Regional News, week ending Friday 3rd May 2001
SUSPECTED MERCURY DEATH
A 52 year old man has died in Jaen City hospital from a pulmonary embolism, thought to have come from mercury poisoning. The death of Eladio Gonzalez brings to 15 the number of workers who have died from the company Electroquimica Andaluza's workforce. His work mates say they are sure that the internal bleeding suffered by Gonzalez came from years of unregulated exposure to mercury while working for the company, which made bleaches and caustic soda. Former employees of the factory have formed an association to demand compensation.
MOROCCAN NAVY CHASES TARIFA BOATS
A group of boats from Tarifa were found fishing in the Strait on Sunday by Moroccan Navy patrols, and forced to return to port. Morocco said the boats were fishing in its waters. Tarifa fishing councillor Jose Antonio Pinto said that about 50 boats were chased by the Moroccan navy to within 3.5 miles of Tarifa. He added that the boats were working the same water they had always fished in.
PIT BULL ATTACK IN HOSPITAL GROUNDS
A Hospital security guard in Sevilla has been injured by a pit-bull terrier after trying to move on a group of youths who were drinking in the hospital car park. The incident happened last Friday, when 35 year old AMB approached the group and a struggle broke out between him and one of the youths. The dog then attacked him, injuring him in the leg. The group then fled, without asking for help for the security guard. Sources say gatherings of young people in the hospital car park at weekends are common, and this has not been the first altercation.
RAIL STRIKE OFF
The rail strike which threatened to affect the Seville feria this week has been called off at the last minute. The trade union involved, Semaf, reached an initial agreement with Renfe, by which both sides will begin talks over the workers dmeands on May 9th.
MURDER YOUTH SET FREE
The youth found guilty of murdering another young man in Jaen has been set free. SSR aged 16 will be on parole, having served six months in detention already. This is the maximum which can be served by underage youths under the new Juvenile law. SSR had previously been sentenced to six years in custody, and three years on parole. The mother of the dead youth, Ana Anula, said it was "unheard of that a person who had committed such a serious crime should be set free."
VEHICLE BURNINGS IN HUELVA
The spate of vehicle burnings continue in the town of Huelva. A brand new vehicle was set alight on Sunday night in the capital, bringing to 23 the number of cars torched in the town since 15th March, according to fire services. National Police have arrested a 47 year old man and a 17 year old youth , both with previous convictions, in connection with the fires.
SPECIALIST HOUSING CONSENT
The regional government has agreed to extend until the end of this year the period for requests by developers to build specialist housing. These promotions involve the construction of homes to let out to temporary workers, both Spanish and foreign. The extension applies to 42 Andaluz municipalities, and is in response to the high mobility of the workforce, especially in Almeria.
SNOWY FAREWELL TO SKI SEASON
Fresh snow and below zero temperatures were the order of the last day of the ski season in the Sierra Nevada on Tuesday. The station currently has 22 kilometers of ski-able snow, over 120 cms deep in some places. The station closed to the public having received a record number of visitors, almost one million, this season. Income grew 16%. Works of repair and improvement will now be carried out to prepare for next season. The Junta de andalucia will be investing 3000 million pesetas in these works, which will include installing new chair lifts, to be activated by electronic cards, cutting down on queuing.
ANDALUZ SMUGGLING FRAUD
The Tax Agency in Andalucia detected frauds to the value of 40 and a half thousand million pesetas last year, according to a statement issued this week. These figures include the smuggling of tobacco and hashish, and it was revealed that seized goods in the Campo de Gibraltar represented 50% of smuggled goods in the whole of the country.
LABOUR DAY DEMOS
Labour Day demonstrations called by trades unions across Andalucia had the support of 15 thousand people, according to local police. Marches were called in all eight capitals of the region, with the central event taking place in Jaen, with only 500 people present. However 6000 turned out to demonstrate in Malaga. The demonstrators marched under banners demanding stable, secure employment with full rights.
LSD SCARE IN GRANADA DISCREDITED
The Health and Education Department in Granada has discredited a circular purporting to be from the paediatric centre in the town alerting schools to the distribution among children of transfers allegedly containing LSD. The leaflet has been found in two schools in Granada, telling teachers, parents and children that the transfer contain LSD and could be harmful if applied to the children's skin.
FUNDS FOR REPATRIATION OF DEAD COLUMBIAN
A group of residents from the Zaidin are of Granada have opened an account to collect funds to repatriate the body of a young Columbian found stabbed by his flat mate last week. Leader of the collective trying to gather the funds, Pedro Cerdan, has said that two and a half million pesetas are needed to return the body of Ferley Perez Lopera to his home country.
