News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week November 27th to December 3rd 2003.
JOINT ACCORD ON IMMIGRATION
Spain and Morocco reach agreement to stop illegal immigration
BY DAVID EADE
FOLLOWING A MEETING IN MADRID BETWEEN SPAIN AND MOROCCO IT HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED THAT ON DECEMBER 3 BOTH COUNTRIES WILL ESTABLISH A PERMANENT JOINT ORGANISATION TO FIGHT THE TRAFFICKING IN HUMANS AND ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION ON BOTH SIDES OF THE STRAITS OF GIBRALTAR.
The accord was reached by Spain's Minister of the Interior, Ángel Acebes, and his Moroccan counterpart, Mustapha Sahel. The new organisation will be under the direction of both of their ministries. Sr Acebes explained that it would be formed by high-ranking officials from both countries dedicated to creating teams to protect both frontiers and the exchange of information.
FIRST STOP MOROCCO
Many of the illegal immigrants arriving on the shores of Spain from Morocco come not from that country but from the wider sub-Saharan region. Now those attempting to cross into Morocco illegally will be confronted by a new force created by King Mohamed VI. This will start to operate in January of next year with 2,500 officers designated to put a break on illegal immigration.
Morocco has up to now been accused of not doing enough to stem the flow of illegal immigrants from its shores. However its Interior Minister, Mustapha Sahel, stated that this year 27,000 potential illegal immigrants (8,822 of them sub-Saharans) had been detained in Morocco and 146 trafficking networks had been broken up.
Once the new joint organisation has been launched by Spain and Morocco it is intended that it will engage in discussions with other countries with similar problems. It is hoped that joint meetings will be held in due course with France, Italy, Algeria and Libya.
APPROVAL FROM SEVILLA
The president of regional government of Andalucía, Manuel Chaves, has stated that he views the accord between Spain and Morocco as being 'very positive' adding that Andalucía was the Spanish region that mostly bore the brunt of the illegal immigration. Speaking from the regional capital in Sevilla, Sr Chaves said that the joint agreement to fight the mafias and to impede the departure of the 'pateras' launches was an 'important step'.
The Spanish government's delegate in Andalucía, Juan Ignacio Zoido, echoed Sr Chaves statements. He said that the joint accord would impose a better control on the Moroccan frontiers and make it more difficult for illegal immigrants to turn up on the coasts of Spain in massive numbers.
Nonetheless, as a reminder of the challenge both countries face, a 'patera' containing 59 men from the sub-Sahara arrived on the beaches of Tarifa just as the new accord was announced.
MARBELLA SET TO FALL IN LINE OVER PLANNING LAWS
BY DAVID EADE
ALL THE INDICATIONS ARE THAT THE NEW TRI-PARTY TEAM GOVERNING MARBELLA HAS DECIDED TO FALL INTO LINE OVER PLANNING POLICY THUS ENDING THE CONFLICT WITH THE REGIONAL GOVERNMENT AND ANDALUCÍA HIGH COURT.
The new Mayoress, Marisol Yagüe, has accepted that the 1986 town planning ordinance (PGOU), which is recognised by regional government, should be the sole yardstick for passing new planning permissions until a new one is approved.
The immediate result is that 2,000 dwellings that were approved by previous administrations based on various GIL-only approved PGOUs will now be paralysed. In addition the new Marbella town council has approved new licences for 200 homes but all of these must adhere to the 1986 plan.
Another good sign that town planning in Marbella is about to be brought under control is that Sra Yagüe has accepted that regional government is the ultimate authority in town planning matters. Under the GIL administrations it was argued that responsibility for town planning lay solely with the Town Hall.
This means that, apart from adhering to the 1986 PGOU as an interim measure, the Town Hall's new PGOU will be formulated in line with regional government's 'Ley de Ordenación Urbanística de Andalucía'. The Town Hall has also indicated that it will invite the general public to participate in the drawing up of the new planning regulations.
The change of attitude at Marbella Town Hall has been broadly welcomed by regional government. Its delegate in Málaga province, Luciano Alonso, said it would work at all possible speed to approve the new PGOU as long as it is was a serious revision and not based on previously rejected plans.
