15:53 El NACHO 0 Comments

The Chandigarh Golf Association, Costa del Sol Tourist Board and La Cala Resort, the biggest golf complex in Spain, have reached an agreement to organize a series of different events involving Indian golfers from across the world. 
The first one is the “India – Spain Costa del Sol Trophy”  golf tournament which will be played at Los Naranjos on Monday 27th June and at La Cala Resort (Campo Europa) on Tuesday, 28th June. 
A delegation of over twenty Indian golfers arrived yesterday in  Málaga via the Costa del Sol International Airport and will stay until the middle of next week at the La Cala Resort 5 * Hotel. 
In recognition of this initiative, the Indian Ambassador to Spain, Mrs. Sujata Mehta, will attend the prize-giving ceremony on Tuesday, 28th June at 19:00 hrs on the Clubhouse Terrace at La Cala. The press is welcome to attend this moment. 
Recent international studies on the  world golf industry have shown India and China as the markets with the most potential in relation to  golfers travelling around the world. Golf is also the  fastest growing sports in India 
La Cala Resort is collaborating with Chandigarh Golf Association and the Costa del Sol Tourist Board to position the Resort and the Coast as a leading destination for the Indian market.



British writer risks death in the afternoon

15:47 El NACHO 0 Comments

The pavement outside a tapas bar in London's Old Brompton Road is a far cry from a bullring in Spain.

But that doesn't stop British writer, actor and amateur matador Alexander Fiske-Harrison from leaping to his feet mid-conversation and demonstrating a series of sweeping passes.

"There is no winning. It's not a fight," he says of the bloody Spanish spectacle. "It's a tragic play in three acts."

Fiske-Harrison, an Old Etonion and Oxford graduate, is following a line of non-Spanish artists to have been captivated by the "corrida de toros" that includes film-maker Orson Welles, critic Kenneth Tynan and, of course, Ernest Hemingway.

His just-published book "Into the Arena" sets out to explain the world of the Spanish bullfight and to examine its moral dilemma --the killing of an animal for entertainment.

It comes out at a time when the corrida is under sustained attack from animal rights activists in Spain and abroad and is feeling the effects of the country's economic crisis.

To get to the heart of the matter, Fiske-Harrison, 34, spent a year living in Seville and training as a matador, learning the cape passes and the technique of killing with the sword.

He took part in more than a dozen "tentaderos" -- private fights at bull ranches aimed at testing young bulls -- and finished by killing a three-year-old Saltillo bull before an audience of 100 spectators last November.

"I had qualms. There was a real possibility it could go horribly wrong. It just seems to me that if you are going to write, let's try to describe it properly. So I went for going over the horns. The moment of truth," he told Reuters.

Along the way he befriended matadors such as Juan Jose Padilla, one of Spain's most fearless, and Cayetano Rivera Ordonez, whose father Paquirri was killed in the ring in 1984 and whose grandfather Antonio Ordonez is one of the all-time greats.

He also hung out with breeders on the ranches where the bulls roam free until their date in the ring, including the Miura family, whose feared bulls have killed more matadors than any other breed.

He also tried his luck running with the bulls at Pamplona's San Fermin festival and will be there again in a few weeks time.

Fiske-Harrison, who wrote and acted in "The Pendulum" in London's West End before embarking on his taurine adventure, agrees with Hemingway's dictum that bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death.

But, he says, the corrida is not about blood lust.

"The bull is not scared, it is fighting. It comes down to the elegance of the visual spectacle. The man standing rigid with this raging fury of blood and thunder going past him. And the danger, bringing it closer and closer.

"The matador evokes or inspires emotion in the audience."

Opposition to the bullfight -- not least in Britain -- is often hypocritical, he says. The bull has a better life and no less unpleasant death than beasts that are bred for the dinner table and slaughtered in abattoirs.

"We're not as into animal welfare as we like to think we are. We want a cellophane-wrapped steak from a supermarket. We'd rather not see it die," he says.

A ban on the bullfight would also be an environmental disaster. As well as spelling the end of a species bred solely for the purpose of the corrida, the rugged, unspoiled lands occupied by the ranches would be given over to mass commercial farming, destroying the Spanish landscapes, he says.


The future of the spectacle has come under threat, not just from overseas but also from within Spain by opponents who say that tradition or not, it is a barbaric act that has no place in a modern society.

Last year the region of Catalonia voted to ban it, although the move was interpreted by many as reflecting the desire of separatist-minded Catalans to dispense with culture originating from elsewhere in Spain. Polls also show fewer Spaniards taking an interest in the bulls.

Fiske-Harrison believes reports of the demise of a spectacle that back in the 1930s poet Federico Garcia Lorca called "the last serious thing in the modern world" are premature.

"In 2008 there were more fights than there have been in history. In Andalucia, in the Basque country, in Madrid, it can't die. They love it. Go to Seville in April. It's impossible to get a ticket."

A top matador like Jose Tomas commands huge fees and his scheduled return to the ring in July after recovering from a terrible goring in Mexico a year ago is creating a buzz.

The bigger threat is economic, with fans unable to afford tickets on a regular basis and local councils cutting back on funding bullfights as part of town fiestas.

Still, he says he was "morally agnostic" when he set out on his project and even now is somewhat ambiguous.

Describing the experience of killing the bull, he says: "It's only you and him in the ring. You go through this thing together."

"When the sword went in, I felt I had done something wrong. However, I do not regret it."


Brits prefer to travel by car and ferry to villas in Spain rather than go through the stress of airport commuting.

07:04 El NACHO 0 Comments

Nearly a quarter of hoidaymakers find the prospect of getting on to a flight as stressful as moving house, according to research by CPP.

The life assistance company noted that four in ten Brits feel stressed at airports, with the same proportion struggling at foreign airports because of the language barrier.

One in ten Brits admit that they would prefer to take alternative transport to their holiday destination, whether it be relaxing villas in Spain or 18 to 30s resort in Portugal.

Psychologist David Moxon notes that airports are conducive to raising stress levels in humans for a number of reasons.

He added: "Humans are wired to experience stress in situations where many feel out of control - and airports, where you have to follow instructions that are likely change at the last minute, and procedures that are unpredictable, lead many to react with a stress response."

However, this trend could be set to change, as younger Brits become more adept at travelling around the world by aeroplane than their parents.

Recent research by Aviva indicated that 94 per cent of Britain's children have been abroad at least once in their lifetime, while just 39 per cent of their parents had been overseas when they were kids.


Portugal's new centre-right government vowed Tuesday to exceed austerity targets agreed in its EU-IMF bailout, sacrificing the completion a high-speed rail link with Spain.

