News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week January 15th to January 21th 2004.
BRITISH BUSINESS BURNT OUT
Car thieves blamed for devastating blaze
BY DAVID EADE
THE RECENTLY OPENED BRITISH COMPANY YOUR SPANISH MONEY HAD ITS OFFICE BURNT OUT AFTER CAR THIEVES UNINTENTIONALLY SET FIRE
TO A VEHICLE OUTSIDE ITS PREMISES.
The incident happened in the early hours of the morning in the Sabinillas zone of Manilva. The blaze was outside the Edificio Vizcarronda located on the service road beside the N-340. The flames and smoke from the car fire reached as high as the second floor.
Around 20 families were evacuated and the family on the first floor flat were taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation.
BLAZING CAR CRASHES INTO WINDOW
Police sources stated the car fire was started as thieves attempted
to steal the vehicle. They tried to hot wire the ignition but it
caused a short circuit sending the car up in flames. Because the
car had been left in gear it leapt across the pavement and hit the
front of the British owned business.
The resulting inferno totally destroyed the car and a motorcycle as well as the ground floor offices of the finance company. Three other vehicles and the façade of the building were also damaged. Residents tried to put out the blaze with the fire extinguishers from their apartment block but they had little effect.
The attempt to steal the car was probably linked with an early morning robbery of the bar Pepe Ramírez located just 25 metres from the blaze. The thieves broke in at around 04.00 and stole the cash box from a slot machine.
BACK TO BUSINESS
Your Spanish Money executive, Mary Noake, told Costa
del Sol News that despite the fire, the company has continued to
trade and is working on a temporary basis from the home of its owner,
Clive Bridgeman. She added that a local bank was astonished when
she came in with two clients immediately after the fire, declaring:
Its business as usual!
Although the interior of the office was gutted Mary said: Luckily our boss, Clive, downloaded all the files on our computers just before the Christmas break so 99 per cent of our information is intact. Miraculously original documents belonging to a client that had been in a file on one of the desks, survived the fire completely unscathed.
CAMPO DE GIBRALTARS HOSPITALS UNDER FIRE
BY DAVID EADE
THE PUNTA EUROPA HOSPITAL IN ALGECIRAS AND THE SAS HOSPITAL IN LA
LÍNEA DE LA FRONTERA ARE FACING A WAVE OF SERIOUS COMPLAINTS
FROM PATIENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES.
Even across the border in the British colony of Gibraltar the GSLP/Liberal opposition has condemned the waiting times in the Rocks sole public hospital as well as the shortage of beds.
The latest judicial action at the Punta Europa hospital in Algeciras has come from the family of cancer victim Antonia Gómez. They have officially protested to the regional governments health authority after their mother was fitted with a catheter without the use of any anaesthetic. They have alleged that the anaesthetist also treated Antonia Gómez roughly causing her a great amount of pain.
Antonia Gómez told Costa del Sol News: I was crying with pain and they told me to shut up. I couldnt have done to an animal what they did to me. They told me to shut up because my cries made them nervous.
Although it does not form part of the familys official complaint, Antonia Gómez is convinced that it was the patient sharing the room with her whom the anaesthetist was expecting. Briton Una Bolus was also due to have a catheter fitted to drain liquid from her chest. Antonia Gómez said that she saw notes and x-rays in the operating theatre in Una Bolus name and when she queried with the medical team whether it was she they were expecting, an argument broke out amongst the doctors.
A senior nurse at the Punta Europa told Costa del Sol News that she and other colleagues welcomed the publicity about Antonia Gómezs case. She said she hoped that it would encourage other patients to come forward as there was no adequate control or supervision and many departments were operating in a state of chaos.
EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT CLOSE TO COLLAPSE
The emergency department at the hospital is also in a state of virtual collapse. Hardly a week passes without the local media reporting lengthy queues. In the past week patients had to wait up to five hours before they could see a doctor. There were also insufficient beds in the emergency unit so many urgent cases were left on beds or stretchers in the corridors.
CONTENTIOUS TAX RISE TO STAND
By David Eade
A recent meeting of Fuengirolas town council approved a new
tax ordinance for the municipality, which will see two rates of
taxation. Residents who are officially registered with the Town
Hall will be charged a lower rate than those whose names are not
on the official census.
The move has brought protests from the opposition Socialist party as well as hotel and tourism groups. The Socialists have argued that people who, for whatever reason, have decided not to become registered as residents should not be discriminated against in this way. They also cast doubt on the legality of the new ordinance.
However Esperanza Oñas administration says the move is in the interests of the people of Fuengirola. It believes it is unfair for the people who do register to bear the tax burden required to run a major tourist resort. The Town Hall has pointed to the fact that the population of Fuengirola is far higher than the official registered figure and the town loses valuable central government funding because of the refusal of a large number of residents to officially register.
