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February 27 2014

“Google Tax” Threatens Spain's News Aggregators

El ministro de Cultura con el presidente y el director general de AEDE. Foto de eldiario.es, con licencia CC BY SA 3.0

The Minister of Culture with the president and CEO of AEDE. Photo from eldiario.es, under the CC BY SA 3.0 license.

A draft law that would amend Spain's Intellectual Property Law — also known as the Sinde Law  – was brought before Parliament on February 14. The bill aims to combat Internet piracy, restricting in passing the use of links and citations of publications by imposing a so-called “Google tax” on websites that use them.

The bill would amend Article 32.2 of the current law, establishing an obligation of paying a “compensation” to the media for utilizing fragments of its content. As 20minutos.es [es] reports:

El proyecto aprobado este viernes autoriza con carácter general “el uso de fragmentos no significativos” de noticias, artículos de opinión o de contenidos de entretenimiento sin autorización por parte de los titulares de derechos pero concede a los autores “un derecho irrenunciable” de compensación.

The bill passed this Friday authorizes “the use of insignificant fragments” of news, opinion articles, or entertainment content without authorization on behalf of the right holders, but grants the authors “an inalienable right” to compensation.

This measure would initially affect aggregators of news like Google NewsMenéame [es], or Flipboard. The tax would be collected by CEDRO, a copyright management entity whose main partners are the most important communications groups in the country, such as Prisa, Zeta, and Planeta, and would then distribute the money equally among its members. According to David Maetzu's blog, Del derecho y las normas [es], this fee would apply:

(…) no sólo a los contenidos que ponen en las webs los medios de comunicación “tradicionales” (prensa, radio, televisión) si no a cualquier “sitio web de actualización periódica”.

Esto debe incluir cualquier blog, revista electrónica, etc, que se actualice con contenidos nuevos. (…) Por lo tanto, cualquier blogger tendría derecho a cobrar de la web a la que sea agregado.

Y es un derecho irrenunciable (…) por lo que aunque uses una licencia Creative Commons el sitio que te agrega tendrá que pagar a la entidad de gestión en tu nombre. (…) aunque no estés asociado y lógicamente, al no estar asociado no te pagará nada y lo repartirá entre sus otros socios.

(…) not only to the content that “traditional” media (press, radio, television) puts on the web, but rather any “website that is periodically updated.”

This includes any blog, e-magazine, etc. that is updated with new content. Therefore, any blogger would have the right to charge the website to which they are added.

And it is an inalienable right (…) meaning even if you use a Creative Commons license, the website that adds you will have to pay the management company in your name. (…) even though you are not associated and logically, upon not being associated, you will not be paid anything and this money will be allocated amongst its other partners.

The representatives of the major media groups have been very satisfied with the measure, which they view as a just compensation for the loss of readers and money that they have been experiencing in recent years. In a statement, the president of the AEDE – the association that brings together the country's leading media,  the same ones that make up the CEDRO management entity – said [es],

La modificación de la Ley de Propiedad Intelectual, que incluye el derecho de compensación por parte de los agregadores, es el paso más importante que ha dado un gobierno en España para la protección de la prensa. Estoy seguro de que este camino que se acaba de abrir será seguido por el resto de países de Europa.

The amendment to the Intellectual Property Law, which includes the right to compensation from the aggregators, is the most important step that a government in Spain has taken to protect the press. I am sure that this path that just opened will be followed by other European countries.

Nonetheless, the vast majority of online media, bloggers, and Internet users are of the opinion that with this measure, traditional media is “biting the hand that feeds them,” given that an important segment of traffic to their sites comes from news aggregators. Ignacio Escolar, the director of eldiario.es, says in his blog [es]:

Estar en Google es opcional. Poner en tu periódico los botones de Twitter, o de Facebook, o de Menéame, también es voluntario. Nadie obliga a ningún diario a ser “robado” por un agregador de noticias o un buscador que enlace a sus artículos. Al contrario: es bastante sencillo desaparecer de Google, pero ninguno de los medios de comunicación que estos días celebran el nuevo canon digital querría salir de allí.

Being on Google is optional. Putting buttons for Twitter, Facebook of Menéame on your news publication is also voluntary. No one is forcing any newspaper to be “robbed” by a news aggregator or a search engine that links to its articles. On the contrary: it is quite simple to disappear from Google, but none of the media that celebrates the new digital fee these days would want to get out of there.

In fact, all of the media that defends the Google tax have social media sharing buttons on their pages so that the reader can send the links for different social networks and aggregators. In the screenshot below of the newspaper El Mundo, published by Carlos Herrero in his blog [es], readers can look at a text that criticizes “the absolute impunity with which news aggregators are being enriched at the expense of the labor of others,” right next to the aforementioned buttons:

editorial-el-mundo-agregadores

Blogger J.R. Mora writes [es]:

Nunca se ha leído, comentado, debatido y difundido tanto lo que se publica en los medios como ahora, la prensa en internet está viviendo una nueva juventud gracias a redes sociales, blogs y agregadores, y se arriesgan a que esto cambie y también lo pierdan. (…) Otro rescate, ahora a la industria de los medios.

That which is published in the media has never been read, commented on, debated, or shared as much as it is now, the online press is experiencing a new life thanks to social networks, blogs, and aggregators, and now this is at risk of changing and being lost. (…) Another bailout, now of the media industry.

Enrique Dans, professor at the IE Business School and a PhD in Information Systems, goes even further on his blog [es], and believes that with this measure, the government wants to buy the submission of the mainstream media:

[El] gobierno, obsesionado con el tratamiento de los medios de comunicación y preocupado por las próximas citas electorales, ha decidido tomar por asalto las posiciones que no controlaba: mediante el reparto de la jugosa tarta de la publicidad institucional y poniendo encima de la mesa la citada modificación de la ley, ha conseguido ya modificaciones en las cúpulas de los principales diarios que le habían resultado hostiles: tras los cambios en la dirección de La Vanguardia y El Mundo, suena ahora el relevo en El País, completando un movimiento en las cabeceras tradicionales que estaba en realidad planificado desde antes incluso de que el Partido Popular llegase al poder.

La web de AEDE, inoperativa a consecuencia de un ataque DoS de Anonymous. Foto de alt1040.com con licencia CC BY-NC 2.5

The AEDE website, inoperative as a result of a DoS attack from Anonymous, which posted a message on its homepage calling the “AEDE's Online Boycott of the media”. Photo from alt1040.com under the CC BY-NC 2.5 license.

[The] government, obsessed with the treatment of the media and worried about the next elections, has decided to take the positions it didn't control by assault: by sharing the juicy pie of institutional advertising and putting this change in the law on the table, it has already achieved changes in the leadership of the major newspapers that have ended up hostile: following the changes in the direction of La Vanguardia and El Mundo, now we see the reveal at El País, completing a movement in traditional news sources that was actually planned before the People's Party even came to power.

Menéame, the main aggregator harmed by the new law, has issued a statement [es] in which they express their opposition of the tax, review the traffic that they provide to the mainstream media, and affirm that upon passing the law, they will have to choose between “blocking links to local newspapers, leaving Spain, or shutting down.” Meanwhile, users of the aggregator have begun their own “war” against the AEDE media [es], scoring their news negatively to remove them from the top positions, while Anonymous hacked the AEDE website.

The draft law has also failed to receive support from popular online newspapers like 20minutos.es and eldiario.es, which has been particularly critical of the tax [es]. Similar legislation has already been unsuccessfully attempted to be put in place in other countries like Germany, France, and Belgium [es], where traditional media was “punished” with not appearing on Google for six years until they resigned to charging the fee.

February 20 2014

Recap of the Blog Carnival ‘Do You Love the Internet?’

logofest2

[All links lead to Spanish language pages.]

As we announced a few days ago, the moment has arrived to present the results of our Blog Carnival, this time a whirlwind event of only five days. The theme was I Love the Internet, and how to express this idea was left up to the imagination and creativity of the participating bloggers. The idea emerged in support of the online campaign #YoAmoInternet (I love the Internet).

So let's see what our blogger friends had to say. We'll start with Milton Ramirez, an Ecuadorian living in New York, who posted on Geek's Room that “at first it seems like a grammatical mistake” to talk about loving the Internet, since love is normally something that occurs only between people. But he later explains that “the point is to value the uses of the Web. Express your gratitude in the context of Valentine's Day for the benefits that the Internet offers you.” Finally, he concludes:

Amo el internet porque sin él no estuvieran leyendo estas líneas y porque nos ha servido para conocer millones de personas en miles de áreas. No más expertos y no más restricciones sobre la información.

I love the Internet because without it, you wouldn't be reading these lines, and because it has enabled us to meet millions of people in thousands of places. No more experts and no more restrictions on information.

