News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
If you are interested in the news and you want to express your opinion you may do so on our notice board!
Week October 28th to October 3rd 2004.
HEATING CASH FOR COSTA PENSIONERS
Loophole gives pensioners benefits of up to 300 pounds
BY DAVID EADE
BRITISH PENSIONERS LIVING ON THE COSTA DEL SOL DENIED THE WINTER HEATING ALLOWANCE MAY NOW QUALIFY DUE TO A LOOPHOLE IN THE REGULATIONS.
It has now emerged that some Britons living in the Mediterranean and Caribbean have been legally receiving the benefit worth between £200 and £300 a year thanks to the loophole.
Britons spending the winter in Spain, Portugal, Greece and France are entitled to the benefit as long as they spend one qualifying week in Britain. This year the qualifying week was September 20 to 26 which gave due time for the Department of Work and Pensions to process their winter heating applications.
Although to qualify for the payments Britons living abroad have to be in the UK for that week once their application has been processed they do not have to return to Britain in subsequent years. Hence many Britons aged between 60 and 79 are receiving winter fuel allowances of £200 whilst those aged over 79 get £300.
EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AREA BENEFITS
All Britons living in any country in the European Economic Area, which includes 15 EU nations, are entitled to the benefits. So too are Britons living in the Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe because they are part of France and hence the EU. Ironically ex-pats who now reside in Canada or Iceland who would suffer worst winters that in Britain would not be eligible.
The Department of Work and Pensions has been quoted as saying that pensioners who apply for the winter fuel allowance are expected to reside in Britain. But it now acknowledges that if a pensioner can prove that he or she was resident in the UK for the qualifying week then the payment will be made.
In a recent written reply to a Parliamentary question the department admitted that 3,797 such payments were made to pensioners in France in 2003-2004 and another 257 in Portugal, although no figures were given for Spain.
ANDALUCÍA GATEWAY FOR ISLAMIC TERRORISTS
BY OLIVER MCINTYRE AND DAVID EADE
WITH THOUSANDS OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS LANDING ON ITS SHORES EVERY YEAR, THE COAST OF ANDALUCÍA IS BOTH A GATEWAY AND A FERTILE RECRUITING GROUND FOR RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISTS, ACCORDING TO TOP GUARDIA CIVIL EXPERTS.
At a conference on immigration held in Málaga earlier this week, Chief Commander Manuel Navarrete of the Guardia’s Foreign Information Unit cited the coasts of Cádiz and the Costa del Sol, along with Spain’s Levante coast, as ‘hot zones’ in the fight against terrorism,.
“It doesn’t call for a state of alarm, but of alert,” said the commander, whose experience includes five years of service in País Vasco, three in the US and two in Europol. “Any route that is safe for the entrance of illegal immigrants is potentially safe for the entrance of terrorists,” he added.
Its geographic location makes Andalucía an obvious point of entry for illegal immigrants, and “terrorism makes parasitic use of illegal immigration,” according to Sr Navarrete. Terrorists themselves can use the same infrastructure that serves the illegal immigrants to get into the country and obtain false documentation. In addition, the illegal immigrants, given their often bleak socio-economic situation and lack of prospects, can be targeted by Islamic radicals using religion as a recruitment tool, said Sr Navarrete.
TERRORISTS’ FLAT IN ALGECIRAS
The terrorist cell that carried out the bomb explosions in Madrid on March 11 had a flat in Algeciras that served as a refuge for terrorists as they travelled between Morocco and Spain.
The main resident of the flat was Abdennabi Kounjaa who was one of the seven terrorists killed in the siege on the apartment in the Calle Martín Gaite in Leganés by the Spanish security forces.
The footprints of Kounjaa were found in a ‘Kangoo’ van in which the Madrid bombs were transported as well as in the house in Chinchón were the bombs were assembled.
One of his responsibilities within the terrorist group was to create a security structure for those involved in the Madrid attacks. Apart from the flat now discovered in Algeciras there were others throughout Andalucía.
