Regional News – September

No Bonus

The regional Supreme Court for Andalucía, the TSJA, has annulled a law that awarded schoolteachers with the best record of pass marks 7,000 euros. The court considers that the Programme for School Quality contradicts aspects of the Ley de Educación de Andalucía.

The programme could be considered controversial, as the system was open to abuse; teachers could be tempted to avoid failing students in the interests of earning more money, perhaps. However, it was the teachers’ union that opposed the programme, taking the affair to court, because 65% of primary schools and 85% of secondary ones opposed the system.

The regional education board says that it will appeal against the court decision.

Bus Belts

The fine for not buckling into a safety belt on a bus could cost you up to 200 euros. During the second fortnight of July, the DGT (Dirección General de Tráfico) carried out a blitz on buses in an attempt to stamp out the lax regard to wearing a seat belt during short trips.

This clamp down was not only operative in Andalucía, but also co-ordinated at the same time with 25 other European countries. The DGT had the target of inspecting 4,000 buses in that period.

Whilst it was the passengers that the Guardia Civil were out to fine, they also decided to include simultaneous inspections of the tachographs to make sure that the drivers were carrying out 45 minute rests every 4.5 hours at the wheel.

Costly Prisoners

It is estimated that it costs 25,000 euros each year to maintain every one of the prison population – that is the case, at least, in the provincial prison, which is in Albolote, just outside Granada.

The prison governor, Nahúm Álvarez, asked this to be taken into consideration now that stricter driving laws could lead to an increase in the already-overflowing prison population.
“If we apply ‘deprival of freedom’ for any offence; be it serious or not, in the end its deterrent value diminishes,” he pointed out, adding that moves to make certain driving infractions prison offences merely ‘criminalises’ people that share nothing in common with normal prison inmates, as well as putting an added strain on the already-strained prison services.

It is worth pointing out that Spain has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe, but conversely has one of the biggest prison populations.

“I Felt Anger…”

I meant to include this in a previous issue but never seemed to have the space, but although it might no longer be news, it retains a good interest value. If you’ve read about it elsewhere, then you might want to skip the article: a 42-year-old ex-Guardia-Civil policeman ploughed into five pedestrians in the centre of Málaga and later claimed that it gave him a ‘liberating sensation.’

Antonio Bravo, full of pent up rage, deliberately drove his car down a pedestrian street (Calle Larios) as far as the Plaza de la Constitución, knocking over passers-by as if they were skittles. It was approximately 8.30 in the morning, just over a year ago, although the court case has just come up.

“I felt so much anger and wanted to cause harm before I killed myself,” he explained to the judge, facing a possible 40 years in prison for five attempted murders. In his first declarations upon arrest, he said that he felt no repentance because he felt ‘liberated’ by the experience. He said that his intention was to reach the main square and then drive at full tilt into a wall and end his life. However, he lost his nerve before being able to carry it out.

“With the first two pedestrians, I felt nothing, nor with the next or the next – I was very angry,” he explained, adding, “I was suffering a great emotional pain.”

The said, ‘great emotional pain,’ it appears, was the result of how he was treated by policemen, judges and even his own family after an incident in a supermarket a few months previously, were he had detected ‘aggressive stares.’ Apparently he also considered that he had been looked at in an aggressive manner in a cafeteria. These two observations he had posted on the Internet before setting off in his car on the fateful day. It seems that he was unhappy with the fact that the jamón contained in his bocadillo did not correspond in quantity to that portrayed in a promotional photo. Sr. Bravo constantly complained about this until, finally, they barred him from entering anymore.

The next thing you know, he had got into a scuffle with the store detective: “the policeman treated me like a criminal, handcuffing me.”

It is worth pointing out that the ex-policeman was receiving psychiatric treatment at the time, but as things were ‘going well’ he had decided to discontinue with the treatment. You see, back in 1998, whilst he was still a Guardia Civil policeman, he was accused of shooting a funeral parlour assistant in the leg, which is why he had to undergo two years of psychiatric treatment at the provincial penitentiary of Valencia. In the end he was acquitted, but the corps decided to discharge him for mental instability.

Well, the upshot of it all is that although here we are in September, the judge has yet to come to a decision about our mate, Bowl-‘em-over Bravo…

Abandoned Dogs Crack Down

A total of 53 people from the province have already been fined for letting their dogs run loose in the street, so far this year. Furthermore, the City Hall has rounded up 14 dogs of breeds considered dangerous, whose owners had abandoned and were roaming the streets – the dogs; not the owners!
The sad thing about those 14 dogs is that most of them had been used for illegal dogfights and had been abandoned after losing their ‘value’ thanks to the injuries received.

