News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week August 22nd to August 28th
COASTAL SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM UNVEILED
Radar sensors to detect illegal immigration and drug trafficking
By Eve Gallagher
A NEW SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM TO INTERCEPT ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS OFF THE COAST OF SOUTHERN SPAIN HAS BEEN RECENTLY UNVEILED BY HOME OFFICE MINISTER ÁNGEL ACEBES IN ALGECIRAS.
The Integrated External Vigilance System, which has cost 142.43 million euros to create, is the first system of its kind in Europe. The sensors will be both stationary and mobile and will be able to capture images at a 20-kilometre distance, during both day and night.
Radar sensor and night-vision cameras will monitor the 110 kilometres of the Spanish coastline closest to Morocco. The images captured by the radar will be sent to the centre of control were they will be assessed.
Minister Acebes explained the main aim was to significantly reduce the illegal trafficking of immigrants and drugs. He underlined the humanitarian side of the project as more human lives would be saved due to an earlier sighting of the flimsy boats in which they attempt to cross the Straits.
Police have rescued 730 people from the sea since 2000, while humanitarian organisations say several thousand are likely to have drowned in that period- a number that should be reduced when the new radar detection system starts to operate.
BONE OF CONTENTION
Last year, nearly 45,000 illegal immigrants were sent back to their country of origin and the issue has become a major bone of contention between Spain and Morocco, amid already strained relations.
It is thought that the new surveillance system is likely to further exacerbate tensions. But Spain has made clear that as well as intercepting illegal immigrants, she will also use the system to combat drug trafficking across the Straits, which primarily involves hashish from Morocco.
READY BY 2004
The new system will not be fully operational until 2004, after which the network is to be extended to cover other coastal areas.
Minister Angel Acebes added at the meeting that Spain was quite willing to integrate immigrants into the country but the correct judicial procedures should be followed in all instances. He hoped a better control of the situation would lead to 'an overall improvement in the policy of immigration'.
FIFTEEN THOUSAND DOGS ABANDONED IN ANDALUCÍA
By David Eade
ANDALUCÍA HAS THE WORST RECORD IN SPAIN FOR ABANDONING PET DOGS WITH A TOTAL OF 15,000 PER ANNUM, 12,000 OF WHICH ARE DUMPED IN THE PROVINCE OF MÁLAGA.
Every year 50,000 dogs are abandoned in Spain. Many of those dogs will have been welcomed into the home as cute Christmas gifts only to be dumped when the holiday season arrives.
However whilst people abandon their pets in large numbers, there seems to have been a change in the past 10 years in just how they dispose of their unwanted pooches. According to Alberto Díez, spokesman for the Asociación Nacional para la Defensa de los Animales (ANDA), fewer dogs are now abandoned on the streets. Sr Díez says owners prefer to rid themselves of their dogs 'with a clean conscience' and take them to animal rescue societies. Nonetheless Sr Díez stresses that 'the animals suffer'.
A BURDEN AT HOLIDAY TIME
Sr Díez points out that the highest figures for abandoning dogs occur in urban areas. The major crisis is during the summer months when families go on holiday and dump their pets rather than taking them with them or placing them in boarding kennels. Another peak period is at the end of March when the hunting season ends and many hunters abandon their dogs in rural areas.
Alberto Díez continued: "In Spain it is very simple to obtain a dog. There are no established norms as to ownership and when they are maltreated or abandoned the penalties never supersede more than 20,000 pesetas, when the law can reach a sanction of two million pesetas."
IS STERILISATION THE ANSWER?
ANDA is keen to promote a programme of sterilisation in Spain. Sr Díez pointed out that the majority of abandoned dogs are batches of puppies, which their owners no longer want to keep. He added: "In the rest of Europe they have now solved this problem by massive sterilisation which is much cheaper than here where prices are astronomical".
of the oldest animal rescue societies in Spain can be found in Cádiz.
The protection society for plants and animals was founded in 1872.
It started protecting plants but as the years passed by it also
took abandoned animals into its care. The society now has a 5,000
square metre kennel complex with 20 units equipped with kennels
and feeding areas.
MIJAS FIRE STATION FOR LAS LAGUNAS
Mijas Town Hall recently confirmed that the municipality was to finally have its own fire fighting service instead of having to rely on neighbouring towns. Now it has been announced that the new fire station will be located at Molino de Viento, near the feria ground in Las Lagunas.
Mayor of Mijas, Agustín Moreno, has stated that the same
6,000 square metre site will also house a new local police headquarters
plus a civil defence unit. The construction works are scheduled
to commence in the first quarter of 2003.
Benalmádena feria blaze
A firework which formed part of the official display to celebrate the feria of Benalmádena Pueblo is believed to have been responsible for starting a blaze on a parcel of land near the urbanisation of La Sierrezuela. Around 3,500 square metres of scrubland were burnt, including several olive trees.
Sparks from the firework caused a blaze of great intensity although it was put out within 45 minutes thanks to the prompt response of the fire service. The Town Hall has announced that it will suspend the use of fireworks at next year's fiesta celebrations.
