused US readers, for whom this means an advertising hoarding, not a tent.

British readers will know that my city of Liverpool is the butt of many jokes, even from Scouse comedians. I mention this because some poor chap has just been sentenced to jail in Barcelona for committing – wait for it – Catalanophobia. Click here for details of this insane example of where nationalism and an obsession with racism can take you. We are now, it seems, expected to see Catalans as a different race from the rest of us. And a very sensitive one, obviously. I suspect it won't be long before the Scottish Nationalists strike a similar attitude. Well, the nuttier ones anyway.

Not a lot of readers will know that Christopher Columbus was not only Spanish but was actually born right here in Poio, a stone's throw from my house. Where there's now a museum in what is said to be his birthplace. Well, in the modern extension of it. One supporter of this theory will be giving a paper at an upcoming congress The International History of Paper In the Iberian Peninsula[!] to be held in Santa Maria de Feira in Portugal. So confident are the upholders of the theory that they're insisting 2017 will be 'the year of the Spanish Columbus'. Vamos a ver.

It's good to know that – by hook and by crook – all our local authorities are now taking more in taxes than they did before the crisis of 2008. A good example of a spur to creativity, assisted by a total lack of principles.

Returning to the theme of electricity prices . . . I've now applied for a discount of 25% on my electricity bills and wait to see which of the several documents I've had to supply is inadequate. I suspect the copy of my empadronamiento certificate, dated 2010. Meanwhile, I can advise that a recent circular from Gas Natural Fenosa offered me 2 options which they said would benefit me, while somehow failing to mention the one I'm now applying for. To be fair, I see it is cited in small print on the last page of their (totally incomprehensible) bills.

Finally . . . My Dutch friend – yes, I stoop that low – agrees with that old buffoon, Alfie Mittington, that's it's all my fault that people bump into me and that it's never happened to him. Maybe this is because, whereas I walk 40-50 minutes every day on the streets of both new and old Pontevedra, he - shall we just say - doesn't. Anyway, yesterday I noted these stats when walking across the bridge into and out of Pontevedra:-
IN
This were the actions of the 8 people coming the other way:-
Started to take evasive action 3 or more metres before meeting – 3
Started to take evasive action 1 metre from me – 1
Took no evasive action at all – 4 (50%)
To be fair, one of the last 4 - like me - did do the traditional shoulder dip and pas-de-deux as we met and brushed against each other. But the other 3 – for whatever reason – would had walked straight into me, if I hadn't moved abruptly sidewards.
OUT
Only 2 meetings.-
Started to take evasive action 3 or more metres before meeting – 1
Took no evasive action at all – 1 (50%)
Seems pretty conclusive to me. But I'm sure both my Dutch friend and Alfie Mittington will find fault with the research – which I will repeat today – and continue to insist they're right. I'm beginning to suspect Alfie Mittington has some Dutch blood. They are a stubborn people, in my – admittedly limited – experience of them. Final note on this . . . My impression is that women are more likely to take evasive action than men. Perhaps not surprisingly.

I'm thinking of putting my theory to the ultimate test next week – by walking the bridge with a white stick.

Today's cartoon:-

I'VE ALWAYS HATED CHRISTMAS


Friday, March 17, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 17.3.17

I regularly mention the void between Spain's macro and micro economy numbers. Here's something on the latter – the preponderance of 'precarious' short-term contracts, recently condemned by the EU.

And here's something of an explanation for why austerity and things like the above haven't led to the rise of a far-right party here. Apart from the fact, of course, that the right-of-centre PP party does a pretty good job of encompassing ultra-conservatives and even pseudo-fascists.

If I watched Spanish TV – specifically the dubbed programs that I can't stand – I'd be delighted with this news.

