News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week June 27th to July 3rd
AFTERMATH OF TERROR ATTACKS
Costa del Sol still reeling after ETA bombings
By David Eade
THE BASQUE SEPARATIST GROUP, ETA, STRUCK THREE TIMES WITHIN 24 HOURS LAST FRIDAY AND SATURDAY SETTING OFF BOMBS IN FUENGIROLA, MARBELLA AND MIJAS.
Two other bombs were also exploded in the Northern Spanish cities of Zaragoza and Santander on the same days.
Fortunately no one was killed in the blasts, although a British tourist underwent emergency treatment at the Costa del Sol Hospital after being caught in the Fuengirola blast. Thirty-three-year-old Marios Gavriel from Edmonton in North London had to undergo emergency surgery after shrapnel became embedded in his chest. Police said he had jumped over the protective barriers which had been placed to close off the zone.
The Fuengirola car bomb was the first to go off. It was detonated at 7.05 on Friday morning outside the Las Pirámides Hotel, which had 540 tourists staying there. Due to a warning received beforehand, police were able to evacuate the hotel and surrounding areas thus avoiding a major tragedy.
SPATE OF BOMBINGS
Later in the day, at 13.00, after another warning, the second car bomb was exploded near the building housing the OCI radio studios in Marbella, causing the entire area, including Swans International School, to be evacuated.
The car involved in the Fuengirola bombing had been stolen from Málaga two days earlier. The car used in the second bombing had a French registration and had been stolen in France. Security sources say they believe the ETA gang used this car to travel from France to the Costa del Sol and also used it as their get-away car to escape after the Fuengirola blast.
The third Costa blast took place in Mijas at 13.00 on the Saturday. This time it was a small parcel bomb, which had been placed in the parking area of the Tamisa Golf Hotel. A phone warning from ETA had allowed the Guardia Civil to alert the hotel. Staff worked speedily to evacuate guests to safety.
TARGETING THE GOVERNMENT
Security chiefs suspect that the bombs were a 'one off' blast at the Government, which was holding a summit of EU leaders in Sevilla at the weekend. For the moment the possibility of the bombings being the start of a summer campaign aimed at Spain's tourist resorts has been discarded.
Whilst many British tourists confessed to being alarmed by the blasts there seems to have been no large scale rush to leave Spain. No major cancellations have been announced from Britain.
HUNT FOR HAIKA MEMBERS
Police are now hunting the bombers. It is believed they may be former members of Haika, an urban terror group. An alert has been put out for two women, 29-year-old Ainhoa Adin Jauregui and 25-year-old Leire Exteberria Simarro, alleged to be key members of ETA.
GIBRALTAR ACCORD HEADS FOR THE ROCKS
Foreign Secretaries hold crisis meeting in London
By David Eade
A CRISIS MEETING TOOK PLACE YESTERDAY (WEDNESDAY) IN LONDON BETWEEN BRITAIN'S FOREIGN SECRETARY, JACK STRAW, AND HIS SPANISH COUNTERPART, JOSEP PIQUÉ IN THE HOPES THAT THEY WILL BE ABLE TO FORESTALL THE COLLAPSE OF THE ANGLO-SPANISH NEGOTIATIONS ON GIBRALTAR.
The talks on ending the 300-year-old dispute between the two countries started last July. Britain's and Spain's premiers had agreed to start talks under the 1984 "Brussels Process" which was designed to give Spain co-sovereignty with Britain over the Rock. Both Tony Blair and Jose María Aznar had hoped to sign such an accord this summer.
Four formal meetings have now taken place between British and Spanish delegations but after the initial reports of good progress, British diplomatic sources are now playing down any hope of success.
A number of problems stand in the way of the two governments reaching agreement. Britain's Ministry of Defence is alarmed at the possibility of losing control of the military installations on the Rock. An Anglo-Spanish accord also spells political problems for Tony Blair back home. Foreign Office Ministers, Jack Straw and Peter Hain, have received a very hostile response from MPs on all sides of the House of Commons to their planned deal with Spain. The Conservative Party has made it plain that in the event of it being returned to government it would not feel bound to honour any agreement signed by Blair and Aznar.
THE REFERENDUM DISPUTE
Under the pre-amble to Gibraltar's Constitution the people of the Rock are guaranteed a referendum to approve any change to their status. It is quite clear that any Anglo-Spanish deal will be rejected by a huge majority of Gibraltarians.
It is becoming apparent that Spain is opposing the very notion that the people of Gibraltar should be consulted by way of a referendum. One argument is that the negotiations are between two sovereign states and therefore whatever London agrees should be imposed on Gibraltar.
MÁLAGA REGATTA PROMOTED IN MAJORCA
By David Eade
A MAJOR DELEGATION OF POLITICIANS FROM ANDALUCÍA AND THE COSTA DEL SOL WILL BE IN MAJORCA FOR THIS YEAR'S 'LA COPA DEL REY DE VELA'.
The event which takes place in the bay of Palma de Mallorca on the first week of August is the premier yachting event in Spain. One of the reasons for its importance is the presence of the Spanish Royal Family who are keen yachting enthusiasts.
Four yachts from Málaga will be competing in 'La Copa del Rey'. The most notable is TAU, which is owned by Javier and Antonio Banderas and is rated as the best yacht competing in regattas in Spain. Two other yachts have been sponsored by the Andalucía tourist board and Málaga Town Hall/tourist board respectively.
The strong presence of Málaga at this year's event is to promote the 'Regata Ciudad de Málaga' which is due to be held next April. The organisers want to rename the event after the heir to the throne, Principe de Asturias, and the proposal was discussed with him when he visited Málaga recently.