BIG WEEK FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION
2003 yearend figures; new Maro arrivals; questionable legal representation
By David Eade and Dave Jamieson
According to official figures issued by the Ministry of the Interior,
104 dead bodies of illegal immigrants from Morocco and the sub-Sahara
washed up on Spain's shores in 2003. In addition, 388 illegals were
rescued when their boats capsized and sank.
Over the past year the Guardia Civil detained 18,420 illegal immigrants arriving on Spain's beaches, an eight per cent increase over 2002. The majority chose the route crossing the Straits of Gibraltar to the Spanish mainland, where 9,714 were intercepted, as opposed to the heading for the Canary Islands (8,706). The previous year the Canary Islands were the preferred destination.
A boat carrying illegal immigrants from Morocco was intercepted last week before landing on Málaga's shores. The overloaded and unstable inflatable dinghy was observed 10 miles off the coast of Maro, near Nerja, heading for Alberquilla beach. The rescue vessel Salvamar was ordered to meet the craft, and its 35 passengers were taken aboard and transported Caleta de Vélez. A boy believed to be 15 years old was taken to hospital to establish his true age, along with another passenger suffering from hypothermia. The remainder, including one woman, were taken to Torre del Mar police station to await repatriation.
LAWYERS' FEES WITHHELD
Meanwhile, the director general of the regional government's Justice Department, Julio Coca, has notified the Cádiz Bar Association that the Junta is withholding some lawyers' fees for immigration cases in Algeciras courts. The authorities have accused the lawyers of charging excessive fees for services that often amount to little more than filling in a standard form. In the third quarter of 2003, 97 lawyers presented 1,437 cases on behalf of illegal immigrants in Algeciras. The regional government has agreed to pay the fees for 744 of the cases (35,260 euros of the total 65,022 euros billed).
The affected lawyers claim that the regional government's decision is totally unjustified, and they intend to take the matter to the Andalucía High Court. Their case is to be argued by Manuel Francisco Clavero Arévalo, a former minister of the interior in Spain's first UCD government.
TAXI DRIVER MURDER SPARKS SAFETY PROTESTS
By Oliver McIntyre
Taxi drivers in Almería held a 24-hour strike early this
week in protest of the apparent murder of a cabby there over the
weekend. Driver Joaquín García Carretero, 53, was
found dead in Aguadulce on Saturday, with wounds indicating he had
been beaten. His cab was found 20 kilometres away, in La Mojonera.
Police investigations following the discovery of the vehicle led
to the arrest a Moroccan man in connection with the crime.
Beginning at 8.00 Monday morning, over a hundred Almería taxi drivers began 24 hours of strike, protest and support of their fallen co-worker and his family. At 11.00 many of the drivers attended a service at the Iglesia de San Juan in honour of the deceased, and then continued to the cemetery. In the early afternoon they met with Almería's sub-delegate of the Government, Francisco Láinez, demanding improved safety and security measures for taxi drivers.
According to the Andalucían Taxi Federation, three drivers have been murdered in the last four years in Andalucía. Nationally, 53 drivers have been killed during the last 10 years. According to the association's vice president, Ángel de Mula, the security measures and assistance provided "both by the town halls and other administrations is ridiculous."
INVESTIGATION SHELVES COMPLAINT AGAINST NERJA
Payment to a fined fisherman denounced as illegal
By Dave Jamieson
An action taken by Nerja Town Hall on July 16 last year to help
out a local citizen has resulted in a formal rejection of opposition
complaints. A provincial court in Málaga has shelved a complaint
about payments made by Nerja, following an investigation prompted
by a denuncia made by the Agriculture and Fishing Department of
the Junta de Andalucía last October. The Department alleged
that the municipality had acted illegally when it gave money to
a local fisherman, fined by the Junta for illegal fishing but unable
to pay. It asked for an investigation to determine if a penal offence
had been committed.
The payment of 360 euros was condemned at the time by the delegate responsible for Agriculture and Fishing at the Junta, Ignacio Trillo, who called it illegal and questioned the soundness of Nerja Town Hall in encouraging illegal fishing. At a press conference last week after the court decision, Nerjas Mayor, José Alberto Armijo, said that his Partido Popular group would now take up their denuncia against the municipalitys socialist group, particularly councillor Gema García, for comments made at the time alleging falsification of a public document. For the socialist-governed Junta, the provincial delegate responsible for fishing, José María Rodríguez, said he believed that an illegal action had been taken and that the courts decision would be studied by the provinces legal advisors.
BRITONS BOOST ESTEPONAS POPULATION TO OVER 50,000
BY DAVID EADE
THE MUNICIPALITY OF ESTEPONA HAS SEEN A STEADY POPULATION GROWTH
IN RECENT YEARS, THE VAST MAJORITY OF WHICH ARE FOREIGNERS.
According to the towns official register (padrón) there were 46,342 residents in 2001, 47,697 in 2002 and that jumped to 50,605 in 2003.
