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Old September 9th, 2014 #41
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The ‘Good Samaritans’ Who Are Only Interested in Helping Other Spaniards

Tucked away amid the maze of narrow back streets in Madrid’s working-class Tetuán district, an abandoned three-story building has been taken over by around 30 young people who are cleaning it up with the aim of turning it into a soup kitchen and hostel.

Such initiatives are to be found throughout the capital, sometimes set up by neighborhood associations, or as often as not by groups describing themselves as anarchists or anti-system. But the swastikas and signs daubed on the walls of the building reading “Nazis get out of my neighborhood” suggest that the people inside are of a very different stripe, and that the offer of food and somewhere to sleep will apply only to Spaniards.

“In this country there is positive discrimination in favor of foreigners,” says one of the group, a young woman in her mid-20s who is a single-mother and philosophy student, and prefers to remain anonymous.

http://elpais.com/elpais/2014/09/03/...51_047579.html
 
Old November 3rd, 2014 #42
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‘Podemos’ Is the Leading Party in Spain

(AGI) Madrid, Nov 2 — Spain has been affected by a political ‘earthquake’ as the anti-government ‘indignados’ movement is becoming the country’s leading party, by the name of ‘Podemos’.

Since the return of democracy in the 1970s, Spain had been accustomed to a bipartisan political framework with the PSE (Socialists) on one side and the PP (Popular Party) on the other. Despite ‘Podemos’ being established only ten months ago, it has become the country’s top party now with twelve months to go before new elections. According to a survey carried out by El Pais, ‘Podemos’, led by Pablo Iglesias, aged 36, is at 27.7 percent, followed by the Socialist opposition at 26.2 percent, and third is currently Mariano Rajoy’s Partido Popular at 20.7 percent.

http://www.agi.it/en/world/news/pode...20-pol-ren1035
 
Old November 8th, 2014 #43
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The driver of a public bus in Vitoria on Thursday refused to allow a woman on board because she was wearing a Muslim veil which covered her face, the latest flare up in the Basque city over tolerance of Islamic customs.


The driver for the city’s Tuvisa transport service who took decided not to allow the women in a veil that to board his bus has now organised a petition among company colleagues and passengers in a bid to gain support for his stance, according to sources cited by Spanish news agency Europa Press.

Tuvisa has opened an investigation into the incident, while the municipal company’s president has called a meeting with politicians from the city council to inform them of what the ABC newspaper says is the latest in a series of flashpoints relating to rules for the city’s Muslims.

In the summer, Mayor Javier Maroto of the conservative Popular Party imposed rules to prevent women from bathing in public swimming pools wearing Muslim outfits or if they were dressed in ordinary clothing and not just swimming costumes. "The rules at public swimming pools are the same for everyone," the mayor said in June.

"Swimming dressed in all of your clothes and the veil is intolerable."

Maroto is the leading figure behind a PP campaign in the Basque Country to change regional rules governing which families should receive minimum income allowances. The party’s proposal lists requisites such as having been registered as a resident in the region for 10 years and having paid into the social security system, proposals seen by some as discriminatory against immigrants.

The local leader of the Spanish anti-racism organisation SOS Racismo, Fede García, has accused Maroto of "xenophobic opportunism", adding that most immigrants have worked and paid their contributions before, in some cases, finding themselves out of work like millions of Spaniards. “When their subsidies run out, what are they supposed to do? Pack their bags and leave?”

Last year the PP-run city council in Vitoria toughened up laws on commercial premises, a move which led to 45 internet cafés, Chinese-run bargain shops and kebab restaurants receiving sanctions for hygiene problems or failure to have the correct licenses.

In September, Spain's interior minister said the country could look at a ban on burqas as part of a packet of planned new security reforms.

Spain's Catalonia region has set in motion plans for a law controlling the wearing of burqas and other face-covering attire in public spaces "for reasons of public safety".

The region are pushing ahead with the move, first mooted in 2013, after the EU ruled in July that banning full face veils in public did not violate the human rights of Muslim women.

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Old November 10th, 2014 #44
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An overwhelming majority of Catalans have said “yes” to independence and secession from the central Spanish government in Madrid in a highly-anticipated but symbolic referendum poll on Sunday.

Some 80.72 percent voted to form a state independent of Spain, Joana Ortega, vice president Catalonia said shortly after midnight, with over two million Catalans reportedly turning out for the unofficial referendum. Ortega could not immediately give an official turnout rate since there was no formal electoral roll for some 5.4 million registered Catalan voters.