07:00 El NACHO 0 Comments

Portugal's new centre-right government vowed Tuesday to exceed austerity targets agreed in its EU-IMF bailout, sacrificing the completion a high-speed rail link with Spain.
Suspending construction of the Lisbon-Madrid high-speed rail link that was due to be completed by 2013, formed part of a four-year government programme submitted to parliament for approval.
The government of Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho vowed to "apply scrupulously the measures negotiated with the International Monetary Fund and the European Union," but said it wants to be "more ambitious in the adjustment process for the Portuguese economy".
This was to "guard against possible external and internal risks," said a government document detailing the plan.
Under Portugal's 78-billion-euro ($112 billion) bailout, Lisbon must implement tough measures to control public finances, introduce reforms and sell off state assets to improve the weak structure of the economy.
The country should squeeze its public deficit from 9.1 percent of gross domestic product last year to three percent in 2013.
There have been increasing concerns that a Greek default could spread a new wave of contagion throughout the eurozone, further damaging weaker economies like Portugal.
"Supplementary measures of a structural nature" will be adopted if need be to "ensure the respect and early attainment of targets to which the country is bound and to also restore international confidence in its economy," vowed the government.
The government programme, due to be debated by lawmakers on Thursday and Friday, announced it would "suspend" construction of the high-speed rail project.
This could be reexamined at a later stage with a view of an eventual renegotiation of the contract, the document said.
The contract for the first section of the Madrid line was signed in May 2010 while the tender process for a second section was never completed.
The project was to cut travel time between the two capitals to under three hours and link Portugal to Europe's high-speed rail network, at a cost of 3.3 billion euros to Lisbon.
In Madrid, Spain's transportation minister, Jose Blanco, said if the suspension is approved, it would be "a bad decision" while adding that he also wanted clarification if it would be a temporary or permanent halt to the project.
The rail link was a flagship project of former Socialist prime minister Jose Socrates, but the centre-right has long called for it to be delayed to cut the country's debt, which hit 93 percent of GDP last year.
The new government also pledged to reexamine the construction of a new airport for Lisbon, which was scheduled for completion by 2017.
It pledged to widen privatisation of state-held media to include the sale of one television channel, a radio station and the Lusa news agency.
The government also promised labour market reforms to eliminate fixed-term employment contracts while simplifying regulations for employers to terminate new hires.
It pledged to follow through on existing legislation and create an independent authority to monitor spending.


The secret history of Britain's Spanish civil war volunteers

06:59 El NACHO 0 Comments

The release of MI5's records on British volunteers during the Spanish civil war is a fascinating new source and an invaluable addition to the available archival information. However, claims in the media that these figures show that many more Britons volunteered than had previously been thought should be treated with caution.

The new sources apparently suggest that some 4,000 Britons departed for Spain (compared with the standard figure of 2,500 or less) – a number that even exceeds the 2,762 that emerged from research in Spanish archives during the 1960s and 70s (at a time when the Franco regime, which had always sought to inflate the number of foreigners fighting in Spain, was still in power). At first sight, therefore, it seems unlikely that there was a phantom regiment of some 1,500 additional British volunteers in Spain.

This new source essentially records those radicals that British intelligence suspected of going to Spain (albeit often with later corroboration provided). Therefore, the list includes those who did not go to Spain to fight (such as the writer Valentine Ackland and the journalist John Langdon-Davies), as well as Eric Blair/George Orwell, who fought for the much smaller ILP contingent. We have to bear in mind that some of those listed may well not have made it to Spain.

One point that does emerge strongly, however, is what a close eye British intelligence kept on the potential volunteers at the ports, and how unwilling they were to prevent their departure. The British government was loth to use the 1870 Foreign Enlistment Act, fearing that if a case came to court it could not secure a conviction, and would face political embarrassment.

How will this new material affect our understanding of the British volunteers? The general story of the volunteers is already well known. Although some of the best known were middle class, Oxbridge-educated intellectuals, they were overwhelmingly drawn from the working class, and came predominantly from London and the industrial regions of Britain. They were motivated by anti-fascism and saw the defence of the democratically elected Spanish Republic (under attack by Franco's military rebels, assisted by Nazi Germany and fascist Italy) as a means to defeat the Europe-wide threat of fascism. However, one aspect that remains highly controversial is the role of the Communist party, despite the release of international communist movement archives in Moscow during the 1990s.

The Communist party of Great Britain took responsibility for organising the recruitment of volunteers in Britain, and leading communists held positions as officers and "political commissars" with the British battalion in Spain. While historians have tended to see the members of the British battalion as genuine volunteers rather than as communist "dupes", the rhetoric that the communists used in the civil war (defending "democracy" against fascism) sits uncomfortably with the excesses of Stalin's Russia at the height of the terror. The degree of political control exercised by the communist leadership of the battalion, and especially the treatment of those volunteers who fell out with the political commissars for political reasons, has attracted particular debate.

These new records will doubtless not conclude that debate, but they will provide valuable new evidence on the radical milieu in which the volunteers moved. In particular, the file cards which are also being released (a selection are available online), provide evidence not only on volunteers' movements, but also on their political activities during the civil war and long after their return from Spain. Most importantly, once checked against other records such as the valuable collection at the Marx Memorial Library in London, the new material will allow an even fuller picture of the volunteers to be built up, and it is quite possible that some new names will come to light. This will facilitate the task of producing a genuinely rounded collective biography of the British volunteers.



Hispania owner convicted of fraud, reports Spanish media

00:22 El NACHO 0 Comments

José Ramón Carabante – the majority owner of F1 2011 backmarker Hispania Racing (HRT) – has narrowly avoided a jail term after being convicted of fraud, reports in the Spanish media have revealed.

Sports newspaper Marca claims that Carabante was involved in the sale of land back in the late 1990s, upon which the promised construction of homes never materialised. According to, the 59-year-old Spanish businessman was a director of the land development company, and as such, charged with signing the contracts and looking after the financial aspects. He was sentenced to three months' imprisonment by a court in Cádiz, but for undisclosed reasons, will reportedly not have to serve time.

Carabante's team is preparing this weekend for its second 'home' outing of the season in the European Grand Prix in Valencia, a race that yielded a two-car finish for the Murcia-based outfit last year, albeit down in 18th and 20th positions.

Team principal Colin Kolles has already conceded that the bulk of efforts are 'very soon' to switch to the 2012 car in a bid to steal an early march on HRT's immediate rivals next year [see separate story – click here] – with an aerodynamic programme in Mercedes Grand Prix's spare wind tunnel set to get underway next month – but in the meantime, the acquisition of tenth spot in the 2011 constructors' standings remains a clear goal.

“I always enjoy Valencia,” affirmed the German. “Both the city, with its atmosphere, and the track, which is a street circuit, are very special. Valencia is basically our second home grand prix, which is very important for the team. I hope that the team continues improving and can prolong the positive trend.

“It seems that the car is more competitive on tracks with similar characteristics to Valencia. Traction will be very important here; therefore, we have worked in this direction. We will have some new parts on the car, and hope to further reduce the gap to the teams in front of us.”

In taking the chequered flag in an excellent 13th place last time out in the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal – ahead of both Virgin Racing entries and Jarno Trulli's Team Lotus – Vitantonio Liuzzi hinted at a genuine step forward for Hispania across the Pond. As the team returns to Europe this weekend, the Italian is palpably fired-up to keep that momentum going.

“The atmosphere of the race in Valencia is fantastic, the crowd is really committed and passionate and the city is beautiful,” he enthused. “It all adds up to one magnificent grand prix! It's always special to race in front of your home crowd and I'm sure it will be a great weekend with a lot of support from our home fans, especially after achieving our best result in Montreal.

“It's a difficult and technical circuit. It's not an easy task to set up the car, and the track is really demanding on the tyres. Overtaking has been difficult previously here, but with the DRS this year it should be much easier. Qualifying will be very important, as always in F1, but with the DRS there will be opportunities to improve on your position.


Spanish Catholic Priests say sponsorship makes church look privileged

08:34 El NACHO 0 Comments

A group of 120 Spanish Catholic priests have criticised church leaders for signing up a list of high-profile corporate sponsors for a visit by the Pope in August, saying authorities had given in to temptation.