Ángeles Estrada of Nicaragua, posting from France on her Blog de Ángeles, begins her post with the comment: “It seemed funny to think of the Internet fondly. Like that… with affection everywhere for the day of love and friendship.” After telling us about her journey on the internet, she confesses why she loves it:

Internet me ha dado otra vida. Una vida virtual que se adiciona a mi vida real y suma, llena y complementa. Abre puertas a mi curiosidad y apacigua la inquietud de mi espíritu inquieto, explorador, aventurero, quizás vagabundo. Mi vida hoy es una fusión entre lo real y lo virtual, intima y durable. Una simbiosis perfecta, hongo y árbol.

The Internet has given me another life. A virtual life in addition to my real life, which adds to it, fills it, and complements it. It opens doors to my curiosity and calms the restlessness of my inquisitive, exploring, adventurous, and sometimes vagabond spirit. My life today is a fusion of the real and the virtual, intimate and durable. A perfect symbiosis, like a fungus living on a tree.

Nscap, ciudadana del mundo (2.0) is the blog of Isabel Garnica of Spain, living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She gets straight to the point, stating:

Yo Amo Internet porque: aprendo, enseño, trabajo, comparto mi trabajo, viajo, blogueo, juego, hago amigos, conozco personas, porque #InternetCambiaTodo, porque me siendo una ciudadana global, reivindico derechos, difunde proyectos sociales, nos empodera como ciudadanos, ayuda a caer dictadores, por muchas muchas muchas más razones… y sobretodo porque me permite soñar un mundo mejor.

I Love the Internet because: I learn, teach, work, share my work, travel, blog, play, make friends, meet people, because #InternetCambiaTodo [the Internet Changes Everything], because it makes me feel like a citizen of the world, because it enables us to defend rights and share social projects, because it empowers us as citizens, helps bring down dictators, and for many, many, many more reasons… and above all, because it allows me to dream of a better world.

Gabriela García Calderón writes her blog Seis de enero from Lima, Peru. She reminds us of what it was like when communication took place via letters written on paper, and how things have evolved thanks to the Internet:

¿Por qué amo internet? Porque nos comunica, nos conecta, nos contacta, nos acerca y más con apenas un clic. Y porque además permite que la magia del correo real siga existiendo, espero que por mucho tiempo.

Why do I love the Internet? Because it links us, connects us, puts us in contact, brings us together, and more, with just a click. And because, for that matter, it allows the magic of regular mail to continue existing, hopefully for a long time.

On the blog Creatividad Rezumante, Alicia Cortés of Extremadura, Spain describes her love for the Internet in an inspired poem:

Internet, te amo
por tí navegaría
toda la noche y el día
prendida a tu mano…

Volaría sin tiempo
en tus redes de viento

Internet, I love you
I'd surf with you
All night and all day
Hand in hand
I'd fly, timeless
On the winds of your networks

On her blog Veo y escribo, Daniela Gallardo, of Loja, Ecuador, tells us about her typical day on the internet and her favorite sites to visit, but first gets honest:

Debo amarlo demasiado para dedicarle un post (algo que ni siquiera lo he hecho con mi novio) por San Valentin. La verdad es que #YoAmoInternet porque, básica y sencillamente, me tiene conectada al mundo. Es fascinante si no lo llevamos al extremo, claro.

I must love it too much, if I'm dedicating a Valentine's Day post to it (which I haven't even done for my boyfriend). The truth is that I love the internet because, plain and simple, it keeps me connected with the world. It's fascinating, if we don't take it to the extreme, of course.

Gina Yauri, also of Loja, tells us about her relationship with the Internet in her blog Ximealito, concluding:

Internet es un mundo de información abierto que tiene varias puertas, solo debes saber cómo utilizarlas y bajo tu responsabilidad sabrás llevar una vida plena con una pasión por el internet.

The Internet is an open world of information that has various doors. You just need to know how to use them responsibly, and you'll be able to live a full life with a passion for the Internet.

Iván Mejía, blogger of Tantas Cosas, writes a letter recounting his history with the Internet and reflects:

A veces de tan cotidiano parece difícil procurarle amor al internet, como la electricidad el internet ( o será la internet?) pareciera algo que solo se aprecia cuando se va.

 Sometimes it seems difficult to feel love for the Internet, since it's an everyday thing. Like electricity, the Internet seems like something that only gets appreciated once it's gone.

Israel Rosas of Mexico also writes a letter to the Internet on his self-titled blog:

Dicen que ya no eres aquella a quien solíamos conocer, que los ataques te han hecho cambiar y que las cosas ya no serán como antes. Hoy te escribo convencido de que mantienes esa naturaleza abierta e innovadora con la cual te conocí y que tanto me gusta.

They say that you're no longer who I used to know, that people's attacks have made you change, and that things can't go back to the way they were before. Today I'm writing to you convinced that you still have that open and innovative nature that you had when I met you and that I like so much.

Writing her blog Cosas del Alma from her native Medellín, Colombia, Catalina Restrepo lists the reasons why she likes the Internet, from access to information to sharing with others, and then declares:

a usar internet. A usarlo bien. El problema no es la herramienta, si no su uso. Y es uno el que decide lo que hace con lo que le dan. Creo que yo lo usé para encontrarme con el mundo.

Use the Internet. Use it well. The problem is not the tool, but the way it is used. And it's the individual who decides what to do with what they are given. I think that I used it to meet up with the world.

Madame Web, from the Colombian city of Pasto, writes the blog La lógica de mi Papá. She tells us that this isn't the first time that she's going public about her love for the Internet, but adds:

Debo decir que este amor ya no es el mismo que al principio, ha ido cambiando a medida que la red ha crecido y como en toda relación ahora hay cosas que, pequeños detalles, me molestan…como la propagación de virus, spam y troyanos…pero es algo inevitable, aunque tomando las medidas correctas se pueden prevenir estos males y otros relacionados con la seguridad online. [...] Ahí les dejo esa inquietud, ¿Qué tan buenos usuarios somos?

I have to say that this love isn't the same as it was at the beginning. It has changed as the Internet has grown, and like in any relationship, there are now things, little details, that bother me… like the spread of viruses, spam, and Trojans… but it's inevitable, though you can prevent these and other problems by taking appropriate measures with online security. [...] So I'll leave you with this concern: As users, how good are we?

The people of the Mexican collective blog Sursiendo explain the Internet and why we should love it:

Internet es lo que queramos que sea, por eso lo amamos, porque en nuestras manos  (mentes, corazones…) está darle forma y comprometerse con él/ella(ello), para que no desaparezca, no lo mutilen, no lo neutralicen, no lo desvirtúen o no lo controlen. No lo dejemos en otras manos. Amemos Internet.

The Internet is what we want it to be. That's why we love it. Because in our hands (minds, hearts) lies the responsibility to give it form and commit to it, so that it doesn't disappear or get mutilated, neutralized, distorted, or controlled. Let's not leave it in the wrong hands. Let's love the Internet.

José del Sol writes Buscando el optimismo from Irún, Spain. He recounts how at first it was love at first sight, but now:

De vez en cuando reflexionamos sobre cómo hemos evolucionado. Mis kilos siguen ahí, no como mi pelo, y ella ya no es aquel mundo inocente e ilusionado de cuando nos conocimos. A veces fría y comercial -hay que vivir-, otras enfrascada en luchas políticas, los dos tememos qué le pueda llegar a pasar. Últimamente ha crecido el peligro de que de artesana autónoma pase a ser funcionaria sin identidad de un estado policial o empresaria libertaria sin respeto por la privacidad de nadie. No sabemos qué camino seguirá, pero como con una persona, creo que no podré abandonarla a su suerte.

From time to time we reflect on how we have changed. My extra pounds are still here, unlike my hair, and she [the Internet] is no longer the innocent and hopeful world that she was when we met. Sometimes she's cold and commercial – one must survive – and other times she's caught up in political fights. We both fear what might happen. Lately the fear is growing that she might transform from an independent artist into a faceless servant of a political state or a libertarian business with no respect for anyone's privacy. We don't know which path she will follow, but like with a person, I don't think I could abandon her to her fate.

Mexican activist Jesús Robles Maloof explains his position in a post on his blog:

Defenderé un internet libre porque me ha permitido conectarme con otros y luchar por la libertad de las personas. [...] No me imagino su libertad sin internet y en este sentido amo a internet. La vigilancia masiva de la red amenaza esta capacidad de movilización al dar a los gobiernos la posibilidad de anticiparse.

I will defend a free Internet because it has allowed me to connect with others and fight for people's liberty. [...] I can't imagine their liberty without the Internet, and in this sense, I love the Internet. The massive network surveillance threatens this capacity for mobilization by giving governments the opportunity to forestall action.