Reader Maria has provided details of a clash she had with bureaucracy here when, coming from the USA, she applied for a Spanish driving licence. I had similar problems when I arrived here and no local car insurance company would accept a No Claims certificate from another company. In a “low ethics society” (as a Spanish reader once termed it), there's not a lot of trust around. For similar reasons, when I came to sell my first car here, I was told the provision of an FSH (full service history) was pointless, as everyone would assume it was either forged or provided by a friend or relative in the business. But there's another side to this low ethics coin, as evidenced in this letter from a Dutchman to Lenox of Business Over Tapas:-
Dear Lenox,    I wanted to comment on your snippet concerning Spanish laws and Spanish bureaucracy. From what you write I take it you haven't had to deal much with British laws and bureaucracy of late? Or, for that matter, Dutch laws and bureaucracy. What I find so refreshing in Spain is that there is little or no moral disapproval if you don't observe all the laws. If you break a law (or do not observe it) and get caught, you get fined - and the neighbours just shrug their shoulders and laugh a little for being such a fool as to get caught. Our experience has been that even the stern bureaucrats in Hacienda often shrug their shoulders and try to help us find a way of avoiding the worst tangles. Whereas in Holland and England, people who break the law also get disapproval ladled over them as being immoral and wicked - the neighbours won't speak to them and their children are not allowed to play with the children of the malefactor. I suppose a lot of your time 
(and certainly a lot of our time) is spent on constructing methods of avoiding the problems encountered in observing all the laws, but then we have the same problems in Holland and England. It is just that each country has a different area in which it is difficult and a lot of time passed in getting used to one country is spent on finding the "wriggle room".      Jan

And low ethics are not confined to Spain, of course. Here's a report of a British example in a Spanish context, similar to that in respect of all the infamously specious whiplash claims which have raised car insurance premiums for everyone in the UK.

Current events in the UK are reviving an old Galician joke - viz. That - given the similarities in weather, verdant countryside, sense of humour and (?)Celtic history – Galicia should solve its problems with Madrid by transferring itself to the UK as a replacement for Scotland. More seriously, here's why Spain will do its utmost to thwart Scottish nationalist aspirations.

Nutters' Corner: If this one nutter who stands out, it's a chap called Ken Ham. He's an evangelists' evangelist who has constructed a replica Ark as a theme park.  And, yes, it contains dinosaurs. Here he is reacting to some comments of Pope Francis about the creation of the world and some kind words of his towards atheists. A really nice guy, Mr Ham. And an unreconstructed cretin of the first order.

Finally . . The Disinformation Review is an EU organisation which provides evidence of Moscow's relentless propaganda, both at home and abroad. The authors yesterday confessed themselves as 'bewildered' as I am that RT News is setting up a special unit to counteract fake news. Which is beyond farce. But well in keeping with the (self)delusional nature of the channel's reporting.

Today's cartoon:-

The government wants all schools run like businesses, Timmy. So, you're fired.



Thursday, March 16, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 16.3.17

There's naturally a good deal of concern here in Spain – especially, of course, in the South and East - about the impact of a Brexit on the tourism industry. There's rather less concern, it would seem, about the property market and almost no concern about the Brits living here. El País addresses the issue here, in English. Hang on . . . HT to Lenox of Business Over Tapas for the info in today's just-read bulletin that El Mundo has an article on the impact on British residents. We're pretty indignant, it seems. Lenox also cites this Guardian article on impending Spanish doom post Brexit. Of course, no one knows what Brexit will bring. Or even if it will take place. My own pure guess is that the British public will be offered the chance to vote on whatever deal comes down the track, and might well reject it. And so breathe some life back into the EU project, currently moribund.

Meanwhile, you have to laugh at the response of that pillock Juncker to the results of the Dutch election. According to him, Europe has been saved from a right-wing reaction. Which neatly ignores the fact that a very significant percentage of the Dutch electorate voted for a populist party of the right. And that the returned centrist party stole some of Gert Wilders clothes in order to stay in power, having been given a golden opportunity to do so by the mad autocrat running Turkey,

Talking of the EU . . . Don Quijones writes: As debates rage in Europe over whether or not to take a two-speed or multi-speed approach to post-Brexit integration, Germany rekindled interest in the creation of a European Monetary Fund. But his/her headline is: There's an air of furtive desperation about the proceedings. Click here for more on this critical development.

