News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week May 20th to May 26th 2004.
SPAIN CELEBRATES ROYAL WEDDING
Millions to see Prince Felipe wed Letizia Ortiz
BY JAMES PARKES
MILLIONS WORLDWIDE WILL JOIN THE PEOPLE OF SPAIN ON SATURDAY AS
THEY TURN TOWARD MADRID TO SEE THE HEIR TO THE THRONE, PRINCE FELIPE
OF ASTURIAS, WED JOURNALIST LETIZIA ORTIZ AT THE ALMUDENA CATHEDRAL.
The City of Madrid has been dressed up for the occasion with special illuminations on all important buildings and thousands of flowers and flags distributed to celebrate the event. Even the scaffolding around buildings under repair has been covered by huge reproductions of Spanish masterpieces.
The religious ceremony starts at 11.00, but well before that, guests including Prince Charles and other representatives from royal families, will begin taking their seats at the cathedral. The bride and groom will arrive from the Royal Palace - which is literally across the road - and one of the best kept secrets will be disclosed: Doña Letizia's wedding dress, designed by Manuel Pertegaz. Prince Felipe will be dressed in the official army etiquette uniform.
After the ceremony the couple will start a small tour of several Madrid city centre streets, stopping at Nuestra Señora de Atocha Church where Doña Letizia will leave her bouquet as an offering.
Lunch will be served at 14.30 in the Patio de Principe court and the adjoining rooms on the first floor of the Royal Palace. A huge marquee has been installed to cover the court in which 129 tables plus the head table will be laid. The wedding cake will be made by Elda confectioner Francisco Torreblanca, it will be almost two metres tall and weigh approximately 200 kilos.
Security has been a top priority and since last weekend the Schengen agreement has been suspended in Spain. Checks have been re-established for all foreign citizens entering the country. Over 23,000 police officers will be on duty for the event with a NATO AWACS S-3A radar aircraft circling constantly over Madrid airspace, which will be closed to traffic until the late evening. Two F-18 fighter aircraft will also be on standby at Torrejón de Ardóz airbase.
The wedding will be broadcast live by TVE1 and special programmes have been scheduled by all stations. Only one thing could dampen the celebrations, weathermen say there is an 80 per cent chance that it will rain in Madrid on the big day.
No more cheap flights home?
Skyrocketing fuel prices lead to increased airline fares
BY OLIVER MCINTYRE
BOTH HOLIDAYMAKERS AND FOREIGN RESIDENTS MAY FIND IT MORE DIFFICULT
TO SCORE THAT OH-SO-CHEAP TICKET TO SPAIN OR THE UK, AS A SPATE
OF AIRLINES, LED BY BRITISH, HAVE ANNOUNCED THE BEGINNING OF RATE
HIKES REFLECTING THE SKYROCKETING PRICES OF PETROL.
According to some industry experts, fuel represents as much as 15 to 20 per cent of operating costs for the airlines, the second largest single cost after labour. As the price of crude oil breaks the $40-a-barrel barrier, the airlines, just like drivers, have begun to see the increased price at the pump. The cost of jet fuel has jumped 58 per cent over 12 months.
Prior to last weeks announcements of petrol-related ticket-price increases, some industry observers were already warning that such a move was inevitable. Even as the surge of low-cost airlines in the local market sparked price wars during the last year that saw airlines slashing fares and offering dirt-cheap flights (10 euros to London, etc.), petrol prices were on the rise.
BRITISH AIRWAYS GO UP
British Airways was the first of the major airlines serving Spain to announce last week that it was instituting a petrol surcharge on tickets. It is adding 3.70 euros per flight (one way) on tickets sold in the UK and 3.40 euros per flight in foreign markets. Other airlines announcing similar petrol-related fare increases last week included Quantas, Air New Zealand, Virgin Blue and Spanair. After announcing last week that it was studying the situation, Air Europa followed suit this week, raising fares between three and five per cent.