Bolívar Loján Fierro writes the blog Ni lo uno ni lo otro, más bien todo lo contrario from Loja, Ecuador. He tells us about the procedure that was necessary to make a phone call 40 years ago and compares it with the immediacy of modern tools like Skype. In a science fiction plot twist, his last paragraph is written from the year 2020:

Estoy a mis 72 años liderando en el mundo una campaña de “Derecho a la privacidad”, mi compañera llamada “Internet”, en una pequeña pelea que tuvimos colocó mis datos a disposición del mundo. Me birlaron lo poco de mis ahorros y de privacidad. Me fui a vivir en la montaña, donde queda un poco de agua, elemento vital que perdimos mientras todos estábamos sentados asumiendo que el mundo se podía construir desde un teclado, cosas táctiles y realidades aumentadas. “Amo a internet”, era mi grito de guerra, ahora es “Amo a mi privacidad”, mientras los analfabetas digitales que viven en el campo felices con sus sementeras y ancestros en la ciudad andan como locos buscando algo que llaman comida virtual. Ya la privacidad poco importa.

I'm 72 years old, leading a campaign called “The Right to Privacy.” During a fight we had, my companion, named “Internet,” posted all my information for the world to see. My meager savings and privacy were stolen. I went to live in the mountains where there was a little water left, a vital element that we had lost while we were all sitting around assuming that the world could be constructed via keyboards, touch screens, and augmented realities. “I love the Internet” was my war cry. Now it's “I love my privacy,” like the digital illiterates who live in the countryside happy with their crop fields, while their ancestors in the city run around like crazy people looking for something that they call virtual food. And privacy matters little.

So, although the Carnical was only 5 days in length, we were pleased to see that various bloggers participated. We recommend following the links in each participating post so that you can read the bloggers’ full opinions. I would like to express my deep and sincere gratitude (and that of Global Voices en Español) to all the bloggers for their effort and dedication in contributing their valuable time to this initiative.

And, of course, Happy Valentine's Day!

Spain's Love-Hate Relationship With The New York Times

A news stand in Madrid. Photo by Flickr user Juanedc. CC BY 2.0

A news stand in Madrid. Photo by Flickr user Juanedc. CC BY 2.0

When The New York Times reports on Spain, Spanish media report on The New York Times. The American newspaper's coverage of the country throughout the crushing economic crisis of the last several years has routinely made headlines, and a February 18, 2013 story about the relative lateness of Spain's national schedule was no exception.

The article, titled “Spain, Land of 10 P.M. Dinners, Asks if It’s Time to Reset Clock“, profiles a small movement that wants to bring the country's traditional schedule – with its late bedtime, long lunches and even longer workdays – in line with the rest of Europe in the hopes of boosting productivity. 

The Gray Lady's story, which ran on the front page of the print edition below the fold, made its way into the Spanish news cycle throughout the day, appearing on more than a dozen news sites. Criticism was heaped on reporter Jim Yardley for evoking the stereotypical siesta, or midday nap, a thing of the past for most working people in Spain and a sore spot for Spaniards fed up with skewed foreign coverage. 

Some outlets used headlines claiming that The New York Times “criticizes the Spanish lifestyle” or was outright “against the siesta and Spanish schedule.” A poor translation of the story's own headline that traded “Spain [...] Asks if It's Time to Reset Clock” for the more accusatory “Spain, [...] Ask Yourselves if It's Time to Change Schedules” (“España, el país de las cenas a las 10 P.M, preguntaos si no es hora de cambiar los horarios“) further fanned the flames.

While some Spaniards got behind the idea of dialing back their country's clock, others took to social media to defend Spanish culture.

And we're all bullfighters and play the guitar

It seems that to work at The New York Times it's essential to hate Spain and its customs

Totally in favor of changing our schedule habits, but I prefer dinner at 10 than having a handgun at home

Kick ‘em when they're down

It's not the first time during the economic crisis that The New York Times or other American and British media have acted as a rallying point for Spaniards who see the reporting as sensationalized or arrogant. British newspaper The Telegraph ruffled feathers with a similar report in September 2013 (“Time's up for siestas, delayed meetings and late nights, Spaniards told in effort to make them work better“) on a Spanish parliamentary commission's call to reform the working schedule. A photo of a shirtless pot-bellied man sleeping upright in a chair outdoors originally accompanied the story, but was swapped after the paper received complaints for a less crude shot of a man in a button-up shirt and newsboy cap napping in a horse-drawn carriage. 

Much more outcry followed another front-page, below-the-fold story published in The New York Times in 2012 that featured a black-and-white photo of a man rummaging through a dumpster. The article detailed the problem of hunger against the backdrop of Spain's high unemployment – about a quarter of all Spaniards are out of work, while the number is closer to 50 percent for young people – and cited Catholic charity Caritas’ report that it had provided meals for nearly one million Spaniards in 2010, more than twice the number in 2007 before the crisis. A slide show of photos capturing scenes of protest and poverty was published online alongside it.  

The story and accompanying photos sparked heated discussions online. An Internet campaign #paraNYTimes countered the narrative by collecting more positive snapshots of daily life. One user on Reddit-like website menéame wrote:

Sensacionalista, podría poner fotos similares sobre los EEUU, en blaco y negro y todo, y hacerlos parecer un país tercermundista.

Sensationalized, you could find similar photos about the US, in black and white and everything, and make it seem like a third-world country

In a different discussion thread, user “josejon” argued

El reportaje da una imagen parcial de España: realidad cierta, pero no completa. Es comprensible que media docena de fotos no pueden abarcar todo un país, y que el fotógrafo tiene derecho a escoger y mostrar una parte del todo, según su interés o el tema que desea reflejar, pero después nos encontramos con la opiníon generada por ello en quienes, desde el desconocimiento y la distancia, juzgan el todo por la parte, lo unifican y España entera somos los de las fotos. No es así, y lo sabemos.

The report gives a partial image of Spain: true fact, but not complete. It's understandable that half a dozen photos can't cover the whole country and that the photographer has the right to choose and display only a selection according to his interests or the theme that he wishes to convey, but afterward we are left with the opinion that it generates in people who, in ignorance and from a distance, judge the whole by the part and put it together that all of us in Spain are those in the photos. It's not like that, and we know it.

Holding up a mirror

Others saw the story as confirmation that the situation in Spain had indeed gone from bad to worse. Responding to an analysis published by online news site eldiario.es, “What happens when the most influential newspaper on the planet gives you the third degree,” commenter “kio” wrote:

Muy de marca españa eso de invertir más energía en preocuparse más por la imagen que se da al exterior, “el que dirán”, que de arreglar las cosas de casa. No importa que haya gente que pase o se muera hambre, lo importante es que no se enteren los de fuera. Patético.

Very much in line with the Spanish brand, all this investment of energy in worrying more about the image being broadcast to the world, “what they will say”, than about fixing things at home. It doesn't matter that there may be people starving or dying of hunger. The important thing is that those abroad don't hear about it. Pathetic.

When it was revealed last summer by an ex-Popular Party treasurer that current Spanish President Mariano Rajoy had received payments from a secret slush fund for years, the international media coverage was taken by some as an important echo of the corruption in the country's politics. 

Shameful…even the New York Times says that Rajoy should beat it. How pitiful Spain is, damn…

Even the Financial Times is talking bad about Rajoy, let's see if he has a little bit of dignity left, I doubt it, and steps down once and for all

And a New York Times piece from May 2013 detailing the culture of corruption in local and national politics – about 1,000 officials were under investigation at the time, according to the article – stirred up similar reactions.

“I hope the damage that this New York Times article causes to this rotten system makes it so that there are more and more people who are ready to change this terrible reality of corruption, abuse and power,” a menéame commenter wrote.

The power of foreign coverage 

But why is so much attention given to foreign media's editorial choices? With tourism a major driver of the Spanish economy, accounting for 10.9 percent of the country's economic output in 2012 according to Spain's National Institute of Statistics, many worry about the marca España, or Spanish brand, being portrayed to the rest of the world.

Positive coverage can certainly have an impact. After The New York Times included Burgos in its list of “46 Places to Go in 2013,” the northern Spanish city saw a staggering 145 percent jump in American tourists, what one local paper dubbed “the New York Times effect.” And the level of confidence that potential overseas investors have in the stability of a country can make or break their decision to put money there. 

But with foreign coverage sticking to its largely negative focus and the country's political and economic struggles still ongoing, #MarcaEspaña has become go-to sarcastic commentary on social media for Spaniards unhappy with the current state of affairs.

Still, others recommend ignoring the coverage. For better or worse, foreign media will continue to report on Spain how they want.

The New York Times writes an article about Spain and we get upset. When we stop getting worked up about what others think we will be better off

L. Finch is a journalist, translator, lead Global Voices sub-editor and Spanish-language lover. Originally from the US Midwest, she now calls Madrid home.

February 14 2014

Protests Against Death of Immigrants in Ceuta, Spain: “No One Is Illegal”

Image from Fotomovimiento taken at the Barcelona protest

Image from Fotomovimiento taken at the Barcelona protest. Used under CC License.