According to informed sources the terrorists maintained the flat in Algeciras from September 2003 until the middle of February of this year. It was located in the centre of the town and close to both the National Police and Guardia Civil command. Close to the flat is a construction site where Abdennabi Kounjaa was known to work. It is understood that he was employed by one of his brothers who had a small business making partition walls.
Firefighters rescue trapped British girl
NEWS Staff Reporter
The specialised mountain-rescue team of the Benalmádena Fire Department came to the aid of a 14-year-old English girl who had fallen down an embankment and was stranded atop some rocks above a 30-metre sheer drop. According to officials, the girl was walking her dog last Thursday in the Torrequebrada urbanisation of Benalmádena Costa when she slipped down the embankment, landing in a precarious position on the rock outcropping.
Firefighters used two ropes to reach the girl and employed a crane from an adjacent construction site to assist in hoisting her to safety. In addition to firefighters, several Benalmádena local police officers and an ambulance responded to the scene. The ambulance took the girl to the Arroyo de la Miel health centre, though other than a good scare she suffered only minor bruises in the incident.
King faces 34 years in Coín case
By Oliver McIntyre
The prosecutor’s office last week specified its charges against Tony Alexander King for the August 2003 murder of 17-year-old Sonia Carabantes in Coín. When the case goes to trial – expected to begin in early 2005 – the prosecutor will seek a prison sentence of 34 years; 25 years for murder, five years for illegal abduction and four years for sexual aggression. In addition, the prosecutor will ask the court to fine King with a 300,000-euro restitution payment.
According to the prosecutor’s charges, King attacked Srta Carabantes just metres from her home when she was walking home from the town fair at 05.00 on August 14, 2003. With the intention of attacking her sexually, according to the prosecutor, he hit her several times in the face and head, leaving her temporarily unconscious. He then put her in the trunk of his car and drove 11 and a half kilometres to an isolated area on the outskirts of Monda, according to the charges. Once there, says the prosecutor, King beat her and sexually assaulted her. The prosecutor charges that the girl was unconscious and defenceless when King used her T-shirt to strangle her to death, later hiding the body under a pile of rocks.
Dozens get stolen dogs back after Guardia Civil bu
Many dogs recovered in the operation remain unclaimed
By Oliver McIntyre
AROUND 30 DOGS HAVE SO FAR BEEN RECLAIMED BY THEIR RIGHTFUL OWNERS FOLLOWING THE GUARDIA CIVIL'S ANNOUNCEMENT LAST WEEK THAT IT HAD ARRESTED FOUR PEOPLE IN RELATION TO A SPATE OF DOG THEFTS AND HAD RECOVERED AROUND A HUNDRED POTENTIALLY STOLEN DOGS.
Almost all of the dogs are of the Spanish Podenco hunting breed. The Guardia Civil investigation began in early summer after several people in Mijas reported that their Podencos had been stolen. The Mijas Guardia worked with officers from Rincón de la Victoria and Vélez-Málaga, finally locating four sites in Macharaviaya, Totalán and El Borge where numerous dogs were being held.
Since last week's announcement of the arrests and the recovery of the dogs, the Mijas Guardia Civil headquarters has received visits from people from as far away as Cádiz, Huelva, Granada and even Ciudad Real, all hoping to reclaim dogs that were stolen from them. To save people from having to make such a trip, the Mijas Guardia Civil has video taped all the dogs and will send a copy of the video to the local Guardia Civil headquarters of anyone who calls and requests it (952 47 40 30). The video can also be viewed at the Mijas Guardia Civil HQ on Friday and Saturday mornings.
In order to reclaim their animals, owners must be able to show that they reported the dog stolen at the time of the theft, or be able to prove ownership via the dog's microchip ID.
According to Guardia Civil investigators, the Podenco hunting dogs recovered in the operation may have cost their owners anywhere from 100 euros to 1,000 euros. They say that a well-trained hunting dog can fetch as much as 6,000 euros to 8,000 euros on the black market. One investigator was quoted as saying: "The amounts seem astronomical, but for a hunter a good animal is priceless."