IN DANDER OF DEMOLITION
Once a new PGOU is approved by regional government it will undoubtedly mean that many properties in Marbella will be deemed illegal and therefore in danger of demolition. Sr Alonso pointed out that it was not regional government that had approved their construction and therefore their ultimate fate would have to be decided by the courts.
GRAHAM TO TESTIFY AS SUSPECT IN WANNIKHOF CASE
By Oliver McIntyre
Following suspected double-murderer Tony Alexander King's testimony that it was actually his 'friend' Robert Graham who committed the 1999 murder of Rocío Wanninkhof, the judge in that case has called Graham to testify as a suspect, rather than as a witness. Graham, who just prior to King's accusations had missed a court date to testify as a witness in the case (he was in England at the time and claimed financial restraints), has now been located in Egypt.
According to his newly appointed lawyer, Damián Cánovas, Graham plans to co-operate and will voluntarily return to Spain to testify in the case. "He won't be studying any script, he won't enter into this circus and he'll tell the truth," said Sr Cánovas.
In his testimony, Tony King also claimed Graham was involved with a 'real estate mafia' and said he had not implicated Graham earlier due to fear for the safety of his own daughter.
NEW LAW REQUIURES REFLECTIVE VEST IN ALL CARS
By Oliver McIntyre
Based on the new Reglamento de Circulación traffic law passed last week, all drivers must have a reflective vest onboard their vehicle for use in case of roadside emergencies. The law is expected to go into effect near the end of December, and drivers will have six months from that time to ensure that their car is equipped with at least one safety vest. It must be worn any time the driver has to get out of the car on the road or the shoulder (in the event of an accident, flat tire, breakdown, etc.).
Other elements in the Reglamento include the requirement that all children under 12 years old and less than 1.5 metres tall be strapped into an appropriate baby or child seat properly fastened to the rear seat of the car. In addition, the use of DVD, video, or computer screens by drivers is completely prohibited, while mobile phone use is restricted to 'hands-free' systems. It is also prohibited to use a mobile phone, leave the car lights on or have the radio playing while pumping gas at the petrol station. In addition, the new law forbids drivers to use radar-detection devices and to make headlight or other signals to alert other drivers to a speed-control in process.
The new regulations also state that drivers should not enter a tunnel if it appears that traffic conditions will force them to stop inside. In the event they do have to a stop inside a tunnel, they should shut off the car's engine and turn on the hazard lights.
Meanwhile, bicyclists riding on the road are required under the new law to wear a helmet (this requirement will be enforced beginning one month after the law goes into effect) and, when dark, to use a light and wear reflective clothing visible from 150 metres. Groups of cyclists of are allowed to ride side-by-side in a double-file column, which taken as a whole is to be considered the same as a car on the road.
JUDGE ORDERS IMPRISONMENT OF RONDA MURDER SUSPECTS
Police say they have DNA evidence and eyewitness
By David Eade
A RONDA JUDGE HAS ORDERED THE PROVISIONAL IMPRISONMENT OF THE THREE SUSPECTS DETAINED IN CONNECTION WITH THE MURDER OF THE OWNER OF THE AGUILAR HOTEL, CARMEN GÁLVEZ RIOS (58), WHO WAS FOUND DEAD IN ONE OF THE BEDROOMS ON OCTOBER 21.
The three suspects were recently arrested in Fuengirola. Police have identified them as Tarik L. (33) and Mahdi O. (30), who are both from Algeria, plus a 48-year-old Moroccan woman, Halima O. All three have been transferred to the provincial prison at Alhaurín de la Torre.
The detention of the suspects was based on evidence accumulated during a month-long police investigation into the murder. Police say their findings are supported by DNA evidence found at the scene of the crime as well as by an eyewitness account from the husband of the victim, who says he saw them leaving the hotel.
Ronda Town Hall has decided to increase the level of safety in the town by appointing eight security officers who will be attached to the local police force. They will keep watch on public buildings and patrol various quarters of the town.
