Regional News, week ending Friday 27th April
FISHING CRISIS LATEST
In the wake of the breakdown of talks over fishing agreements between Spain and Morocco, fishermen in Cadiz and Almeria mounted blockades all week on Algeciras and Almeria ports to screen all goods arriving from Morocco, with the intention of preventing fish from entering the country.The fishermen have been individually inspecting all lorries leaving the port and holding up any boats containing Moroccan fish. Lorries from Morocco bringing in goods other than fish were allowed to proceed. Some 700 families in Barbate in Cadiz depend directly on fishing for their livelihood and are particularly badly hit by the failure of the talks and are pressing the Government to re-satrt negotiations. Meanwhile, the Spanish government has said it does not want the EU to start new negotiations with Morocco over a fishing agreement, while the governments of Andalucia and the Canary islands are pressing for negotiations to begin again. Spanish diplomatic sources say that a new agreement which might raise the amount of compensation paid to Morocco by Spain would raise a costly precedent which would put at risk the future of many more people who benefit from other agreements with the country. Earlier in the week, president Jose Maria Aznar also threatened reprisals against Morocco for its attitude in the talks, saying there was room for review of debt cancellation and investment plans, but on Friday the Agriculture and Interior Ministers were quick to play down this words.
RELEASE OF 100 "SLAVE WORKERS"
Work and Social security inspectors have released around 100 paperless immigrant workers from what they called "sub-human" and "slavery" conditions at a strawberry farm belonging to the company Doñana 2000 near Almonte in Huelva. The people were made to do piecework, fresh water was rationed to them and they had to spend several weeks unpaid. A team of inspectors made a surprise visit to the farm and found the illegal workers, who tried to flee under orders from their bosses. Most of the workers were found to Moroccans, Lithuanians, Ecuadorians and Romanians, and had been forced to sleep in metal shacks without electricity or water, with no toilets, kitchen, dining or seating areas. They were made to sleep in groups of 10 in rooms of 6 square meters and with no ventilation or light, conditions which inspectors described as a focus for insects and infection.
TIRELESS ON DEPARTURE TARGET
Gibraltar´s first minister Peter Caruana said yesterday that the nuclear submarine Tireless will leave Gibralter before May 10th, probably around May 7th. The firing up of the nuclear reactor will be carried out next week. "We are in the final phase of repairs and according to the schedule, the sub will leave in the first fortnight of May," he said.
A row has broken out in Almeria over the case of 26 year old Sadio Dembele who has been in hospital in El Ejido with severe injuries to his pelvis. The man was due to be operated on on Friday, but the operation was postponed due to the lack of specialised equipment at the hospital. Only three such pieces of equipment exist in Spain and are rotated round the hospitals. On Saturday morning, police and a judge arrived at the hospital to demand that Sadio Dembele be operated upon, but the anaesthetic department refused to go ahead. The man had spent two days without food or drink in the hope of the operation going ahead, and has asked if the operation has been denied because he is black. Traumatologists in charge of his case say he will be permanently disabled and suffer pain for the rest of his life because of the delay, and they are meeting today to see if he can be transferred to Malaga for the operation.
JAEN PLANS PUB TRANSFER
The Town Hall of Jaen is planning to transfer the towns "Pubs" to La Vestida fairground, on the outskirts of the city during the summer months. This is in response to the growing complaints of residents about the noise and mess caused by young people hanging around and drinking on the streets. Jaen´s Youth Councillor will be meeting this week with the various relevant associations to discuss implementing the plan this year.
FREE LEGAL ASSISTENCE FOR SEVILLE IMMIGRANTS
A free legal assistance service for immigrants has been set up in Seville, and may well be extended to Cadiz and Malaga. Two lawyers specialising in immigration matters will be available daily in an office at the Audiencia Provincial in Seville, in a move undertaken by Justice councillor Carmen Hermosín. She said that the new service would fill a gap suffered by people needing help with documentation and legal questions during their stay in Spain.
GRANADA WITCHCRAFT DEATH TRIAL
The girlfriend of a man who died after a witchcraft ritual has denied that she had any involvement in his death. 37 year old Concepcion TY from Granada admitted to the Audiencia of Granada yesterday that she had been with the man on the night of his death in November 1995, but that she had found his body the following day in the bathroom of the flat they shared, and knew nothing of how he died. Concepcion also denied having anything to do with witchcraft. Earlier the court had heard that a ritual had been undertaken to rid the deceased man of a spirit which had allegedly been troubling him since he was a child.