There's an estimated 7,100 languages in the world and they're dying out at the rate of 2 a month, it's said. And yet the total is actually increasing, as the discovery rate currently exceeds the mortality rate. Within language, there's vocabulary, which is a lead-in to a new English word for me – bism. This is defined as: Someone who is deliberately irritating or annoying - a less harsh term than 'bitch' when this is deemed inappropriate. And within vocabulary there's pronunciation . . . When I was young, only the poorly educated said haitch for the letter H, compared with aitch for the educated. Now it's commonplace, if no longer common. And listening to a podcast yesterday, I heard the novelist Will Self say ephEEmeral for ephemeral and remIT instead of REEmit. Self has an exceptional vocabulary but one does wonder – well, I do – where he gets some of his pronunciations from. A local dialect? Hardly – he was born in the centre of London. Self has been described as: that rarity in modern cultural life, a genuine intellectual with a bracing command of words and ideas who is also droll, likeable and culturally savvy. All true enough. But shame about his occasionally bizarre pronunciation. Anyone would think he was Dutch.

HT to my fellow blogger, Trevor, for the news of a Galician kid who asked Google how to see narcos free – meaning the movie – and was directed to a local beach. Where, I guess, he could expect to see our narcotraficantes (narcos for short) downloading cocaine from speedboats. See here for the El Mundo report and here for reaction on something called Twitter.

Which reminds me . . . The local press recently reported that, for 30 years now, Galicia has maintained its status as Europe's main entry point for the white powder. When I first came here, I read that our local smugglers turned to this more profitable alternative when the EU compelled Madrid to clamp down on cigarette smuggling. But I've since been told this ain't true. Possibly.

The Sayings of Ayatollah Khomeini: It's a tough choice but here's today's:- The West is nothing but a collection of unjust dictatorships. All of humanity must strike these troublemakers with an iron hand if it wishes to regain its tranquillity. If Islamic civilisation had governed the West, we would no longer have to put up with these barbaric goings-on unworthy even of wild animals. Well, the poor man had been in exiled in France.

Today's cartoon:




Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 15.3.17

Changing Spain?: Up until this week, it looked as if no one in business or the government was going to pay any price for the Santiago rail disaster of a couple of years ago, when 80 people died. Indeed, anyone charged had been released by the judge without trial. One chap had even been arraigned and let off twice. But such has been the public protest, he's finally been charged with negligence. Such is the Spanish judicial system. See here for details.

Some readers might recall my run-in last year with an officious local cop who wouldn't let me park outside a scrap merchant's in town. In a street where people regularly get away with parking outside the bread shop – close to or even right on the zebra crossing. And always with the hazard lights on, of course. To show they're not really there. But passing the bakery yesterday, I noticed a police car parked behind the offenders and hoped the bastard was fining them. But, anyway, this is a long lead-in to the citation of this blog post, where another foreigner here in Galicia vents his spleen, first, at the atrociously selfish local parking and, secondly, at the calvario he and his wife had to endure in getting Spanish driving licences. Scourge of the Spanish bureaucracy as I'd like to see myself, I have to admit I don't remember finding it as bad as this. It seemed a quick and easy process here in Pontevedra, only memorable for the fact they mis-copied details from my UK licence and – for 5 years at least – gave me the right to drive not only a truck but a truck and trailer.

Talking about life here . . . I wonder if other foreigners experience one particular aspect which continues to bemuse me. If so, you'll know that, if like me you read a magazine or do a crossword when you're walking, people regularly walk into you. Even if you've put yourself at one edge of the pavement/sidewalk, leaving enough space for them to pass you. It's as if their personal radar is so poor they don't see you until they actually hit you. Or as if they're so used to the standard last-second pas-de-deux which 2 Spaniards indulge in when they meet head-on that they assume this will happen, even though they can see you have your head down and can't see them coming. It never happens in the UK, of course, because people there start taking avoidance measures a good 3 to 5 metres before they bump into you. Which always comes as a pleasant surprise, of course.

