Spain

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Protests continue in Spain 3 days after rapper conviction
Protests against the arrest of rapper Pablo Hasél
Protests against the arrest of rapper Pablo Hasél Credit: Jordiventura96 (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Demonstrations of support for Pablo Hasél and free speech continued in Spain for the third night in a row, particularly in Catalonia. Deployment of riot police caused confrontations where a woman lost an eye to a rubber bullet.

The fallout from the rapper's conviction also continues in government and the judiciary. Government coalition parties PSOE and Unidas Podemos reacted to the events differently, while a legal reform is being called for by the Spanish Justice Ministry itself.

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Coronavirus outbreaks in Spain’s care homes fall by half thanks to vaccination drive
Coronavirus outbreaks in Spain’s care homes fall by half thanks to vaccination drive
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The mass vaccination of care homes – the first priority group of Spain’s vaccination drive – is beginning to have an effect, with contagions falling. According to the Health Ministry, last week 103 coronavirus outbreaks were reported in such residences, which include care homes for people with disabilities and senior residences. This is half the number recorded the previous week.

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Spanish police arrest rapper Pablo Hasél after conviction for lyrics
Tweet by Pablo Hasél listing the messages considered to be "glorification of terrorism"
Tweet by Pablo Hasél listing the messages considered to be "glorification of terrorism" Credit: Pablo Hasél (Twitter Reproduction)

Spain's National Court sentenced Pablo Hasél to two years and nine months behind bars for two separate cases relating to the content of some of his songs and tweets as they were deemed to be "glorification of terrorism" as well as slandering the crown and Spanish law enforcement.

Hundreds of artists have signed a manifesto released earlier last week, entitled 'Without freedom of speech there is no democracy', including luminaries such as Catalan singer Joan Manuel Serrat, Spanish film director Pedro Almodóvar and actors Javier Bardem, Alba Flores and Aitana Sánchez Gijón.

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Independentists get absolute majority in Catalonia
Catalan Flag
Catalan Flag Credit: Genlab Frank (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Despite the socialist party (PSC) got more votes at the February 14th election, the independentists obtained 74 seats over 135 in parliament.

"I want to send a message to Pedro Sánchez, it is time to sit down to resolve the conflict and vote in a referendum and release prisoners with amnesty," were the first words pronounced, defiantly, by the ERC candidate, Pere Aragonès.

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The Spanish Chief of Defence Staff has resigned after receiving Covid-19 vaccination earlier than protocols required
General Miguel Ángel Villarroya
General Miguel Ángel Villarroya Credit: Coluna990 (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The head of the Defence Chief of Staff (Jemad), General Miguel Ángel Villarroya, resigned on Saturday after it was revealed the day before that he and other military commanders had already been vaccinated in the Covid-19 despite not being part of the priority immunisation groups.

In the missive, General Villaroya defends his decision to vaccinate himself and the generals and commanders of the Defence Staff (Emad), who were not among the groups established as priorities, claiming that "in fulfilling his obligations, by the established protocols and with the sole aim of preserving the integrity, continuity and efficiency of the chain of command of the Armed Forces" he had "recently taken decisions that he considers being right", but which are "damaging the public image of the Armed Forces and calling into question" his "own honesty".

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An explosion in Madrid destroys building
Picture of Calle de Toledo, after the explosion
Picture of Calle de Toledo, after the explosion Credit: Twitter Reproduction

A large explosion destroyed most of a building at about 14:00 (UTC) in Calle de Toledo, in the Spanish capital Madrid on Wednesday.

There are reports that firefighters, police and specialized emergency workers were at the scene, and residents were evacuated from the area.

Madrid mayor says at least two people have died in the explosion that caused the collapse of a building in the central Madrid area. A gas leak likely caused the explosion, the mayor said.

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Spain creates a camp for 6,000 immigrants in the Canary Islands
Spain creates a camp for 6,000 immigrants in the Canary Islands
Credit: unsplash.com / Michael Bomke

The Spanish Ministry of Migration announces the plan to urgently create refugee camps with 6,000 places on Gran Canaria, Tenerife, and Fuerteventura to accommodate the immigrants who are now spread over 17 tourist complexes.

Minister José Luis Escrivá's plan includes using Gran Canaria as a place where refugees will arrive in the style of Lesbos or Lampedusa. New arrivals are won't be transferred to the mainland but await deportation in a center set up for this purpose.

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Spain Coronavirus cases surpass 1 million
Spain Coronavirus cases surpass 1 million
Credit: Banc de Sang i Teixits / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Spain is the first western European country to surpass 1 million Coronavirus cases. It has recorded 1,005,295 infections since the first case was confirmed on January 31st.