Bereaved Mother Accused
Last month we reported on the tragic incident concerning a German mother, whose child died of sunstroke after they both became lost on excursion – do you remember? Buck up – of course you do! Well, she has since been accused of negligence. The judge ordered her release with charges but no bail conditions, pending the trial. She is free, in the meantime, to return to Germany.

An autopsy confirmed that 5-year-old Tim Alexander, had died from a multi-organ failure, caused by heat stroke and dehydration. The mother was also taken to the Hospital Reina Sofía in Córdoba, where she was treated for several injuries and traumatic amnesia, a typical heat-stroke symptom.
Expert on the area all concord that the terrain where the mother and child became lost was particularly inhospitable and lacking tracks and paths and was, therefore, completely unsuitable for a ‘family excursion.’

Boney & Los Pacos

If you love watching people dress up in uniforms from 200 years ago, then La Peza was just the place to be on the 28th of this month, because they celebrated the showdown between Napoleon’s veterans and the good folk of La Peza, complete with costumes of the time, plenty of muskets and fun.

By 1810 the French were firmly ensconced in the province of Granada and had recently moved into Guadix. Then one day the local commander thought that it might be a good wheeze to visit la Peza and whip up a spot of respect. The lads from la Peza were not impressed and decided to put up a fight.
The Mayor, Alcalde Carbonero, decided to knock up a cannon using an evergreen oak trunk, carved out and filled with powder and plenty of metal objects.

Well, wood is that good at constraining and directing rapidly expanding hot gases… so the tree-cannon blew up, killing just as many Spaniards as French soldiers.

The French ran off – disconcerted by the Spanish lunatics – but soon ran back and killed just about everybody who had survived the wooden cannon blast.

It’s a fair bet that the re-enactment was just a little better organised than the original confrontation.

The Price of Progress

The Ecologists in action are not happy bunnies… in fact, they’re not even bunnies, but you know what I mean. It seems that the Junta de Andalucía is content to let the company that runs the ski station up in Sierra Nevada dig up half the mountain to install the pipe work and water storage facilities for a battery of new snow cannons – 237, to be precise.

Now were not talking about a JCB and a trench, but great swathes of topsoil being lifted, along with protected species of plant life. And all this in the cause of a hefty-budgeted programme, with all the blessings of the Junta, the Provincial Council and even the Universidad, in whose name it is being done.

A letter was written by a journalist from Ideal to the department of botany at the said university but not one of the said professors deigned to reply.

On the other hand, businessmen and locals from Sierra Nevada sent an open letter to the same newspaper, saying that they fully backed the scheme as it would have a positive economic balance on the area… and so does felling the rainforests of the Amazon, of course, but some people can’t see past the succulent taste roast goose – the one that used to lay golden eggs, naturally.

Tit for Tat

Not long ago, the socialists that govern Andalucía accepted an offer from the Central Government – also under the socialists – for the liquidation of the ‘historic debt’ owed by them to Andalucía, but not in cash, but in land; i.e., land and monument heritage owned by the Central Government within Andalucía. The socialist Junta thought that it was a fair deal, but needless to say the opposition parties on both the right and the extreme left did not.

Such is poetic justice that the boot is on the other foot; Andalucía owes Madrid large sums of money in tax revenue – 1,500 million euros. With grins the width of 8-lane freeways the PP conservatives and hard-left IU proposed that the outstanding debt to Madrid be paid off in the same form as the ‘Historic Debt.’ The socialists in both the Junta and Madrid were choked but firmly trapped in a mire of their own making; bless them.

It is not often that such inveterate enemies as the PP and IU actually agree on something, but this was obviously not an occasion to be missed, even if it meant sharing the bed with the devil.

The Junta considers their proposal as a ‘senseless idea,’ The Spokeswoman, Mar Morena, says that there is no necessity to do this as over the next five years the outstanding debt can be reduced by debts coming in the opposite direction.

Mean Flying Lessons

A man in Jaen has been fined 2,001 euros by the Junta de Andalucía for throwing a turkey out of a bell tower for fun. Truly gone, Ladies and Gentlemen, are the days when it was considered a good wheeze to stone rabbits and chickens, with the village priest charging 25 pesetas a stone. No longer will a quaint village in the interior celebrate their yearly fiestas by throwing live goats from their bell tower, nor will boat crews attempt to rip the heads off geese, as they dangle from a rope across a river. Nope, things have changed; glory be.

Bad Choice of Boyfriend

A 53-year-old man died after being stabbed by his daughter’s ex-boyfriend. The father from Almería died from a severe knife wound to the neck. The alleged attacker, 20-year-old Francisco M.J. was soon arrested.
The ex-boyfriend appeared at the victim’s house in Calle Cartegena in the provincial capital at 7.30 one morning. As soon as the door was answered the attacker reportedly stabbed the father in the neck with a kitchen knife, before fleeing.