Voters were given two questions to answer, “Do you want Catalonia to be a state?” was the first and in the case of a positive response, voters were asked: “Do you want Catalonia to be an independent state?”

“Yes-no” response obtained 10.11 percent; “no-no” 4.55 percent; and blank votes accounted for 0.56 percent, with 88.44 percent of the votes counted.

President of Catalonia, Artur Mas, called the symbolic vote on independence “a complete success” with “clearly more than two million people” participating despite the veto imposed by Madrid.

“Let no one forget, especially the Spanish government, that Catalonia has once again shown that it wants to govern itself,” he said at a hearing in Barcelona after the vote. It is “a giant step in our legitimate aspiration to peacefully and freely decide our future.”

http://rt.com/news/203799-catalonia-...ce-vote-spain/
 
Old December 1st, 2014 #45
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REPORT. Catalan President believes it will be impossible to agree an independence referendum with the Spanish government, argues a process towards Catalan statehood can be started using ordinary elections. An account of some important issues on this process, by David Forniès*

Catalan President Artur Mas yesterday unveiled a plan that could lead to the establishment of a Catalan state in 2016 through two consecutive elections in one year and half. Mas announced this 17 days after some 1,8 million Catalans voted for independence in a November 9th non-binding referendum that had been blocked by the Spanish Constitutional Court.

This is the essential roadmap that Mas proposed yesterday, and some background -and future prospects- to better understand it:

1. A new, "plebiscite" election in 2015

Since the start of the current process in Catalonia, Mas has said he preferred to have a similar referendum to those held in Quebec in 1995 or Scotland in 2014. But the Spanish government has always said that voting on independence would be illegal, and has refused to discuss on that. Catalan government advisory body CATN said in 2013 that, in this case, an ordinary election to the Catalan Parliament should be turned into a de facto vote on independence.

2. Talks to agree on a single pro-independence list

In order to turn the next Catalan election into a plebiscite on independence, Mas wants political parties and civil society organizations to immediately start talks with the goal of agreeing a single pro-independence list. Mas said this list is aimed at obtaining the absolute majority. Only then, he argued, would it be clear that a democratic mandate exists to start the process towards statehood.

3. The list's makeup

In view of recent election results and opinion polls, it can be concluded that Mas's proposal needs the support from at least his CiU two-party federation -which is made up of liberal Democratic Convergence (CDC) and christian democratic Democratic Union (UDC)- plus social democratic Republican Left (ERC). (For more info on the Catalan political party system after 2012, read this.) But a very important fact is that the list should also be joined by "representatives of the civil society," according to Mas's words. The Catalan President believes that going beyond political parties is key to the success of his proposal.

4. Proposal could encounter resistance

Even if two main pro-independence civil society organizations Òmnium and ANC leaders yesterday supported Mas's plan, the President's proposal encounters resistance. On the one hand, ERC President Oriol Junqueras has repeatedly said he prefers not to have a single pro-independence list but several ones, which would run under a common manifesto commitment to declare independence after the vote. On the other hand, UDC President Josep Antoni Duran -who himself does not favor secession- argues a Catalan election should not be called before 2016. Nevertheless, ERC and UDC representatives this morning said Mas's speech was "positive" and talks can be held starting from it.

5. Fitting the election into the calendar

According to what Mas said yesterday, it is implied that the election should be held over the next six months. On the other side, little room exists for the vote to be held later, if it is not to coincide with other elections. Local elections are scheduled for May 2015, and Spanish Parliament elections should be held in December 2015 or before. If pro-independence parties wish to continue setting the pace of the self-determination process, then the "plebiscite" election on independence should be held in April 2015 at the latest.

6. What the prospects are for an absolute majority?

Single list advocates argue it would catalyse Catalan statehood supporters, an absolute majority being reachable. But opponents reply voters of one party could reject supporting a list including members of another party, and thus some pro-independence votes would be lost. Recent opinion polls say ERC and CiU could get each 31 to 38 MPs if they run in separate lists, the absolute majority being at 68 -thus, it could be on a knife's edge. Pro-independence democratic socialist CUP -which has already said it would not join Mas's unity list- could get an additional 6 MPs. But another opinion poll found that a common ERC-CDC list -without UDC- could just get 58 to 60 MPs, with some seats lost to CUP -which could then reach 8 MPs- and to other non pro-independence parties.

7. Negotiations leading to Catalan statehood

If the pro-indy unity list reaches an absolute majority, an 18-month transitional period would start, ending by the end of 2016. Right after the "plebiscite" election, the new Catalan Parliament should start "formal negotiations", Mas said, to "agree on the conditions of the constitution of the new state." Most likely these negotiations should include Catalonia, Spain and the EU.

8. Creating state structures

At the same time, the Catalan government should end preparations for "state structures" in order to guarantee an "effective transition" towards the new Catalan state. These "state structures," according to CATN, should include a tax agency, the social security, the judiciary, telecommunications, energy and water agencies, and foreign relations.

9. Constitution-making participatory process

Also over this 18-month time, a participatory process to "lay the foundations" of a Catalan Constitution would be opened. Citizens, civil society organizations and municipalities would be called to have a say in that process. The Constitution would then be set to be passed in the next Parliament term. And this leads us to the last stage.

10. Constituent election plus referendum

At the end of 2016, a Catalan constituent election would be called. On the same day, a referendum would also be held so that Catalans could vote "with full knowledge on the conditions of the birth of the Catalan state in the European and world context." This would mean Catalonia would be "exercising its sovereignty," Mas concluded.

+ 1: What could Spain do?

Up till now, the Spanish government -in the hands of conservative PP- has refused to agree not only to Catalan self-determination, but also to devolve more powers to Catalonia. Spain's Public Prosecutor filed last week criminal charges against Mas and two other members of the Catalan government over "possible crimes" regarding the holding of the November 9th vote on independence. There is little hope -and Mas acknowledged this yesterday- that a Catalonia-Spain deal could be reached under the current state of affairs.

In spite of this, opinion polls now predict significant changes in the makeup of the Spanish Parliament a year from now. New anti-capitalist party Podemos could get 21% to 28% of the votes, with the Socialist Party (PSOE) obtaining a further 20%-25% of the votes and United Left (IU) 4%-6%. All three parties -at different levels of intensity- say Spain should undergo a process for Constitutional reform -Podemos in fact says Spain should start a constitutional process from scratch.

Podemos, PSOE and IU, in addition to Catalan and Basque pro-independence and pro-sovereignty parties, could now get an absolute majority in the next Spanish election, which would still fall within the 18-month term that Mas yesterday proposed. It would thus not be impossible -at least in theory- that Catalan and Spanish institutions could reach a deal under those new conditions, one that would significantly increase Catalan powers within a united Spain.

But to this scenario two main objections can be posed. First, supporters of Catalan independence have now been holding massive demonstrations and mobilizations for 5 years. That sector of Catalan society, including their muscled pro-independence organizations, are not likely at all to give up on the goal for a Catalan independent state. According to the most recent survey by the Opinion Research Centre (CEO) of the Catalan Government, 45% of Catalans want full independence even if an alternative federal setup is offered to them. Many of those people already voted for independence on November 9th, and are mentally unplugged from Spain.

And second, the extent of the federal proposal that Podemos, PSOE and IU could offer to Catalonia is really unclear. Acknowledging that Catalonia has the right to decide its own future and to constitute itself as a distinct political subject -even if not fully independent from Spain- is paramount to many Catalans, even to some of them who would not support secession. It is far from clear that those three parties -especially PSOE- would agree to such a different setup of Spain's architecture, because it would mean splitting up the sovereignty of the Spanish people -a taboo idea in Spanish politics.

http://www.nationalia.info/en/news/2022
 
Old December 3rd, 2014 #46
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Journalists at Spain's state broadcaster RTVE are accusing Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government of tightening its control on the network ahead of local and legislative elections next year.

Dozens of TVE public television journalists staged a sit-in on Friday outside of the office of the new head of news, José Antonio Álvarez Gundín, who just arrived from right-wing daily newspaper La Razón to protest his decision to reshuffle the daily newscast team.

An association representing editors and journalists of the newscast said it feared "these changes could mask the intention of imposing an even greater control on news".

By removing certain members of the team Gundín was "breaking the backbone of the televised newscasts," the association added. Spain's two biggest trade unions have also weighed in. The country's biggest union, Comissiones Obreras, said the reshuffle was "a clear attempt to exercise greater control and manipulate the news".

The General Workers Union, Spain's second-largest union, said TVE's newscasts had been "taken hostage". It argues Gundín's appointment was "imposed" by Rajoy's Popular Party, in power since December 2011.The new management of the public broadcaster "is scared to death that professionals could behave as such and not like puppets as several elections
approach" in 2015, the union added.

Contacted by news agency AFP, public broadcaster RTVE, which includes several radio and television stations, declined to comment but noted that Gundín's appointments were all journalists with long ties to the institution.

The malaise is not new. It has rumbled on since April 2012 when Rajoy's government changed a law which had required that the appointment of a new president of the public broadcaster be backed by at least two-thirds of lawmakers. Now a simple majority is all it takes on a second vote.

Rajoy, whose Popular Party has an absolute majority in Spain's 350-seat parliament, said the change was needed to end a "situation of paralysis" after lawmakers could not agree for over a year on who should head the broadcaster.

Ratings drop

In October the government used its parliamentary majority to appoint a new chief at RTVE, which employs around 6,000 people, after the previous head, who was also contested, stepped down.

The arrival of José Antonio Sánchez, who previously served as director general of RTVE between 2002 and 2004 before heading Telemadrid, a regional station that serves the Spanish capital and surrounding region, was heavily criticised by journalists at the broadcaster.

They accuse Telemadrid of being manipulated by the Popular Party, which governs the Madrid region, under his watch. Sanchez has promised to promote "plurality and objectivity" at the station, which since 2009 is no longer supported by adverts and relies entirely on the government for its funding.

Budget Minister Cristóbal Montero has defended his appointment to the helm of the broadcaster. "He has barely begun and he is already held responsible for every ill," the minister said last week.

Journalists at the station point to the fact that TVE has not yet interviewed the leader of a new left-wing anti-austerity party Podemos as proof that the station is biased.

The Podemos leader, university professor Pablo Iglesias, is a frequent guest on Spain's private television stations. "Manipulation and censorship have caused TVE's credibility to plunge," reads a petition signed by 1,500 employees of the public broadcaster.

RTVE main television station, TVE1, led audience ratings in 2011 before the Popular Party came to power with a 13.9 percent audience share. But its ratings have since slipped steadily and the station now sits in third place with a 9.9 percent audience share in October.

The accusations of manipulation are not limited to the Popular Party. In Spain's wealthy northeastern region of Catalonia, a union representing journalists at local public station TV3 have accused it of favouring the separatist initiatives of the regional nationalist government.

"We can't trick citizens by offering them propoganda instead of news," the union wrote.

http://www.thelocal.es/20141203/gove...anish-state-tv
 
Old December 3rd, 2014 #47
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Spain's Conference of Bishops has slammed a government proposal which would allow for the instant deportation of migrants who clamber over border fences into the country's north African enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta.

The secretary of the bishops' commission on migration has joined hands with several other Catholic organizations including the charity Caritas to denounce the proposed change.

The Spanish government in October announced that it would include a legal amendment in its planned new Citizen Security Law authorizing police to expel migrants who climb the fence around Melilla and Ceuta, without giving their asylum claims a hearing — a move slammed by opposition parties.

But the Catholic groups on Monday expressed their "energetic rejection" of the plan saying in a statement that any such changes would effectively make borders "a human rights-free zone".

They said the new law would only increase people's suffering and would not provide solutions for the people "who abandoned their countries of origin, to, after an arduous journey, arrival at the borders of Ceuta and Melilla".

The UN's refugee agency has also criticized Spanish government plans saying the country call break international law by doing so.

Spain has since responded by announcing it will create "centres of attention for asylum seekers" at border posts in the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.

The Interior Ministry said that the plan to build special asylum posts, to be put into action in the coming months, “will strengthen the system of international protection and meet more fully the requirements of the Common European Asylum System”.

A spokesperson for the UN said in late October that around two thirds of those trying to cross the seven-metre (23-foot), triple-layer border fence into Melilla were from countries torn by war, violence and persecution, including Syria, Central Africa Republic and Mali.

In 2013, around 4,200 people entered the enclaves illegally by land and sea, he said.

"So far this year, over 5,000 people have arrived, including 2,000 people fleeing the conflict in Syria, of whom 70 percent are women and children," he added.

http://www.thelocal.es/20141203/chur...igration-plans
 
Old December 12th, 2014 #48
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Just 12 kilometres (seven miles) from downtown Madrid, hundreds of Romanian Roma are living without running water or toilets in third world conditions, a lawyer working with the community has told The Local.

Madrid's El Gallinero neighbourhood is a world away from the bustling streets of the city centre. Rubbish litters the streets while armies of rodents and insects infest the temporary shacks that make up the slum.

The area is home to around 300 Romanian Roma children and their families in conditions that "represent a grave violation of their human rights" according to the charity Save the Children, which has just published a report on the area together with the Family Institute at Madrid's Pontificia Comillas University.

Just some of the basic human rights violated include "the right to a decent home, water and sanitation as well as to social assistance, education or healthcare", according to the report.

One little girl interviewed by authors spoke of her fear of the mice and snakes that came into her shack: "The mice, right, sometimes they come into the houses at night and if there are little kids there, they eat them up."

The children also have no decent areas to play, with one little girl describing street conditions thus: "The little ones often get run over by cars on the street. Once a tiny little girl, who was two years old, was in the street and was knocked over by a car."

The slum was established around eight years ago and although families have been offered shelter in a migrant housing facility, most want to stay put.

"The alternative the government is offering is an isolated housing facility surrounded by major roads, where the families would be supervised. The children would have to change schools and accessing health care would be more difficult," Blanca Gómez, a lawyer who worked on the report told The Local.

Moving to such a facility would be the first step toward obtaining long-term accommodation in an apartment, Gómez explained. But she noted that not all families in El Gallinero are equally ready for such a shift.

"Some of the families have lived in apartments before, like the people who came to Spain during the country's building boom, but who have since lost their jobs," she said.

"Others, though, have basically lived as nomads after being kicked out of their homes in Eastern Europe and have no experience of apartment living."

If and when these people do find longer-term housing, they will then have to deal with a generally hostile society.

"People think the families living in El Gallinero are all criminals and that they want to live the way they do. They are rejected by Spanish society at large," Gómez said.

In the last 18 months, a third of the children living in El Gallinero have seen their homes demolished without alternative accommodation or any form of long-term stability. Save the Children are now calling on the government to call a temporary halt to such demolitions until a lasting solution is found.

"I want to have my house, to have my job and to have my money. I want to live a normal life like everyone else lives”, one boy told the authors of the Save the Children report.

The study does highlight one positive development in El Gallinero though. Most of the children are now going to school.

"These children are heroes. They keep smiling despite the fact they keep seeing their parents' rights trodden on," the lawyer Patricia Fernández told Spain's 20 minutos newspaper.

http://www.thelocal.es/20141210/rats...s-madrids-slum
 
Old December 14th, 2014 #49
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Government survey finds that 74% of citizens want a vote on the country's future to be held · If the referendum was organized, 39% say they would vote "yes" to independence, 29% would vote "no"

35% of Euskadi citizens agree with Basque independence, while 33% reject it, according to a December survey by the Basque Government's Sociological Survey Office. A further 20% say they could favor independence depending on circumstances, while another 12% do not know or refuse to answer.

According to the Sociological Survey Office data, this is the first time since 1998 that support to independence outweighs opposition. For the first time too, those in favour of seceding from Spain are the largest group (see picture and click on it to enlarge; green line is for independence supporters, red for opponents, blue for "dependings", yellow for don't-knows).

Large pro-referendum majority

On the possibility of holding a vote on the future of Euskadi, 51% say they want it irrespective if the Spanish government agrees or not, 23% say they want it only if agreed with Spain, and 16% say they do not want the vote to be held.

If an Euskadi-Spanish government agreement was ever reached, 39% say they would vote for independence, 29% against it, 20% do not know or refuse to answer, and 12% would abstain.

Excluding those who say they would abstain, support to independence is now at 44% while rejection is at 33%. The undecided are the remaining 23%, and would thus hold the key to victory.

When asked on other similar processes in Europe, 73% believe the London-Edinburgh agreement on the referendum for Scottish independence was good. As regards Catalonia, 39% say the Spanish government should have accepted the independence vote and its outcome, while a further 29% believe Madrid should have offered enlarged self-government to the Catalans in exchange for not holding the vote.

Basque identity largely dominant

The survey also asked on citizens' sense of identity. 28% say they only feel Basque, while a further 21% declare they feel more Basque than Spanish. 34% report to considere themselves as Basque as Spanish, 4% say they feel more Spanish than Basque, and 6% declare they only feel Spanish.

The addition of predominantly Basque answers (49%) is the highest one of all the survey's historical series, starting from 1995.

http://www.nationalia.info/en/news/2033
 
Old March 7th, 2016 #50
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Madrid mayor joins movement against anti-Semitism

The Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain expresses its gratitude to the mayor of madrid for joining the international initiative to combat anti-Semitism.

Madrid Mayor Manuela Carmena has joined the mayors of New York, Los Angeles, Vienna, Sarayevo, Sophia, Prague, Copenhagen and Paris in the movement dubbed “Mayors against anti-Semitism” initiated by the AJC - Global Jewish Advocacy, in reaction to the recent worldwide increase in anti-Semitism – especially in Europe.

http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Madrid...emitism-447133
 
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