BUT IBERIA STAY THE SAME
Meanwhile, Iberia said last week that it did not plan to raise prices, citing a 4.4 per cent reduction in its fuel costs during the first quarter of the year due to the devaluation of the dollar. The company has a guaranteed contract to purchase much of its fuel at a set dollar rate during this year. Nonetheless, earlier this week the airline admitted that its fares have increased an average of two to three per cent during recent weeks, though it insisted the increase was not fuel related but due to normal market factors.
At least one low-cost airline, Irelands Ryanair, announced last week that it does not intend to raise prices due to fuel costs. The companys CEO, Michael OLeary, said it planned to launch a campaign to ensure that the increased cost of petrol will not mean an increase in fares. He stated that the companys profits last year were up 25 per cent while its fuel costs increased 12 per cent. However, if oil prices continue to rise in the coming months, as some experts expect, it is possible that no airline, low-cost or otherwise, will be able to avoid passing on higher fuel bills to customers.
Twenty thousand people bid farewell to Jesús Gil
By David Eade
Jesús Gil passed away on last Friday at 19.45 in a hospital
in Madrid aged 71. He had suffered a brain haemorrhage at his finca
de Valdeolivas in Ávila on the previous Sunday and was transferred
to hospital in the Spanish capital where he remained in intensive
care for six days due to severe medical complications.
There were extraordinary scenes in Madrid on Saturday when the supporters of Atlético Madrid bid farewell to Jesús Gil who had been president of the soccer club for 17 years. According to club sources around 20,000 people paid their respects as the coffin of Jesús Gil rested in the main entrance to the Vicente Calderón stadium for six hours. The bier was covered in the red and white flag of the Madrid club with a guard of honour of four Marbella local police officers in ceremonial dress.
The celebrities of Spanish soccer also came out in force to honour the rojiblanca president putting aside the years of on-field rivalry. There was also a massive outpouring of grief at the clubs home game against Zaragoza, which Atlético lost 1-2 as fans remembered the president who had presided over three Copa del Rey victories and a Liga championship.
After the moving scenes at the stadium a more private service was held for 1,000 official mourners who joined the grieving family at requiem mass at which the clubs padre officiated. Jesús Gil was then laid to rest in the family tomb at La Almudena cemetery in Madrid.
The mass mourning in Madrid seemed to eclipse Jesús Gils links with Marbella over which he ruled as a highly controversial mayor for three terms. His GIL party won four straight elections from 1990 but Gil was not eligible to stand in the 2003 because of a series of court convictions and pending imprisonment.
The people of the jet set resort were represented as the family of the former mayor laid on coaches to take over 100 mourners from Marbella to Madrid for the ceremony. Also in attendance was the current mayor of the town, Marisol Yagüe, who had been a member of Gils government team.
Spain protests at HMS Trenchant in Gibraltar
Environmentalists and government react to British nuclear sub
By David Eade
THE BRITISH ROYAL NAVY'S NUCLEAR SUBMARINE HMS TRENCHANT RECENTLY
SPENT FIVE DAYS TIED UP AT THE SOUTH MOLE IN GIBRALTAR, CAUSING
OUTCRY DESPITE ASSURANCES THAT THE VESSEL POSED NO RISK TO PEOPLE
IN THE AREA.
The purpose of the vessel's visit was to give a shore break to the 130 members of the crew. Whilst the sailors relaxed, the Spanish government and local ecologist groups were working themselves up in to a frenzy.
HMS Trenchant is a Trafalgar-class submarine, like HMS Tireless, the sub that was previously docked in Gibraltar for a year to undergo emergency repairs to its nuclear propulsion system, provoking huge demonstrations in the Campo de Gibraltar region and straining relations between London and Madrid.
HMS Trenchant was launched in November 1986 and joined the Royal Navy's nuclear fleet in 1989. The submarine called in to Gibraltar after returning from the Persian Gulf, where she was involved in the Iraq war. The Ministry of Defence insisted that the vessel's presence in Gibraltar posed no risk to the population's living on the Bay of Algeciras.
Nonetheless the Spanish government made an official protest to London over the submarine's presence in Gibraltar. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement last Tuesday demanding that the nuclear vessel leave the area immediately. Britain's Ministry of Defence also issued a statement, but not until the Saturday when it announced that HMS Trenchant had left Gibraltar, on schedule, after a five-day stay.