In a rare joint letter, the priests told Archbishop of Madrid Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela the sponsorship deals reinforced the impression the church was a privileged institution.

"It's been necessary to form a pact with the economic and political powers which reinforces the image of the church as a privileged institution, close to power, and the social scandal this implies, especially in the context of the economic crisis," the priests said in an open letter.

Organisers of Pope Benedict's visit, scheduled for August 18-21 as part of the celebrations of World Youth Day, have mounted a nationwide advertising campaign, backed by well-known multinationals and Spain's top companies.

Corporate logos of the companies, including Coca Cola , Telefonica , Santander and Iberia , fill the sponsorship page of the official visit website

"To trust in the strength of power and money ... is to give in to a temptation as old as the Church," said the letter.

"No one can serve two masters. You cannot serve both God and money," the letter said, citing the passage from the Bible, Matthew 6:24.

The Archbishop declined to comment.

The 10-page open letter, posted on the "Priests of Madrid Forum" website earlier this week -- -- also criticised at length some of the companies' roles in the economic crisis.

"The crisis has its origin in the banks' and large groups' uncontrolled desire for profits," the priests wrote.

"We believe the Cardinal, concerned about the multi-million budget for the event, has chosen the worst collaborators."

A visit by the head of the Catholic church to Britain was roundly criticised last year for its high cost to taxpayers, estimated at around 10 million pounds.



Spanish Mortgages Decline at the Fastest Rate Since the Housing Boom Ended

08:31 El NACHO 0 Comments

The number of mortgages issued for Spanish homes in April registered a drop unseen since the end of the housing boom, confirming the weakness of a real-estate market that is penalizing the country’s banks and growth.
The number of new mortgages declined 38.2 percent from a year earlier, the National Statistics Institute said in an e- mailed statement today. That’s the most since April 2009, when buyers pulled out of the real-estate market after the end of the housing boom in 2008. The value of mortgage lending slumped 45.1 percent from a year earlier, the most in more than two years, the institute said.
The decline reflects the impact of a 21 percent jobless rate on consumers’ borrowing capacity. The number of foreclosed properties in Spain has climbed tenfold since 2008, according to, the country’s largest property website. The extent of the drop is also due to the end of a tax incentive in January, announced by the government last year to encourage buyers to bring forward purchases and work through a backlog of 1 million unsold homes.
“This addition to a long series of negative data confirms Spanish growth is weak, but it is still too early to tell whether the real-estate sector is actually worsening,” said Javier Diaz-Gimenez, an economics professor at Madrid’s IESE Business School.
Bankia IPO
The data come as Spain’s central bank shepherds lenders formed from mergers of savings banks toward market listings as it tries to contain the cost of recapitalizing them from public coffers. One of them is Bankia, which will register its initial public offering prospectus with regulators next week instead of today as planned, a person familiar with the transaction said.
“The mortgage situation isn’t good news for the banks because they have Spain’s stock of unsold homes and credit is becoming rarer and more expensive,” Diaz-Gimenez said.
A possible default by Greece and mounting bad loans tied to domestic property have driven up Spanish banks’ borrowing costs.
Transaction volumes on Spain’s real-estate market won’t pick up until prices fall more, Diaz-Gimenez said.
Home prices fell for the 12th straight quarter in the three months through March, making for a 15 percent drop from the peak three years earlier, the statistics institute said on June 15.



Millions of pounds raised by the sale of a little-known Picasso masterpiece are to fund medical research into obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

13:28 El NACHO 0 Comments

The portrait of the artist's lover, Marie-Therese Walter, fetched £13.5m when it went under the hammer on Tuesday at Christie's Impressionist and Modern Art auction in London.

The 1935 work, "Jeune fille endormie", was given to the University of Sydney last year by an anonymous US donor on the condition that it be sold to support scientific research at the university.

"When they gave us this remarkable work our donor said "this painting is going to change the lives of many people"," said Michael Spence, the university's vice-chancellor.

"They were right. We are grateful for their extraordinary generosity and delighted with the outcome of the auction," he added.

The rarely-seen piece was estimated to raise between £9 million and £12 million but sold to an anonymous British buyer for £13,481,250.

Giovanna Bertazzoni, director of Impressionist and Modern Art at Christie's, said it was "an absolute jewel of a painting by one of the great artistic geniuses of Western art", adding that the work was "bursting with colour and luring the viewer into the intimate sanctity of Picasso's love for Marie-Therese."

"We are thrilled to have realised a strong price for Sydney University's Picasso, especially knowing that the proceeds will benefit such a worthy cause," Bertazzoni said.

Portraits of three different lovers of the 20th century artist went on sale at the auction. A depiction of Dora Maar, who displaced Walter to become Picasso's lover and muse, sold for £18m. The 1939 work had not been seen in public since 1967.

The third portrait, "Buste de Françoise", created in 1946, sold for £10.7m. Françoise Gilot was an artist and author who became Picasso's lover in the 1940.

The Picasso portraits were among 92 lots, which sold for a total of £140 million. Other pieces on sale included work by French impressionist Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Paul Gauguin. Thirty-one of the works on auction sold for more than £1million.


Spain Ghost Airports

13:25 El NACHO 0 Comments

The glittering buildings rise up from Spain's arid central plain.

Draw closer and there's something eerie about Ciudad Real's Central Airport. There's hardly a plane in sight. Nobody's around. Cars can only be heard faintly in the distance.

This is one of Spain's "ghost airports" — huge projects often funded by taxpayer money that helped drive Spain's economic boom and now symbolize the wasteful spending that contributed to its spectacular bust.

Envisioned three years ago as a satellite airport for congested Madrid, Central boasts one of Europe's longest runways, yet there's hardly a skid-mark from the handful of weekly flights it now handles. Its vast and airy terminal, designed to handle 2.5 million passengers a year, echoes every sound.

Spain's downturn has played its role in Central's woes, but critics say it was never a viable airport from the beginning — a pork-barrel project too far from the capital to serve any real purpose.

With Spain struggling to emerge from an economic downturn that has saddled it with a euro-zone high unemployment rate of 21 percent, principally due to the collapse of its oversized construction sector, Central stands as a cautionary tale for a Spain adjusting to leaner times.

But signs abound that Spain has not fully learned the lessons of its profligate spending. Spain recently announced a high-speed rail link to the sparsely populated northwest region of Galicia, a plan many economists see as an extravagance. Bridge and highway projects are plowing forward in the face of criticism that Spain just can't afford them.

"We had great hopes for Central, we believed in it, dreamt about it, we thought it was going to be the region's salvation," said Ciudad Real taxi driver Enrique Buendia, who can hardly remember the last time he got a run to the airport.

"But, when you mix politicians and business it's bad news."

Indeed, it's an unhealthy mix of politics and business that critics blame for white elephants such as the airport in Ciudad Real, a city of 74,000 people. Spain has a history of pouring public money into dodgy projects to fuel the careers of ambitious politicians and local entrepreneurs.

The airports and other projects illustrate how regional governments and government-linked savings banks drove themselves into a debt swamp from which it will take years to emerge.

Analysts see regional government debt as being one of the main drags on Spain's bid to slash its deficit from 11.2 percent of GDP in 2009 to within the European Union limit of 3 percent by 2013.

Central is busy compared to two-year-old Huesca airport in northern Spain, whose 30 employees won't see a commercial flight for some six months. Its restaurant is busy, but with local people and because it serves good meals.

