News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week April 3rd to April 9th 2003.
UNREGISTERED RESIDENTS TAKE TOLL
Costa falters under weight of 200,000 unregistered expats
By Oliver McIntyre
SERIOUS PROBLEMS ARE FACED BY MANY COSTA DEL SOL TOWNS WHERE AS MANY AS 200,000 EU EXPATRIATES LIVE FULL OR PART-TIME WITHOUT REGISTERING AS RESIDENTS.
In contrast, there are just 65,000 registered EU foreign residents in the province of Málaga. In towns like Marbella and Mijas, which have around 10,000 and 14,000 registered foreign residents respectively, it is estimated that there are three times more non-registered foreign residents those officially recorded.
The non-registered residents, referred to by some as a 'phantom population', create challenges for many municipalities and their public services and infrastructure. This is especially the case when the registered population limits the amount of provincial, regional, or central government support received by the towns.
This lack of financial support leads to problems such as mail that arrives just once a week instead of on a daily basis, hospitals and health clinics which are frequently overcrowded and understaffed, insufficient number of schools and local police departments and other agencies which are often forced to increase personnel beyond budgeted levels.
Ricardo Bocanegra Sánchez, president of the Federation of Foreigners' Associations (Faecosol), has expressed his discontent with foreign residents who opt not to register. "They definitely don't help the towns," says Sr Bocanegra, "they don't show up anywhere, although they expect to receive the same services as everybody else". Many town mayors, such as Estepona's Rosa Díaz, have requested that foreign residents register, which, among other things, would give them the right to vote in municipal elections.
Town officials recognise that foreign residents - registered or otherwise - contribute real estate taxes and other economic benefits to local governments and economies, but they still maintain that many essential services suffer because of the disparity between the number of registered residents and the actual population. According to Sr Bocanegra: "The towns plan their services based on the municipal census, but later need to meet the needs of a larger population."
THOUSANDS MARCH IN PEACE DEMO
Record crowds march 11 kilometres to US base at Rota
By David Eade
A MASSIVE DEMONSTRATION TOOK PLACE AT THE NORTH AMERICAN BASE AT ROTA ON SUNDAY WHEN OVER 23,000 PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER ANDALUCÍA MARCHED 11 KILOMETRES FROM THE PARQUE CALDERÓN IN PUERTO DE SANTA MARÍA TO THE MILITARY ZONE AT FUENTEBRAVÍA.
They were escorted by vans carrying National Police and Guardia Civil officers. The Guardia Civil had mobilized its rural security group from Sevilla, part of its Cádiz reserve plus a BK-117 helicopter. The National Police groups included riot squads, two squadrons of mounted police from Sevilla, an MBB-105 helicopter as well as a disguised electronic vigilance vehicle.
In the event the protest, which was twice as large as any previous demonstration, passed in peaceful atmosphere. Many celebrities marched on Rota including singer Javier Ruibal, film director Benito Zambrano along with writers Felipe Benítez and Almudena Grandes. Perhaps the atmosphere of the day was best demonstrated by ecologist Juan Clavero who having handed over a letter of protest to a US soldier at the Rota base gates then exchanged handshakes with him.
FIRST INJURED MARINES ARRIVE
The first USA marines injured in the Iraq war have arrived at the Rota base in Cádiz. After initial medical check ups they were transported by C-9 aircraft to the Regional Medical Centre based at Landstuhl in Germany.
A spokesman at Landstuhl later announced that 21 injured troops had been received of whom 14 were marines and the remaining seven regular army members. The commander of the German medical centre, Colonel David Rubenstein, explained that the hospital facilities at the USA base in Rota were classified as a Level 5 Assistance Clinic. It is understood that this type of centre would normally cater for patients requiring psychiatric or psychological treatment.
However it is known that a building at the Rota base normally used for various celebrations has been converted into an emergency medical centre. It is understood that this facility has 116 beds whilst another 500 are available at the hospital.
ROTA PATROLS THE STRAITS
A total of 64 vessels from the Spanish navy backed up by helicopters are currently patrolling the Straits of Gibraltar from the Rota base. The operations to protect USA and British shipping are being mounted by frigates and patrol boats as well as Sea Hawk and Sea King helicopters from number 5 and 10 air wing of the fleets.
