News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week March 6th to March 12th 2003.
EXPATS MAKE THE DIFFERENCE
Votes of 60,000 foreign residents could play key role in municipal elections
By Oliver McIntyre
OFFICIAL REPORTS HAVE CONFIRMED THAT THE 60,000 EU AND NORWEGIAN CITIZENS REGISTERED AS RESIDENTS IN MÁLAGA PROVINCE HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO WIELD SIGNIFICANT INFLUENCE IN THE UPCOMING MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS.
In some Costa towns, EU and Norwegian residents - all of whom have the right to vote in municipal elections if they sign up to do so - make up as much as 29 per cent of the population.
With these data in mind, many local governments and political parties are courting the foreign-resident vote by holding special rallies, opening election offices geared specifically toward non-Spanish residents, or printing pamphlets outlining condensed versions of their platforms in English, German or other languages. Political parties will include foreign residents on their lists of candidates in some towns.
Mijas is the most dramatic example of potential foreign-resident political clout, with EU and Norwegian citizens representing 29 per cent of the entire population. Other towns with heavy foreign-resident representation include Torrox (23.5 per cent), Cómpeta (18.9 per cent), and Benalmádena (12.7 per cent). Marbella, Fuengirola, Torremolinos, Estepona, and Nerja all have foreign-resident populations of between eight and 11 per cent. Smaller but still significant foreign-resident representation is seen in towns such as Alhaurín el Grande, Rincón de la Victoria and Veléz-Málaga.
Although the foreign-resident population in certain towns consists of a concentration of citizens from a particular country (such as the 3,000 Germans who make up nearly a quarter of the overall population of Torrox), most towns' non-Spanish populations come from a variety of countries. In either case, the foreign residents do not necessarily share a single political point of view, and are generally not organised in political interest groups. However, in the upcoming elections, the role played by the expat population could become a major one capable of swaying results on May 25.
MAJOR NAVAL EXERCISES OFF CÁDIZ COAST
By David Eade
THE SPANISH MINISTRY OF DEFENCE HAS ANNOUNCED THAT TWO MAJOR EXERCISES ARE TO BE CARRIED OUT IN THE GULF OF CÁDIZ UP TO MARCH 12.
The first 'Grulex-03' started on Tuesday March 4 and is a submarine search and kill exercise. It involved the aircraft carrier 'Principe de Asturias' and a group of escort vessels. That exercise ended on Wednesday March 5 and took place south east of the city of Cádiz between 50 and 80 kilometres offshore.
The exercise was organised to establish the submarine hunting capabilities of Spain's 'Santa Maria' class of frigates. Two of these frigates participated, the 'Santa Maria' herself plus the 'Numancia'. They were assisted by SH-60 'Sea Hawk' helicopters of 10 Squadron. The second exercise 'Bravo' started today, Thursday March 6, and is being carried out around six kilometres off Ensenada de Zahara de los Atunes in Barbate. This involves two different operations; one is the infiltration by a naval special operations unit of marines whilst in parallel three minesweepers will carry out search for mines ahead of beach landings at Casma and El Novillero.
Exercise 'Bravo' will conclude with the landing of fusiliers of the 1st Battalion of the Marine Naval Brigade that is stationed at San Fernando. They will be using landing craft and helicopters. Also involved in this latter part of the exercise will be 500 personnel using communications equipment, artillery and fully armoured and semi-armoured combat vehicles. Once operations 'Grulex-03' and 'Bravo' have been completed Spanish forces will hold a joint exercise with US Marines codenamed 'Fuerza Operativa Este'. The amphibious vessels and marines belong to the USA fleet that is currently in transit to the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.
ROYAL NAVY ON STRAITS PATROL
Two Royal Navy frigates, HMS Cornwall and HMS Westminster, have been patrolling the Straits of Gibraltar. They are involved in an ongoing operation to deter or detect terrorist action against British and USA warships passing through the zone on their way to Iraq. Both vessels have been based in Gibraltar's naval dockyard for nearly three weeks. In addition to the 'Cornwall' and 'Westminster' other parts of the British fleet are operating in this area of the Mediterranean. Also giant Royal Navy Sea King helicopters have been patrolling the skies over Gibraltar and out into the straits.