The father did not die immediately, despite the huge loss of blood, but succumbed later in hospital on the operating table.

Baby Onboard

The Policía Local of Chiclana, (Cádiz) arrested a car thief after a brief car chase – unbeknown to the police, and indeed even the thief at the beginning, the stolen car contained a 16-month-old baby.

At one point the baby ended up on the floor, during the violent manoeuvres taken by the 17-year-old car thief to shake off his pursuers.

The incident took place at four in the afternoon, beginning on Calle Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, where the car had been parked. The parents of the baby had just parked and decided to leave the sleeping baby in the car, a Citröen C-3 whilst they carried out whatever it was that they had popped into town for.

They were only moments, but long enough for the thief to break into the car and drive off, with the baby in a baby’s seat in the back. They immediately alerted the police who soon located the stolen vehicle, which was intercepted at the Rotunda del Marquesado, after a chase through an industrial estate.

Pay Attention

The conservative Mayor of La Linea, which is the Spanish border town with Gibraltar, has decided that he has been ignored and forgotten for too long and has taken steps to attract Madrid’s attention: he put a toll fee on all traffic through town en route for Gibraltar.

Whilst the opposition party has taken the heaven-sent opportunity to bash the Government for its lack of support for the town, the socialist ruling party considers it little more than barefaced blackmail.

There is a tinge of hypocrisy in the air, though, because the said mayor, Alejandro Sánchez, says that the town has always got on wonderfully with their British-colony neighbours and was quick to point out that this blow against Gibraltar has nothing to do with sovereignty.

His posture is that the town has always had an industrial-economic deficit and therefore it makes good business sense to cash in on the millions of cars that cross the border every year, by establishing what he calls a ‘traffic decongestion fee.’ The amount will never be more than five euros per car carrying tourists. Buses will also be targeted, as will rubbish lorries coming from over the border.

Naturally, Los Llanitos (Gibratareños) are not impressed, saying that it is both legally and politically unacceptable. It is worth explaining that the Spanish nickname for the residents of the Rock (Los Llanitos) translates for ‘The Plains Folk’ – an ironic jibe at the very steep layout of the British colony.

Flash Flood

Late-summer rains caused a flash flood in the province of Córdoba, where three people lost their lives. Consequently, Aguilar de la Frontera and Bujalance, both hard hit have requested that their townships be declared zonas catastróficas, which will automatically entitle them to emergency funds.

The area was hit with 220 litres per square metre in the space of five hours. To put that into perspective, when Almuñécar was hit by a flash flood a year or so back, the downpour was about 180 litres sq/m but in only half an hour. Nevertheless, these two villages in Córdoba suffered immense damage and saw the loss of three lives, compared to the one fatality in the Almuñécar floods.

In Aguilar de la Frontera three men had been travelling in a 4×4 when it was swept away. A 29-year-old drowned within the car whilst a 56-year-old man was thrown out of the vehicle to be found, drowned, about 150 metres further down stream. The third occupant, 31-year-old F.R.P. suffered slight injures. Meanwhile, over in Bujalance, a 36-year-old man was killed when a wall collapsed in his house, falling on top of him.

The hero of the moment was Joaquín López, who rescued two people who were being swept away. First of all, he heard cries for assistance from a young man who had been dragged by the water and had become entangled in iron railings. Without giving it a thought, he waded out to him, freed his legs and the two were swept about 150 metres down the street until they reached the safety of a wall where they decided to wait until the rain stopped. Just as he was getting his breath back, a young girl was swept by, so off he set again, reaching her and instructing her to hang onto his arms whilst he fought for something to anchor them – twelve metres further on he managed to find something to hold them. In the meantime, the other young man was crying, begging not to be left by himself, but the wall held where he was taking refuge.

Stabbing at Medical Centre
You expect to get patched up at a medical centre, but in the case of the one in Illora, a man who had gone there to have some minor injuries attended to ended up being stabbed five times.

It all started outside a bar, of which the victim was the proprietor, when 13 horse riders decided to ‘park’ outside his establishment, blocking the entrance. After a heated argument and minor injuries the argument fizzled out and both parties attended the medical centre to have their cuts and bruises patched up.

However, one of the riders that had attended the medical centre allegedly stabbed the bar owner four times in the stomach and once in the neck – there was blood all over the place and everybody was screaming, including the doctors and nurses. Witnesses recalled that one of the doctors was shouting, “We’re losing him! We’re losing him!”
Fortunately, they didn’t, although the victim remains in hospital in a critical state. The attacker ran off only to be tracked down and arrested by the Guardia Civil in a matter of hours.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *