News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Farmers protest with tractor convoys
Government promises have not materialised, says farmers' association Asaja
By Oliver McIntyre
FARMERS in inland Málaga province staged two tractor-convoy protests in as many days last week, but for different reasons.
On Wednesday more than 200 tractors and 500 farmers took to the highway, gathering at the Jerez-Cartagena highway junction in Almargen, as part of a region-wide protest to demand that the government "live up to its promises" to aid the agriculture industry.
"In 2009, after a large demonstration in Madrid, they promised us a series of much-needed measures, and these have not materialised," said Carlos Bázquez, secretary general in Málaga for the Asaja farmers' association.
Among other things, the farmers - who say they are being ruined by increasing production costs and dropping prices for their goods - want economic aid in the form of fiscal advantages, the creation of low-cost diesel for agricultural operations, and cheaper rates for electricity and agricultural supplies.
Andalucía-wide some 1,500 tractors and 6,000 farmers participated in the demonstration, in some cases wreaking havoc on local traffic, such as in Estepa, Sevilla, where there were tailbacks of three kilometres on the A92 motorway.
Mijas seeks ideas from residents on plaza remodel
Public can submit suggestions by email during a month-long period
By Oliver McIntyre
MIJAS town hall has called on local residents and businesses to actively participate in creating the design for remodelling Mijas Pueblo's main square, Plaza Virgen de la Peña.
Councillor Fuensanta Lima last week urged residents to "get involved and present their ideas, as this is a project of great importance and we want it to be a success built by the entire community."
The plaza remodel, budgeted at 4.9 million euros, is aimed at creating a space where "people are the protagonists," and that is "designed for the enjoyment of residents and as a new tourism attraction," she said.
The town hall has created an email address ([email protected]) where the public can submit ideas and suggestions during a month-long period.
Animal abuse outrage
Video nasty sparks nacional animal welfare protest
By Richard Torné
A VIDEO posted on the internet showing a puppy being slowly tortured to death has sparked such outrage that an animal rights' association is organising a mass protest in 54 cities throughout Spain on March 25.
The 'No al maltrato animal' (no to animal cruelty) association said the 'caso Schnauzi', as the case has become known, reportedly spurred almost 100,000 web users to campaign for stiffer sentences, including longer jail terms, for those found guilty of animal cruelty in Spain.
In the video a man is seen torturing a puppy over a two-month period before putting it to death. At first, it was thought the culprit came from the Spanish city of Badajóz in Extremadura, prompting a frantic search on the internet for the individual.
However, although the man has not yet been identified activists are now certain the video was posted in Colombia and not Spain.
Despite this, activists are going ahead with the protests, arguing that the public's anger over the video has served to highlight the country's "woeful judicial response" to animal cruelty.
The protest in Málaga will be held on Friday, March 25 at 8pm in the Plaza de la Constitucion. The organisers have also asked anyone attending the protest to wear white t-shirts in order to help them identify protesters.
Beach bar owner faces jail
Rincón town hall is understood to have given the several warnings to the business
By Dave Jamieson
Málaga's public prosecutor has called for a beach bar owner in Rincón de la Victoria to be jailed and fined.
It is believed to be the first time that the proprietor of a chiringuito has been threaten with such punishment after being charged with illegal occupation of the beach.
The prosecutor claims the Smile Bar occupies 249 square metres, instead of the permitted 20 square metres, and wants its owner jailed for 18 months and fined 10,800 euros. Rincón town hall is understood to have given several warnings to the business in the last few years.
In 2008, the prosecutor says permission was granted for a temporary installation of 20 square metres and 40 sun beds, but claims that in June that year, it was found that a 196 square metre wooden platform had been erected with a pergola and awnings. The next month a separate building to house toilets was added, and later the main building was fully glazed.
Family pleas to reopen case into son's death
The Gaucin youth died in 2008 after a series of tragic circumstances
By David Eade
IN APRIL 2008 the Costa del Sol News gave wide coverage to the case of 24-year-old Luis Alberto Ramírez who died in Ronda's hospital from peritonitis.
The Gaucín youth had been correctly diagnosed at Algatocín health centre on March 31 and sent to the hospital with the expectation that he would be operated on. However he was twice discharged from the hospital with doctors' insisting he had a virus or food poisoning.