Málaga travellers stranded after airline collapse
NEWS Staff Reporter
The downside of budget air travel arrived at Málaga airport
last week, when 200 passengers were stranded by the failure of an
Irish airline after just a week in operation. JetGreen, which advertised
tickets to Málaga and Alicante for one euro, left over 400
travellers at both airports to find their own way back to Dublin
when the company folded, according to a spokesman, as a result of
one of its investors withdrawing its 800,000-euro investment. The
company only began flying on May 4.
JetGreen, which had 22 employees, had launched an aggressive advertising campaign in Ireland and planned to expand with routes to Rome, Faro and Nice next month. However, the company's only aircraft, a Boeing 757, remained parked at Dublin airport last Wednesday after it had made just a few flights to Málaga and Alicante. JetGreen became the second Irish airline to close this year, following the failure of Jetmagic, based in Cork.
Some of those left in Málaga without a homebound flight last week may have paid just one euro to get here, but had to wait a day for seats back to Dublin on an Aer Lingus flight - priced at 240 euros.
Greens condemn greens
Ecologists call for a moratorium on new golf courses
BY DAVE JAMIESON
ECOLOGISTS HAVE CAST DOUBT ON PLANS FOR UP TO EIGHT NEW GOLF COURSES
The group GENA, Ecologists in Action, have called for a moratorium on the municipalitys intention to create a huge new input to the leisure and sports sectors, announced by the Town Hall recently. Genas president, Rafael Yus, claimed last week that the proposal was irrational and contrary to the objectives of sustainability and respect for the environment, adding that he considered it was a trick to generate property speculation.
Vélez proposed revision of its general urbanisation plan does not mention a specific number of new golf courses, while the councillor responsible, José Luis Sánchez, only talks of eight major projects which do not have to be golf courses.
BLACK POINTS FOR GOLF COURSES
Gena has asked for clarification of the point and for an indefinite stop to put on any development on the planned sites across the Axarquía, claiming that golf is not a friend of the environment because of its enormous consumptions of water, a scarce resource. According to the ecologists calculations, a single golf course uses the same amount of water as a town of 15,000 inhabitants. They also cite the non-utilisation of recycled waste water, the use of highly toxic pesticides and the visual impact as further black points in the construction of golf courses.
Genas comments came the day before a dozen similar organisations made similar representations to the Junta de Andalucía. Under a banner describing them as a group for the defence of Málagas environment and coastline, they asked the regional government to put a hold on the development of around 40 planned golf courses throughout Andalucía. They reiterated Genas stated reasons for concern and called for a public debate to be opened on the issue so that all interested parties can comment.
Benalmádena stands by offer for sierra
BY OLIVER MCINTYRE
BENALMÁDENA MAYOR ENRIQUE BOLÍN LAST WEEK ANNOUNCED
THAT THE TOWN HALL HAS RESUBMITTED ITS OFFER TO THE MINISTRY OF
THE ECONOMY AND TAXES TO PURCHASE THE STATE-OWNED PORTION OF THE
SIERRA DE BENALMÁDENA FOR 1.45 MILLION EUROS.
The move comes as a reiteration of the amount that Mayor Bolín says the ministry agreed to under the previous administration. Earlier this month, the ministry informed the Town Hall that its current selling price for the property is 2.1 million euros.
The Town Halls plan is to acquire all 5.5 million square metres of the Sierra de Benalmádena part of which is owned by the state and part by three private companies and preserve it as open space and parkland, according to the mayor. Part of the project would include reforestation work, as envisioned in the towns agreement with the Cofederación Hidrográfica del Sur.
The Mayor said that he has urged Economy and Taxes to sell its portion of the land to the Town Hall at the originally offered price, indicating that a public auction would be unlikely to find any buyers at the higher price.
Nerja goes west as Málaga goes urban
By Dave Jamieson
Nerja plans to turn over a further 450,000 square metres of agricultural
land to urban development. Opposition groups at the Town Hall have
supported a proposal by Mayor José Albert Armijo to start
the process necessary for amending the classification of a triangle
on the western edge of the municipality, bounded by the N340 coast
road, the River Chillar and El Playazo beach. The area is next to
the land which has been earmarked for the towns future marina.