Then there's Castellon on the airport-abundant eastern coast. Costing some euro150 million, it opened in March and hasn't yet seen a plane. It most likely won't for a while as the national airport authority ponders whether to grant it a license.

Castellon was built on the promise of future theme parks that have yet to materialize, making its future look bleak.

At its entrance there is to be a 24-meter (79 foot) statue to Carlos Fabra, the provincial president of Castellon who commissioned the project, and has been investigated several times for corruption.



Spain investigates how Hussein Salem obtained citizenship

01:32 El NACHO 0 Comments

An Egyptian source following the Spanish government's investigations into Egyptian business tycoon Hussein Salem said it is investigating whether Hussein obtained his Spanish nationality through legal means.

The source, however, did not know what kind of punishment Salem could face if he is found to have obtained Spanish citizenship illegally.

According to the same source, there is no law obliging a country to extradite its citizens for trial in another country, which means Salem might not be returned to Egypt.

The Spanish judiciary is an independent authority, acting free from political pressure, which is why the Egyptian authorities are handling the issue with utmost caution, said the source.

The source also said that Salem is being kept in custody in a hospital, and has yet to pay his bail.

Meanwhile, scores of demonstrators gathered before the Spanish Embassy in Cairo on Tuesday, demanding his extradition to Egypt.

“He is a criminal,“ said Riham Abdel Salam, one of the protesters. “But an embassy official told us Egypt did not submit sufficient evidence to Madrid for him to be brought to trial.”



CABO Formentor in Mallorca and the Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona are Spain’s two most expensive places to buy a house, and among the top 15 most pricey in Europe

00:37 El NACHO 0 Comments

CABO Formentor in Mallorca and the Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona are Spain’s two most expensive places to buy a house, and among the top 15 most pricey in Europe, according to research by a German estate agency.

Engel & Völkers, A.G., which specialises in the sale and purchase of luxury homes, reveals that Barcelona’s noted shopping street, the Passeig de Gràcia, is Europe’s 14th-most costly place to establish home, with property costing on average 14,000 euros per square metre, tying with remorse de Knokke in Brussels.

Spain’s second-most expensive area is the Formentor bay at the extreme north end of the island of Mallorca, at 12,000 euros per square metre, making it Europe’s 15th-most pricey area to buy.

The list is topped by L’Avenue d’Ostende, in Monte Carlo, where a home would set you back by 140,000 euros per square metre – a penthouse flat with views of the marina recently sold in the city for 240 million - followed by Romazzino bay in Sardinia (100,000 euros per square metre).

London’s Knightsbridge area is in third place – a typical three-bedroomed apartment in this part of Kensington could set you back by in the region 7.6 million euros.

France has most of the top 15 most expensive locations to buy – fourth and fith on the list are the Côte d’Azur towns of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat (Chemin de Saint-Hospice) and Cannes (Chemin de Collines and Avenue du Paradis Terrestre), the latter very closely followed by the Champs-Élysées and Avenue Montaigne in Paris.

Surprisingly, the locations in Cannes and Paris are only half the price of properties in the Romazzino bay in Sardinia.

Christian Völkers, one of the directors of the German firm, believes homes at the top end of the market will continue to rocket in price as in the city is a ‘serious scarcity’ of these properties with demand far outstripping provide.


Honda tests fast-charging e-scooters in Spain

09:40 El NACHO 0 Comments

Honda's first electric vehicle to hit the road in Europe will be a scooter. The auto manufacturer began testing its zero emissions scooter in Barcelona this week as part of a test program to help Honda analyze how the new technology performs with European driving patterns. The EV-neo is already available for lease in Japan, and the Barcelona City Council will be the first EU customers to receive the e-scooters.

Driving at 18 mph, the Honda EV-neo has a range of 21 miles. It's not far, but the electric scooter comes with a portable rapid charger to replenish drained batteries to full capacity in 30 minutes. Unlike most rapid chargers, the EV-neo's fast charger uses a stepped-down method to charge the battery to 100 percent capacity. When connected to the scooter and a wall socket, the device, which is about the size of a large briefcase, uses high current charging to quickly replenish the battery until it's almost full, and switches to low-current charging to complete the charge. In vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i (formerly i-Miev), rapid charging is limited to achieve only 80 percent battery capacity to avoid overheating. The stepped-down charging method should give EV-neo drivers fast charging capability at full capacity without battery degradation.
The rapid charger is technically a portable device, but it will probably be kept in the driver's garage and used for fast turnarounds. To recharge the scooter's battery once they get to a destination, drivers can use the standard charger. The standard charger is stored under the bike seat and takes about 3 and a half hours to recharge an empty battery.
Motorcycles account for 30 percent of all vehicles in Barcelona. The Barcelona City Council will lease 18 EV-neos for a year, and daily monitoring of the vehicles will report on riding distance, charging time, and load conditions. Honda began leasing the e-scooter in Japan in April, and expects to sell approximately 1,000 in the first year. The base price for the EV-neo starts at approximately $5,633 U.S. dollars. No plans to sell the electric scooter in the EU or U.S. were announced.



Spanish court sets huge bail for Mubarak associate

08:23 El NACHO 0 Comments

Spain's National Court has set a record bail figure following the detention of a close associate of the former Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak.

Hussein Salem appeared in court twice on Friday - once in connection with a warrant issued from Egypt, and then on suspicion of money laundering in Spain.

Bail set in the separate hearings reached 27m euros ($39m; £24m).

Spanish police also froze more than 32.5m euros in cash, properties worth 10m euros and five luxury cars.

The money was obtained illegally in Egypt and sent to bank accounts in Spain held by Mr Salem through a series of companies created by a "frontman", identified as a Turkish man named Ali Evsen, the police alleged.

Spanish citizenship
Mr Salem was charged in Egypt with fraud and financial speculation last month along with Mr Mubarak and the ex-president's two sons, Alaa and Gamal. Their trial is scheduled to start on 3 August.

The 77-year-old is alleged to have won lucrative land and other deals, including exporting gas, because of his connections to the president and his family. The gas deal came under severe public criticism because the resource was sold at preferential prices to Israel, costing Egypt millions of dollars.

Mr Salem is reported to have left Egypt on 3 February, eight days before the president was forced to resign by anti-government protesters.

Mr Mubarak has been held in custody at a hospital in Sharm al-Sheikh since April, but it was not until Thursday night that Mr Salem was detained along with his son, Khaled, and Mr Evsen in a wealthy Madrid suburb.

Egypt's military rulers have vowed to bring to justice all those guilty of abuse
On Friday, Mr Salem appeared before two magistrates at the National Court in the Spanish capital, one handling the Spanish money-laundering investigation and the other dealing with the international arrest warrant.

The judges set bail for Salem at a total of 27m euros - 12m in the Spanish case and 15m in the Egyptian extradition case.

For now, the two proceedings will go ahead simultaneously. At some point, a decision will be made as to which takes precedence.

The BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Madrid says it is not clear how the charges brought against Mr Salem in Spain will affect Egypt's wish to try him this summer, or the fact that he holds both Spanish and Egyptian passports.

After his court appearance, Mr Salem was reportedly treated in hospital for neurological problems. A court physician told the Associated Press that he was not in good health, but that the problem was not life-threatening.

Bail for Khaled Salem, who also has Spanish citizenship, was set at 6m euros and for Mr Evsen at 18m euros.