A total of 2,908 people were enrolled on the official register last year of which the vast majority, 2,229 were foreigners. The total number of foreign residents now officially stands at 9,014 but in reality is far greater as many do not register with the town hall.
606 BRITS IN 2003
Britons top the foreign residents list with 606 registering in 2003. Next came Argentineans (235) followed by Moroccans (223), Ecuadorians (134) and Germans (111). At the end of the year of the 50,605 people officially living in Estepona 18 per cent were non-Spanish.
Of Esteponas foreign resident population 68 per cent are drawn from fellow EU countries. The majority of them reside in urbanizations centred between Cancelada and the border with Marbella.
The balance between men and women in the overall population is fairly equal with women outnumbering men by just 250. The average age of the women is 37.8 years and the men 36.8 years whilst the 25 to 44 year age group account for 35.5 per cent of the total.
HUNGER STRIKE PROTEST ON UNPAID DEBT
Vélez businessman wants former councillor to pay up
By Dave Jamieson
A restaurateur in Vélez-Málaga has been undertaking
a hunger strike to draw attention to the fact that he has not received
the money a former town councillor has been ordered to pay him.
Juan Miguel González says that a court order obliges Enrique
Faura, for whom he once worked, to pay him more than 22,000 euros,
but no payment has yet been received.
In October 2001, Sr González and his wife, María Victoria Calvo, began work at Sr Fauras restaurant, the Umbe Meni in Vélez. The couple took their case to court, alleging that until January 2002, their Social Security payments were not made and that they went six months without pay. In November 2003, a Málaga court found in their favour, awarding them 22,250 euros, but the two chefs said that the last contact between their legal representative and their former boss had not indicated any intention of the cash being forthcoming.
Sr González, who now runs his own establishment, the San Zenón restaurant, said he had taken medical advice before starting his hunger strike last Friday, and realised that his decision was drastic. He said however he had to do something to get Sr Faura to comply with the courts decision.
INTERNATIONAL TANGO FESTIVAL RETURNS TO BENALMADEN
NEWS Staff Reporter
Last week organisers unveiled the programme for Benalmádenas
Second International Tango Festival, which begins today at Hotel
Torrequebrada and runs through the weekend. In particular they highlighted
two new features at this years festival: the First European
Forum of Tango Academics and Scholars (Sat. 17 at 17.00), and the
presence of special guest Horacio Ferrer, the principal lyricist
for famed tango composer Astor Piazzolla and founder of the Academia
del Tango. Sunday night will see an artistic tribute to Sr Ferrer,
with performances by all the festivals dancers, as well as
by the tango poet himself.
Other than those novelties, this years programme is structured largely the same as last years, each day beginning with tango classes in the afternoon, followed by musical and dance performances by some of the great names in the world of tango. These include Che Camerata, Tango a Tres, Libertango Camerana, Verónica Villarroel and Marcelo Soria, and many others. Following the performances, festival attendees can party and dance into the faux-Argentinean night. Tickets for the event (25 euros per person, per day) are available at El Corte Inglés and Hotel Torrequebrada.
BENALMADENA ARCHAEOLOGY MUSEUM TO REOPEN
NEWS Staff Reporter
is almost finished on Benalmádenas renovated and enlarged
Municipal Archaeological Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, which, after
over a year of construction is set to reopen next month.
With over 1,000 pieces of pre-Columbian artwork, the museum is the third most important of its type in the country, behind only Madrids Museo de América and Barcelonas Museo Etnológico.
The renovation project addressed both space issues at the facility and architectural deficiencies that contributed to problems like chronic humidity in the building.
MORE EXHIBIT SPACE
By incorporating what used to be adjoining living space (previously used by the now deceased prior owner of the museum building), project co-ordinators were able to add 500 square metres of new exhibit space. The cost of the renovation was around 600,000 euros. Until construction is finalised, the museums pieces are being temporarily housed at the Arroyo de la Miel library.
MIJAS STREET MARKETS CLOSED UNTIL FEBRUARY
NEWS Staff Reporter
Mijas Town Hall announced last week that the towns four street
markets, or mercadillos, are to remain closed until
the beginning of February. The markets, normally held Wednesdays
and Fridays at Calipso and on Saturdays at Las Cañadas and
La Cala de Mijas, have been closed during the re-registration period
for stall operators, which is currently underway. The 200 vendors
that operate stalls at the street markets must renew their permits
with the Town Hall, a process that councillor Juan Gambero expects
to be completed by the end of the month.
When in full operation, the mercadillo at Las Cañadas typically has 189 stalls, the La Cala market 89 stalls and the one in Calipso 120 stalls. The Mijas local police are currently studying options for the relocation of the Las Cañadas market, due to the pending construction of a new Hipercor store, set to begin at the end of this month. Until a final decision is made regarding the new location, the market will remain at its current site but with a rearrangement of the stalls and layout. One new location currently under consideration is the Molino de Viento fairgrounds.