Caterpillars, quakes, hallucinogenic mushroom and marijuana cake in Valencia this week
In the Comunitat Valencia this week the news has featured a diverse range of stories involving earthquakes, shoe thieves, caterpillars and marijuana cake, as well as a fair scattering of good news for the regional economy.
The earthquakes in the province of Alicante have been numerous but small, to the relief of residents. Seven tremors were recorded in and around Monforte del Cid on Saturday night and Sunday morning, and then another quake, measuring 3.2 on the Richter scale, was reported on Tuesday just offshore from Santa Pola. Following the earthquakes in the north of the region last year, which were almost certainly caused by the gas storage facilities near Vinarós, it is small wonder that residents are nervous about the idea of petroleum prospecting in the Gulf of Valencia: fishermen received widespread support in their demonstrations against these soundings last weekend both in the Comunitat Valenciana and in the Balearics.
Other natural phenomena to feature in the regional news include a forest fire in Alcoy which necessitated the evacuation of elderly Alzheimer’s patients and the early arrival of the dreaded processionary caterpillars in Guardamar de Segura. Careful with your pets if these nasty beasties are seen in the area where you live as they’re lethal.
While the fuel prospecting in the Mediterranean may have to be put on hold, there was good news elsewhere for the region’s economy. Exports from Valencia rose by over 13% in 2013, giving a much-needed boost to the region, and 2014 has begun with increased numbers of foreign visitors throughout Spain: in Valencia, the number of foreign visitors in January was almost 5% higher than in the same month last year. The continuing popularity of the Costa Blanca is one of the pillars of Alicante’s economy, and the announcement of new flights between Alicante and Brussels in Belgium can only serve to increase the number of people visiting from the north of Europe. In the light of all these and other factors related to Spain’s tentative economic recovery, a survey published by the Financial Times has named Valencia as Southern Europe’s fifth most attractive city for investors, in a ranking which is topped by Barcelona.
In addition, at long last this winter’s flu epidemic appears to be practically over! Everything seems to be good news this week!
Well, not quite everything. The good news about more flights at the airport has been soured somewhat by the ongoing disgruntlement of taxi drivers from Elche, who resent the fact that what they view as unfair competition from outside the municipality is allowed to operate freely within the airport. Their threat of strike action could have serious effects on the smooth running of the airport this summer.
Local news in the southern Costa Blanca features positive developments regarding the public health service in various municipalities. Firstly, there is to be an extra doctor assigned to Pinar de Campoverde as of next week to deal with the increased population, and at the same time residents in Bigastro, Almoradí and Albatera will be pleased to know that their all-night emergency units are to be reopened following a redistribution of medical personnel in the Vega Baja.
In addition, dog-owners in Orihuela Costa now have a special fenced-off area in which to train and play with their faithful canine friends in the La Florida park, and residents in the outlying rural districts of the same municipality are to be catered for by a wider range of services at the local Town Hall offices, meaning that they will no longer have to trek into the city centre to deal with all their administrative paperwork. In Torrevieja, meanwhile, the council is upgrading its efforts to provide adequate parking for the disabled, and reminding other drivers of the need to avoid the temptation to use these spaces unnecessarily.
The police in Orihuela also contributed to the good news this week, averting a tragedy when they evacuated eight people from the site of a house fire in the city.
As is the way with local politics, there are a couple of municipal disputes which seem to be rumbling on indefinitely. In Torrevieja the Town Hall’s ten-year rubbish collection contract with Acciona Servicios Urbanos is due to expire later this year, but in the meantime a local councillor is unhappy that the size of the bill has gone up by 60% over the last few years. This contract has been a constant source of controversy, and has already resulted in the former Mayor being convicted of perverting the course of justice.
And in Orihuela, the dispute regarding the city’s two weekly markets just refuses to die down. The council’s plans to change the venues on both Tuesday and Saturday have met with vehement opposition from the stallholders since they were announced, and now that the changes are being implemented local residents have joined in the protests. All sides concerned, except the council, maintain that the arrangements regarding the markets were working fine before the Town Hall stepped in and changed them.
The events diary all over Spain this weekend is dominated by Carnival celebrations, and southern Valencia is no exception.
Among the carnival parades and fiestas taking place on 1st and 2nd March are those in Elche and Torrevieja on Saturday, and on Sunday it’s the turn of the junior Carnival in Pilar de la Horadada. Plenty of opportunities, then, to sample the special atmosphere which always accompanies these celebrations, and a sure sign that spring is on the way!
Those looking for a cultural night out on Friday might enjoy the early-evening music competition being held in Pilar de la Horadada or a little chamber music for violin and piano in Torrevieja, and don’t forget that the annual trades and services fair in Orihuela, which is taking place on the Glorieta Gabriel Miró just south of the river in the city centre, goes on all day every day until Sunday. This sounds like a dry and uninteresting event, but the fair can be quite fun as businesses strive to attract the attention (and custom) of passers-by in the beautiful setting of this large park.
