Local and Inland News

Junta coalition damaged by re-housing crisis

The re-housing of 17 squatter families who had been evicted early last week from a building called La Utopía in Seville sparked a 48-hour-long crisis in the Junta de Andalucia's coalition government.

Socialist Premier Susana Diaz decided the families could not be allowed to jump the queue of around 12,000 families who are on the waiting list for subsidised housing and took the housing portfolio away from coalition partner, the Communist-dominated United Left (UI, Izquierda Unida). The UI threatened to leave the coalition, which would have forced Diaz to call early elections two years ahead of time.

IU national coordinator Cayo Lara flew in from Madrid to support his party during tense talks between the two partners, which ended with Diaz backing down and handing the housing portfolio back to the IU.

By that time, only eight families had been re-housed and the IU agreed that the other nine families should join the waiting list.

Both parties claimed their alliance had not been damaged but one Socialist highlighted the mistrust inherent in the coalition when he said: “It’s not a question of eight families, but rather the concept, the values. Andalusia is not Venezuela, and we can’t let anyone who bangs on the door just walk away with a new house.”

He was referring to a recent statement by IU leader Diego Valderas, who is deputy premier, that it would wonderful  if Venezuela's brand of 21st century socialism could be implanted in Andalusia.

Other areas of disagreement include the radical anti-eviction law approved last September but paralysed by the Constitutional Court, and the plan to pay the light and water bills of the region's poorest families.

The Land Bank is another IU project by which land standing idle would be given to the unemployed. The IU is also trying to push a new tax law through the regional parliament which would introduce a huge tax hike for the region's richest families.

The Socialists do not agree wholeheartedly with these proposals but have to go along with them to keep the coalition together.

Andalusians are 'different'

The latest Social Reality Survey by the Centre for Andalusian Studies shows that the people of  Andalusia are satisfied with life in their region, to which they are deeply attached, and have no complexes about being "different".

They said Andalusia was different because of its people's "open and welcoming nature", its climate and wide variety of scenery. They are also happy with their lifestyle (working to live rather than living for work) and feel they have struck a balance between work and relaxation.

They are proud of their cultural and historical heritage and the region's gastronomy. They do not have an identity crisis, feeling as much Spanish as Andalusian.

The small minority (less than 10 per cent) who said they would like to live elsewhere were usually young people who had gone to university.

Roads 'to make you cry

When  Abraham Carrascosa was re-elected for another four-year term as president of Andalusia's  Engineers' Association last week, his acceptance speech turned into a savage attack on the state of the region's roads.
He said that because of what he called an "investment drought", the roads were so bad "it makes you want to cry".  He said the regional government was disguising its apathy and lack of interest in the problem by blaming it on the engineering and construction sectors, the two most hard hit by the economic crisis.
He announced that the Association intends to create eight commissions, one for each Andalusian province, to "X-ray" the state of the roads and make sure that the Junta's budget allocation of €557 million for road works was used where it was most necessary.

Gibraltar Customs officers attacked while on patrol

Customs officers were making a routine patrol of the frontier fence on Monday when they spotted a group of four men in hooded tracksuits near it.

In an unprovoked attack, the men began to throw stones at the officers before fleeing across the fence into Spain where they continued throwing stones and other objects. The Gibraltar Defence Police marine section which came to their support also came under attack. No-one was injured in this incident.

Meanwhile, in unrelated incidents, HM Customs seized over 58,500 cigarettes (292 cartons) and four Spanish registered vehicles in different areas. Four Spaniards were arrested in connection with the seizures and charged under the recent amendment to the Tobacco Act which provides for the offence of concealing cigarettes in a vehicle.

Town turns out to bury Paco de Lucía

The whole of Algeciras turned out last Saturday to bury its most famous son  - world famous guitarist Paco de Lucia who died of a heart attack at his home in Cancun, Mexico on February 26th.

He was 66. His death cast a shadow over Andalusia Day celebrations across the region on the 28th. His remains arrived in Madrid late Thursday night and were taken to the National Auditorium where his friends and admirers paid their last respects on Friday. Crown Prince Felipe was among the hundreds of people who had started queuing as early as 6 am.

The coffin was then taken to Algeciras where it arrived just after midnight on Friday and was installed in the Ayuntamiento's plenary meeting room, covered in the Spanish and Andalusian flags. People not just from the town but from all over Andalusia started paying their respects at 3 am. Shortly after noon, the funeral service was held at the Nuestra Señora de la Palma  church before the coffin was carried to the town's old cemetery where his father and mother are buried. De Lucia had spent little time at his home town since he became famous more than 40 years ago but he had  expressed a wish to be buried next to his parents. 

Mayor José Ignacio Landaluce (PP) thanked the public for the "great affection, admiration and respect" they had shown in their "last tribute to the greatest guitarist of all times" and declared two days of official mourning. He called the musician's death an "irreparable loss for the world of culture and for Andalusia".

A very special musician
Paco de Lucia became famous for a series of flamenco albums in the 1970s, but he also crossed over into classical and jazz guitar. He also worked on films by Spanish director Carlos Saura, notably appearing in his 1983 version of Carmen, which won a UK Bafta award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1985.   Paying tribute to a "very special musician", fellow Spanish flamenco guitarist Paco Pena, 71, said: "Once in a while someone comes along in a musical discipline who changes everything, who sees things that others have not seen up to that point, and Paco de Lucia was one of these people. After   him, flamenco radically changed and the proof is that so many young people have taken his lead and now flamenco is full of that virtuosity."

De Lucia was born Francisco Sanchez Gomez on December 21st, 1947, the son of flamenco guitarist Antonio Sanchez, who was of Gypsy origin. He took his stage name in honour of his mother, Lucia Gomes. He started playing the guitar from the age of five. "My family grew up with the Gypsies," the guitarist was quoted as saying in a 1994 article in Guitar Player.

"My father and all my brothers played guitar, so before I picked it up, before I could speak, I was listening. Before I started to play, I knew every rhythm of the flamenco. I knew the feeling and the meaning of the music, so when I started to play, I went directly to the    sound I had in my ear." At the age of 18 he recorded his first album in Madrid. One of the great musical partnerships of his life  was with the singer Camaron de la Isla, who died in 1992. The two   men recorded albums in the 1970s, which inspired a New Flamenco movement.
In 2004, Paco de Lucia was awarded Spain's prestigious Asturias Prize for Art as the "most universal of flamenco artists". The jury said at the time: "His style has been a beacon for young generations and his art has made him into one of the best ambassadors of Spanish culture in the world." Among those he worked with outside Spain was British guitarist John McLaughlin.

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Issue 273 April 23rd 2014


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