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53,000 Spanish flags have been placed on Valencia beach to honor the dead from Covid-19
53,000 Spanish flags have been placed on Valencia beach to honor the dead from Covid-19
Credit: Via twitter

The Spanish National Association of Victims and Affected by Coronavirus has placed 53,000 Spanish flags on the beach of Patacona de Alboraia in Valencia.

This action, "in tribute to those killed by the pandemic" of the coronavirus has generated a controversy in the city as it was not authorized and opened a new front of division between the parties on the right and left.

The signs have been placed during the early morning by volunteers from the National Association of Victims and Affected by Coronavirus (Anvac), based in Madrid, and will remain on the beach until Sunday at 19.00, as reported by this group in a statement.

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Spanish health minister orders Madrid into lockdown, city has 48 hours to comply
Spanish health minister orders Madrid into lockdown, city has 48 hours to comply
Credit: unsplash.com / seyfettin dincturk

The Minister of Health has detailed the restrictions to be followed by the Community governed by Díaz Ayuso after sending him in the early hours of the morning a ministerial order "of obligatory compliance".

Under the new regulation Madrid and cities of more than 100,000 inhabitants with an accumulated incidence of over 500 Covid-19 cases must apply new restrictions in order to slow down the pandemic. The new mobility limitations are obligatory even for the autonomous communities that voted against these. The government of Madrid is evaluating the option of appealing the order before the National Court.

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Spain updates Official State Gazette to enable work from home for 2.5 million public employees
Spain updates Official State Gazette to enable work from home for 2.5 million public employees
Credit: unsplash.com / Agnieszka Boeske

Around 2.5 million public employees will be potentially able to work from home due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The agreement reached by the Government and the main representatives of this group of workers (CSIF, CC OO and UGT) to update the Basic Statute of the Public Employee (EBEP) was published this Wednesday in the Official State Gazette (BOE).

The autonomous communities now have six months for the adaption of the new regulations.

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Spanish Supreme Court confirms the removal of Quim Torra as head of Catalonian government
Spanish Supreme Court confirms the removal of Quim Torra as head of Catalonian government
Credit: Generalitat de Catalunya / Wikimedia Commons

The Supreme Court has ended this Monday the mandate of Quim Torra at the head of the Generalitat de Catalunya the Government of Catalonia.

He has been removed for a crime of disobedience imposed for failing to comply with the order of the Central Electoral Board to remove, during the election campaign, a banner supporting the imprisoned supporting the imprisoned pro-independence leaders.

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Madrid requests the "urgent" logistic intervention of the Army and the incorporation of 300 non-EU doctors

The Governing Council of the Community of Madrid has decided this Wednesday to ask the central Executive for the intervention of the Army in the region to help exercise the Covid-19 virus containment strategy.

Government spokesperson and vice-president, Ignacio Aguado, has stated that they "have decided to formally request from the Government of Spain in a meeting this Thursday urgent military logistical support for the installation of tents, testing and disinfection work in each of the basic health areas with restrictions in place".

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Spain: Prime Minister meets Madrid chief over joint Covid-19 measures
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Madrid regional premier Isabel Díaz Ayuso
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Madrid regional premier Isabel Díaz Ayuso Credit: La Moncloa

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez met Madrid regional premier Isabel Díaz Ayuso on Monday to coordinate measures against the spread of the new coronavirus, as the Madrid region has become the epicentre of the Covid-10 crisis in Spain, with more than one-third of all newly reported infections.

Sánchez stated that "Madrid needs a special plan."

The harshness of the second wave in the Community forces a change in the political climate, and the face-to-face between Pedro Sánchez and Isabel Díaz Ayuso signalled a thaw in months of frosty relations.

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Madrid to impose targeted lockdowns amid rising Covid-19 infections
Madrid to impose targeted lockdowns amid rising Covid-19 infections
Credit: Diario de Madrid / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0)

Madrid, one of the worst-hit regions in Spain, will introduce targeted lockdowns and other restrictions in areas with faster spreading Covid-19 infections.

"Madrid wants to flatten the curve before the arrival of autumn and the complications that cold weather could bring," so deputy regional health chief Antonio Zapatero, adding that regional lockdowns will most likely affect southern, working-class neighbourhoods where Covid-19 infections have been rising since August.

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Spain reports over 5,000 new cases per day - five times more than in July
Fernando Simón
Fernando Simón Credit: Patria De Todos (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Spanish Ministry of Health has reported 23,572 new Covid-19 cases and 83 deaths since Friday. Compared to July the daily reported new cases are almost five times higher than in July at 5,623 cases.

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Madrid will reopen hotel for homeless people with Covid-19
Representative image of a hotel room
Representative image of a hotel room Credit: unsplash.com / reisetopia

The Community of Madrid will reopen a hotel in the Las Tablas neighborhood where homeless people with mild covid-19 symptoms who have no housing resource to isolate themselves will stay.