Nerja golf signing
Top class golf in Nerja in three years
BY DAVE JAMIESON
Developer also promises a four-star luxury hotel and public leisure facilities
NERJA’S LONG STRUGGLE TO HAVE AN 18-HOLE GOLF COURSE IN THE MUNICIPALITY HAS TAKEN A HUGE AND PROBABLY FINAL STEP FORWARD TO FRUITION. LAST FRIDAY, THE DEVELOPER MED GROUP SIGNED A 15 MILLION EURO AGREEMENT WITH NERJA’S MAYOR, JOSÉ ALBERT ARMIJO, TO ACQUIRE GROUND AT VALLE DE LA COLADILLA FOR THE PROJECT’S DEVELOPMENT.
As well as the golf course, Med Group plan to construct a four-star luxury hotel, tourist and residential accommodation, and public leisure facilities. The signing of documents with Med Group’s president, Jordi Robinat, formally handing over the land to the developer was the culmination of many years effort and frustration on the part of Nerja Town Hall. Only recently, councillors believed the project was doomed after the developer pulled out, citing irreconcilable differences with the Junta de Andalucía. However, in an about turn, the problems appear to have been resolved and the project is finally teeing off.
Med Group have undertaken to ensure the minimum impact on the environment and have already analysed numerous aspects of the area, including its flora and fauna, in order to be able to adopt the most appropriate methods of construction. They estimated 400 new jobs will be created locally, with many more likely when indirect employment is considered, and say that, when complete, the development will have a strong economic impact on Nerja.
A 165-MILLION-EURO PROJECT
This will be third such project the group has undertaken, following Fuentes de Almuñécar on the Costa Tropical and Playa Macenas at Mojácar. Their total investment in the Nerja project is set at 165 million euros, and with the papers signed, are obligated to pay a first instalment of roughly half the land purchase price to the Town Hall.
Sr Robinat made a point of thanking Nerja goups who had worked hard in support of building a golf course, citing in particular the local business association, promising “one of the best, if not the best, on the Mediterranean” with play possible in just over three years.
Benalmádena ‘skyscraper’ plan takes step forward
By Oliver McIntyre
Benalmádena Mayor Enrique Bolín’s governing team last week approved the Arroyo de la Miel town-planning project that includes the construction of two controversial 20-storey buildings, which opponents have described as ‘skyscrapers’. The mayor’s team approved the measure over the nay votes of the Town Council’s three opposition groups; the socialist PSOE party, the Partido Popular and Izquierda Unida.
According to the Mayor, the Arroyo plan aims to modernise the area, promote business, and create more green space and recreational areas. “In order to modernise the centre, 12 million euros is needed and will be obtained by the construction of the two buildings, which will have a maximum of 119 homes and will also include municipal offices,” he said.
The plan initially called for three 20-storey buildings, but one of them – which was slated for the current location of the Casa de la Cultura – was scrapped following strong opposition. The PSOE, PP and IU parties still vehemently oppose the plan, saying they agree that Arroyo centre needs to be modernised, but that the tall buildings are not the answer and funding should be found from other sources, not from “a speculative operation that benefits third parties and affects the quality of life” of residents.
Before the project can move forward, it must pass through a public comment period and be approved by the Junta de Andalucía. The Junta previously denied approval for a 15-storey building on the site of one of the two planned 20-storey buildings. The Mayor’s governing team says the new plan, with its multiple elements for modernising Arroyo, addresses the concerns that were raised by the Junta at that time.
