News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week November 13th to November 19th 2003.
Royal British Legion Chaplin Stephen Langdale conducted a service with a record high attendance at the Lux Mundi Ecumenical Centre last Sunday morning. The service for the Torre del Mar branch was followed by luncheon and a raffle which raised over a 100 euros for Poppy Appeal.
NUMBER OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT DEATHS TRIPLES
NGO claims real death toll is even worse
By David Eade
THE YEAR 2003 WILL GO DOWN AS A TRAGIC ONE DUE TO THE HIGH NUMBER OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS THAT HAVE BEEN WASHED UP DEAD ON THE SHORES OF MAINLAND SPAIN AND THE CANARY ISLANDS.
Last month 35 bodies were found on the beaches of Cádiz after a 'patera' launch sunk off Rota. That grim haul brought the total number of dead in the first ten months of this year to 90. With more bodies being discovered all the time the total for 2003 is set to be triple that for 2002 when 35 bodies were found - the same number as was washed up at Rota.
The death toll data was issued by the government's delegation for immigration, which pointed out that 2001 was also a bad year when 86 clandestine immigrants were found on Spain's beaches.
However the 'Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía' disputes the government's figures. The human rights organisation says that it has counted 205 immigrant deaths so far this year, 53 more than it recorded in 2001. Also in the period from 1997 it has accounted for 1,059 being washed up on the Spanish coast.
The president of Derechos Humanos, Rafael Lara, said this death toll 'surpassed what was acceptable in a democratic society'.
GUARDIA CIVIL OVERWHELMED
The Guardia Civil has acknowledged the death toll is high because it does not have the means to save lives. The association representing Guardia Civil officers, AUGC, said that agents in the province of Cádiz were overwhelmed because of the lack of means to fight against illegal immigration and to rescue the occupants of intercepted 'pateras'.
The AUGC claims that the Maritime Service of Cádiz has had two of its patrol boats out of action since the summer. Also the launches at the service's disposal are not fully operational requiring them to return to port when it rains or in high seas, the very time when the 'pateras' are at the highest risk of sinking.
ROTA JUDGE CAUSES ROW BETWEEN SPAIN AND USA
News Staff Reporter
The judge of Rota's No.1 court, Irene Partida Barreto, has dismissed an application presented by the USA to nullify her previous decision to embargo one of its bank accounts at its local naval base.
The judge took the decision to block the Banco de Andalucía account after a Málaga construction company sued the USA for a debt dating back to 1994. Montasa S.A. undertook work inside the base but the total bill exceeded the price quoted and the US authorities refused to pay despite a 1999 court ruling in the constructor's favour.
After making her initial ruling the judge received a letter from Spain's Foreign Minister, Ana Palacio. The minister told the judge that her decision exceeded Spain's power to act in the international field and that it could lead to counter measures by the USA.
However judge Partida Barreto has stood her ground. In her latest ruling dismissing the application by the USA she stated that in her opinion the account could be embargoed as it did not affect the defence of Spain nor the USA and neither did it contravene the bilateral treaties between the two countries.
It is understood that the original sum owed to Montasa by the USA was around 750,000 euros. That has now nearly doubled to 1,400,000 euros due to interest added for its failure to pay. By embargoing the US Navy's account the judge has confiscated 1,056,000 euros but she cannot claim the balance as the USA has closed the account.
BRITISH LEGION REMEMBRANCE
News Staff Reporter
With a record high attendance of 112 people, the Royal British Legion Torre del Mar Branch held its Remembrance Service at the Lux Mundi Eccumenical Centre last Sunday morning. With the group's new Standard on parade for the first time to mark the occasion, the RBL Chaplin Stephen Langdale conducted a service remembering fallen soldiers from both world wars, as well as more recent casualties in the Iraqi conflict.
With the service followed by an upbeat luncheon and a raffle that raised over 100 euors for the Poppy Appeal, the day's events were a mixture of sombre respect and joyous celebration. In a written communication, an RBL spokesperson told CDSN that: "Although Remembrance Sunday is a time for reflection and remembering those who were not fortunate enough to come back from war, it is also a day for celebrating our freedom in this wonderful country Spain."
TWO POLICEMEN KILL THEIR WIVES THEN COMMIT SUICIDE
Unrelated but similar cases shock Campo de Gibraltar
By David Eade
THE CAMPO DE GIBRALTAR REGION IS REELING FROM TWO SEPARATE CASES OF A POLICE OFFICER MURDERING HIS WIFE AND THEN COMMITTING SUICIDE.
The two unrelated cases happened five days apart, the first in the small fishing community of Barbate followed by a similar incident in Algeciras.
In the Barbate tragedy a 31-year-old local police officer, who had been divorced from his wife for three months, saw her walking in the street in the early evening with her mother. He fired several shots at her from his car and although she was rushed to the nearby health centre, she died soon afterwards.
The officer left the scene of the crime and drove home, where local police and Guardia Civil patrols soon arrived. However, before the officers could approach him he shot himself in the mouth with his police revolver and died instantly.
"VERY JEALOUS" ABUSER
The second killing took place five nights later, outside the restaurant La Posada del Millán in Algeciras, when a policeman's wife was arriving for work. Eyewitnesses stated that a furious argument took place between the couple. The officer then drew his service revolver and shot his wife dead before turning the gun on himself.
The policeman and his 45-year-old wife had three grown daughters and a son, aged between 22 and 28. The couple had been separated for some time and it is believed that one of the reasons was the demands of his job, which had seen him posted to Ceuta. Neighbours of the couple said the husband was "very jealous" and that his wife had been a victim of domestic violence on a number of occasions.
TORREMOLINOS CAR PARK PROJECT SITTING IDLE
NEWS Staff Reporter
Construction on the underground car park being built in Torremolinos' Plaza de Andalucía has been stalled for over three months, causing widespread complaints from area business owners, who claim they have racked up huge financial losses due to the torn-up streets. Access to their shops and offices is limited to a narrow walkway. Meanwhile, parents of students at the Miramar primary school have expressed concerns about emergency-exit limitations caused by the closure or the school's front entrance during construction, leaving a small rear door as the only route in and out of the building.
The construction company performing the work on the car park acknowledges that the project has been stalled, but indicates that work will restart this week with the arrival of a particular piece of machinery that has been unavailable until now. When the company won the Town Hall contract for the project a year ago, the understanding was that the work would be completed on a 14-month timeline, which is now running well behind schedule. An additional concern has been raised by the opposition socialist group at the Town Hall, which says one of the other companies that bid on the project indicated that the planned 613-space car park is too big given the proximity of the surrounding buildings.
ROW GROWS BETWEEN NERJA AND REGIONAL GOVERNMENT
By Dave Jamieson
The stand-off between Nerja and the Junta de Andalucía is now "war" according to a local councillor, while a new voice has been added to the calls for the restoration of car access to beaches in the natural park of Maro and Cerro Gordo.
A row over the issue has been growing between Nerja Town Hall and the Junta de Andalucía since the regional government's decision last year to make visitors park their cars well away from the sands. Among other things, town councillors are concerned that vehicles are allowed onto the beaches in socialist-controlled Almuñécar but not in PP-controlled Nerja (the Junta has a socialist majority).
The situation was further inflamed when the Junta criticised Nerja Town Hall, alleging that local fishermen had been given money from the public purse to help pay illegal-fishing fines. The local socialist group has gone so far as to ask the socialist-controlled Junta to review the last four years of Partido Popular control in Nerja.
Last week relations deteriorated further still, with comments from Nerja's councillor for Beaches, José Miguel García, regarding the remains of a burnt-out minibus that has been sitting in the natural park since summer. Sr García said the Junta's failure to remove the wreck should be considered "another link in the war that the Town Hall is fighting over the natural park." He added that the war has been waged by the Junta's Environment delegate, Ignacio Trillo, "against the Town Hall, against the governing group and against the people of Nerja, prejudicing them through his ineptitude."
A call for action has now come from a newly formed group, Residents for the Rights of Nerja Citizens, which has been collecting signatures on a petition asking for the park beaches to be re-opened to vehicles next summer. They plan to send the document to Sr Trillo, claiming that Nerja residents who use El Cañuelo and Las Alberquillas beaches are suffering discrimination when compared with people who live in Granada province.
"MORE PARKING SPACES AND LESS NOISE"
Foreign residents voice their complaints in Estepona
By David Eade
MORE PARKING SPACES, LESS STREET NOISE ESPECIALLY FROM MOTORCYCLES PLUS THE SMELL FROM THE CASARES WASTE RECYCLING PLANT - THESE FORMED THE MAJOR DEMANDS AND COMPLAINTS FROM FOREIGN RESIDENTS IN ESTEPONA.