MÁLAGA AUTHORITIES TARGET YOUTH EXCESSES
Concern at levels of drink and drugs abuse during city fair
By Dave Jamieson
A NUMBER OF PARENTS IN MÁLAGA WERE CONTACTED BY THE POLICE DURING THE CITY'S ANNUAL FAIR DUE TO THEIR CHILDREN HAVING CONSUMED AN EXCESS OF DRUGS OR ALCOHOL.
In the first week of the feria, 70 families were advised, mainly by telephone, of incidents which police report were as common during the daytime as at night.
Officers cited the example of a 12-year-old girl who was found on the toilet floor of one of the casetas in the early hours of the morning. She was taken to the Materno Infantil hospital where doctors said she had drunk a large quantity of alcohol. Health representatives on duty at both day and night fair sites also said that the number of cases of drunkenness seen in the under-16s had increased at this year's event. However, on the second day of the fair, Málaga Town Hall stated that new legislation, introduced in June to prevent the widespread sale of alcohol between 22.00 and 8.00, was not being enforced because of the "high cost" of carrying out inspections.
PARENTS SHOCKED AND WORRIED
Social Welfare statistics suggest that many parents simply refuse to accept that their children drink alcohol and take drugs, and police say that seven out of 10, confronted with the information in the present campaign, initially disbelieve the report. Most refuse the medical or psychological help offered and blame the municipal authorities for allowing their children to have become affected.
The city has also been concerned at the increased use of drugs at this year's fair, particularly ecstasy, and say it was not difficult to find groups of young people buying and selling the tablets. They report that many parents have called the municipal authorities asking for information on the drug.
MARBELLA BUS STATION COMPLAINT
By David Eade
Users of the new bus station in Marbella have been voicing their dissatisfaction at the overall state of the complex. Amongst the complaints have been the filthy state of the toilets and bus bays, the lack of frequency of bus services, the difficulty in gaining information - especially for foreigners, and the lack of security which causes particular concern at certain times of day.
However, the bus station's director, Pedro López Quesada, said that these complaints had not been directly raised with him. He did say that he had communicated to the Portillo bus company the need to clean up some areas of the station but denied there was any need for additional security, adding that the police would be immediately notified if any problem should arise. In his judgement the bus station was in no need of security staff.
MAJOR FIRE SPELLS DISASTER FOR CASTELLAR
2,000 tons of stored oak burn leaving 40 out of work
By David Eade
A HUGE INFERNO HAS DESTROYED MORE THAN 2,000 TONS OF CORK, WHICH WAS STORED ON THE FORECOURT OF LA ALMORAIMA IN CASTELLAR DE LA FRONTERA (CÁDIZ).
The cork had been gathered over the past two years from the numerous cork oaks in the Campo de Gibraltar region on land belonging to the State owned farming complex.
Eight fire engines from the regional fire station raced in the afternoon to the scene and were assisted by four fire engines from Infoca. In addition, two specialist fire fighting helicopters dumped tons of water on the blaze, which was only brought under control on the following morning and continued to smoulder for days.
The nearby Convento La Almoraima, which is now a hotel, lost its electricity supply and a small house adjacent to the cork storage area was evacuated although fire fighters managed to prevent any fire damage.
The Mayor of Castellar, Francisco Vaca, told a press conference that the blaze had been the work of a pyromaniac who had known the area well and had taken advantage of the strong Poniente wind. Sr Vaca claimed that the pyromaniac had been prowling around the area for the past 15 days.
For its part the local cultural association El Jaral has blamed the Ministry of the Environment, which owns Almoraima, for not installing a fire fighting system. El Jaral also accused the ministry of not cleaning up the rubbish around the site, which allowed the fire to spread rapidly.
The main effects of the fire are felt by the community of Castellar itself. Forty workers at the cork factory have now lost their jobs as a result of the blaze. In addition 50 per cent of the population of Castellar depend directly or indirectly on the cork factory for their livelihood. This has led the Mayor to call on the central government to aid the stricken community.
The Almoraima cork complex is just a small part of the huge farming estate of the same name, which is believed to be the biggest in Europe. It came into state ownership after the PSOE government confiscated the land from Ruiz Mateos after the collapse of his business empire. Now there is a political battle as to whether La Almoraima should stay in control of the state, governed by the PP, or passed to regional government led by PSOE.
PROPERTY PROBLEMS TOP NERJA COMPLAINTS
Advertising for rentals and sales mislead consumers
By Dave Jamieson
Nerja's Municipal Consumer Information Office have announced that complaints about property rentals form the majority of their work during the summer. The office's boss, Mari Carmen Cereto, reports that tourists are eager to know their rights when they discover that the advertisement for their rented apartment or house does not match the reality. One holidaymaker complained that the photo of his holiday home in a publicity brochure was 15 years old. Others complained about inadequate kitchen equipment, including one who said that the pots and pans were 'prehistoric'.
The Office has also received complaints about property sales, including misleading or inaccurate information given in publicity. In most cases, disputes are resolved in a friendly manner, she said, with the Office acting as mediator between the two sides.