Spain in deeper trouble

11:56 El NACHO 0 Comments

The last thing that financial markets needed this morning was a wobbly Spanish auction, but that’s exactly what they got.

Spain’s borrowing costs have soared, with 10 year Spanish government bond yields jumping a massive 20 basis points at one point. 

On the face of it the auctions looked OK with the 19s covered 2.13 times and 26s covered 2.57 times, but despite the much higher yields on offer, the Spanish treasury only managed to shift €1.5 billion (£1.3 billion) of the 2026s with the market looking for between €1.7 billion - €2 billion (£1.5 billion - £1.75 billion). 

One bank reported zero buying interest from their clients, and with the auction not well placed, dealers have been selling into the market.



Spain freezes 33 million euros in accounts held by detained associate of Hosni Mubarak

11:54 El NACHO 0 Comments

Spain says it has frozen €33 million ($47 million) in accounts held by a detained associate of Hosni Mubarak and relatives of the detainee.

A police statement issued Friday says Hussein Salem, his son and an associate described as a frontman were arrested in Spain. The money was allegedly obtained illegally in Egypt and sent to accounts in Spain held by Salem and his family. Police also seized homes worth €10 million.



Man arrested for 3 million Euro investment fraud in Fuengirola

17:07 El NACHO 0 Comments

A 41 year old man from Córdoba, A.J.C.D., has been arrested in Fuengirola for alleged fraud amounting to more than 3 million €.

El Mundo reports that he captured his clients by promising interest much higher than the normal rate on their investment, but failed to make any of the payments. He is reported to have gained their confidence by using the name and documentation of the Fuengirola branch of a nationwide insurance company, where it’s understood one of the suspect’s relatives was employed.

Police started their investigation after an official complaint which was presented in Málaga by a man who said he had been swindled out of 30,000 € in Fuengirola. The detainee is believed to have defrauded at least another 60 people.



Civil Guard recover cannabis cargo after chasing aircraft through the skies of Andalucía

17:06 El NACHO 0 Comments

The Civil Guard have recovered 700 kilos cannabis after chasing two light aircraft as they flew over Andalucía after returning from Morocco with their cargo of drugs.

The first touched down in Tabernas, Almería province, for just a few minutes on Wednesday morning, where officers were waiting on the ground to arrest three people who collected the five packages of cannabis the aircraft had left behind. The plane landed in Loja, Granada province, shortly afterwards and its pilot was arrested.

A Civil Guard helicopter meanwhile continued in pursuit of the second aircraft which landed near Ronda, Málaga, at around 2pm, some three hours after the two planes were first spotted flying over Almería. That pilot was also arrested, and the remaining cargo of cannabis was confiscated.

The suspects are the two pilots from Bulgaria and Spain, and the three people who were waiting in Tabernas to collect the consignment: another man from Bulgaria, a Moroccan, and a suspect from Norway.



The end of 100% Spanish mortgage deals forecast

18:44 El NACHO 0 Comments

Spanish developers and their funding banks have been successful in selling off key ready apartments with a killer combination of hefty discounts and 100% mortgage offers... But now the banks are starting to withdraw their best Loan-to-value deals.

The 100% mortgage deals that have helped to revitalise the Spanish property market for the last year are coming to an end as the “Sold Out” signs go up on prime seaside developments in Costa Calida and Costa Blanca.

Whole blocks of completed apartments have been sold in the first six months of the year as troubled developers have slashed prices and their funding banks supported them with 100% loan to value mortgage deals in a dash for cash that attracted savvy buyers from Scandinavia, Benelux and Russia. Slow off the mark British and Irish buyers missed out on deals like 2-bed frontline apartments for EUR 108,000 with 100% low interest mortgages.

Offers have concentrated on developments with the best locations, best design, best specification and best prices – a winning combination that banks were willing to enhance with lower risk 100% LTV mortgage offers.

“Offering big discounts on key ready homes combined with100% mortgages has helped clear the clogged supply pipeline caused by the property collapse and world-wide recession and generated a massive new interest in the Spanish property market. Buyers often needed only EUR 20,000 in available cash to land a deal and cover all their buying costs and getting the place furnished,” said Ben Walker, sales manager for Spanish property specialists PropertyInSpain.Net.

But, he warned, the numbers of 100% mortgage deals have started to decline as developers and their funding banks move towards a more consolidated market place of increased buyers and fewer troubled developments. Although 100% mortgages have not been offered on individual Spanish bank repossessions or private sales, these market sectors have also benefited from the higher levels of interest in bargain property in Spain.

The mortgage deals on offer vary as the leading banks strive to comply with regulator, the Bank of Spain’s orders to reduce their toxic property assets and increase bank equity to safer levels. Most repossession property can still be bought with 80% or 90% mortgages, while private sales attract 60% to 70% advances.

Experts suggest would-be buyers should inspect a mix of bank-owned bargains and private sales when they book their Fly to Buy viewings as private offerings can be in top-class locations, better condition and come with all furniture and appliances – “Often all-round, better deals for buyers not needing a top-end LTV mortgage”.



65,000 holiday homes rented every year in Malaga Province more than 75 per cent are not declared for tax purposes. This is costing the state €104.8m in unpaid taxes, official estimates reveal.

02:45 El NACHO 0 Comments


The Spanish tax office has launched a campaign to uncover this undeclared income and since March, the main electric companies are providing them with proof of electric consumption during the months when the apartments are supposedly empty.

Uncovering undeclared incomes from rent is one of the main objectives of the government’s 2011 Anti-fraud plan.

On the Costa del Sol, there are approximately 35,000 places available in officially registered premises, according to the National Institute of Statistics.

Costa del Sol hoteliers estimate that in 90 per cent of holiday home rentals – dubbed ‘pirate apartments’ – are carried out without a proper contract being issued.

A local real estate agent, who asked not to be named, agreed many do not declare or register these properties correctly, but added: “Although there is no excuse for people not declaring holiday home income, it can be very difficult for foreigners to find out when, where and how one is supposed to go about things. There is so much red tape involved it often hard to know where to go for proper advice.”


Bail jackpot the highest in Spanish history

11:52 El NACHO 0 Comments

THE HIGHEST bail in Spanish history, a total of €15 million, has been set for Javier de la Rosa, Mario Conde, Juan Antonio Roca, Francisco Correa and Jaume Matas in the Gürtel case. 

Paul Crespo remains in custody, having failed to provide bail of €600,000.


NATIONAL POLICE, in a joint investigation with the Criminal Investigation Department of the National Police of Colombia, have arrested Carlos Alberto Alarcón Quintero in Valencia

11:50 El NACHO 0 Comments

Also known as ‘Pipi’, Quintero is alleged to be the ringleader of a band of assassins called ‘The Candle’, one of the most dangerous gangs in Colombia, and tops the Most Wanted list published by the Colombian police.  Among other crimes, he is wanted for questioning over the shooting of a man at close range in Cali in 2006.


Angela Evans was on holiday in Benalmadena, on the Costa Del Sol, with her partner, Robert Wilson, when a taxi mounted the pavement and ploughed into them both without stopping

11:14 El NACHO 0 Comments

Angela Evans was on holiday in Benalmadena, on the Costa Del Sol, with her partner, Robert Wilson, when a taxi mounted the pavement and ploughed into them both without stopping.

The 49-year-old Litherland mum-of-one was left needing nine hours of surgery in which doctors put a metal rod in her shin, a pin under her left knee, screws holding her hip to one side, and a plate in her shoulder. She also had three stitches in her face.