He was eventually admitted to the hospital after suffering a heart attack while his family attempted to take him to hospital in traumatic circumstances after lengthy delays as no ambulance was available.
Since then his family, led by his sister María José Ramírez, and their lawyer Luis Ferrary, have campaigned to have those they deem responsible brought to trial for medical negligence. However the judge provisionally filed the case in March 2009 without any of those involved being questioned.
Although both María José and her lawyer insist there is clear evidence of negligence involving the hospital and Gaucín health centre they cannot take the case forward as it is in judicial limbo. Until the judge makes a judgement it cannot pass to the provincial court on appeal because there is nothing to appeal against.
Convent theft prompts tax fraud concerns
Nuns report hundreds of thousands of euros stolen and authorities want to know where it came from
By Dave Jamieson
THE ROBBERY of a large amount of cash from a convent in Zaragoza has become the stuff of crime novels. The nuns are now under investigation for possible tax fraud.
The plot began on February 28 when the Santa Lucía convent told local police that 1.5 million euros had been stolen. Reports said that the 16 nuns had kept the cash, all in 500 euro notes, in plastic bags stored in a wardrobe. It was said that the sum had been raised by their book restoration work and the sale of paintings by Sister Isabel which she sold under a pseudonym for up to 48,000 euros each.
Officers said there was evidence of forced entry to the convent's front door, the door of the room where the money was kept and the wardrobe itself. As these were the only locks to have been forced open, the police have concluded that the thief was someone familiar with the building.
Next day, the order's mother superior said that the sum had been exaggerated and only 450,000 euros was missing, while the nuns' solicitor denied the source of the cash to be the proceeds of the sale of art works. Jesus Garcia Huici said the convent had paid tax and the cash was for giving alms to the poor. It was also reported that earlier in February, they had told police that it was the result of 40 years of thrifty spending and saving.
ETA military structure in disarray
Terrorist group's alleged military chief among four arrested in France
By Dave Jamieson
A RAID on a house in France last Thursday night has dealt a severe blow to ETA's military operations. One of the four people found and detained is believed to be the terrorist group's most senior military figure.
A joint French and Spanish investigation began last month after local people reported suspicious activity at a suburban house near the border with Belgium. The days of surveillance which followed paid off when the group was detained. The four, reported to be armed when arrested, presented false papers to officers who confiscated other firearms, computers and documents during and after the raid.
Police identified Alejandro Zobaran Arriola, known as Xarla, considered to be ETA's senior military chief, and believed to be a member of the feared ETA Donosti commando cell, which attacked buildings including offices, post offices and banks. Also detained was another military leader, Mikel Oroz Torrea, alias Peru, suspected to be ETA's head of logistics. The other two men arrested, Iban Saez de Jáuregui and Urko Labaka Larrea, are both on security forces' list of wanted terrorists. Police said they believe that the operation has dismantled ETA's military leadership.
Earlier last week, police in southern France arrested another ETA terrorist believed to have been part of a plot to assassinate the former Spanish prime minister, José María Aznar. It is reported that Gregorio Jiménez Morales was in a group tasked to provide a missile launcher which would target Sr Aznar during his 2001 regional election campaign in the Basque country.
Home appliances subsidy plan launched
Discounts of up to 125 euros on energy efficient fridges, washers and more
By Oliver McIntyre
THE fifth edition of the Junta de Andalucía's subsidy scheme for the replacement of old home appliances with new, energy efficient models was launched on Tuesday.
Some 7,000 models of ‘green' machines are eligible for the subsidies, with a total of 16 million euros earmarked for this edition of the Plan Renove programme.
Subsidies are now available for refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, dishwashers, and ovens, while those for heat/air-conditioning units will be available beginning in April.
Depending on the efficiency rating of the model, the subsidy for fridges and freezers is up to 125 euros; for dishwashers and washing machines up to 105 euros; and for ovens up to 85 euros - in all cases up to a maximum of 25 per cent of the total cost of the appliance.
For heat/air-conditioning units, the subsidy this year has been boosted to 400 euros (from 300 euros in the previous edition), up to a maximum of 33 per cent of the total cost.