The operation, which is being mounted under the auspices of NATO, is also backed by Orion P-3 patrol aircraft of squadron VQ-2 of the US Navy supported by Cessna Citation aircraft of the Spanish 2nd squadron.
The patrols are keeping visual and electronic observations of shipping in the Straits zone and are intercepting any vessels that cause suspicion. It is understood that to date seven vessels have been bordered for inspection by vessels of the Spanish fleet.
MISSING BRITISH COUPLE FOUND DEAD
News Staff Reporter
Police in Valencia last week arrested two Venezuelan couples for the kidnap and murder of a British couple who had been missing since September 13 of last year, when they disappeared after arriving in Málaga on August 30 looking to purchase a home either on the Costa del Sol or on Alicante's Costa Blanca. The bodies of Anthony and Linda O´Malley (42 and 55) were found last week buried in the basement of a house in the Baradello Gelat urbanisation of Alcoy (Alicante).
According to police reports, the suspects, who were involved in real estate scams, lured the victims to the house through a bogus 'for sale' listing (the suspects were renting the home in question; they did not own it). They then allegedly kidnapped the couple and over the next two weeks, allegedly forced the victims to draw cash from their credit cards and withdraw 18,000 pounds from their bank in England. The suspects are believed to have taken a total of 28,600 euros from the couple.
Police believe the O´Malleys were held in the small cellar of the house for between five and 15 days prior to being killed and buried in a 70 cm deep floor cavity covered with bricks and earth in the basement of the house.
MÁLAGA THEME PARK ATTRACTS INTERNATIONAL INTEREST
350 million euro investment needed for new year-round attraction
By Dave Jamieson
AT LEAST THREE MAJOR SPECIALIST DEVELOPERS HAVE SHOWN INTEREST IN INVOLVEMENT IN MÁLAGA'S PROPOSED NEW THEME PARK.
The Industry and Commerce Delegate, José Luis Ramos, who last week refused to name the parties, was speaking ahead of the city's Town Hall agreeing the terms and conditions of the contract, with a view to its approval by the Junta de Andalucía at the end of April. The developers will have between 70 and 90 days to present their detailed proposals, which will be evaluated by a committee, presided over by Málaga's Mayor, consisting of professionals from government, business and architecture amongst others.
SITES UNDER CONSIDERATION
Sr Ramos said there were six sites with up to 6.5 million square metres of land under consideration, and said that the Town Hall was confident the project would be successful, because of the volume of tourists visiting the area, the six and half million people living within two and half hours of Málaga, and the weather, which would ensure it became a year-round attraction.
Sr Ramos estimated the successful developer would invest 350 million euros on the new attraction, the fourth largest in Spain, which would generate 3,000 temporary construction jobs, plus up to 2,500 permanent jobs on completion, as well as several thousand indirect positions.
Three million visitors a year are expected to pay around 35 euros at the turnstiles to enter the park.
Daylight robbery relieves Brit of 75,000 euros
News Staff Reporter
A 51-year-old British man was robbed of 75,000 euros in cash in the centre of Málaga last Friday. The incident occurred shortly after the man had withdrawn the money from the BBVA Bank in Calle Larios, in connection with the purchase of a house in Álora, and placed it in a rucksack which he carried over his shoulder. He then began walking to the offices of Mapfre Seguros in Calle Plaza de Toros Vieja when a young man, masked and dressed in black, cut the rucksack straps and ran off with it. Realising what had happened, the victim perused the robber towards Calle Salitre, where an accomplice, also dressed in black, was waiting on a motorbike. The two thieves made their getaway on the Honda CBR-600 had its matriculation plates covered.
National and local police patrols in the area were alerted but the motorcycle was not found. Police sources later said that the two robbers, thought to be south American, had watched the victim in the bank, and followed him, waiting for the easiest moment to snatch the cash. Police do not dismiss the possibility of an accomplice, working in the bank, tipping off the others when a large cash sum was withdrawn.
NEW TOURISM OFFICE OPENS IN BENALMÁDENA COSTA
Building also houses Deputy Mayor's Office for residents
By Oliver McIntyre
BENALMÁDENA'S NEW OFICINA CENTRAL DE INFORMACIÓN Y TURISMO OFFICIALLY OPENED ITS DOORS TO THE PUBLIC LAST WEEK AT AN INAUGURATION CEREMONY ATTENDED BY MAYOR ENRIQUE BOLÍN, ANDALUCÍA TOURISM BOARD CHIEF ANA GÓMEZ, AND OTHER POLITICAL AND TOURISM-INDUSTRY OFFICIALS.
