Tag Archives: Zapatero

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

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Spanish students cause a stir in their search for ‘picaderos’

3 Apr

Those who have lived or travelled in Spain will know that the Spanish are hardly shy of a good public display of affection, especially when the sun is shining on Madrid’s Retiro park. But Spanish students have recently made headlines with their search for ‘picaderos’, or places to have sex, and certain universities are scrambling to stem the trend.

Joke warning for a national picadero

For many years the Complutense University campus, situated in the vast Ciudad Universtaria in the North West of Madrid, has operated as a university by day, but something very different by night. A recent article in El Mundo revealed the extent to which the campus is used by students for sex, claiming, in a somewhat mocking tone, that “any area that is slightly dark and away from the road is a suitable place to unleash your passion”. [“Cualquier zona que esté algo oscura y apartada del tránsito es un lugar idóneo para desatar la pasión.”] The article implies these students’ escapades outdo George Michael in “Let’s go outside”, and we all know where that adventurous attitude landed him.

If El Mundo is on some kind of moral campaign to stamp out this sex ‘al fresco’, they’re sure to lose. Not just students, but adults all over Spain in search of a good picadero have taken their search multimedia thanks to a site much like Google Maps, devoted to helping people locate the best places for shagging. The site, www.mispicaderos.net, was created by Josean Gutiérrez, 35, who felt it could prove useful to frisky students. There are over 6,000 people registered on the site and it’s growing in popularity. Each week five or six new locations are added. Gutiérrez said: “It was born as an experiment and it turned out to be useful and people think it’s quite a fun idea.” [“Nació como un experimento y resulta que está siendo útil y a la gente le parece graciosa la idea”] He’s also created an app for the iPhone and Android. Continue reading

Fernando Alonso to the rescue over Spanish speed limits

5 Mar

It makes you wonder whether Zapatero saw this coming. As Prime Minister it mustn’t be fun when any of your proposals are met with widespread rejection by the public, but when one of Spain’s national heroes, in the form of Formula One driver Fernando Alonso, comes forward to join the dissenting throng, you must know you’ve got something wrong.

National treasure: F1 driver Fernando Alonso

In the wake of unrest in the Middle East causing oil prices to soar, Zapatero’s PSOE announced last week that they will lower the speed limit on Spain’s motorways to help save energy. From Monday 7 March the limit on Spanish motorways will no longer stand at 74.5mph, or 120kph, but 68mph, or 110kph. A recent survey by the AA revealed that 59% of UK drivers asked would slow down to save fuel. Amusingly, the AA advised that driving at 80mph uses a quarter more fuel than driving at 70mph, as well as being illegal. Continue reading

Spanish government right to distrust Eta ceasefire

16 Jan

Since September there has been much anticipation in Spain of an announcement from the Basque terrorist group Eta addressing a permanent ceasefire. But when the moment came earlier this week the promised truce was met with little more than disappointment as the Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero dismissed it as too heavy on rhetoric and too empty of precise detail. In their video announcing the truce, the three hooded Eta members made no mention of disarming or dissolving the organisation, which are two key demands of the Spanish government.

The video in which Eta militants promise a ceasefire

The Spanish are right to be sceptical after decades of ceasefires that have ended in nothing but further death and destruction. Since the 1980s after Spain’s transition to democracy, Eta has declared around ten ceasefires. Their ceasefire of March 2006, which they claimed would be permanent, was met with direct talks with the government, only to end in December that year when the group detonated bombs in Madrid’s Barajas Airport, killing two. In September last year, Eta announced an end to its armed offensive but the move was so weak the government refused to enter into negotiations. Continue reading

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