TIRELESS REACTIVATED WITHOUT INCIDENT
The reactor of the nuclear submarine "Tireless" was fired up in the early hours of yesterday morning. It was then shut down, and both events took place without incident, according to official sources. Meanwhile residents of the Campo de Gibraltar took advantage of 1st of May demonstrations to protest once again about the presence of the Tireless in Gibraltar for almost a year. Feelings are running so high in the area about the Tireless issue that seven members of the Plataforma Antisubmarino decided on Monday to stage an indefinite sit in and hunger strike in the ayuntamiento of Algecirs. Residents in the Campo de Gibraltar also say they are feeling the tension in the run up to the departure of the nuclear submarine Tireless from Gibraltar within two weeks. Immersion tests will be carried out on Monday. Residents say they are concerned because there is not even an evacuation plan for their area in the event of a problem. It has been revealed that no representatives from either the Spanish or British governments, nor anyone from the Nuclear Safety Council will be present at the tests, to give an air of normality.
SEVILLE EXPO "ECONOMIC DISASTER
The Seville Expo of 1992 was a complete economic disaster, despite its success in show casing Spain, according to a report by the Tribunal de Cuentas. Losses accumulated since the Expo´s inception in 1985, up to 1997, were over 117 thousand million pesetas, half of that figure caused by the depreciation or incorrect valuation of property.
BREWERY WORKERS ON STRIKE
The 600 workers at the Heineken brewery in Seville went on strike on Thursday, and will do so again on May 7th. The strike is also expected to be taken up by all the other Heineken brewery workers, some 3000 across Spain. They are protesting about the company's lack of fulfilment of a labour agreement signed after the fusion of El Aguilar and Cruzcampo, and they intend production to be completely paralysed during the two days of the strike, according to Union leaders.
STRAWBERRY SECTOR DEFENDED
The president of the Huelva strawberry growers, Jose Manuel Romero has said he considered that the Ministry of Work has given excessive coverage to the problems with the business Doñana 2000, which was found to be exploiting immigrant workers in sub-human conditions. Romero said that the foreign buyer might think that Spanish strawberries were the cheapest because here workers were exploited, whereas in france they are not. He added that the Huelva strawberry sector functioned in exemplary work conditions, with Doñana 2000 being an exception.
PROSTITUTION RACKET DISBANDED IN ALMERIA
Almeria police have dismantled a prostitution network in Roquetas del Mar. Two people have been arrested, 17 women forced into prostitution have been found and 47 clients identified, among them Subsaharans, Moroccans and Spaniards. The operation was carried out in two night clubs over the weekend, in an area of Roquetas known as Los Morenos, and in a horticulture farm nearby. The women included two under age Nigerian girls, and were found by police in various locations in appalling hygiene conditions. Sources say they had been lured into Spain by a couple promising them work contracts, and had then been told they had to pay off a debt of a million and a half pesetas each by working as prostitutes.
SKIN CANCER CASES HIGH IN CADIZ
The province of Cadiz has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the whole of Spain according to figures released by the University Hospital at Puerto Real. A spokesman said of 14000 consultations each year, there were found to 800 cases of skin cancer. He added that the local climate permitted sunbathing from Semana Santa through to the autumn, a likely cause of the high incidence of melanomas.
POSSIBLE BUYER FOR AZNALCOLLAR MINE
A company with mining and finance interests has expressed an interest in buying the troubled mine at Aznalcollar in Doñana. Under its current owner, Boliden, this was the mine which caused devastating pollution in the Doñana National Park three years ago. Trade union sources say that the name of the interested party is not yet known and that they expect more details to come from a meeting the Junta is holding with the Council of Employment next Monday.
GRAZALEMA HOTEL HALTED
The Enviroment council of the Junta de andalucia has ordered the stoppage of building works of a hotel in the Grazalema Natural Park in Cadiz. The construction of the El Fuerte hotel in the park is already well underway, but does not have a favourable environmental report, according to the Environment delegate, Sebastian Saucedo. The decision comes after a denuncia placed March last year by Ecologists in Action.
SOLDIER'S WAY AT ALHAMBRA
A new feature is shortly to be open for visitors in the Alhambra palace in Granada. Under a rotating cycle, Los Espacios del mes, the so called "soldiers path" will be open to the public in the Alcazaba during the month of May. This will permit visitors to see how the Nazari soldirs guarded the Alhambra against possible enemy attacks. The Alcazaba, meaning fortress in Arabic, was the first part of the Alhambra to be constructed, and was initially only used for military purposes. It was surrounded by a path which soldiers patrolled to keep watch and it's this area which will shortly be open to visitors.