Beach bars raise ecology worries
News Staff Reporter
Ecologists have denounced the Department of the Environment and demanded action to remove a number of beach-bars and other constructions on the eastern coast which it claims are illegal and causing environmental problems. The Axarquía group Gena has named six examples in the area for which it urges demolition, some for reasons of inadequate sanitation. It cites a small building in the delta of the River Vélez which it says used by two people as a “chiringuito” but is situated on the sands, less than 50 metres from the shoreline, and where a lack of proper sanitation is causing contamination. Another chiringuito on the nudist beach at Almayate is denounced for similar reasons, while Gena urges immediate action at Club Náutico, Torre del Mar, once a museum, but which has been under an unfulfilled demolition order for some time. The group also mentions various establishments sited at beaches along the cliffs of Maro, which is a protected area, as well as houses and commercial properties which it claims are built on public land at Rincón de la Victoria, Mezquitilla, Lagos and El Morche, amongst other locations. Finally, recent large scale developments are criticised by Gena, including El Faro at Torrox, presently under construction, and all the new buildings at El Peñoncilla, Torrox Costa. The ecologists say that each the example it has listed falls within the Environment Ministry’s objective of re-establishing public areas of the coast and has asked for demolition orders already in existence for them to be exercised.
Picasso Museum under further attack
Management faces harsh criticism from tour operators
By Dave Jamieson
THE MANAGEMENT STYLE OF MÁLAGA'S PICASSO MUSEUM, WHICH OPENED A YEAR AGO THIS WEEK, HAS COME UNDER FURTHER CRITICISM. FOLLOWING THE UNVEILING OF DISAPPOINTING VISITOR NUMBERS IN ITS FIRST YEAR (CDSN, OCT. 21 - 27), TOUR OPERATORS NOW SAY THE ATTRACTION WILL NOT BE INCLUDED IN ITS CLIENTS' ITINERARIES BECAUSE OF THE MUSEUM'S ATTITUDE TO GROUP VISITS.
The Costa del Sol representative of the Spanish Association of Travel Agents, Francisco Pérez, says that major tour operators in America and Europe should promote the museum, and its management should be receptive to their needs. But the museum is not holding up its end, he said.
The Andalucía representative of tour operator TUI was also critical of the museum, citing in particular the reservation system for group visits. Julio García Llama said last week that coupons and limited admission hours for groups complicate their operation greatly. This has resulted in TUI's withdrawal of its stated intention, ahead of the museum's opening last October, to include it in itineraries, saying now that is not suitable for group tourism.
Francisco Pérez claimed that the lack of support was even more widespread, saying that the tourist sector had "thrown in the towel" on the Museum, and claiming that its management had failed to reply to letters asking for solutions to the problems surrounding group visits. A facility which generated income from the public, he added, should be "more open to society and tourism." During recent weeks, other tour operators from Europe and the US have also called for changes at the museum, and the manager of the Costa del Sol Tourism Board, Juan Antonio Martín, is to meet the Junta's culture delegate in Málaga, Francisco López, in the next few days to discuss the matter.
THE BRIGHTER SIDE
However, in the week of the 123rd anniversary of the painter's birth in Málaga, there was some good news. The Picasso has been declared the most-visited museum in Andalucía, pushing the Bellas Artes in Sevilla and the Alhambra Museum in Granada into second and third places, respectively.
'Principe de Asturias' award for Paco de Lucia
World famous flamenco guitarist rewarded for brilliant career
BY DAVID EADE
IN AN AWARDS CEREMONY THAT WAS BROADCAST LIVE TO TV SCREENS IN MANY COUNTRIES THE ALGECIRAS BORN GUITARIST, PACO DE LUCÍA, RECEIVED THE PRÍNCIPE DE ASTURIAS AWARD FOR THE ARTS AT A MOVING CEREMONY IN THE TEATRO CAMPOAMOR IN OVIEDO.
The award was presented by Spain's heir to the throne, the Príncipe de Asturias, Felipe de Borbón, who was accompanied to the prestigious national cultural event by his recent bride, Princess Letizia.
The day before the awards ceremony Paco de Lucía had performed for the prince and assembled dignitaries. He also took the opportunity to dedicate the award to Algeciras and to the late flamenco singer Camarón de la Isla.
Victoriano Mera, a friend of the guitarist and president of the flamenco club in Algeciras that bears his name, accompanied Paco de Lucía to Oviedo for the official events and described him as having been "very emotional". He added: "For him it was very important to have this recognition of the guitar and flamenco. He was very happy."
Paco de Lucía has been a major influence on young flamenco artists. He has also been a cultural ambassador for Spain having performed in the major concert halls of Europe, the USA, Russia, and the Far East as well as Japan.
