Tag Archives: Spain

The Lorca quake: what we never knew about Spain

13 May

The 5.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Lorca on Wednesday, killing nine victims, came as a shock to the Spanish community and beyond. The tremor was felt from its epicentre in Murcia, sourthern Spain, to as far away as Madrid. A small medieval town of 90,000 inhabitants, Lorca lies near the Tercia mountain range in a region of Spain that, it transpires, is relatively prone to earthquakes. For those of us who have visited Spain but were not around to witness the last significant quake, over fifty years ago, this might come as a shock.

Zapatero inspects rubble in Lorca

The Daily Telegraph’s Fiona Govan in Madrid wrote: “Spain is at moderate risk of earthquakes. On average every 200 years an earthquake of over six on the Richter scale occurs.” Continue reading

We asked and you voted: Spain’s greatest export

3 May

A week ago we asked you what you thought was Spain’s greatest export, and the results are in! 53 people voted on our poll and after (Golden Globe and Academy Award winning) Penelope Cruz held the top spot for the first four days, one of the most traditional and stereotypical Spanish exports won: tapas. Click on the images below and take a look at the results…

Spain's greatest export as voted for by HispanicLondon readers Many Eyes

Spain's greatest export as voted for by HispanicLondon readers Many Eyes
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Pope Benedict XVI in an ‘aggressively secular’ Spain

7 Nov

During his two days in Spain, Pope Benedict XVI has succeeded in converting what could have been a victorious tour of a traditional Catholic stronghold into a visit mired in controversy. Before even arriving in Santiago de Compostela to begin his visit, the Pope told reporters that Spain was suffering an ‘aggressive secularism’, which he compared with the anticlericalism of the 1930s.

Zapatero alongside Pope Benedict in what seems an awkward encounter

By referring to the 1930s when Spain stood on the brink of a civil war, the Pope irresponsibly highlights political divisions that have been difficult to rid from the national consciousness. In the 1930s Spanish society was divided between liberal, left-wing Republicans and right-wing, largely Catholic Nationalists. The Second Republic from 1931 to 1936 passed legislation separating the church and the state, legalising divorce and allowing women the vote. During this time radical left-wingers demonstrated their anticlericalism through attacks on nuns and monks and by burning churches. To compare the current state of Spain’s Catholic Church to these violent acts carried out by a minority is not only inaccurate, it is irresponsible. In the past, comments like this could have served to polarise Spanish society, described by the Civil War expert Ángel Viñas as ‘un juego pendular’, or pendulum game, for its history of extreme left and right politics. Continue reading

Spanish shock as Romanian girl of ten gives birth in Andalucía

3 Nov

Shockwaves were sent through the Spanish community today after it was revealed that a ten-year-old Romanian girl has given birth in Andalucía. Elena, dubbed ‘la niña-madre’ or child-mother in the press, lives with her mother, Olimpia, and other relatives in a community of Romanian gypsies in the Andalucian village of Lebrija.

But today the Spanish national El Mundo revealed that the child only arrived to stay with her mother in Spain three weeks ago and did so expressly to give birth last week with the help of Spanish healthcare.

Lebrija, Andalucia, where the 10-year-old stayed with family

The birth has not only offended the morality of conservative Andalucians but it has questioned the integration of the Romanian community in Spain and the nature of the welfare state provided by Zapatero’s Socialist party, PSOE. In a region of Spain partly characterised by an ageing population and a devout faith in Catholicism, the pregnancy of a ten-year-old girl has produced passionate censure.

Readers’ comments on the website of the local newspaper, El Diario de Jerez, range from criticising the child’s parents to the PSOE’s liberalism for welcoming Romanians to Spain. Some express their support for French President Sarkozy whose decision to extradite the Romanian community from France recently made headlines. Continue reading

A nation of nappers?

26 Oct

If the international perception of the Spanish wasn’t already connected with the lethargy and decadence of the siesta, then it certainly is now after the country’s first national siesta championship last week. In what other country would you find 360 people, some clad in pyjamas with eye masks and teddy bears in tow, fighting it out to see who could snooze most impressively in a public place?

The competition, organised by the National Association of Friends of the Siesta, challenged participants to sleep soundly in a busy shopping centre in Madrid while a doctor monitored their pulse for 20 minutes. Extra points were awarded to those who snored the loudest, slept in the most original position or wore the wackiest outfit. This contest was designed to prove that Spaniards can sleep anywhere, anytime. Well, that’s not the official line of course. Andres Lemes, the association’s spokesman, said: “The mission of the championship is to spread the idea that the nap is something of ours that must be defended and practised, because it is healthy and good for everyone”. The winner of the competition, Pedro Soria Lopez, won 1,000 euros after sleeping for 17 minutes. The unemployed security guard was dubbed ‘the Ecuadorean super-snorer’ after his snores registered 70 decibels.

It’s all light-hearted fun and in the eyes of the association this is a campaign to safeguard a national tradition, but the response of foreign observers may well be cynical. Oh those wacky Spaniards what are they up to now? Ever since Spain joined the EU in 1986 it has experienced pressure to ban the siesta as it hinders the EU goals of economic competition and international trade. Continue reading