Costa del Sol News - 3rd December 2010

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

News Archive In association with

The Costa del Sol weekly newspaper, on sale at newsagents.

Uproar on Rock as Caruana suggests Andorra solution

Chief minister says the model could be used for political settlement with Britain and Spain

By David Eade

THERE was uproar in Gibraltar on Friday as it emerged that the chief minister, Peter Caruana, had said he would support an Andorra-style status for the Rock.

The chief minister made the suggestion whilst speaking at the Foro Europa in Sevilla the night before. Mr Caruana said he would back an Andorra-style post-1993 constitution status for Gibraltar as part of a negotiated political settlement with Britain and Spain. It would then have to be decided upon the people of Gibraltar through a referendum that takes into account "our modern and democratic rights."

Mr Caruana said that in the 21st century, "you cannot apply an 18th-century solution to the problem such as the Treaty of Utrecht, which should not be used to deny 30,000 Europeans their democratic rights." He added Spain "cannot go around the world preaching human rights and democracy while its policy in respect of Gibraltar is the only one which does not reflect those principles."
Back in Gibraltar the chief minister's remarks are highly controversial. While Andorra is now a sovereign state with the French president and a Catalan bishop as its joint head of state, the majority of Gibraltarians reject any solution that would see Spain sharing any part in its sovereignty.

Town rallies to fund disabled child's operation

13-year-old boy with cerebral palsy needs stem-cell transplant

By Oliver McIntyre

RESIDENTS of Benalmádena have rallied together to help a local boy with cerebral palsy who needs to travel to Germany for a highly specialised operation.

Joel Ortega, 13, is scheduled to undergo a stem-cell transplant procedure on February 7 that his doctors say could improve his condition by as much as 70 per cent.  However, his parents do not have the resources to pay the 9,000-euro cost of the procedure.

On Friday of last week, with the collaboration of the local town hall, supporters held a ‘euro line-up' event, where members of the public set down one-euro coins in a line along Avenida Blas Infante in Arroyo de la Miel. The event raised around 2,800 euros, but that is only the beginning of the town's support.

"Joel is going to have his operation on February 7 and money is not going to be an issue," said Benalmádena's mayor, Enrique Moya, who received Joel and his parents ahead of last week's event. He said the town hall will continue to collaborate with fundraising efforts and urged all residents of the town to get involved.  "It's in our hands to allow this youngster to travel to Germany and realise his dreams," said the mayor.

In addition to fundraising events, the family, who are originally from Argentina and have been living in Benalmádena for three years, have opened an account at La Caixa bank (2100 5491 14 0100362944) for donations. 

Joel's father, Marcelo Ortega, expressed the family's deep gratitude to the town hall and to local townspeople for their support and interest in Joel's situation.  "This operation represents the fulfilment of a dream for us, as Joel could regain the ability to speak, to control his movements," he said. 

In short, added Joel's mother Cristina, the treatment will provide her son "the possibility of a better life."

Call for town hall investigation of animal shelter

Opposition PSOE says irregularities were committed with public funding

By Oliver McIntyre

THE OPPOSITION PSOE in Torremolinos has called on the town hall to create a commission to investigate the alleged animal abuse at the Parque Animal shelter. 

The socialists say the PP governing team had a contractual arrangement with the shelter to serve as the municipal pound, and that it is imperative to clarify the responsibility of "those who used public money to commit irregularities."

Last month the shelter's director and other staff were arrested after more than 2,000 animals allegedly suffered a slow, painful death because the facility used low doses in its lethal injections as a cost-cutting measure (CDSN, November 18).  Further, some animals were allegedly disposed of at the local rubbish tip rather than being incinerated. 

The PSOE says the case has caused great "social alarm" in the town and that the town hall must show a "clear response."


Seven months on, affected passengers still fighting for compensation

By John Peatey

FOLLOWING the volcanic ash cloud flight disruption of April and May this year, thousands of delayed travellers, many living in Spain, are still waiting for financial compensation from the airlines.

In some instances carriers are acting illegally, capping payouts and applying accommodation cost formulas that have no bearing on the actual costs incurred by passengers following the eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano.