The award to Paco de Lucía was the sixth of the eight awards given this year in the 24th edition since the Príncipe de Asturias Awards were created in 1981. Amongst this year's other winners were the Italian novelist Claudio Magris, five international scientists (including British scientist Tony Hunter) who are dedicated to the fight against cancer, the North American economist Paul Krugman and the French journalist Jean Daniel.
Each winner receives 50,000 euros; a statue created by and donated especially for the event by the celebrated artist Joan Miró, a diploma and an insignia of accreditation.
'LOVE OF PACO'
A group of flamenco artists in Paco de Lucía's hometown of Algeciras have recorded a CD in his honour with the support of the local town hall and record shop Discos Grammy. The idea came from a meeting between Chico Valdivia and other artists at which they decided to record the disc, which Chico Valdivia described as "a declaration of our love for Paco". It is now on sale from Discos Grammy and all profits will be donated to local charities and organizations.
New home for 'mercadillo'
By David Eade
Due to the refurbishment of Fuengirola's feria ground that started after the recent October celebrations it had been announced that the popular Tuesday 'mercadillo' market would be postponed until the New Year. However a new temporary site has been found. According to the councillor responsible for the markets, José Ramón Arriarán, the 'mercadillo' will re-open at the beginning of November in the calle Méndez Núñez close to the town's mosque. The councillor explained that between November and the middle of February land owned by the Town Hall would be used to accommodate the market.The problem for the traders is that is the new site will only hold 150 stalls whilst the popular market normally has 620 traders. To overcome this problem the stallholders have agreed a rotation system. The president of the travelling traders, Rafael González, said they would ensure that the weekly mix of stalls gives the public the full range of different goods traditionally on offer.
Andalucia cancer figures revealed
By David Eade
STATISTICS REGARDING CANCER WERE REVEALED ON 'WORLD CANCER DAY' BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE ANDALUCIAN SOCIETY OF ONCOLOGY, MANUEL CODES AT THE XIV CONGRESS OF ONCOLOGY THAT HAS BEEN HELD IN SEVILLA. THE CONGRESS WAS ATTENDED BY 200 EXPERTS IN CANCER RELATED SUBJECTS WHO DISCUSSED THE LATEST THERAPIES AVAILABLE TO PATIENTS.
Each year over 1,200 women die in Andalucía from breast cancer compared with 6,000 in all of Spain. Those statistics mean that the region accounts for a fifth of all such deaths. However the vice president of the congress' organizing committee, José Antonio Sánchez Cañizado, said that when the disease was diagnosed in its initial state the survival rate was over 90 per cent. He added that the survival rates drop when the diagnosis is later and the tumour is larger. On the subject of breast cancer, the regional government's councillor for health, María Jesus Montero, sent a message of support for those afflicted by the disease. She also stressed that in Andalucía all women aged between 50 and 65 years had the right to have a free mammary x-ray scan. Codes stated that the waiting time for mammary scans in Andalucía is "acceptable" in that all women can receive one within a month. In the cases of those women where there is a suspicion of breast cancer the scan can be carried out within two weeks.
IMPROVED CANCER DETECTION
At the conclusion to the congress delegates were told that 29,000 new cases of cancer was detected in Andalucía each year. That equates to one in four of all cancer cases in Spain.
The figures were given by the director of the 'Integral Plan of Oncology in Andalucía', José Expósito Hernández. He said there was an increase in the cases recorded each year, the 2002 total was 28,000, although this could be accounted for by the better detection mechanisms now in place in the region's hospitals. The most common cancers in Andalucía were of the colon and rectum.
The health authority is now working on establishing a cancer register in the province of Cádiz similar to that currently operating in Granada. The register will log new cases, detect any special circumstances in the area and analyse its causes.
The latest study carried out by the Carlos III Institute of Health in June 2003 showed that Cádiz was one of the Spanish provinces most affected by cancer. At the head of the list in Cádiz was lung cancer followed by those of the colon, rectum and the bladder.