The holiday had been booked as a birthday treat. But before leaving for the UK on Saturday, May 28, the couple gave a statement to the Spanish police and said they were told a Malaga taxi had hit them and that he was drunk.

Today Miss Evans, a shop assistant from Litherland Park, said she was left bleeding in the gutter.

She said: “If my partner had been unconscious I probably would’ve died, another car could’ve run me over because I was on the main road in the gutter.

“I can’t walk at the moment. I’m still in a wheelchair and they think it’s going to take a while and I might need another operation.

“I still cry now. I just think he didn’t care whether I was dead or alive.”

The couple had been out to a bar for a few drinks on Monday, May 16, and were walking back to their hotel, holding hands, just after 12.30am, when they were hit from behind.


Spanish banks are funding 24 years worth of housing

11:08 El NACHO 0 Comments

During the Spanish boom of 2004-2008 the country started construction of about 3.26m new houses, according to Nomura’s figures, and sold about 2.86m in the Costa Brava beach house craze.

By the end of 2009, however, the financial crisis had erupted and left Spain with a stock of unsold houses of almost 700,000. By 2010, the number of new houses being sold had dropped to 200,000.

So there’s still quite an overhang in housing supply — and banks are still on the hook for future construction. According to Nomura analysts Daragh Quinn, Prathmesh Dave and Duncan Farr they’re on the hook for decades worth, implying that if housing doesn’t pick up there could be more bank losses.

Here’s Nomura with their calculations:

The total Spanish loan book funding real estate and construction activities is EUR 430bn. Based on the disclosure of the Spanish banks, just over EUR 300bn of this relates to residential real estate activities (so excluding public works and other non-real estate related lending.). Of this EUR 300bn some 80% is funding direct real estate production (excluding non production related loans). Based on the loan to values estimated by the Bank of Spain, we calculate that this loan book of c. EUR 242bn is funding assets worth some EUR 345bn. This represents completed houses, houses under construction and undeveloped land (both urban and non-urban).

How many houses will this portfolio of EUR 242bn produce? Making some assumptions on average house prices (we assume prices continue to fall over the next two years), time to construction and the value of land within the total value of a house, we estimate that this portfolio could mean as many as 3.6m new houses. Based on the current rate of sale of 150,000, (2011 annualising at 100,000 but versus c. 200,000 in 2010) and assuming all these houses are brought to market, we believe this implies some 24 years of supply. This calculation is a result of the different assumptions we have made, all of which could be made more conservative or optimistic. For example, were we to assume that the annual rate of new-house sales could reach 300,000; this would imply c. 12 years of potential supply versus the 24 years in our base case estimate. Conversely, assuming a rate of just 100,000 new-house sales per year would imply 36 years of supply.
In other words, banks could be funding a whopping 24 to 36 years of new Spanish housing.

Nomura reckons almost half of that €300bn figure (17 per cent of the banks’ total loan book according to publicly disclosed figures) could end up being problematic — yet only €43bn in loan provisions exist (making for a coverage ratio for bad loans of 29 per cent). Needless to say, the outlook for Spanish housing isn’t sparkling either what with stubbornly high unemployment and looming interest rate rises.

Nomura’s forecasting a up to a(nother) 15 per cent decline over the next two years.

Spain’s policy response has so far been to extend and pretend on a massive scale (and who can blame them really? Ireland very publicly announced banking losses and ended up crushing its entire economy) but it is predicated on the market playing ball, and a certain degree of price concealment. On that note some upcoming IPO docs from Spanish cajas should make for very interesting market reading.



Spain's Jewish community has slammed a ruling by the country's Supreme Court that overturns the conviction of four people connected to a Barcelona bookstore that sold Nazi literature.

10:56 El NACHO 0 Comments

The four connected to the now defunct bookshop, Kalki, had been found guilty by a lower court of fostering xenophobia and anti-Semitism through the selling of Nazi literature. The acquittals include a publisher in the nearby town of Molins de Rei.

In 2009, the four were each sentenced to 3 1/2 years in jail after being found guilty of selling publications that justified the Holocaust and praised the Nazi regime.

In the Supreme Court's ruling, Justice Miguel Colmenero wrote that the selling of Nazi propaganda that promotes genocide is only a crime when there exists a danger that it could create a climate of hostility that would incite violence. 

"Jews in Spain view with extreme concern the fact that the Spanish judiciary, so sensitive in certain situations, does not consider as criminal conduct the sale of books denying the Holocaust and promoting racism, in spite of standing criminal legislation to the contrary," the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain said in a statement.

The Israeli Embassy in Madrid in a statement said that Israel was "sad and concerned" to hear of the acquittals, "allowing for the circulation of books that incite hate and deny the Holocaust."

Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, called the ruling "a grievous blow" to Spain's "laudatory efforts to confont its historical fascist past."

"The court has insulted the memory of all Nazi victims -- Jew and non-Jew," Steinberg said in a statement.


We had thought about Morocco, but the whole north Africa situation put us off

10:53 El NACHO 0 Comments

“We had thought about Morocco, but the whole north Africa situation put us off.”
Tourist arrivals to Spain may rise the most in five years in 2011, according to research by Euromonitor International. The country’s hoteliers have reduced prices by 20 percent or more this summer to compete with destinations such as Egypt and Tunisia, where anti-government protests have deterred holidaymakers. Package tours to Spain are cheaper than those to Turkey for the first time in four years, said Ignacio Vasallo, director of the Spanish Tourist Office for the U.K. and Ireland.
“Reducing prices to secure a steady flow of guests has been the only way,” Vasallo said. This year will be the best for Spain’s hotel owners since 2007, he said, also helped by rising fuel prices, which have made it more costly for Europeans to travel to long-haul destinations for their holiday.
An index of Spanish hotel prices has dropped 30 percent since a 2008 peak and in March reached the lowest in 11 years, according to the country’s statistics office.
The cheaper prices, combined with concern over political unrest in northern Africa, are having an effect. The number of tourists visiting Spain this year may increase 8 percent to 55 million, Vasallo said. Of those, more than 40 percent would probably have booked vacations in northern Africa before the protests that started in Tunisia in January, he said.
Increasing Occupancy
Hotel occupancy in northern Africa dropped 46 percent in the four months to April, while it gained almost 6 percent in southern Europe and 7.8 percent in Spain, according to researcher STR Global. The revival in travel and tourism, which accounts for about 14 percent of Spain’s gross domestic product, will benefit hoteliers in the country’s coastal resorts, who were forced to cut prices and increase promotions to attract clients during the 2009 recession.
“Arrivals are up, occupancy is improving, but the problem is that hoteliers dropped their room prices so much in 2009 that it is going to take them an awfully long time to get them to where they were in 2007 and 2008,” said Philip Bacon, a Madrid- based consultant at hotel valuation company HVS.
Foreign arrivals to Spain will increase 3.5 percent to 54.3 million this year, Euromonitor estimates.
Arrivals to the country started to decline in 2007 and by 2010 had fallen 11 percent to 52.4 million, according to the researcher. Egyptian arrivals rose 13 percent in the same period and were 12.7 million last year, Euromonitor said.
Extra Capacity
Tui Travel Plc (TT/), Europe’s largest tour operator, is offering U.K. customers 10 percent more holidays to Spain’s Canary Islands this summer. Its nearest rival, Thomas Cook Group Plc (TCG), last month reported a 45 percent increase in summer bookings from west and east Europe to the Balearic islands and a 37 percent rise in visitors from northern Europe to the Canaries. Expedia Italy registered an average increase in its online bookings to Spain of more than 20 percent in the first quarter.
According to Euromonitor, Egypt’s foreign arrivals may take until 2013 to recover to last year’s levels. The revival at Spain’s coastal resorts may end at about the same time, it says.
While many of Spain’s holiday hotels remain independent and unbranded, international hotel chains are showing increasing interest in the country’s cities and business centers.
Marriott, Wyndham
Marriott International Inc., the largest publicly traded U.S. hotel chain, and Spain’s AC Hotels this year started a joint venture to manage and franchise a new lodging co-brand across Europe and Latin America. Wyndham Worldwide Corp. (WYN) last year said it agreed to buy the Tryp hotel brand from Palma De Mallorca-based Sol Melia SA. (SOL)
NH Hoteles SA (NHH), Spain’s largest business hotel chain, announced last month that China’s HNA Group Co. Ltd. plans to become its second-biggest investor and the preferred hotel for clients travelling with the Asian tourism company.
For tourists visiting the country, the reduced cost of a holiday is a big attraction, according to De Giorgis.
“I booked Ibiza because the price was good and I took advantage of the offer to get away to the beach,” she said.