CDSN has been given documentary evidence showing that a claim for a single night's accommodation near Luton airport, costing £92, resulted in an offer of payment of just £8 from one operator. According to the airline's accompanying explanation, this was based on, "The average cost of 3-star self-catering accommodation (£8 per person, per night) ... in your gateway and (we) used this to benchmark claims."  The offer has been rejected in writing by the passenger who, a month later, has received no further communication from the company.

Complaints abound regarding lengthy premium rate phone-calls achieving no satisfactory results, unanswered emails and complicated, cumbersome claim forms. One airline even threatened that ‘fines' would be deducted from any final settlement figure if the required numerous photocopies were not included.

Now the UK-based Air Transport Users Council (AUC) has asked the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to intervene.

ETA lawyer ends hunger strike at Alhaurín prison

Arantza Zulueta, 47, said she faced ‘political and physical isolation'

By Oliver McIntyre

A LAWYER linked to ETA has ended a hunger strike that she launched two weeks ago at the Alhaurín de la Torre prison, where she is being held pending trial on charges that she acted as a go-between for the Basque terrorist group and its members who are in imprisoned throughout Spain. 

Arantza Zulueta, 47, launched the hunger strike on November 15 in protest over her "political and physical isolation" in the prison, where she is on a strict regimen due to her alleged affiliation with an armed terrorist group. The so-called ‘closed' regimen means she is given her meals in her cell rather than in the mess hall and is allowed less time than other inmates for visits to the prison yard or other activities outside her cell.  

Government announces ‘right to die' law

New legislation will allow sedation and palliative care but not euthanasia

By Dave Jamieson

A ‘RIGHT TO DIE' law is to be introduced by the government next year.  However, ministers have made it clear that they are not drafting legislation to legalise euthanasia.

Announcing the news after last Friday's cabinet meeting, deputy prime minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba said the new Law of Palliative Care and Dignified Death would be ready by March. It will allow terminally ill patients to die "with dignity" under heavy sedation, a practice favoured by over 97 per cent of health professionals in a recent survey despite that fact that heavy sedatives can shorten life.  Andalucía already has a regional law to control the right to die and the government in Madrid says it will study how that legislation is working as part of its preparations for the new national law.

The deputy PM was at pains to point out the new law would not make euthanasia legal, but will allow doctors and the families of those who are terminally ill to opt for administering drugs which alleviate pain, allowing the person to die in the short term.  He added that the law would be similar to those already in force in other European countries, adding that he regarded France's legislation as being excellent.

The announcement has been generally welcomed.  The Federation of Associations for the defence of Public Health said it was "absolutely necessary at this time," and called on the government to ensure it was observed in each of the autonomous regions, while Spain's General Nursing Council called it a "welcome advance" which would preserve as a right, "the principle of freedom of conscience."  However, the association Right to a Dignified Death called the move "electioneering" and said the legislation would not decriminalise assisted suicide.

TrAfico launches online ticket notifications

By Oliver McIntyre

THE Traffic Department (DGT) last week officially launched its new system of email and online notifications of traffic tickets, in place of the traditional notifications via post and Official Provincial Bulletins.

The new electronic notification system, which will save time and money by streamlining the process, is voluntary for the general public but is obligatory for businesses.   To sign up, drivers must register for the service on the DGT website. 

The system allows drivers to receive notification of a ticket via email, or even via SMS message to their mobile phone.  The DGT says that for many people it will save a trip to Correos to pick up the notification, as 50 per cent of the postal notifications are not delivered to the home directly.

Further services will gradually be added, including email notifications that a driver's licence or a vehicle's ITV (MOT equivalent) is expiring, or that vehicle tax is due.

Drivers interested in signing up for the email notification service will need an electronic DNI or a ‘certificado digital', which provide secure online identification.

Apart from the email notifications, the new system means a list of tickets will no longer be posted in Official Provincial Bulletins but will instead be displayed on a special website linked to the DGT site. This is where all drivers can search for any pending tickets they may be unaware of.