Having quit Facebook without pain, I'd now done the same with Linkedin, a name that took me years to master. Looking back, I can't figure out why I ever joined it in the first place, as I've never used it and have ignored all the emails they've sent me.

Anyone interested in getting a discount from their energy company - particularly Gas Natural Fenosa - should read the comments of the last day or three.

Finally . . . For no good reason, I started organising my library shelves this morning. And came across The Little Green Book: Sayings of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Younger readers might not recall that this was the Shiite cleric who took over the government of Iran after the Shah had been toppled in the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Inside the front cover, I've erased the price and substituted Beyond price. I'll quote from it in coming posts but here's one from the chapter headed Women and their Periods: This basically tells men not to sleep with their wives during these or to pay a fine if they do. But there's a codicil – It's highly inadvisable for the man to sodomise her during this time. On the other hand, if he does: Sodomising a menstruating woman does not requite a payment. No wonder the first line of the Special Introduction is: To anyone reared and educated into the assumptions of western life, these are words from an alien world. But one defended by many Islamic women, it seems. God only knows why. Well, Allah anyway.

Today's cartoon:-




Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 14.3.17

Today's main theme is madness . . .

Here's a schedule of the comments on Trump I've noted in articles over just the last few days. I might update it in due course. That said, I might not, as it's hard to believe there's anything relevant – however accurate – left to say. It's even harder to conclude: 1. that Trump isn't suffering from one or more psychological conditions; and 2. that many millions of Americans felt this guy was the solution to their undoubted problems and a real alternative to the dysfunctional US political system with which they had, rightly, become so disaffected. It can only end in tears.

      Aspects of the man
     What he's been responsible for
      His team
  • Unseasoned
  • Lashes out
  • Has an elementary schoolkid's urge to upend the board when the game isn't going his way
  • Predilection for asserting and clinging to untruths in the face of contrary evidence
  • Questionable ability to absorb and act upon unwelcome information
  • A tenuous connection to the truth
  • Lives in a world of vanity, hate, arrogance, untruth and recklessness
  • A demonstrably mendacious, ignorant bully
  • Displays fury over paltry things such as the crowd numbers
  • Makes calculations that have a propensity to boomerang
  • No practical program beyond division
  • America's Juan Perón
  • A swaggering approach
  • A rogue - a big target and thin-skinned but not easy to wound
  • Slapdash
  • An American strongman – a response to earlier paralysis of the political system
  • A man of many anomalies
  • The first real post ColdWar president
  • Seems capable of misshaping the republic but for no greater cause than himself
  • Harbours a deep dislike of the intelligence agencies and an ambivalent view of their output
  • Willing to allow prisoners to be subjected to “a hell of a lot worse” than waterboarding.
  • Cavalier
  • Shows few signs of being very curious
  • Doesn't seem to be much of a reader
  • The first president to be disdainful of the intelligence agencies
  • Has a notoriously strained relationship with the truth
  • Indiscreet nature
  • Known for vitriol and vulgarity
  • A penchant for vicious attacks often very untethered from reality
  • Wild claims
  • Unhinged tweets
  • Problems arise from his use of language
  • An endless series of self-inflicted wounds
  • Unforced errors
  • Has thrown sand in the gears of the constitutional machinery
  • A continuing feud with the intelligence community erodes rapport and trust
  • A rocky start with key allies.
  • Losing the credibility of the office
  • A hellscape of lies and distorted reality
  • A raw spume of blurtings at his first press conference
  • Both using and demonising the media
  • Risky handling of the constitution's emoluments clause
  • Polarisation of the electorate, divided equally but not amicably
  • Blustering at allies
  • Dissing the intelligence agencies is worse than stupid
  • A despicable display of self-aggrandisement in front of the CIA's memorial wall.
  • His remarks on torture are off the edge of the screen
  • Destabilising the relationship between spies and the government
  • Trump’s war has begun: it is the First Cyber War. Like all wars, its first casualty was truth. Unlike other wars, it will have no last casualty, as it is a war without end. Get used to it. Or get rid of your computer.