A group of 200 people tried to enter Spain from Morocco by swimming around the fence at Ceuta, and some 14 sub-Saharan African migrants were crushed to death or drowned. The Guardia Civil (Civil Guard) has been condemned by the immigrants and by a number of civil society organisations alike that argue that the security forces neither assisted [es] the immigrants nor alerted the coastguard to rescue those who were at sea. They also condemn the use of rubber bullets and tear gas against the immigrants in an attempt to prevent them from crossing the border.

The Guardia Civil has denied the accusations and created confusion by daily changing their version [es] of the events of Thursday 6th February.

Map of the border zone between Morocco and Spain - Wikipedia

Map of the border zone between Morocco and Spain – Wikipedia

A week after the tragedy, protests were convened in 15 Spanish cities to condemn the immigrants’ deaths. At the citizen gathering in Madrid, the most popular slogans [es] were: “They didn't drown, they were murdered”, “Natives or foreigners, we're all the same working class”, “No one is illegal” and “Where are the pro-lifers now?”, the latter in reference to those who support the controversial reform of the Abortion Law that the Spanish conservative government is currently preparing. 

The Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz finally acknowledged the use of riot gear by the security forces, although he claimed that it was used “only as a deterrent” to prevent the migrants from crossing the border. While the minister was appearing in the House of Representatives and facing the questions and accusations of the opposition parties, Twitter was transformed into a vehicle for people to express their indignation via the now trending topic #muertesCeuta [#Ceutadeaths]:

It seems that when prospecting for oil the borders are a lot wider than when for saving lives #muertesceuta

— Leire Iglesias (@leireis) February 13th, 2014

The minister acknowledges that rubber bullets were fired but not at people… what were they firing at then, the seagulls? #muertesCeuta

— Lorena Sainero (@Anerol27) February 13th, 2014

There are some things which we should never allow to happen. #muertesCeuta
— Ani ツ (@Vaquesinmas) February 13th, 2014

Shooting into the water near people who are desperate and can't swim isn't deterring them “for humanitarian reasons”, it's something entirely different #muertesCeuta

— Juan Luis Sánchez (@juanlusanchez) February 13th, 2014

There are still many questions to be answered: 

Autor Dani Gago - DISO Press

Photo by Dani Gago – DISO Press. ‘More bridges, no walls’

What is the existing protocol for managing the entry of immigrants in Spain? Did the Guardia Civil's actions in Ceuta show respect for the law and the immigrants’ human rights? Were some of the immigrants who did manage to reach Spanish territory returned to Morocco, in spite of the illegality of such an action? 

One Twitter user briefly summarises the need for accountability: 

Why should the minister provide answers to the mysteries surrounding the #Ceutadeaths? Above all, for them: http://t.co/TzhPH6zS9M

— Gabriela Sánchez (@Gabriela_Schz) February 13th, 2014

February 08 2014

What Do the Streets Sound Like in Spain?

el sonido de las calles

“The sound of the streets”

What do the streets sound like? This questions opens “The sound of the streets” [es], a documentary that portrays the work and life philosophy of five street musicians — Manuel Marcos, El Terraza de Jeréz, Pedro Queque Romero, Little Boy Kike, including two singers, and a group, Los Milchakas, who work outdoors.

Produced by BuenaWille [es] – a space that promotes cultural projects – the documentary was released in May 2013 under a Creative Commons license. As a nonprofit, its goal is to promote street music and expose these musicians’ testimonies to the public. 

“I play for the love of music and because of necessity,” says Abdul Yabbar, singer and guitarist on the streets of Granada, who after losing his job saw no other option but to use his talent to “get by.” The film's protagonists live and offer their art in southern Spain, where the weather is warm and the people are more receptive, according to them. Most of them report the most positive aspects of their work, but also talk about the difficulties that come with this lifestyle, like the indifference of pedestrians, low tolerance from authorities, economic insecurity, and even complaints from neighbors that sometimes go as far as throwing objects and food at them because they consider them annoying, which is what happened to Abdul. 

Here is the complete documentary [es]: 

There are also people who appreciate musicians who try to enliven the streets. A YouTube user posted a video from a group called Milchakas, which appears in the documentary, getting over 7,000 visits. The following comment is in the description: 

This wonderful group in Granada, Spain brings so much joy and happiness to the constant stream of tourists and locals that pass them on the way to Alhambra or perhaps, Sacromonte. Their music is a blend of Spanish, reggae and a few other styles.

These artists are united by their talent and love for music, but most dream of promoting themselves, gaining visibility, and being able to play in bars. The streets are not easy and working in them seems increasingly difficult. This is how it is, for example, in the Spanish capital where the Madrid City Council has restricted their job. Whoever wants to play in the streets of the capital must pass an audition to have a license that authorizes them to work in the Central District. Artistic street activities that have passed the test still face a series of restrictions [es] on schedules, distance between each musician, width of the streets where they are permitted to play, and the level of noise pollution, among others. 

These new measures have generated criticisms, above from the artists. One video in particular in which two musicians criticize the impositions of the city council. Both the media and social networks have embraced the humorous and critical video that already has had over 350,000 views on YouTube [es]:

Here is a snippet of the song starring a group that called itself the Potato Omelette Band: 

Ay mi Madrid, pobre ciudad mía, que quitan artistas para poner policías, tú que eras toda alegría, ahora gris color ceniza, no hay mejor jurado que el de la gorra, a veces no hay nada, a veces te forras …pobre músico que no se ha vendido, esta ciudad no es para artistas.

Oh my Madrid, my poor city that removes artists to be replaced with police, you who used to be all joy now are the color of gray ash, there is no better jury than the one in the cap, sometimes there is nothing, sometimes you make a killing… poor musician that has not sold himself, this city is not for artists. 

February 03 2014

A “Freedom Train” for the Sexual and Reproductive Rights of Women in Spain

Tren de la Libertad

Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, Minister of Justice in Mariano Rajoy’s government, is spearheading a bill that seeks to repeal the existing standard in Spain—the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy Law (VIP) and Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) 2010— by promoting a reform that would mean a 30 year setback in the exercise of sexual and reproductive rights in that country.

A campaign opposing this bill, which has not yet been approved, has been spearheaded by feminist movement of Asturias, specifically the Tertulia Feminista les Comadres [es] led by the florist Begoña Piñero Hevia. Named by its creators “The Freedom Train” [es], the initiative was launched through social networks on January 2:

Las mujeres de la Tertulia Feminista les Comadres y de Mujeres por la Igualdad de Barredos consideramos que la reforma de la ley del aborto planteada por el Gobierno de Rajoy constituye un ataque injustificable a la libertad de decidir de las mujeres.

Invitamos a la sociedad asturiana a sumarse a las acciones que se organicen desde los distintos grupos, asociaciones y colectivos de mujeres para conseguir la retirada de ese Anteproyecto de Ley.

The women of Tertulia Feminista les Comadres and Women of Barredos for Equality believe that reforming the abortion law proposed by Rajoy’s government constitutes an unjustified attack against the free will of women.

We invite Asturian society to join actions organized by various groups, associations and women’s collectives to achieve the withdrawal of this proposed law.

Leaving from Asturias and arriving in Madrid on February 1st, the “Freedom Train” comprises a series of actions and activities, and the creation of supporting materials such as banners and bibs, all  created and run by the participants themselves.

Imagen tomada del sitio de la iniciativa

Begoña Piñero Hevia wearing the Freedom Train bib

From the start, the initiative has found support in several countries, and has inspired other activities and collateral actions. The text “Because I Decide” [es], which has been translated into seven languages, will be delivered to the Spanish Council of Deputies. One of the paragraphs says:

Porque yo decido, soy libre y vivo en democracia exijo del gobierno, de cualquier gobierno, que promulguen leyes que favorezcan la autonomía moral, preserven la libertad de conciencia y garanticen la pluralidad y diversidad de intereses.

Porque yo decido, soy libre y vivo en democracia exijo  que se mantenga la actual Ley de salud sexual y reproductiva y de interrupción voluntaria del embarazo por favorecer la autonomía moral, preservar la libertad de conciencia y garantizar la pluralidad de intereses de todas las mujeres.

 

Because I decide, I am free and I live in a democracy, I demand that the government, any government, enact laws that promote moral autonomy, preserve freedom of conscience, and ensure plurality and diversity of interests.

Because I decide, I am free and I live in a democracy, I demand that the current law on sexual and reproductive health and abortion is maintained, fostering moral autonomy, preserving freedom of conscience and ensuring the plurality of interests of all women.

Activists from 13 Spanish communities will come together to take the text to the Council.

Tweeted from Galicia:

We’ll see you on February 1 in Atocha. Not one step back. I’m going, are you?