DOÑANA DISASTER THIRD ANNIVERSARY
Contamination by the Aznalcollar mines three years after the pollution disaster in Doñana national park continues, according to reports released this week. Pollution in the first stretch of the Guadiamar river is high, the report says, while the levels of contaminants in the area next to the marches of Doñana are perceptibly high, it continues. On the third anniversary of the Boliden disaster yesterday , the director of the Field Station in Doñana, Miguel Ferrer said that heavy metal contamination in the affected area had come down considerably, but were still high, and were preventing the recovery of the eco-systems in the river and marshes. The Worldwide Fund for nature and Greenpeace also spoke out yesterday about the fact that no political blame nor penalties had been attached in the case, and that they were re-doubling their efforts to ensure that those responsible for the worst environmental disaster in Spain should not go unpunished.
UNUSUAL SENTENCE IN GRANADA
A 15 year old boy in Granada sat an unusual reading and maths test yesterday. He was before the judge, Emilio Calatayud who had ordered him to learn to read and write after he was involved in a robbery in March 2000. Visibly nervous, the boy read some paragraphs and did a sum in court, before the judge told him he had passed the test. The judge said he could hardly punish a person who had never received even a minimal education. The boy is to continue studying building and attending adult education classes in his village.
HAWKING IN GRANADA
Professor Stephen Hawking has been visiting his son in Granada this week, and gave a talk on Wednesday about the origins of the universe. He remarked that scientific research was like turning a corner and expecting all to be revealed, but find instead yet more corners. He also commented on the first millionaire in space, saying "I would love to see as many millionaires as possible in space, and if any didn´t come back it would not be a great loss." He also spoke of his admiration for Granada, a city which he has visited on several occasions.
SIT-IN IN JAEN
Workers in a Minor’s protection Centre in Jaen are to keep up their sit-in to protest against violent behaviour by three inmates. The 34 employees say that one boy had tried to sexually abuse a girl, and that all the staff had suffered from the violent behaviour of the three boys, aged between14 and 16. Following the sexual attack, the girl involved reported the event to the Fiscal, and the boy was moved to a different centre. The protesting workers say they will not leave the building to ensure the safety of the other children, and are insisting that the troublemakers be moved to a more secure unit.
LITHUANIANS FIGHT IN ALMERIA
20 Lithuanians have been arrested by Guardia Civil in El Ejido, Almeria for taking part in a fight in which one of their number died and another was seriously injured. The violence erupted over a prostitution racket in which Lithuanian girls were having their entry into Spain facilitated, and then were subjected to blackmail and abuse if they did not hand over their earnings. Vehicles were used in the battle and a 24 year old was seriously injured when he was run over. Police confiscated nine cars.
ROCIO AFFECTED BY FOOT AND MOUTH
A unique aspect of the Romeria (pilgrimage) del Rocio in Huelva this year is threatened by the foot and mouth crisis. Oxen are used to pull many of the carriages which make their way over a week to El Rocio, so the brotherhoods involved have written to the Agriculture Ministry to ask for special permission to use the oxen as usual this year. The use of horses is permitted by the authorities, and in the worst case scenario, donkeys will be used in place of cattle.
NEW BABY ID METHOD PATENTED IN SEVILLE
A patent method, apparently unique in the world, for identifying new born babies without any error has been devised in Seville. The method combines the classic wrist tag method with the instant electronic fingerprinting of mother and baby. This can be carried out moments after birth and can ensure no error in the event of a wrist tag falling off or being swapped. The method has been four years in the making and was presented yesterday in Seville.
BRYNE AND CALE IN LORCA CONCERT
Aficionados of Federico Garcia Lorca, David Byrne formerly of Talking Heads and John Cale, formerly of the Velvet Underground should take note. Tickets will be on sale at the Huerta de San Vicente museum from tomorrow for a concert to pay tribute to Lorca who came from Granada. The event will take place on June 8th and 9th in Lorca´s former home, with the concerts being specially adapted to a more intimate environment with little public space. There are only 300 seats available. Sources say that names like Suzanna Vega, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Patti Smith and Sting have also expressed in interest in the event.