  • Wobbly
  • Absence of key personnel
  • Cynical populists
  • Bannon's appointment to the Security Council is stone cold crazy

By the way, everything seems pretty spot on to me but I have close American friends who'd certainly disagree with this, seeing me as the victim of a biased, Lefty media. Though I do read papers which pass for right-of-centre, in the UK at least. But, then, many Americans think Europe is a socialist hell for there's Right and Right, I don't do Breitbart or Fox News, for example. RT News is enough for me. Perhaps not coincidentally, the latter sources much material from the former.

A wise American friend once said to me: Colin, You have to remember that the US has the very best and the very worst of everything you can imagine. Indeed, but it's such a shame that so much of the latter is on display to the rest of the world right now, for it remains a wonderful country, full of (largely) wonderful people. The rest of them are busy killing each other, of course. And more than a few innocents along the way.

On the theme of US insanity . . . With a HT to Lenox of Business Over Tapas, here's a web page which I initially thought just had to be a joke. But when you go herehere and here, you're forced to the conclusion it isn't and that the USA has more than its share of nutters.

Just in case you don't go to all of those locations, I can't resist this paragraph on the Quitter Mansion, which awaits me: This is a home that will never be lived in because the person slated for this lot was a believer in name only. Angels began to build him a mansion, but they stopped work when it was clear the client had no intention of fulfilling his commitment.

Final comment . . . The web page's motto - Behold I come quickly – really would be more at home at the top of a bad porn site.

And now onto something Spanish . . . Reader Eamon has provided these follow-ups on the electric companies:
  • A guy came to convince me Endesa was part of Fenosa and I could get cheaper electricity. He said a new office was opened in La Coruña which would save money instead of the billing from Barcelona. He left me all kinds of bunk so I sent a letter to Endesa and they came back with an apology saying it was a mistake. So, a blatantly fraudulent attempt to get Eamon to change from Fenosa to Endesa, a completely different company. 
  • Last Friday a young lady representing Fenosa rang my door bell. After identifying herself she asked why I was not taking the opportunity of a discount on my bill. I said I had no idea what she was talking about and she asked me for my latest bill. Looking at the bill she said I used under 3 kilowatts of power so I should go to the office and claim my discount. I will do that shortly and report what happens. So has Fenosa been told to get the message out to their customers I wonder? 

My response: 
Are you sure this isn't to trick you from leaving the regulated market to go into the unregulated market, for which you will pay the price later?

Today's cartoon:

"God, I wish someone would shut that baby up"







Monday, March 13, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 13.3.17

Changing Spain?: When I first came here, I was astonished at how accommodating restaurants were towards last-minute changes in reservations. Say from 4 to 10 or 20 to 5. Or even towards cancellations. Recognising that Spaniards idolise spontaneity, the restaurants went along with this capriciousness, regardless of the impact on income and profitability. But last week I read that some of them are now demanding a deposit when a reservation is made. But this will be small compensation, of course, if you provide a dinner for 100 Romanians who all piss off after the dessert.

Here in Spain, everyone who disagrees with you is 'a fascist', regardless of where they are on the political spectrum. The Turkish government has gone further. Anyone who upsets them is not only a fascist but also 'a Nazi'. Especially the horrible Dutch. Mr Erdogan seems to have been taking lessons from Mr Trump.

Overall, Spain's 'digital performance' is good but, as we know, broadband prices are the second highest in Europe. See here. What it is to have friends in government.