The first floor of the new three-storey office building houses the town's Deputy Mayor's office, where residents can now handle many of the municipal transactions that previously required a visit to the Ayuntamiento up in Benalmádena Pueblo. The second floor consists of the Town Hall's Tourism Department offices, as well as information for tourists and foreign residents. On the top floor of the building is a multipurpose meeting and conference facility with a 50-person capacity.
LATEST TECHNOLOGIES TO BE USED
The inauguration of the new municipal building came after three years of planning and construction. The town spent 1.5 million euros on the facility, which Mayor Bolín said will allow Benalmádena to utilise the latest technologies to continue its promotion of local tourism. According to municipal data, the town's three existing tourism information offices received 230,000 visits in 2002.
LOCAL TV STATION IN PORNOGRAPHY SCANDAL
Mother files complaint about morning porno programming
News Staff Reporter
A woman in Benalmádena has filed a complaint with the Andalucía Minors' Defence Attorney after her seven-year-old son was exposed to pornographic programming aired by a local television station. According to the woman's complaint, the pornographic movie was aired at 10.30 in the morning, which is illegal under a 1994 Spanish law that prohibits the broadcasting of pornographic material between the hours of 7.00 and 22.00.
Although no formal charges have previously been filed against the station, the Benalmádena Police Department acknowledges that it has received complaints from other residents. The Andalucía Minors' Defence Attorney's office says it will take immediate action once it officially receives the complaint, which is being processed by Benalmádena Town Hall's Department of Social Services. Meanwhile, the Town Hall will look into the legality of the television station's general operations.
ECOLOGISTS RAISE ESTEPONA OIL DRILLING ALERT
Prospecting could be major threat to tourism and fishing
By David Eade
AS PREVIOUSLY REPORTED IN DETAIL IN THE COSTA DEL SOL NEWS, THE BRITISH OIL COMPANY CONOCO UK WILL SHORTLY START PROSPECTING FOR OIL IN A NUMBER OF OFFSHORE LOCATIONS ALONG THE COSTA DEL SOL.
Now the ecologist group AEV has alerted the people of Estepona that prospecting will start within weeks in the Mar de Alborán, just two kilometres off the beaches of the resort town. According to AEV, the work is expected to commence in May. AEV stated that the drilling is to take place on a site offshore from the urbanisations at La Rada. The group believes that if the search for oil is successful, the tourist industry could be seriously effected.
The drilling for oil was authorised by the Spanish government last October. Madrid has given Conoco UK permission to prospect in a number of locations off the coasts of Estepona, Marbella and Fuengirola.
Following the protests by AEV, Izquierda Unida (IU) spokesman Antonio Murcia said that the party would seek to have the oil prospecting agreement annulled. The IU says that the oil exploration operations could spell the death of both the tourist and fishing industries on the Costa del Sol.
THIS IS NO (TRADITIONAL) CINDERELLA STORY
School program addresses gender stereotypes in fairytales
By Oliver McIntyre
Hey, why should Sleeping Beauty have to wait for Prince Charming to save her with his gallant kiss anyway? That's the type of question being raised in a school program currently underway in Mijas. The program is aimed at exposing the sexist and stereotypical images portrayed in many traditional fairytales and children's stories, and providing children with an alternative point of view.
In what they call the 'story-breaking' technique, the developers of the program create alternative versions of common tales, changing the gender roles in order to convey a message contrary to that of the original. Instead of being a damsel in distress, the main female character of the story takes on a role of strength, independence and self-sufficiency. Or perhaps the downtrodden woman in a story is replaced by a man in similar circumstances. For example, Cinderella may become a young boy whose stepbrothers make him do all the chores; or maybe Tarzan is no longer King of the Jungle, but rather his daughter takes on the leading role - and proves she's got what it takes to carry it off.
Mijas Town Hall's Centre for Women's Information is behind the effort to bring the program to the town's seven primary schools, where about 500 children will participate. The program was developed by a group called Equipo Ágora, and is delivered to the children by team members who act out the alternative-version stories and stimulate student participation in discussions and activities aimed at bringing home the message of gender equality and positive female images. The town of Benalmádena reportedly may bring the program to its schools in coming months, becoming the fifth town in the country to do so.