BLAIR AND AZNAR AGREE ON ALGECIRAS FRONTIER CONTROL CENTRE
Following a meeting in Madrid between Britain's Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and the President of the Spanish Government, José María Aznar, both leaders agreed on the creation of a maritime frontier control centre in Algeciras. The accord will strengthen Spain's integrated system of exterior vigilance (SIVE), as currently Britain does not participate in the EU's Schengen Treaty for exterior border controls. This new initiative between Mr Blair and Sr Aznar formed part of a joint declaration between Britain and Spain on the future development of the EU. In the declaration the two countries stated they'd reached 'an agreement of very wide collaboration between civil servants responsible for immigration and diplomacy and for the creation of an European co-ordination centre for the control of maritime frontiers in Algeciras'.
BIG SIVE INVESTMENT
Just before the meeting between Mr Blair and Sr Aznar, the Spanish government announced it would be investing 89 million euros in SIVE operations in the Straits of Gibraltar between 2003 and 2005.
The Government claims that the drop in illegal immigration across the Straits of Gibraltar is due to the presence of SIVE. Figures for last year were 376 boats detected and 6,795 immigrants intercepted as opposed to 763 boats and 14,405 in the previous year.
TEENAGER BURNT TO DEATH IN N-340 CRASH
By David Eade
A seventeen-year-old girl from Marbella died in the early hours of Sunday morning in an accident on the N-340 within the boundaries of the municipality of Estepona. Three other teenagers from La Línea and Marbella including the sister of the deceased were also in the car and received serious injuries.
According to traffic police sources, the accident occurred at 5.45 at km 154.7 when for reasons unknown the Peugeot 206 left the road and hit a metal fence. The force of the collision ruptured the petrol tank and the engine soon caught fire.
The occupants of another car that was passing at the time of the accident went to the four teenagers assistance and managed to break the car's windows and drag three of the youngsters to safety. Unfortunately they could not rescue the fourth girl due to the ferocity of the flames. The fire brigade put out the blaze, which totally destroyed the car and recovered the body of the teenager. The other three teenagers were flown by helicopter ambulance to the Hospital Costa del Sol in Marbella.
MÁLAGA FACES 'MACROFIESTA' COMPENSATION CLAIM
Family of dead party-goer blame city's Town Hall
By Dave Jamieson
THE FAMILY OF A YOUNG HUELVA MAN WHO DIED AT A RAVE PARTY IN MÁLAGA LAST YEAR AFTER CONSUMING ECSTASY TABLETS IS CLAIMING COMPENSATION FROM THE CITY'S TOWN HALL.
Iván Garcia died at the event in the Palacio de Deportes José María Martín Carpena on March 12, 2002, at which, his father claims, the authorities were guilty of a number of irregularities, including failure to observe the Andalucían laws relating to public events. He also claims that the 'macrofiesta' took place without a licence issued to its organisers, and that authorisation was only issued 'some days after'.
OUT OF CONTROL
However, Juan García says his most important complaint is that security staff could not control the 14,000 or 15,000 crowd who turned up at the event, which should have had a licence for a maximum of 8,000. Iván García was attended by the Red Cross at midnight when he collapsed after taking an unknown substance, thought to be ecstasy tablets, but was not admitted to hospital until an hour later.
His family are of the opinion that, but for the delay caused by the huge crowds and the presence of only one emergency exit, his life may have been saved, and that the Town Hall is therefore at least partly responsible. They are claiming more than 180,000 euros from the city.
LA CAPELLANÍA RESIDENTS FIGHT TOWN HALL
Homeowners protest charges for connection to infrastructure
By Oliver McIntyre
Homeowners in Benalmádena's La Capellanía urbanisation, some 85 per cent of whom are foreign residents, are protesting the Town Hall's plan to charge them for connecting to the town's sewer and drainage system. The town's plan, approved by the town council last October, passes on to the homeowners 90 per cent of the cost of hooking up the urbanisation's 720 units that are still on septic tanks (residents say there are 300 such units). Under the town's proposal, homeowners would pay a total of 1.8 million euros.