Representatives of various foreign resident groups recently met with Estepona's delegate for tourism, Marta Solis, at the first of a series of such meeting initiated by the Town Hall. She said that the new local government team was anxious to engage with the municipality's foreign residents to see how they lived and what problems they faced.
Over 20 per cent of Estepona's population is made up of foreign residents. However one of the points stressed at the meeting was that the main problems faced by the foreign community were exactly the same as those that confront 'Esteponeros' themselves. Nonetheless the foreign residents groups now intend to create an association of foreign residents in Estepona, which will give them more credibility when petitioning for changes to be made to the town.
PARTIDO POPULAR IN CRISIS
Following its defeat at the May elections in which it lost power, the Partido Popular in Estepona has been in crisis. Former PP Mayoress, Rosa Díaz, has announced that she is abandoning the party and will sit as a Grupo Mixto councillor at the Town Hall. The PP reacted by immediately expelling her from the party.
ALHAURÍN GETS AGREEMENT FOR NEW FIRE STATION
Land to be provided next to the traffic circle at Arroyo del Pinar
By Oliver McIntyre
ALHAURÍN DE LA TORRE TOWN HALL ANNOUNCED LAST WEEK THAT IT HAS REACHED AN AGREEMENT WITH THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT TO CREATE A FIRE STATION IN THE TOWN THAT WILL SERVE BOTH THE MUNICIPALITY AND OTHER TOWNS IN THE GUADALHORCE VALLEY REGION.
Under the agreement, the Town Hall is to provide 1,500 square metres of land in the Viñagrande area, where the provincial government will build the fire station.
According to the Town Hall, the location of the new fire station, right next to the traffic circle at Arroyo del Pinar, will provide excellent access to the town centre, the residential neighbourhoods and urbanisations, as well as the surrounding hills and rural areas. The fire station is to be equipped with two fire trucks and a rescue vehicle and will be staffed by a fire chief and nine firefighters.
WORK TO START IN 2004
After getting official Town Council approval of the project, the Town Hall hopes to get the project included in the provincial government's 2004 general budget so that work can begin as soon as possible, with construction possibly getting underway at the beginning of the new year.
PACT GIVES BOLIN ABSOLUTE MAJORITY IN BENALMADENA
By Oliver McIntyre
A pact signed late last week between Mayor Enrique Bolín's Grupo Independiente de Benalmádena (GIB) party and the Partido Popular melded the two groups together to create an absolute majority on the Town Council (10 GIB councillors and four PP councillors out of a total of 21 Council seats). Negotiations between the two parties had been ongoing almost since the day after the May 25 elections.
As had been discussed previously, the pact signed last week was described by Sr Bolín and the provincial president of the PP, Joaquín Ramírez, as an actual melding of the two groups into one party, which will govern for the next four years and present a single list as a united party in the 2007 elections. While Sr Ramírez indicated that the GIB councillors will essentially be absorbed into the Partido Popular (a national party, as opposed to a local independent one like GIB), it is still unclear exactly what name the party will adopt; Sr Bolín indicated that PP, PP-GIB, or just GIB would all be possibilities.
While the Mayor and Sr Ramírez describe the pact as a natural and beneficial one between two parties with similar goals and policies, the opposition parties in the Town Hall see the agreement in a different light. The Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE) and Izquierda Unida representatives accuse the PP of abandoning the policies and promises it campaigned under, and say that if the GIB party becomes PP, it will have defrauded voters who elected an independent group as opposed to the nationally affiliated PP.
MARBELLA'S DAM TO BE ENLARGED
By David Eade
THE MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, ELVIRA RODRÍGUEZ, HAS CONFIRMED THAT TECHNICAL STUDIES TO ENABLE THE ENLARGEMENT OF THE CONCEPCION DAM WOULD BE COMPLETED BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR.
She added that the work was needed to resolve the water supply problems of the Costa del Sol and she hoped they could be carried out as soon as possible.
The project would see the doubling of capacity in the Concepcion reservoir. At present the dam can store 56 cubic hectometres of water but that would be increased to more than 100.
FUENGIROLA PROJECT TO START SHORTLY
Speaking at the international congress of Emerson being held in Marbella the minister also said the integrated sanitation system for the Costa del Sol would be concluded as soon as possible as it was of fundamental importance to the zone and its people.
In addition work would start within days on the enlargement of the water purification plant at Fuengirola. A similar project for Torrox had been published in the official state bulletin (BOE) last week with a budget of 10.5 million euros whilst the plant in Benalmádena should be operational early next year.