Spanish farmers who lost millions after being blamed for a deadly E.coli outbreak

10:49 El NACHO 0 Comments

Spanish farmers who lost millions after being blamed for a deadly E.coli outbreak say they feel vindicated after Germany acknowledged it came from somewhere else.

Germany later blamed sprouts from an organic farm in the country’s north as the source – but tests later discounted those claims. About 23 of the 40 samples taken from the German sprout farm tested negative for the relevant bacteria, though further tests are pending.

The E. coli outbreak in Germany has killed at least 22 people and sickened more than 2,300 across Europe, leaving customers uneasy about eating raw vegetables.

In Spain, two Spanish farm associations said orders for fruit and vegetable exports are up a bit Monday after Spanish produce was cleared last week.

But representatives of the ASAJA and COAG farm group both said it will take time to win back consumer confidence and they remain angry with Germany for blaming Spain without confirmation.

They had no firm figures but say farmers lost millions of euros in lost produce sales, transport and other industries also took a hit and many jobs were lost.

Spanish farmers complained that early accusations against Spanish cucumbers were still having a devastating financial effect.

"This is one of the demands we have been making, that they say clearly where the problem with the bacteria was," said Andres Gongora, the leader of a major Spanish farm association, COAG. "So we feel more at ease, although at no time did we ever harbor any doubt."

Gongora added: "With the same intensity with which it accused us, Germany must now clarify beyond the shadow of a doubt that that problem was not here, that it was not with Spanish agricultural products."

As farmers demand they be compensated for their losses, the European Union on Tuesday will hold an emergency meeting of farm ministers in Luxembourg to address the crisis and its economic impact, including a ban by Russia on all vegetables from the EU. The ministers will "look at how the EU can respond to the economic impact of the crisis," EU spokesman Roger Waite said.

At a regular meeting of EU health minister in Luxembourg on Monday, Germany defended itself against claims it had acted prematurely in pointing toward Spanish cucumbers. "The virus is so aggressive that we had to check every track," said Health State Secretary Annette Widmann-Mauz. "We owe it to the people."


Spain sees increase in distressed property listings

10:47 El NACHO 0 Comments

Spain has seen a massive increase in its level of distressed property listings, the latest index from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) has revealed.

According to its Global Distressed Property Monitor, the pace of economic recovery in many markets and rising interest rates are causing listings to rise.

In the coming three months, Ireland, Spain, Hungary and Italy expect the highest numbers of distressed properties to come to market, while Russia, China, South Africa and Poland expect the lowest.

The news could encourage a number of investors to consider purchasing a distressed property in Spain, with such homes often selling for a price well below actual market value.

"As the global economy continues to strengthen, central banks must begin to address the spectre of rising inflation; a threat which is compounded in some markets by the continuing European sovereign debt crisis," said Simon Rubinsohn, Rics chief economist.

Meanwhile, the report added that in Spain, Ireland, Italy and the UK expected supply far exceeds demand, something which could put downward pressure on values.



Spain to demand full compensation from Germany over E.coli

00:51 El NACHO 0 Comments

Spain said it will demand "100 percent" compensation from Germany for falsely blaming Spanish cucumbers for the deadly E. coli outbreak, at an emergency EU meeting on the crisis on Tuesday.
"The sector and the regional governments are still trying to estimate (the damage) so that tomorrow at the extraordinary meeting of the European Union on agriculture we can put the figures on the table," Agriculture Minister Rosa Aguilar said Monday.
"We have told Germany that it must reimburse us for the loss. If it covers 100 percent, which is what we are demanding, the affair will be closed. Otherwise we reserve the right (to take) legal action," she told Spanish public television.
"We are not going to allow our producers to lose one cent, because they are not to blame."
European farm and food safety ministers are to hold emergency talks Tuesday in Luxembourg on the E. coli outbreak that has killed at least 22 people, all but one of them in Germany.
Authorities in Germany had initially, but falsely, blamed imported Spanish cucumbers.
Growers have seen their produce shunned, with Russia and Qatar among states that have applied temporary bans on fresh-produce imports.
Spain's fruit and vegetables exporters association, FEPEX, Monday estimated the losses as 225 million euros ($328 million) per week since the crisis began.
"Spanish fruit and vegetable exports were still not back to normal on Monday," a FEPEX spokewoman said.
"Russia's decision has negative repercussions, there are Spanish trucks blocked at the border. Exports to Germany are practically paralysed.
"In addition to vegetables, fruits have begun to also be badly affected, not only because exports were frozen all of last week, but because this situation has led to a fall in prices of 35 percent since May 27, according to estimates by producers" in the southern region of Andalucia, she said.
"The demand for fruits and vegetables has not recovered and that is due in large part to the lack of a clear and strong correction by German and (EU) authorities," the spokeswoman said.
Spanish Health Minister Leire Pajin warned earlier Monday that Madrid will demand answers on why German and European authorities allowed blame to be pointed at Spain before full testing was completed, as well as on how to deliver aid to distraught growers.
"We are going to express our criticisms over the way this crisis has been managed, given the serious consequences it has had for our national interest," she said in Brussels, citing "serious and irreparable damage" despite Spanish produce being "perfectly safe."
"Action is needed to prevent a repetition of this type of situation," she added before a scheduled meeting of EU health ministers in Luxembourg.
"For this reason I am going to ask the Commission to improve and strengthen its food alert mechanisms."



ELIAS Elia, owner of the credit card company blamed for the collapse of Scottish airline Flyglobespan, has been declared bankrupt,

12:22 El NACHO 0 Comments

ELIAS Elia, owner of the credit card company blamed for the collapse of Scottish airline Flyglobespan, has been declared bankrupt, Scotland on Sunday has learned.
The Greek Cypriot businessman ran E-Clear, a credit card processing firm based in Mayfair, London, which was accused of withholding £35 million from Flyglobespan and its parent company Globespan, which went to the wall in December 2009.

The collapse of the Edinburgh-headquartered airline left 4,500 passengers stranded at airports around Europe and North Africa, just as they hoped to get home for Christmas.