And from Granada:

Coming with us on the Freedom Train? We're leaving on February 1 at 6 a.m. We'll expect you there!

A group of women filmmakers [es] (directors, producers, photographers) joined the mobilization to film and record the events of February 1st, when the “Freedom Train” arrived at the Atocha terminal in Madrid. Some of these women artists are: Inés París, Gracia Querejeta, Chus Gutiérrez, Ángeles González-Sinde, Iciar Bollaín and Isabel Coixet.

At the same time, a group of approximately 1500 intellectuals, at the initiative of Yo Decido Tren de la Libertad Pilar Aguilar, analyst and critic, have signed a manifesto [es]. Writers Mercedes Abad, Lola Beccaria, Isabel Cienfuegos, Laura Freixas, Rosa Montero and university professors Carmen Valcárcel and Almudena Hernando are among the supporters of this manifesto.

The Freedom Train also features a song, expressing the dissatisfaction of women with the law promoted by Mariano Rajoy's government:
  
Compinchado con Rajoy y sus muchachos  
ha tomado nuestro cuerpo de rehén  
con una aberrante ley demoledora  
que pretende sin empacho denigrar a la mujer.  

Rajoy in cahoots with his boys
have taken our bodies hostage
with a devastating, abhorrent law
which aims to shamelessly denigrate women.

The initiative has also had an impact in Latin America, mainly Ecuador and the Dominican Republic, noted in the publication of several messages on the social network Twitter. In Ecuador, through the Slut Walk, the plan is to go to the Spanish Consulate in the capital city of Quito and demand that the permanence of current law on sexual and reproductive health.

From the Caribbean:

Also, there have been petitions for asylum based on health issues linked to abortions by a group of people at the French Embassy in Spain:

More than 200 petitions for abortion asylum at the French embassy. This Saturday we get on the Freedom Train.

Besides the Gallic nation, other European nations will be protesting, among them Belgium and Italy. In Brussels, on January 30 a demonstration was held against the so-called Gallardón reform, with thousands in attendance.

Support from Italian and French women

Here, the The Freedom Train theme song:  

 

January 28 2014

INNOVATION: Containers as Student Housing at European Universities

“Containers” at DTU Campus Village in Kongens Lyngby, Denmark via wikipedia CC-BY-SA-3.0

In order to alleviate the lack of student housing available across Europe, a few universities in Denmark, Germany, France (Le Havre) [fr] and Spain have tried to turn containers into student dorms. Containers appear to be the structure of choice because they are less costly and readily adaptable to include the necessary amenities. However, a few associations have already raised a few issues [fr] regarding thermal isolation and safety in the containers. 

January 23 2014

From Barcelona to Madrid for the Love of a Candidate

Blogger Denise Duncan makes a confession [es] on her blog:

¿Por qué voy a viajar 1400 kilómetros para votar por Luis Guillermo Solís? ¿Por qué ir y volver de Barcelona a Madrid en 24 horas? ¡Pero es un voto, nada más!, podría pensarse. ¿Qué diferencia hay? Una: estoy enamorada.

Why am I going to travel 1400 kilometers to vote for Luis Guillermo Solís? Why am I going from Barcelona to Madrid and back in 24 hours? But it's just a vote, nothing else!, you could think. What's the difference? One: I'm in love.

Denise is a Barcelona-based Costa Rican citizen and she'll have to travel from there to Madrid to cast her vote for Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera [es], a candidate running for president in the upcoming elections on February 2, 2014.

She remembers an earlier experience, when she spent 24 hours in a train to meet the man who is now her husband. She ends her confession saying:

Entonces brindaré por lo que viene, por un cambio que hará que mi corazón diga: yo recorrí 1400 kilómetros por dos hombres decentes en mi vida. Uno es mi marido. El otro el Presidente de la República.

Then I'll make a toast for what's yet to come, for a change that will make my heart say: I traveled 1400 kilometers because of two men in my life. One is my husband. The other one is the President of the Republic.

January 20 2014

European Citizens Call for the Protection of Media Pluralism

For updates follow @MediaECI on Twitter and 'like' the Facebook page European Initiative for Media Pluralism.

Website: MediaInitiative.eu. For updates follow @MediaECI on Twitter and ‘like’ the Facebook page European Initiative for Media Pluralism.

“European institutions should safeguard the right to free, independent and pluralistic information”. The quote, from the Media Initiative website, summarizes the main idea behind a pan-European campaign that aims at urging the European Commission to draft a Directive to protect Media Pluralism and Press Freedom.

The Media Initiative is running a European Citizens’ Initiative - a tool of participatory democracy “which allows civil society coalitions to collect online and offline one million signatures in at least 7 EU member states to present directly to the European Commission a proposal forming the base of an EU Directive, initiating a legislative process”. The petition is available in 15 languages and can be signed online:

Protecting media pluralism through partial harmonization of national rules on media ownership and transparency, conflicts of interest with political office and independence of media supervisory bodies.

A short video presents the campaign:

Reposted bycheg00 cheg00

January 13 2014

Spain's Princess Cristina Charged with Money Laundering and Tax Evasion

Viñeta de Malagón subida a Twitter por el autor.

Cartoon by Malagón tweeted by the author.

[Links are to Spanish-language pages except where noted.]

The younger daughter of the King and Queen of Spain, Infanta Cristina Federica Victoria Antonia de la Santísima Trinidad de Borbón y de Grecia [en], has been called to appear before an examining magistrate as a defendant in connection with the Nóos case currently under investigation. 

Judge José Castro, who had already charged the Infanta back in April 2013, issued a 227-page indictment on January 7, 2014, (part 1, part 2 [pdf]) explaining the reasons for his decision. The indictment is unusually long, an indication of his intention to thoroughly document the charges against the Infanta so as to prevent any legal loopholes that could lead to the charges being overturned, as occurred in the prior indictment which was dismissed for insufficient evidence.

The Infanta, who has an undergraduate degree in political science and an M.A. in international relations is charged in her capacity as co-owner of the holding company Aizoon, described in the indictment as a front for Instituto Nóos [en], a non-profit entity from which her husband, Iñaki Urdangarín, is accused of embezzling. 

Judge Castro believes there is evidence that the infanta was aware of the criminal activities of her husband, who allegedly used Aizoon funds illegally to cover his personal expenses [en]; he also indicates there are anomalies in the hiring of the princess's domestic staff:

[Los empleados del hogar familiar] en su contratación intervino personalmente Doña Cristina de Borbón y Grecia, anunciando a los aspirantes, cuya situación irregular en España conocía aquélla, que de ser contratados se les abonarían sus salarios en “negro”.

Doña Cristina de Borbón y Grecia personally intervened in the hiring of [employees in the family home], telling prospective staff whose irregular immigration status she was aware of, that if they were hired, they would be paid “under the table.” 

He is also openly critical of the public prosecutor's office, admonishing their efforts a few months ago to prevent the Infanta from being subpoenaed to testify using the argument of alleged unfair treatment. The reasons given were in fact the same as for the rest of the individuals charged, cases that elicited no response from said prosecutor's office.

Moreover, he considers three invoices rubber-stamped by the Revenue Office to be fraudulent and part of an attempt to reduce the total amount of the funds in question, thereby precluding any charges being laid against the princess for tax fraud. 

The news provoked a torrent of comments in the mainstream media as well as social networks. Around the world, newspapers and television stations echoed one another: BBC, Time, CNN, Financial Times, Aljazeera, Paris Match and Le Monde are just a few of those who dedicated a portion of their content to the story unfolding in Spain. 

Response has been plentiful. Judging from the tone of the majority of comments, the Spanish are pleased with the indictment of the Infanta, which they consider fair, although many Internet users doubt she will actually be sentenced.

Some mention the Botín doctrine, a peculiarity of Spanish law originally used to defend the banker Emilio Botín [whereby the plaintiff was not the victim of the alleged crime but making a popular accusation on behalf of the people]. In this instance, a case can be dismissed if no formal accusation is made by the public prosecutor.

Palacio de los Duques de Palma en una selecta zona de Barcelona, presuntamente amueblado y decorado con cargo a la empresa Aizoon. Foto subida a Twitter por El Poder del Ahora.

Palace of the Duke and Duchess of Palma in an exclusive Barcelona neighbourhood, allegedly decorated and furnished courtesy of the Aizoon holding company. Photo uploaded to Twitter by El Poder del Ahora.

Velociraptor displays his lack of faith in the justice system in eldiario.es:

Se va a ir de rositas de esta. Solo hay que tirar de hemeroteca. Si no le salva el culo la Audiencia de Palma, lo hará el Fiscal Anticorrupcion; o el Tribunal Supremo; o el Tribunal Constitucional. En ultimo caso les queda un indulto. Tengo muy claro que se va a ir de rositas; lo que espero es que esta sea la mecha para que por fin el pueblo español se levante y recupere su orgullo.