MARBELLA PORT TO BE REVAMPED
Marbella Town Hall is to recommend a project for the enlargement of its Puerto Deportivo. The port has been overshadowed by Puerto Banús in recent years and has only 377 moorings which is insufficient to meet the demand that grows every year. In addition, the infrastructure of the commercial and port facilities are obsolete and in urgent need of revamping.
SAN ROQUE AND TARIFA UNITE
The Mayors of San Roque and Tarifa have agreed to join forces to promote their municipalities to encourage nautical tourism to the area. Sotogrande is already established as a major yachting resort whilst Tarifa is the wind capital of Europe and a major water sports venue. Now a new joint company will promote the names of Sotogrande and Tarifa as international water sport trade marks.
DANGEROUS DOG DEADLINE DODGED
Nerja reports few registrations
A week before the deadline for registration of potentially dangerous dogs, Nerja's Town Hall reported that only four owners had applied. By tomorrow, June 28, any qualifying dog must be registered otherwise the owner faces penalties, but by last Friday only three Spanish and one Swiss resident had returned the completed paperwork.
Certain breeds are specified, including Staffordshire bull terrier, pit bull terrier and rottweiler, but a large dog which meets a number of criteria, such as weight, height and chest size, may also need to be registered. Owners also have to provide evidence of their suitability to own such a dog, as well as third-party insurance cover.
Application forms, in Spanish or English, are available from the Town Hall, and the penalty for failing to register an eligible dog is 90 euros.
AMENDMENT TO THE MIJAS NOTICE
In last week's Costa del Sol News, we published a notice from the Sanitary Department of the Mijas Town Hall in which it stated that if you owned a dog with 'any' of the above characteristics such as weight, height, chest size and so on you had to fill in the form for a licence. The text should have read 'all or the majority' of the characteristics.
Thanks to our reader, Diana Smart, for pointing us out the translation error.
NO WATER PROBLEMS THIS SUMMER
Concepción Dam is full in spite of lower levels in wells
By David Eade
THE 11 MUNICIPALITIES THAT MAKE UP THE WESTERN COSTA DEL SOL REGION SHOULD EXPERIENCE NO WATER SHORTAGES THIS SUMMER EVEN THOUGH THE STRAIN ON THE WATER SUPPLY SYSTEM IS IMMENSE OVER THE HOLIDAY PERIOD.
Last year 1,080,000 people crowded into the zone but this year that figure should leap to 1,200,000. During the rest of the year the population of the region is around 600,000 people. In the peak summer months the population in most municipalities doubles, but in Marbella the number triples. This obviously makes major demands on both the water supply system and also the waste water treatment plants.
The vice president of the association of town halls, Rodríguez Leal, is also a delegate of the municipalities' water supply company Acosol. Rodríguez Leal insists that there will be no problems of supply as the Concepción Dam, which supplies the area, is full.
However, some municipalities have reasons to be concerned, as the water table of their own wells has dropped. Towns affected are Torremolinos, Benalmádena, Fuengirola, Mijas and Marbella, all of which will have to purchase water to make up the short fall.
CONCERN OVER GOLF COURSE CONSUMPTION
There is some concern about the amount of water consumed by the region's golf courses. These installations consume the largest amount of water because of their huge green areas. Over half the courses now use recycled water and it is hoped that the remaining courses will do so within the next four years.
Last year Acosol supplied 3.3 million cubic metres of recycled water to golf courses and garden zones. This is a rise from 2.5 million in 2000. There are more than 250 golf course holes in the region covered by Acosol and Rodríguez Leal has congratulated the majority of municipalities, which have changed their planning laws to insist that courses use recycled water.
The Guadalmansa treatment plant supplies the golf courses of La Duquesa, El Paraíso, Atalaya, Guadalmina, La Quinta, Los Arqueros, Los Naranjos, Las Brisas, Aloha and La Dama de Noche. Marbella's La Víbora plant supplies Cabopino and Santa María; Fuengirola sends water to La Cala and Arroyo de la Miel to Torrequebrada.
BID TO SEND VÁZQUEZ BACK TO JAIL
By David Eade
The Andalucian Supreme Court has taken notice of the appeal by the family of murdered teenager Rocío Wanninkhof against Dolores Vázquez. Vázquez was found guilty by trial by jury of Rocio Wannikhof's murder. However, the appeal court overturned the jury's decision and has ordered a retrial. In the interim the court also ruled that Vázquez should be freed under police supervision.
The lawyer acting for the Wanninkhof family, Marcos García Montes, has launched an appeal against the court's ruling. Amongst the grounds for seeking her re-imprisonment is the family's fear that she will flee, the serious social alarm created by the case, the serious charges with which Vázquez is indicted and the indications of her guilt.
The Wanninkhof family is also claiming that it has been unfavourably discriminated against by the appeal court's decision to free Vázquez. Their lawyer is arguing that in all previous cases in Spain, even where the charges were less serious, the accused has been kept in prison until he or she was brought again before the courts for a re-trial.
For her part Vázquez protests her innocence and has to present herself before the courts every two weeks until her trial is re-held.
Rare Pinsapos burned to kill disease
Environmentalists from regional government have burned 30 rare pinsapo trees in the Sierra de las Nieves zone of Yunquera and Parauta. The condemned trees were found to be suffering from a fungus disease (heterobasidium annosum), which attacks the trees' roots and causes them to die. It is believed that the disease is caused by a climatic change. Scientists hope that by destroying these infected trees the deadly fungus will not spread to other trees in the region.
This disease is a major danger to the pinsapos, which cover 3,600 hectares of the Sierra de las Nieves. There are other concentrations in the Sierra de Grazalema and the Sierra Bermeja in Estepona. The disease has no outward signs and only becomes visible once the damage has been done, therefore regional government is studying several solutions and intends to undertake an ambitious conservation exercise in the autumn.