I noted the other day that the PP government is impervious to demands for a parliamentary commission into corruption, even when these come from its electoral partner. But, of course, the main opposition party - the left-of-centre PSOE - is equally uninterested in such a development. After all, Spain's most corrupt region - Andalucia - has been under their control since the end of Francoism in 1978. So, almost 40 years. And their track record in central government is equally blemished.

Which reminds me . . . How many relics of Franco has the (very)-right-of-centre PP party removed in the last 5 years? Yes, exactly. Not one.

An angry article in yesterday's Voz de Galicia reminded us what we all know – that the electricity companies here are all engaged in deceiving us. There's a Google machine translation at the end of this post for those who can't read it here in Spanish.

The Spanish government last year reduced the level at which cash can be used for commercial transactions but then – having stupidly done this just before Xmas – rapidly backtracked when there was widespread protest. Don Quijones here looks at this trend in a wider context.

A chap on the TV this morning opined that craft and style in advertising are now superb. Whereas creativity is at an all-time low. I fancy these slogans provide some evidence that he's right:-
Feed their curiosity. For cat food.
Born in the jungle, raised in the city: For a 4x4 vehicle

Finally . . . This dog won both the Gun Dog section and the Best in Show award at Cruft's last week:-

Add caption
It's said to be a gun dog. Which is odd, because this is what I thought a gun dog of this breed looked like:-


The only thing dafter than the dogs at Crufts is, of course, the names they give the poor mutts. The runner-up for the Best of Show prize was a miniature poodle – that's a dog? - which goes under the name of Frankie Minarets Best Kept Secret. The winner, by the way was Afterglow Miami Ink. You couldn't make it up. Oh, they did.


The article from the Voz de Galicia

The electric companies treat us like fools

We analyse the deceptions to which the electrical companies submit to us without any scruples

Fools. That is what we are. We come to this conclusion when we analyse the deceptions that the unscrupulous power companies submit to us. Consider the latest move: Competition [the relevant government department] has sanctioned Endesa, Gas Natural Fenosa, Iberdrola and Viesgo for deceiving customers and cutting them off without their permission. 

How can it be? Imagine that a rep of one of these companies - or another one that works for them - comes to your house and explains that there'll be reductions on your bill if this or that amount and that you will pay less. That gentleman who sits in front of you is a rep and so,when someone does not want it he coaxes you until you sign what he wants, which almost always coincides with what will hurt you. 

The electric market is a hoax. Beginning with the assertion that prices in the free market are lower than those regulated. 

You have to be clear:-
1. Large electric companies are electricity generators, distributors and marketers. They create companies for each area in which they operate. So they are everything. The market is cooked and also eaten.
2. There are two types of market: regulated and free. The first one is cheaper. Why? In both, the energy is bought at the daily auction. In the first there is a margin stipulated by the Government, while in the free market each company establishes its own and the types of contract. No company will offer the customer a lower price than the regulated market. They have no interest in selling oranges for four euros, when the regulated price is five.
3. There are 26 million households that could be in the regulated market for having a contracted amount of less than or equal to 10 kilowatts. However, there are only 12 million. And the rest? In the free market, to which they could move after a pernicious phone call.
4. What rights do consumers have in the free market? None. And in the regulated? Access to the social bond, that in case of non-payment the cut off of supply is not immediate and one avoids the court in the case of disagreements with the company.
5. What is the social bond and who is entitled to it? It is a tariff with a discount set by the Government of 25% on the total price of the bill in the regulated market. It benefits consumers with contracted power in their first home of less than three kilowatts, pensioners with 60 or more years and receive a minimum pension, large families, families that have all members unemployed and those who have a social rate before 1 July 2009.
6. Do you know how many consumers have a social bond?: 2.4 million. Do you know how many of these correspond to families with all their members unemployed? 74,000. Do you know how many families there are with all their members unemployed? 1.3 million. Can you tell me where the difference is between the 1.3 million and the 74,000? They are in the free market, where they arrived, logically, after being deceived. 

One last warning: in the regulated maket, there is a fixed price option. Don'tt take it. It is more expensive.

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