Around 80 per cent of customers were able to recover their funds through the Consumer Credit Act, ATOL and Visa scheme rules, but 550 staff, predominantly in Scotland, lost their jobs following the airline's demise.

E-Clear was pursued by administrators for Flyglobespan at PricewaterhouseCoopers for £35m worth of fares, which they claimed were not handed over to the travel giant.

The credit card processing firm met its own end in January 2010 after PwC filed a petition to force it into administration. E-Clear's administrators at BDO later unearthed debts of as much as £127m.

Elia was the subject of an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office last year, but was cleared amid "insufficient evidence to support a prosecution".

However, it has now emerged that he has been declared bankrupt and Ian Defty, a partner at Kingston Smith & Partners, has been appointed his trustee in bankruptcy. Defty was unavailable for comment last night, but another member of his team at the accountancy firm was able to confirm his appointment.

It is understood that credit card companies have repaid around £15m of the £35m pursued by PwC, but Flyglobespan administrators are still hunting for the remaining £20m. E-Clear acted as an intermediary between the airline and credit card companies.

Bruce Cartwright, head of business recovery at PwC in Scotland and joint administrator for Flyglobespan, said: "We are continuing to investigate a number of matters in relation to the administration of Globespan and we are in regular dialogue with the administrators of E-Clear. We note that the individual who owned and managed E-Clear has now been made bankrupt and we will be considering the implications of this in relation to Globespan."

Earlier this year it was reported that Elia was facing a High Court action by BDO. A spokeswoman for BDO said the action was still ongoing.


Spanish court overturns convictions of 4 people charged with spreading Nazi ideology

11:53 El NACHO 0 Comments

Spain's Supreme Court has overturned the convictions of four people charged with distributing pro-Nazi books and other materials through a shop and association in the northeastern city of Barcelona.
The court said Friday that the men could be found guilty only if they had incited people to commit Nazi-type crimes. It ruled the Constitution does not prohibit ideologies, no matter how repulsive they may be.
The four were linked to the now-closed Kalki bookshop and Circle for Indo-European Studies. They were convicted in 2009 by a Barcelona court and sentenced to prison terms of up to three and a half years.
The books and publications they disseminated defended the Holocaust and incited genocide and racial hatred.



Desperate plight of the homeless in La Línea.

11:46 El NACHO 0 Comments

 The town hall is bankrupt and cannot pay its workers on time, so what hope is there for those with nothing?
I have also written about Mary Finlay who lives in San Roque. She was so moved by the appalling situation in the border town that each Wednesday she and a team take hot drinks, food and clothing to these people sheltered in doorways, the old bunkers and abandoned buildings.

When I first wrote about her work and gave her contact details in various local publications a number of readers contacted Mary to offer their help. No real surprise there because that is what by nature good people do.

This weekend the tragic news of the death of Galeote reached me. He was one of the homeless of La Línea who died leaning against a wall outside the day centre in broad daylight.

Mary told me: "Poor man he was the first that we ever came across the first night we started, so pleasant, eloquent, and extremely grateful for contact.

After a few weeks he said that he had decided to try and gain admittance to a centre because not only was he crippled with arthritis after so many winters out of doors he felt completely isolated from people and was in need of that warmth which we hopefully were showing him. He was taking tablets prescribed by the doctor to stop drinking to enable him to gain admittance.

"A few weeks ago he had to be taken by the volunteers to the emergency department of La Línea hospital because he looked as if he was dying of pneumonia, he had a few days respite and then was put out on the street again, swigging back medicine for his cough but he was never well again; apparently it wasn't pneumonia but the effects of very heavy heroin addiction.

"On Wednesday, he was standing outside the day centre and after asking after him, he told one of the centre's users that he didn't feel well, but not to call an ambulance, next thing she knew a lot of foamy saliva was coming out of his mouth. She rushed in to say that poor Galeote was dying but they thought it was the effect of tablets and nothing to worry about. But that was how it happened, he was actually standing leaning against the wall when he died."

Mary went on to add: "A few weeks ago he completely shaved his head and beard off, I think he knew he wasn't going to be around much longer."

My final word goes to Por Un Mundo Más Justo who sent me an email detailing much of the same story. He touchingly writes: "Espero y creo firmemente que nuestro amigo Galeote ha pasado de ser de un P.S.H (Persona Sin Hogar) a un A.C.H (Ángel Con Hogar)."


Andalusia made Spain the world's top olive oil producer but plunging prices have turned the bounty into a farmers' curse.

10:20 El NACHO 0 Comments

The sun-soaked valleys of Andalusia made Spain the world's top olive oil producer but plunging prices have turned the bounty into a farmers' curse.
At this time of year harvesting is over in this southern Spanish region, which produces 80 percent of Spain's olive oil. Tiny green dots on the branches point to the next crop in October.
But the idyllic view of olives trees, some more than 100 years old, stretching over the hills into the distance, belies an industry in crisis.
In the village of Jimena, nestled in the midst of the vast stretches of olive groves, is the family-owned factory of La Purisima, manufacturer of olive oil since 1893.
Factory manager Manuel Alfonso Torres Gonzalez lays out the mathematics: In four years the average price paid to olive oil producers slumped from 2.60 euros a kilo to 1.80 euros ($1.68 a pound to $1.17).
Olive grove farmers are squeezed on both sides.
"They give me their olives so I can press the oil and they ask me to stock it while waiting for prices to rise," Torres said, showing off the huge steel storage containers.
"But when they need to repay loans they call me and want everything sold within 24 hours," he said. When banks refuse to extend repayment deadlines or give new loans, the farmers are forced to sell their oil cheaply to finance their operations.
Spain produces 50 percent of the world's olive oil, a growing export. In 10 years, olive oil output leapt from 700,000 tonnes a year to 1.4 million tonnes, of which 800,000 is exported, Torres said.
Average production costs for traditional olive farming, the most common in Spain, are 2.40 euros a kilo, said Jose Maria Penco, an engineer in Spain's association of oil producing towns.
"It's terrible," Penco summed up.
There are 1,700 producers and only five distributors, creating a "major imbalance" that pushes prices down, he said.
And since olive oil is an essential ingredient in Spanish cuisine, supermarkets use it to draw in customers and sell it off at bargain-basement prices, Penco said.
In Spain's economic crisis, they cut the price even more.
Olive oil, known as "green gold" as consumption booms, generated an investment frenzy in past years far from the property boom that engulfed the rest of the country.
"Here, instead of building homes we planted trees," says Enrique Delgado, secretary general of the Spanish Oil Producers Federation.
The oil industry gives a living to 200,000 producers and 300 villages, so "the price slump has major consequences for the Andalucian region," where unemployment runs at nearly 30 percent, said Jaen University chancellor Manuel Parras Rosa.
To withstand the price collapse, producers should concentrate supply in big cooperatives, said Andalusian Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives president Rafael Sanchez de Puerta.
"We are working on it, but it is a slow process," he said.
Back at the Purisima olive oil factory, Torres believes survival lies in his youngest olive trees which have been planted closer together and in a pattern adapted to machine-harvesting.
"It is very important to cut costs to be competitive," he said, iPad in hand, as he combined his job as farmer with the writing of a thesis on olive oil financial viability.
This intensive farming method, already adopted in competing countries such as Chile, Morocco and Australia but only used by 25 percent of the Spanish sector, cuts costs to 1.50-1.60 euros a kilo, Penco said. "So, even with prices so low, yes, it is profitable."