She is going to get off scot-free. It just takes a little fieldwork. If the High Court in Palma doesn't save her ass, the Anti-corruption unit or the Supreme Court or the Constitutional Court will. As a last resort, she could always be pardoned. I am positive she will get off scot-free; what I hope is that this is the spark that sets off the Spanish people so they rise up and reclaim their pride.

On the French newspaper Le Monde‘s website, Sylvain opines that “In Spain there are people the law cannot touch,” to which Juan Manuel Cuesta responds:

(…) les Espagnols ont fait à la famille royale une confiance aveugle, et il faudra tout de même leur expliquer pourquoi un de ses membres échappe à la justice. Et la réputation de cette famille en prendra un sacré coup qui pourrait, à terme, lui coûter cher.

(…) the Spanish have displayed blind faith in the royal family, and it will have to be explained to them why one of its members can escape justice. And the reputation of this family will be hard hit, something that, in the long run, could cost them dearly.

Pacofol, in El País, expresses himself this way:

En un país donde la corrupción esta tan generalizada como el nuestro, es de agradecer el esfuerzo de algunos jueces en que prevalezcan la ley y la justicia. Gracias. No tengo ninguna confianza en que tengan éxito, pero gracias por intentar que el delito no quede impune.

In a country like ours, where corruption is so widespread, we should welcome the efforts of a few judges to ensure justice and the law prevail. Thank you. I have no faith in your succeeding, but thank you for trying to prevent crime going unpunished. 

In El Mundo, Guy_Fawkes_V sees it clearly:

(comentario #402)

Nah, Yeserías no tiene celda real

Nah, Yeserías prison has no royal cell.

 On Twitter, cybernauts also have lots to say:

Tranquilos, antes entrará un camello por el ojo de una aguja que la Infanta en la cárcel.

— Dios (@diostuitero) January 7, 2014

Relax, a camel will pass through the eye of a needle before the Infanta goes to jail.

Los medios que contribuyan a salvar la imagen de la infanta serán reconocibles por las páginas dobles de publicidad del banco donde trabaja.

— Almeida (@bufetalmeida) January 8, 2014

The media that is helping to rescue the Infanta's image can be identified by the double-page ads of the bank where she works.

Menú del dia en Zarzuela…. pic.twitter.com/p4GAHkcWMk

— agapitarch (@raisaoski) January 8, 2014

Today's special at the Palace of Zarzuela…

Parece que finalmentw la Infanta Cristina irá a la cárcel: ya están construyendo una cárcel para ella en Pedralbes por 666M€

— Cítrico Cínico (@CitricoCinico) January 8, 2014

Looks like the Infanta Cristina is finally going to jail: they are already building a prison for her en Pedralbes for 666 M€ 

Infanta: ¿cómplice y culpable? ó¿estúpida mujer florero? Si la “justicia” quiere mantener su poca credibilidad debe haber sentencia #infanta

— Miguel Montalvo (@WhiteMontana_DU) January 8, 2014

Infanta: complicit and guilty? or stupid trophy wife? If the ‘law’ wants to maintain what little credibility it has it should sentence #infanta

Like many Spaniards, Congressman Alberto Garzón criticizes the behaviour of certain institutions in this case:

And it is disturbing to see federal institutions like the Finance Ministry and the Public Prosecutor taking on the role of defenders of the Infanta. 

The Infanta has been called to testify on March 8. If the proceedings take their usual course, perhaps the Spanish will see a member of the royal family in the dock…or behind bars. 

January 01 2014

Spain: A Summary of 2013 in 10 News Stories and 10 Photos

1. Princess Cristina de Borbón, charged

Princess Cristina. Image from Diego Armario's blog.

Princess Cristina. Image from Diego Armario's blog.

In April, Princess Cristina was summoned to appear in court by the judge hearing the Palma Arena case. The Spanish population watched the first accusation of a member of the royal family on a corruption charge with a mixture of surprise and incredulity. Their incredulity [es] was born out by the almost immediate lifting of the charges against the Princess. The anti-corruption prosecutor himself, Pedro Horrach was, ironically, Cristina de Borbón's best defence attorney [es]. The affair did irreparable damage to the royal family, increasingly isolated from a population which observes time and again that the King's declaration last Christmas that “justice is equal for everyone” was merely empty words.

2. The Prestige disaster, without convictions

Chapapote

Oil spill on a Galician beach. Photo from Wikimedia Commons under CC licence by SA 3.0

The shipwreck of the Prestige oil tanker off the coast of Galicia and subsequent oil spill which caused the worst ecological disaster ever seen in Spain and prompted one of the largest popular mobilisations in the country's history was settled without convictions following ten years of legal proceedings and a nine month long trial. The politicians implicated in the case, whose decisions were broadly criticised, did not even reach the dock. The Spanish citizens will have to foot the 4,328 million euro bill which this disaster has cost – so far.

3. The Parot Doctrine, annulled 

vista.general

View of the Plaza Colón in Madrid occupied by a protest organised by the Association of Victims of Terrorism. Photo uploaded to Twitter by Isabel Durán (@IsabelDuran_).

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg issued its final decision on the so-called “Parot doctrine” [es] on October 21st, ruling that the increase in prison sentences could not be applied retroactively. This ruling had the immediate effect of liberating several ETA terrorists and dangerous common criminals, which prompted furious reactions on the social networks both in support of and in opposition to the European Court. The Association of Victims of Terrorism (ATV) organised a protest march [es] on October 27th.

4. The Citizens’ Security Law

antiprotesta

Greenpeace activists unfurl a banner from the top of a building in Plaza de España in Madrid. Photo uploaded to Twitter by @thomsh1.

The end of November brought to light the new Citizens’ Security Law which the government intends to pass. This law reclassifies certain misdemeanours as offences, allowing the government to fine citizens directly without taking them to court, thus avoiding a process which frequently decides in favour of the accused. If the law is passed, attending certain unauthorised protests could result in fines of up to 600 000 € and “offences” against Spain would be punished with fines of up to 30 000 €. Various political parties and lawyers’ associations have questioned the constitutionality of the new law.

5. The “escrache” protests

escraches1

PAH escrache protest in Zaragoza. Photo from the blog El ventano.

In March and April, the Platform of People Affected by Mortgages (PAH) carried out a campaign of “escraches” [a type of direct action protest] targeting politicians, banks and party headquarters while the mortgages law was being debated in Parliament. The escraches were angrily criticised by politicians from the PP and like-minded media outlets, which went as far as to accuse the PAH of being “nazis” and “pro-ETA”. However, in June the European Parliament awarded the 2013 European Citizens’ prize to the PAH.

6. Wert, against the world

Ministro.Wert1

The Spanish Minister for Education, José Ignacio Wert. Photo from the blog Cinereverso.org.

The education minister is implementing the worst campaign of cuts in education which the country has ever seen. But he also has time to anger the entire population with his mottos, which have become something of a classic on the social networks. In October, the minister was on the verge of leaving hundreds of students “stranded” in Europe when he drastically reduced the Erasmus scholarships, and shortly afterwards he was publicly discredited by the European Commission, whose education spokesperson described as “rubbish” declarations made by Wert in which he claimed that the funds designated by the EC to Spain for Erasmus scholarships would see a significant reduction in 2014.

7. The right to be forgotten

Online privacy

EU statistics on internet privacy. Image from the European Parliament website, used with permission. Source: European Parliament.

Spain took Google to the EU Court of Justice to defend the right to be forgotten, which would give European citizens the option to demand that any personal information which they do not wish to be made public be deleted from the Internet. This right to privacy clashes frequently with the right to information, creating controversy between those who support access to information and those who support privacy. In the end, the court ruled in Google's favour.

8. The advance of the far right

la-extrema-derecha.01

Far right protest in Spain. Photo from Xavier Casals‘ blog.

With the approach of the European Parliament elections, many European citizens are worried about the resurgence of far right groups and political parties, which take advantage of the economic crisis to launch their aggressively populist and xenophobic discourses. The Greek group Golden Dawn was banned following the death of a young man, allegedly at the hands of its members, but in some European countries, far right parties are reaching levels of power unseen since World War II. In Spain, the governing People's Party systematically justifies its members’ behaviour each time the media demonstrates that they have links to the far right.

9. Eurovegas

Eurovegas2

Construction project for the Eurovegas city. Image from Eurovegas Spain on Facebook.

In a country with almost 5 million unemployed, the overambitious Eurovegas project, which promised the creation of more than 300 000 jobs, arrived in Madrid like a true panacea. But alarm bells soon began to ring: Las Vegas Sands, the company owned by Sheldon Adelson, the project's architect, demanded numerous exemptions with regard to labour rights, taxation and even public health, attempting to create a bubble of alegality within Spanish territory. Although some politicians appeared ready to grant LVS's every desire, the armour-plating of the investment which Adelson intended to impose and poor forecasts by the ratings agencies meant that the project ground to a halt and was definitively abandoned in December.