The eight new recruits will wear the same uniforms at the local police but will not be armed. In the case of an emergency they will summon local police officers, as they do not have the authority to intervene or carry out an arrest. However, the local police union is against the recruitment of the security guards and some officers have refused to patrol with them.
MP QUESTIONS CERCANÍAS OVERCHARGES
By Oliver McIntyre
The PSOE MP for Málaga, Miguel Ángel Heredia, has raised questions regarding train company Renfe's double charging of 16,800 riders on the Málaga Cercanías line during the first eight months of this year. Riders who do not buy a ticket at the station and are instead charged by the on-train conductor are forced to pay double the regular price, as a penalty for not having purchased a ticket prior to boarding the train.
According to Sr Heredia, the regulations are being over-strictly enforced, particularly given that many stations have only one ticket-dispensing machine, many of which take coins only, causing lines or difficulty in ticket purchasing that often prohibit riders from successfully buying their ticket before boarding. In addition, the machines suffer "numerous breakdowns," according to the MP. He plans to seek explanations from Development Minister Francisco Álvarez Cascos regarding what Sr Heredia calls Renfe's "bad" service.
MÁLAGA TO INCREASE TAXI FARES
By Dave Jamieson
Hiring a taxi from Málaga airport to your home or holiday apartment is likely to be more expensive next year. A proposed overall increase of 6.5 per cent on taxi tariffs in the city is expected to be approved by the Junta de Andalucía, although increases will vary by type of service. One of the largest jumps will be on Tariff 2, which covers taxi journeys after 22:00, on holidays, and at weekends, when journeys will cost seven per cent more, while the surcharge attached to airport rides will rise from 1.90 euros to 2.50 euros.
The per-kilometre charge will rise by 10 per cent, from 0.57 euros to 0.63 euros, but will only apply when the taxi's speed is greater than 28 kilometres per hour. This will have the effect of increasing fares outside the city centre, where congestion slows down traffic flow. The minimum charges will remain unchanged at 2.65 euros during normal hours and 3.10 euros during the Tariff 2 hours.
The planned increases, due to be implemented January 1, have been criticised by the opposition socialists at Málaga Town Hall, who say they will have a negative impact. The PSOE group alleges that fares will rise sharply for the majority of the city's residents, who live in the suburbs and have further to travel, and will thus be subject to the larger increases. The PSOE also claims that travelling by taxi in Málaga involves longer journeys and is already more expensive than in other Andalucían cities, and has demanded a detailed study of the sector before any price increases are implemented.
MÁLAGA AGAINST CITY STREET DRINKING
Residents call time on late night outdoor parties
BY Dave Jamieson
THE PROBLEM OF "EL BOTELLÓN" HAS AGAIN SURFACED IN THE CENTRE OF MÁLAGA WHERE RESIDENTS HAVE NOW DEMANDED THAT THE TOWN HALL TAKE ACTION.
"El botellón" - late-night parties held in the streets of the old town, usually at weekends - began as an alternative for young people who could not afford the prices charged for drinks in bars and clubs, so purchased cheap alcohol from shops and supermarkets, and then gathered in the open air to meet friends. Now, however, "el botellón" has become a culture in its own right, but has brought complaints of inconvenience, noise and rubbish from those who live nearby.
Now, residents in the historic city centre say they have 'reached the limit' and last week asked the Town Hall to prohibit drinking in residential squares and streets, except in authorised establishments. A spokesman for their association said that the impromptu parties are no longer limited to the Plaza de la Merced, but have extended to the area of the new Picasso museum and elsewhere, including the Cervantes Theatres. Lola Acosta said they have suggested that the Town Council find an alternative venue for "el botellón" while mounting an education programme to reduce alcohol consumption amongst the young and to raise awareness of acoustic contamination. Sra Acosta also said the Town Hall had 'thrown in the towel' when they tried to alleviate the problem by installing public toilets in plaza de la Merced, and that the only solution was to introduce by-laws, as has happened in Madrid and Santiago.
BY-LAWS 'NOT FORESEEABLE'
However, the city's councillor for youth, Elías Bendodo, said he could not foresee the introduction of local ordinances limiting drinking in certain streets or squares, claiming that this would be the responsibility of the regional government, not the Town Hall.
