National News – March

Ban Protest

Jose Montalvo

Around 500 residents of Palencia turned out to demonstrate their objection to the recent tobacco legislation. The demonstrators were hoping that the government would reconsider the smoking ban laws, as they believe it will be the final nail in the coffin of the hostelry industry.

The protest was the first of its kind to be held in Spain since the new legislation came into force on 2nd January. The demonstration started from the Plaza Mayor at 11.30am and ended at the local government offices where the crowd was addressed by the president of the National Federation of Hotels, José María Rubio.

The protest was mainly made up of bar owners bearing placards and blowing whistles, as they marched between the rather numerous police lines and the organisers claimed that a call for bars to close down for the day, or at least for the duration of the protest was heard and between 60% and 70% of shutters were pulled down.

However, the 24-hour protest request was largely ignored and it was clear that by the evening just about all the bars were open and functioning normally… but smokeless.
The reason for this small protest being in our Spain section is that according to leaders of the National Federation of Hoteliers this is just the start of many more protests against the legislation, and whilst expressing their support for the Palencia action, they suggest that there will be more action in the coming weeks in such cities as Cuenca and Las Palmas.

Whilst acknowledging that the chances of a ‘U-turn’ on the policy by the government is slim at best, the president of the Association of Hostelry in Palecia, Francisco Javier López Arroyo and the General Association of Catering, Jesus Herrero, want the country and the Government to realise the financial hardship the ban is causing, with takings down ‘significantly’ on the same time last year, and with those losses they claim job losses will naturally follow. The Gazette will report on any future protests and we’ll see what, if any, affect they have.

New Nationality Law
Immigrant parents who have children that were born in Spain may, in the near future, have access to legal residence. This is according to the draft regulations of the Law on Foreigners, which was issued recently by the Secretary of State for Immigration.

The new law would have a clause called ‘family ties,’ which would join the existing clauses for residence, ‘social ties’ and ‘labour ties.’ This basically means that the new formula will allow access to foreign parents as long as ‘the child is in their care and residing with the parent applying for residence.’

The change has been introduced on humanitarian grounds, as there have been many cases where children who have been born in Spain and are therefore Spanish nationals and not deportable, but risk becoming homeless because their parents are ‘illegal.’

The draft will be completed in the next two months or so and it is believed that it will benefit thousands of people who, until now, have suffered discrimination and despite their children being Spanish nationals, cannot even access basic facilities for themselves or their Spanish children.

Another clause to be added to this draft is one that will see assistance given to battered women. What has this to do with immigration law I hear you ask? Well, we have all read of the dreadful attacks in Spain by foreign men on their womenfolk, many of whom have died… well, the Secretary of State for Immigration, Anna Terron, has made the bold move of introducing legislation that will offer some protection to these vulnerable people. Foreign women who have suffered domestic violence and who partner has been convicted of the same, the woman will automatically be given a work and residence permit for five years. Any children over 16 years will also be given a work permit.

Obviously, this all hangs on the man getting convicted… no conviction, no permits. But a brave move in the right direction we think.

Pension Parity
Spanish MP’s get shamefully large pensions for life after serving just a few years in parliament… allegedly. Well, the main parties have, until now, ignored and pretty much hidden from any talk of change to the MP’s pension pilferage.

Could it be the sound of a fast approaching municipal and regional elections that has changed their minds, or even the not so distant sounds of the national elections bearing down on parliament that has suddenly made the PSOE and PP sit up and take heed? Surely they would be so cynical?
Just seven years of work as an MP currently gets you the equivalent of the maximum pension that other citizens have to contribute 35 to 40 years of blood, sweat and tears to achieve.

The first to blink was Mariano Rajoy of the PP, at a convention in Sevilla, and then the secretary of the PSOE, Marcelino Iglesias who said they are “willing to talk” about the pensions issue.

The request from the deputy of the UPD had been roundly ignored and there was even a, now notorious, letter sent out by José Bono to Members on how to defend yourself against awkward questions about the dreaded three P’s… pay, pensions and perks.

Somehow, I can’t see any MP’s voting in swathing cuts for MP’s any time soon.

Zimmer Frame Fraud
One can only imagine the look on the faces of the hardened officers from the National Police’s Fraud Squad, who are normally accustomed to dealing with illegal gambling dens run by Chinese mafia networks, when they were told there had been reports of irregularities in a game of bingo being played and run by elderly people in Palma and they were being sent to investigate.

They decided to raid the bingo hall during a game, and proceeded to smash down the door, deploy teargas and Tazar the bingo caller before he could say ‘two little ducks, twenty two.’ Alright! That’s not quite how it happened… they actually walked in and asked that the game be stopped while they looked into the alleged irregularities.

This is where it gets interesting… as it turns out, at least four of the organisers of the games were not putting all the money taken from the players in the correct places. In fact, officers found that the sneaky old codgers were creaming off between 3,000 and 4,000 euros per month! Way to go granddad!

Cocaine Queen Arrested
Surely the story of Ana Cameno will be made into a film. Known in the Spanish press as the ‘Cocaine Queen,’ she was arrested recently, along with her Colombian collaborators, in a police raid on her cocaine laboratory in Madrid.

The police had been trying to arrest Cameno for the last two years, but even with her distinctive cosmetic-surgery-enhanced face and peroxide blonde hair, she managed to stay one step ahead of the law. This was in part due to always being on the move, attending up to five meetings a day with suppliers and clients, mostly at petrol stations and road junctions, but she also had someone on her payroll within the Drugs and Organised Crime Unit, who continually tipped off Cameno with the registrations numbers, makes and models of the vehicles trying to follow her.

Surrounded by huge police officers, guns and batons, she remained cucumber cool on her arrest, making just the one comment as the cuffs snapped shut, “I’d cut my arm off before I told you anything,” she said, before being placed in the waiting police car.

Another aspect of her life, which would fit very nicely into the aforementioned film plot, is her devotion to ‘santeria,’ a sort of religious sect found in Cuba where it was introduced by slaves in the 18th and 19th centuries, and it is alleged that Cameno sacrificed animals before a big deal and even visited Cuba to take part in a ‘santeria’ ceremony.
Perhaps she forgot to strangle a chicken on the morning of her arrest…

Leave a Reply

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