10. «A relaxing cup of café con leche»

Madrid made a bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games. In order to argue the city's case, a huge delegation – more than 200 people – travelled to Buenos Aires in September. Although the bid was rejected [es] in the first round, the lamentable English spoken by Ana Botella, mayor of Madrid, and the theatrical nature of her speech prompted a collective outburst of laughter around the country and left us with a phrase for posterity: «a relaxing cup of café con leche in Plaza Mayor».

Ana Botella's speech to the IOC. Video uploaded to YouTube by BEGO DANGER

December 20 2013

Unconditional Basic Income for All Europeans

A movement to give every citizen “unconditional basic income”—no work required—is gathering speed in Europe. 

For the last 11 months,  the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI)  has been spearheading a one-year campaign to gather a million signatures that support “Unconditional Basic Income (UBI)” for all Europeans.

The ECI wants everyone to have a basic, guaranteed wage, which is enough to cover day-to-day expenses.

If they collect one million signatures reaching the minimum requirement from at least 7 European Union (EU) member countries by January 14 2014, the European Commission will have to examine their initiative and arrange for a public hearing at the European Parliament.

In the short term, they want to do some “pilot-studies” and examine different models of UBI. In the long run, their objective is to offer to each person in the EU the unconditional right as an individual, to have their material needs met to ensure a life of dignity by the introduction of the UBI.

The Basic Income proposal is being presented by citizens from 15 EU member states (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, United Kingdom).

This Friday on GV Face I speak to activists gathering signatures and raising awareness about the need for Basic Income. 

Stanislas Jourdan | Main coordinator for European Citizens’ Initiative for Unconditional Basic Income in France

Martin Jordö | Main coordinator forEuropean Citizens’ Initiative for Unconditional Basic Income in Sweden

Carlos Arias| Global Voices Contributor in Spain

Anne-Béatrice Duparc | Switzerland

Barb Jacobson | UK

I asked them about developments in the campaign so far, how UBI would tackle inequality and how much such a scheme might cost.

For more information check out the Basic Income EU website, Facebook page and Twitter account.

Here's a link to our Google + event page for this episode of GV Face.  

December 18 2013

“We Are More Alive Than Ever:” Coral Herrera and the Struggle for Gender Equality

Portada del libro

Coral Herrera's “Diverse Weddings and Queer Love” book cover

This post is part of our series on gender and sexuality in Latin America and the Caribbean, in collaboration with NACLA (North American Congress on Latin America). This is the continuation of a conversation with Coral Herrera Gómez, published in two parts, the first of which can be read here.

In the first part of our dialog about the work of artist, blogger, and scholar Coral Herrera, we discussed the opportunities presented by new technology for gender equality and the social struggle for the rights of women and LGBT persons. This time we will enter into a discussion about the struggle for gender equality in Latin America.

We asked Coral to give us her impressions of the evolution of these struggles, both online and off, and we also talked about the road we have traveled and the one that remains before us.

Global Voices: What have you discovered about the pro-gender equality movements thanks to new media?

Coral Herrera: I am amazed by social networks because they have opened doors and windows for me to the entire world, they have broaden my horizons on all levels of my life: at the intellectual, personal, and professional levels. Before connecting to the world, I felt very alone with my books and my research, but now I sense that there are a lot of people who are also writing and sharing, with whom I can debate, build up, and deconstruct collectively.

When I got connected to these networks, I entered into contact with a diverse group of women who fascinated me because they allowed me to meet other realities beyond what I had known in Spain. I'm amazed at the struggle of peasant women, Afro-descendant woman, indigenous women, migrant women, victims of trafficking, factory workers, domestic workers, disabled women, and being able to come into contact with them has allowed me to grow beyond the Euro-centric feminism in which I was living.

Besides meeting with activists, it was fascinating to connect with feminist writers who were not only still living, but were also very active on social networks. Being able to follow them on a daily basis and to get to know them so “up close” allowed me to connect with feminist organizations and online publications from all over Latin America, and that was how I began to expand my networks and make contact with the groups of egalitarian men and LGBT activists, and with the queer groups that are slowly emerging.

GV: What are the most pressing conversations that you're finding in the area of gender in Latin America?

CH: Above all, I think it's necessary to continue to highlight the struggles of women for access to land and water, and the work being carried out in fighting against genetically modified crops and for obtaining food sovereignty.

We also have to open up the debate within the feminisms in order to engage in self-criticism; it worries me that young people aren't identifying with feminist values and that our struggles are stereotyped in such a negative way.

I believe it's a problem in communication: we feminists are the object of ridicule, jokes, insults, and pejorative comments; we are called ugly, witches, man-haters, sexually frustrated, etc. This is what's going on in Europe; in other parts of the world you can be murdered for being a feminist, as has happened in Mexico with human rights activists, for example.

Within the feminisms, I think we have to create networks that are more horizontal and more inclusive. As in all social and political movements, within the feminisms there are still hierarchies, relationships of power, patriarchal power structures that we have to eliminate in order to be able to transform the world we live in. It's necessary to expand our sisterhood not only to those who are our equals, but also to humanity as a whole. [...] Diversity is an asset we have to take advantage of in order for, say, post-modern women to identify with the struggles of indigenous women, cissexual women with the demands of transexual women, women entrepreneurs with working-class women, Catholic women who struggle to depatriarchalize their religion with Islamic feminist women, etc.

GV: What subjects related to gender equality in Latin America still need to be discussed? In what areas are we stagnating?

CH: I don't feel as though we're stagnating; I believe we're more alive then ever.

But from what I see on the Internet, as the number of collaborating organizations and collectives increases, so the feminist networks become more extensive, they're multiplying every day. I believe we're capitalizing on the potential these networks offer for sharing information and for creating solidarity teams and mutual support.

I think that within the feminisms we cannot fight only for equality between men and women, but we must also open up to the struggles of our trans and lesbian sisters, of our environmentalist or Islamic sisters, of our egalitarian partners, or to the struggles of pacifist groups, social movements, etc. We must embrace diversity to incorporate our struggle against any hierarchy or label that oppresses us, because in partial struggles we are minorities.

It's true that we have many ideological differences, but without a doubt we all want a world that is more balanced, more just, more equitable and peaceful. I believe that without solidarity, improving our reality will be slow and difficult; that's why I liked the “Somos el 99%” ["We are the 99%"] campaign so much, because it created a sense of unity against the privileged castes of the world, which represent only a very small group of people.

GV: What successes can we celebrate?

CH: This year we can celebrate, for example, the approval of marriage equality in several countries, but without losing sight of what is happening in Russia. We can celebrate the decriminalization of abortion in Uruguay and the zero death rate of women due to abortion in that country, but without forgetting that in countries like Spain, a woman's right to decide has been done away with in the face of the power of the most ultraconservative sectors of the Catholic church. We can celebrate the growth of male feminist groups who are working to eliminate the trafficking of sex slaves and femicide, and we can celebrate the existence of female leaders governing countries in Latin America, but without ceasing to object to the way in which they exercise power or whether their governance is truly contributing to the improvement of living conditions for women.

GV: And what victories remain for us to win?

CH: The main challenges we have before us continue to be the same: eliminating networks of sexual slavery, eliminating femicide and gender violence, promoting equality in the workplace for female wage-earners, supporting the fight of women to own the land they work on, and the fight all women share for the right to make decisions about our own bodies and our own lives, and to report and put and end to the homophobic and transphobic killings that are taking place on a daily basis across the continent….

To continue the dialog on these topics, we recommend Coral's conferences on the Sociocultural Construct of Desire and Eroticism [es] and her participation in the 5th Annual Feminist Meeting in Paraguay [es].

December 13 2013

Spanish Television Show Does Not Represent Reality of Expats in Santiago

Madrid native David Sigüenza [es] watched a recent episode [es] of Spanish program “Madrileños por el Mundo,” focusing on Chilean capital Santiago, “hoping to see a representation of the reality of this city, where many young Spanish people have found themselves living due to the crisis faced by our country.”

“Madrileños por el Mundo” shows the lives of Madrileños (people from Madrid) living in other countries. However, David says that the stories about life in Santiago portrayed by the program were unrepresentative of the reality of “the exiled Madrileños in Santiago.”

For example, the program included the story of a Spanish woman married to a lawyer; “Her life consisted of going to the golf club, then to the shops, afterwards to the gym and to look after her children – a typical day for anyone, right?” writes David.

The reality here is much more difficult than [this story], the reality is about people who earn a little more than 1000 Euros a month [a low salary earned by countless Spaniards] but who are better off here in Santiago than filling up unemployment lists in Spain. It's about people who fight to live with dignity and get ahead with the hope of one day returning to their country. It's about people who save month after month to be able to afford a plane ticket that will take them to see their loved ones who are more than 10,000 km and a month's wage away.