Motor fans will be tempted by the weekend’s entertainment at the Ricardo Tormo race circuit just outside Valencia, where the Classics & Legends weekend features classic cars and motorbikes as well as special guest Freddie Spencer, and on Sunday there are two choral concerts in Torrevieja, one featuring typical Cuban “habaneras” and the other mixing habaneras with other traditional Spanish and international items. In addition Pilar de la Horadada is holding its arts and crafts fair in the Plaza de la Iglesia, offering a pleasant Sunday morning excursion.
Two major musical events are taking place in the Vega Baja next week: on Tuesday there is a performance of Mozart’s comic opera “The Marriage of Figaro” at the Teatro Municipal in Torrevieja, and on both Wednesday and Thursday the songs of Abba are featured in a rendition by a rock band and full orchestra in “Symphonic of Abba”, at the Teatro Principal in Alicante. The week is rounded off with a free concert given by the professional music schools of Torrevieja and Elche in Torrevieja on Friday.
Plenty to choose from then: however you choose to fill your social diary over the next seven days, enjoy!
And please feel free to send in your local club and society events for inclusion in the what’s on section, and if you enjoy this pass it around! ( all contributions to [email protected] )
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Click Murcia weekly bulletin to read the latest round-up from across the border in the Murcia Region, where the latest news from the Paramount theme park, the Corvera airport saga, and other major topics for the Muria region are all featured, toether with carnival programmes from across Murcia.
Spanish national news round-up.
This week the Debate of the Nation has occupied politicians for three days of non-stop public debate, each party given the opportunity to publicly air the topics which are causing the greatest concern to the Spanish people. The media have delivered a blow by blow account of “he said this, she said that” which has resulted in the top stories being read by the people of Spain this week on the digital media relating to the performance of various football teams, pictures of scantily clad pop stars and the sudden death of one of the nation’s most prestigious flamenco guitar masters, Paco de Lucia.
Greenpeace relieved the monotony of parliamentary debate by gagging one of the lions outside the Congress as a protest against the suppression of the right to protest in the modifications made to the Citizen Security law, while the Guardia Civil were subjected to trial by media as coverage of the situation on the Melilla and Ceuta borders rattled on.
It’s been a difficult week for all those involved in this sorry situation, in which 15 illegal immigrants drowned while trying to reach Spanish soil.
The Guardia Civil have been accused of using excessive force, videos posted in the public arena showing them using anti-riot measures to repel hundreds of illegal immigrants trying to climb over the border fencing between Spain and Morocco, and swim around the beach border.
The Guardia say they have been routinely using anti-riot measures for years, as their job is to protect the border and repel the immigrants, the truth being that were force not used, thousands would swarm across the border and into Spain.
This week the decision was taken to stop using rubber bullets and tear gas when the borders were attacked, the result being that two mass assaults on the border resulted in over 250 immigrants entering Melilla, and this morning at 7am, as confidence grew, the biggest assault in years took place, with over 200 illegals managing to enter Spain. The Guardia did not use anti-riot measures. The immigrant transit centre in Melilla is now at several times its capacity, and the army are having to bring in field tents to house these unwanted immigrants, many of whom will end up being let loose on the mainland, with no jobs, no money and no legal means of earning a living as they have no papers and cannot be repatriated to their country of origin. The repercussion of what is happening on the border in Melilla is that those living on the mainland will be left to deal with the problems caused by illegal immigrants left to fend for themselves with no money, no home and no future. What do they live on?
Another major story broke yesterday, with the European Court of Justice declaring the Centimo sanitario illegal. All of us have been paying this tax for years every time we filled up our fuel tanks, and the EU estimates over 13 billion euros has been “illegally” charged to consumers. Money paid between 2010 and 2012 can be legally reclaimed, and businesses who have proper invoices will be able to undergo a process to reclaim the tax they have paid, but this will be hugely complicated as each region imposed its own taxes, which varied in each of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities, from nothing up to 4.8 cents per litre.
As we entered the early part of the week, it was revealed that these independent verifiers were being paid 750 euros a day each, yet had not actually seen the weapons being sealed up, or even knew where they were, they had simply been filmed in a flat in France verifying what was on the table in front of them. The Spanish media, who have written about more than 800 people being blown up by this same group over the last 40 years, shredded the video in their reporting of the subject, and President Rajoy said it was “not worthy of comment”. The verifiers maintained that they see this as a “real opportunity for peace” but today hard hitting direct criticism of the BBC has been printed and we´ll be publishing a full report about this over the weekend.
A full report about the latest developments in the Spanish property market can be read on this week’s Spanish News round-up, along with a more detailed national news round-up.
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