News of Nerjas intended urban expansion came it was learned that the province of Málaga has lost over 11,000 hectares of agricultural land since 1997. The report, released last week by Andalucías Statistics Institutes, says that the two principle reasons for the change are the encroachment of houses into the countryside and the drop in numbers relying on the land as a means of income. The report states that one crop which has suffered as a result is the almond; the difficulties in harvesting it have resulted in growers selling their fields to developers, rather than continue to irrigate and care for them. In addition, it says, many owners of agricultural land do not want their children to follow in their footsteps and decide to sell up when they retire.
Ronda gets its first woman mayor
News Staff Reporter
Last week the Mayor of Ronda, Juan Benítez, took his party
by surprise by announcing that he was resigning as mayor and local
secretary general of the PSOE for health reasons.
His PSOE party is one of five political groups at Ronda Town Hall. With eight seats it is the largest party and Sr Benítez had first ruled the municipality in coalition with the Partido Popular and Izquierda Unida and then with the Partido Andalucista.
Needless to say his decision to quit set the phones of the socialist councillors in the town of the Tajo buzzing as they worked to secure a consensus on who should succeed Sr Benítez. The end result was the election of Isabel María Aguilera who is Rondas first woman mayor.
Sra Aguilera has been part of the Ronda governing team for five years being the councillor responsible for employment, industry, commerce and youth. She had been Sr Benítezs number two at the time of his resignation and party members saw her promotion as the natural progression to ensure continuity.
Thousands of foreign children attend Spain's schoo
BY DAVID EADE
ACCORDING TO STATISTICS ISSUED BY SPAINS MINISTRY OF EDUCATION
AND SCIENCE 303,827 FOREIGN CHILDREN WERE IN THE COUNTRYS
SCHOOLS LAST TERM.
That figure is a massive 47.1 per cent increase on the same period of last year. The ministry is aware that such a large influx of non-nationals in to the schooling system means that special attention has to be paid to integration as well as the learning of Spanish.
The regions with the majority of foreign pupils were Madrid, Balearics, Navarra, Rioja and Murcia. Andalucía accounted for 31,277 of the 303,827 total.
WEEK OF NATIONALITIES AT GUADIARO
A good example of the high proportion of foreign students in Spanish schools can be found at the Gloria Fuertes college in Guadiaro in San Roque. Of the 370 pupils at the school 85 are from outside Spain with 17 distinct nationalities represented. This has led to the school organizing a week of nationalities to be celebrated between May 31 and June 4.
The week is aimed at not only integrating the pupils at the school but their parents as well. It will follow the lines previously established by schools in Cataluña and the Basque region to counter the threat of xenophobia. A spokesman for the Gloria Fuertes college said that fortunately they did not suffer from that problem because all the students, Spanish and foreign, work together in a natural manner.
The pupils at the Gloria Fuertes college are aged between 3 and 12 years. The majority of the foreign children are British but there are also representatives from Germany, Bulgaria, France, Denmark, Ireland, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Holland, Morocco, Cuba, Ecuador, Argentine, Bolivia, Uruguay and New Zealand.
Torre bars criticised for pedestrian problems
News Staff Reporter
Bar owners in Torre del Mar are once again in Velez-Málaga
Town Halls sights, this time for using public areas without
a licence. The municipalitys department which monitors commercial
and industrial activity has been carrying out an inspection of 181
establishments which place tables on pavements or roads, often covered
by an awning, and has reported that the majority use more than the
permitted amount of space while many have no authority to be there
Now a campaign has been launched to regularise the situation, which mainly affects bars and restaurants, ahead of the peak summer period. Torres Mayor, Claudio Morales, underlined that local by-laws must be observed and that the town should not be a lawless place. Pedestrians, he added, have the right to pass unhindered past these establishments and should not have to put up with their abuses which result in people walking in the roadway.
The Mayor said that councillors were prepared to modify local ordinances if necessary, and that all cases would be studied. The inspectors presently visiting the establishments are advising owners immediately if any chairs, tables, awnings, plants or other objects are sited inside the public way but outside the law.