While admitting that "el botellón" was a difficult problem to solve, he denied that the city had 'thrown in the towel' but said it was not feasible simply to tell young people that they should move to the another location. Sr Bendodo said that the introduction of rubbish containers and public conveniences would 'little by little' eradicate the practice.
FOUR YOUTHS ARRESTED OVER STABBING OF BRITON
By David Eade
National Police officers in La Línea de la Concepción, attached to the violent crime squad, have detained three youths aged 18 years-of-age plus a minor of 17 years in connection with the stabbing of a Briton.
The events took place in the early hours of October 18 when the Briton, identified as S.A.J., was going on foot along the Avenida 20 de Abril. He was in the company of his fiancé and other friends as they were about to cross the border back into Gibraltar after a night out in La Línea.
As they approached the border they came across a group of youths who they called out to in a humorous manner. However it appears the greetings were misinterpreted and led to a verbal argument that then got out of hand.
Soon afterwards the Briton was seen surrounded by a group of youths who knocked him to the ground and started to kick him. It was at this point that one of his attackers drew a knife and stabbed him in the left shoulder blade whilst he was unable to defend himself.
The attackers fled thanks to the rapid intervention of the National Police stationed at the border who then rushed the injured Briton to the local hospital. The police started enquiries and identified the gang as being from the Bellavista zone of La Línea that frequently harassed people in the area at weekends.
SPANISH PARENTS FEAR FOREIGNERS WILL AFFECT EDUCAT
Parents ask for more teaching resources and a 'bridge' transition classroom
BY Oliver Mcintyre
THE PARENTS ASSOCIATION (APA) OF THE EL CHAPARRAL PRIMARY SCHOOL IN LA CALA, MIJAS, WHERE SOME 52 PER CENT OF THE STUDENTS ARE NON-SPANISH (MOSTLY BRITISH), HAS RAISED ITS VOICE YET AGAIN OVER WHAT IT SEES AS A POTENTIALLY DAMAGING SITUATION FOR THEIR CHILDREN'S EDUCATION.
While supportive and appreciative of the intercultural nature of the school, the APA says that only four per cent of the roughly 200 English children at the school speak fluent Spanish, which means teachers have to provide extra attention to the foreign kids, holding back the rest of the class.
What the APA wants, according to its president, María Sol Luque, is not less non-Spanish children but more teaching resources. It's been several years since the group first brought this desire to the attention of the provincial Education delegation, requesting additional teaching staff focused on providing language immersion classes. There is currently one dedicated 'intercultural teacher' at the school. The APA says it would like to go as far as to have a special 'bridge', or transition, classroom for the non-Spanish-speakers.
JUNTA UNWILLING TO COOPERATE
The Junta de Andalucía's provincial education delegation for Málaga disagrees that the situation at El Chaparral is putting the Spanish children's education at risk. Officials there say that the school's one intercultural teacher is more than what is available at other schools, many of which have to share such a teacher between several centres. While they do not rule out further study of the situation in Mijas, Education officials are firmly against the idea of a 'bridge' classroom such as that suggested by the APA, stating that: "We do not consider it correct to segregate the students."
POWER CUTS PROMPT POWERFUL PROTESTS
News Staff Reporter
Two local mayors have made formal complaints to Sevillana about recent power cuts in their areas. The Mayor of Rincón de la Victoria, José Jesús Domínguez Palma, wrote to Sevillana in Málaga regarding the outages suffered in his municipality during recent rainstorms, which left the area blacked-out for most of one afternoon. He has asked for compensation for 'the problems caused to our residents in general, and the damage and financial loss caused to businesses'.
Motril's Mayor, Carlos Rojas, has written a similar letter to Sevilla-Endesa in Granada complaining about on-going problems, the most recent cut having come last week. Sr Rojas makes reference to a substation which is still not functioning some years after its construction, and says that without a reliable electricity supply, the work of the Town Hall in building Motril's wealth, employment and tourist potential is being prejudiced.