Residents of the urbanisation have expressed a willingness to contribute some portion of the cost of connecting to the town's infrastructure, but indicate that the amount demanded by Town Hall is excessive, amounting to between 5,000 euros and 40,000 euros per unit. According to the homeowners, the expense is too great for many of them to handle, particularly the significant number of foreign pensioners among them. The homeowners association resolved last week to file a request that the Town Hall suspend the project.
DEVELOPMENT PROJECT COULD CONTAMINATE COÍN'S WATER
Controversy broiling in Town Hall over report from geological institute
By Oliver McIntyre
ONE OF COÍN'S BIGGEST DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS - THE 60-MILLION-EURO LOS LLANOS URBANISATION, WHICH IS TO INCLUDE MORE THAN 1,000 HOMES, A HOTEL AND TWO GOLF COURSES - IS FACING STRONG OPPOSITION IN THE TOWN HALL.
The contention is based on a December 2001 report from the Science and Technology Ministry's Institute of Geology and Mining, which warns that the project could result in the contamination of the town's water supply. Generated five months after the development project was approved by regional government's Urban Planning commission, the report indicates that the project site sits on permeable substrate very near the underground spring that supplies the town's water.
Based on the report, the opposition Socialist Party (PSOE) representatives in the Town Hall have requested that work on the development project be halted, but Mayor Juan José Rodríguez (Partido Andalucista) denied the request, dismissing the report as outdated and trivial. For the time being, clearing of the land at the 320-plus-acre project site continues, while regional government's Public Works Council, which has final say on the matter, reviews the report. According to provincial delegate Enrique Salvo, the document was never previously submitted to Public Works.
By David Eade
Fuengirola Mayoress Esperanza Oña has demanded that the health authority of the regional government settle its debts to the Town Hall. Sra Oña, who is also the Partido Popular health spokeswoman in the regional parliament, raised the issue with Health minister Francisco Vallego. However, Sr Vallego said he had no intention of paying the 2.5-million-euro debt and suggested the matter go before a tribunal.
NEW HOSPITAL PLEDGE
In a separate health-related development, veteran Fuengirola politician Cristóbal González, who has promised to fight for the town to receive its own hospital, was officially nominated this week as the Partido Andalucista's candidate for mayor at the May elections. Sr González said the sharp rise in population levels in the town in recent years has made the provision of a hospital a top priority.
FIVE NEW WIND PARKS FOR TARIFA
New facilities will up Andalucía's wind-power output to 168 megawatts
By David Eade
ELECTRICITY COMPANY ENDESA HAS ANNOUNCED THAT IT INTENDS TO CREATE FIVE NEW POWER-GENERATING WIND PARKS IN TARIFA.
When added to its existing facilities, the new parks will form part of a large wind-generating complex in the municipality. The new facilities will be located at Cortijo de Iruelas, El Ruedo, Río Almodóvar, La Manga and El Gallego, all situated in the Sierra del Retín close to Tahivilla. When fully operational, these wind parks will increase to around 78 megawatts the total generating potential of the province of Cádiz, bringing the total output of Andalucía to 168 megawatts.
The new power-generating windmills will be erected in the second half of this year. If all goes to plan they should be producing electricity by the first quarter of 2004. Endesa is investing 70 million euros in the five new wind parks. When complete, they will generate 190 gigawatts per hour, which is sufficient energy to supply 60,000 families. The savings to the Spanish economy will be the equivalent of 16,000 tons of oil used to fire conventional power stations. In addition, the wind-generated power has the potential to reduce the output of CO2, one of the main greenhouse-effect gases, by 175,000 tons.
KYOTO DEMANDS NOT MET
Despite Endesa's plans to build additional wind parks in coming years, the president of the official body representing 30 of the wind power-generating companies operating in Spain says that, at the current rate, the Government will not meet its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. Currently just five percent of Spain's power needs are produced by the ecological sector. The Spanish government has stated that it wishes to see that level increased to 25 per cent within the first decade of this century, thus lowering the nation's dependency on imported energy.