These people will be referred by the municipal social services to stay in this hotel, with 120 beds, which will have health and social services personnel.

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Spanish government encourages communities to request a state of alert to contain Covid-19
Spanish government encourages communities to request a state of alert to contain Covid-19
Credit: Ministry of the Presidency. Government of Spain

The Spanish president Pedro Sánchez has announced that the Spanish communities need to be the ones to request the declaration of a state of alarm in their territory if they think they need it. He guarantees that whoever does so will have the support of the majority votes of the government.

The president has also announced the availability of 2,000 military personnel to track infections in the autonomous regions that need them.

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Barcelona investigates possibility of an 'Amazon tax' for e-commerce giants
Barcelona investigates possibility of an 'Amazon tax' for e-commerce giants
Credit: unsplash.com / Bryan Angelo

After forcing Airbnb to remove advertisements for unlicensed tourist apartments, and trying to regulate the operations of Uber or Cabify, the spotlight is now on the big online retail operators. The City Council is considering the implementation of a tax for large companies like Amazon, which make profits in the city but do not pay taxes like local businesses. Legally it will not be easy, they admit in Ada Colau's government. The idea is to tax the use of public space which is a local competence.

The mayor explains that, from the constitutional point of view, the contribution "would be based on the use of the local public space used by the platforms to obtain an economic benefit".

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21 immigrants travelling in boats to the Canary Islands have died

Trying to reach the Canary Islands by boat has claimed the lives of 21 migrants in less than 48 hours. In addition to the 15 bodies rescued on Wednesday from a cayuco (canoe), six other people travelling in a cayuco with 10 survivors were rescued on Thursday afternoon.

Two of the 11 living migrants were taken in a Civil Guard helicopter to a health centre, in which one of them died. The other nine travelled to the port of Arguineguín (in the south of Gran Canaria).

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Over 70 former ministers and senior members of two Spanish parties sign manifesto of support for the reign of Juan Carlos I
King Emeritus Juan Carlos I
King Emeritus Juan Carlos I Credit: א (Aleph) (Creative Commons Attribution 2.5)

75 former ministers and senior members of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) and People's Party (PP), as well as around fifteen ambassadors, have signed a manifesto of support for King Juan Carlos, defending his presumption of innocence and recalling his legacy in these more than 40 years of democracy, the "most fruitful historical period that Spain has known in contemporary times".

Among the signatories of the document are former vice-presidents of the Government such as the socialist Alfonso Guerra; former ministers of Union of the Democratic Centre (UCD) such as Rodolfo Martín Villa or Soledad Becerril, or of the PP, such as Rafael Catalá, Jaime Mayor Oreja, Esperanza Aguirre, José Ignacio Wert or Ana Pastor, among others.

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Spanish unions announce strike for the first days of the return to school in Madrid
Spanish unions announce strike for the first days of the return to school in Madrid
Credit: unsplash.com / Taylor Wilcox

The unions CC OO, UGT, CGT and STEM have called for a teachers strike for the first days back to the classrooms and do not rule out making it indefinite, although they hope to reach an agreement before that.

They demand "a responsible return to the classroom" and are asking the regional administration for a decrease in the ratio of students per classroom by splitting up groups in order to respect safety distances. In addition they ask for an increase of teachers, cleaning, administration, social integration and complementary service personnel and increase in nursing staff in all schools.

The four unions called for "a plan for the compensation of inequalities; measures and resources for the correction of the digital gap; an endowment of all the necessary material resources and improvement of the infrastructures"

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Spanish public debt increases by €32,087 million compared to May, reaching €1,289 billion in June
Banco de España
Banco de España Credit: Jose Javier Martin Espartosa

As a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic the liabilities of Spain have increased by €32,087 million compared to May, reaching €1,289 billion, according to data published this Tuesday by the Bank of Spain.

Adjusting for the last four quarters the liabilities would be around 110% of the gross domestic product, the highest since 1905.

María Jesús Fernández, a senior economist at Funcas says "our GDP forecast for 2020 is 1.13 billion" and that the dept figure for June "is about 114% of the projected GDP".

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Spain reports more than 5,000 new Covid-19 cases, a third of them in Madrid
Spain reports more than 5,000 new Covid-19 cases, a third of them in Madrid
Credit: unsplash.com / Jorge Fernández Salas

The Ministry of Health has reported 5,114 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of people infected in the country since the start of the pandemic to 364,196. Two out of every five new positives have been diagnosed in the last 24 hours, while the rest correspond to the results of tests carried out in previous days and which have been communicated to the Health Department after the daily closing of its records.

Positive diagnosis tend to stabilize, although hospitalizations and ICU admissions increase.