The complete entry can be found in his blog [es].

December 12 2013

Romantic Love vs. Gender Equality: An Interview with Coral Herrera

Coral

Coral Herrera

This post is part of our series on Gender and Sexuality in Latin America in collaboration with The North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA). Stay tuned for more articles. 

Reading Coral Herrera is like blowing a blast of fresh air and optimism into the struggle for the respect of diversity. Her blog  [es], her articles, her books [es] and her ideas go right to the heart of what is considered obvious and normal. Coral is mainly interested in gender equality, and in the effect of romantic imaginaries on the way men and women relate to each other and see themselves. 

Coral Herrera is also part of a new generation of activists who start with gender equality but refuse to stay there. Her writings analyse structural problems in Western societies, and identify the discomfort that has expanded in the intimate lives of men and women. The idea is to conduct a deconstructive and honest critique of the causes and consequences of concepts that are perpetuated, and the imaginaries that we defend without even knowing why.

Coral Herrera is a great enthusiast of new media, where she shares a large part of her work. But in addition to being a blogger, Coral has a PhD in Humanities and Audiovisual Communication. Born in Spain, she moved to Costa Rica a few years ago, and has worked as a teacher and consultant for UNESCO, the United Nations Latin American Institute for Crime Prevention and Treatment of Delinquents (ILANUD), and the Spanish International Development Agency (AECID), at the Paris-Sorbonne University and in Madrid’s Universidad Carlos III.

Her main specialisation is in gender and her point of departure, romantic love. Thus much of the work that Coral Herrera has published online is focused on the defence of diverse loves  [es], myths  [es] and the political and collective dimension of how we understand love. In Los mitos románticos  [es] (Romantic Myths), for example, she looks to the origins of the images that we have about love, and hits the nail directly on the head:

Through romantic love, inoculating foreign desires, patriarchy also controls our bodies in order to hetero-direct our eroticism, and make us assume the limits of femininity and dream about the arrival of The Saviour (Jesus, Prince Charming…) who will choose us as good wives and offer us the throne of marriage.

Regarding the cultural structures within which this phenomenon occurs, she explains:

In our Western culture, love is constrained, at least in the hegemonic cultural discourse. Homophobia is cultural, transphobia is cultural, racism and speciesism are cultural. Culture is where the fear of the other, of the different, grows; it is in culture where myths, goals, prohibitions, prejudices and social obligations are created.

The author also highlights the importance of the stories we tell ourselves. Part of Herrera’s work is to help us realise the ways in which certain imaginaries, ideals, and goals are passed down from generation to generation, through narratives that are also supported by dominant circles. However, according to many social movements, what is constructed in one direction can take another direction:

The logical thing should be to transform the stories and tell new ones, change the idealised models that have become obsolete, construct flesh-and-blood heroes and heroines, create new myths that help us construct societies that are more just, egalitarian, environmentalist, cultured, and pacifist. Direct our efforts towards the common good, work to propose other realities, fight to construct new ones, instead of fleeing from emotional paradises and individual promises of salvation.

The books are readily available on her blog, where Coral also shares her press articles and her YouTube channel, where you can see some of her conferences and academic talks. Her last book  Bodas diversas y amores queer  [es] (Diverse Weddings and Queer Loves) is “a book that lies halfway between an essay and a story, in which theoretical reflections are mixed with personal anecdotes, life stories and quite a few analyses of alternative romantic nuptial rituals.”

Why do people get married on such a massive scale? Why are there some people who only get married once, while others get married seven times? (…) Why does everyone ask about a baby but it’s frowned upon if the bride is pregnant? Why do we make romantic videos of our weddings and torture our relatives for months? Why do women invest so many resources in finding a partner? (…) Why can’t three people who love each other live together and get married? Why do we get excited when we are offered marriage? Why do we want this so much? Why do people endure conjugal hell for so many years? Why are there people who never get married? What are weddings like in other cultures? What comes after weddings?..

To offer a more thorough reflection on the struggle for gender equality on the internet, we will present Coral Herrera’s work in two parts. We will close this installment with the first part of an on-line discussion we had with Coral, in which we talked about the role of new media in the struggle for gender equality.

Global Voices: How can new media challenge old media regarding the construction of romantic myths? / How can new media fall into the same role as traditional media?

Coral Herrera: Traditional media is still stuck in traditional patterns and in a worldview that is completely patriarchal and capitalist, they still sell us hegemonic ideology in the form of entertainment. Advertising and mass culture transmit values that are totally selfish, individualistic, based on fear and on the permanent dissatisfaction of this age of consumption.

That’s why I think that the internet is one of the best things that has happened to us in recent years.

What is not so clear is whether we can live from this, because we have become accustomed to everything being free. I myself can’t support the people I read due to my precarious situation in Spain, first of all, and secondly, as an immigrant in Costa Rica, though I pay the phone company so that I can be connected and access content.

And although I think that we still haven’t found the way to earn an income (though there are some cases of people living from this), I think the crises we are facing are making us more conscious of what we consume, where it comes from, and under what conditions it was produced. The consumption of culture is now (and will be more and more) a political act, a demonstration of support for artists and thinkers who offer us stories in as many formats as possible.

The internet has been beneficial for culture in general because now we have access to choreographies, sculptures, films, news reports, video creations, songs, novels, essays, stories, short films, academic articles, photos… We as creators have more freedom to innovate and offer other models, other heroines, other situations, other forms of relating. I definitely believe we are breaking away from the old narrative structures that reduced us to simplified conflicts.

GV: What do these new technologies mean for the fight for gender equality?

CH: Thanks to the internet, we are all transmitting content. [This makes us] less vulnerable to the construction of reality to the one imposed on us, because we can refute their affirmations, because we can make visible all those things that are kept hidden so that everything can stay the way it is.

It’s true that we have to assume that privacy is non-existent, that we are being watched, our data is being sold, and we are being censored, but even so I think that we have to be online.

GV: What advantages do you see in the use of new technologies for conversations about gender (especially in Latin America)?

CH: Well I’m very optimistic. In spite of the digital divide that separates us, I think we are creating very important transnational networks of information and collective reflection. These networks allow us to support each other, to make problems visible, to gather signatures and have political impact, to organise actions in the real world that will have an echo in the virtual world. We can create synergies, lend each other ideas, copy models that work in other countries and adapt them to our local realities, we can teach each other, we can contribute to the construction of collective knowledge, and we can modify political agendas thanks to the echo that actions have in social media.

In the next part, which will be published next week, we will discuss with Coral the evolution of the fight for gender equality. In the meantime, we recommend having a look at the Haika editorial project [es], managed by the author, where much of her work can be downloaded.

December 09 2013

Spain: Public Safety Bill or Threat to Civil Rights?

GreenPeace desplegó una pancarta inmensa en el edificio España con el lema NO a la #LeyAntiProtesta.

GreenPeace spread out a huge banner on the España building with the slogan “NO to the #AntiProtestLaw”

Various groups were quick to organize demonstrations against Spain's Protection of Public Safety Bill [es] a few days after Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz presented the draft bill. A new version of the bill could restrict basic civil rights, particularly affecting activists both online and on the streets.

This law will replace the Corcuera Law, passed by Felipe González's socialist government in 1992, which at the time was already known as the “kick down the door law” because it allowed security forces to enter and search a home without obtaining prior approval from a judge. It was later declared unconstitutional. Now the governing People's Party intends to compliment this law, despite having voted against it in 1992.

Joan Coscubiela, a representative from the Iniciativa per Catalunya – Verds (ICV) and spokesperson for Izquierda Plural, quipped that new version could be called the “kick in democracy's teeth law” [es] because it aims to start a “brutal attack on civil rights,” while the Izquierda Unida (United Left) parliamentary group commented that “the People's Party is trying to put the country under a totalitarian system.” Izquierda Unida (IU) MEP Willy Meyer spoke out before the European Commission about the fact that passing it would come as a violation to the European Union's Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Although the government insists that the draft bill is just a draft [es], it appears to contain a series of measures against civil movements and any kind of dissent. It is expected that, due to societal pressure as well as that of other parliamentary groups and even judges, the draft will change in the coming days, before the final version is approved.

Many of those arrested during demonstrations (particularly since the economic crisis began) have not been convicted of criminal proceedings [es] because most of the judges hearing their cases have not found probable cause in police accusations. The new draft text considers the possibility of introducing offenses administratively. The 39 valid offenses will increase to 55, of which 21 are quite serious. The new law would involve “very serious” offenses (with fines between 30,001€ to 600,00€), “serious” offenses (between 1,001€ to 30,00€), and minor offenses (punishable by  100€ to 1,00€). These all fall well above penalties under the existing law.

Of all the new offenses included, the most problematic are:

  • It is against the law to participate in a demonstration before a state institution without sending prior notification to the relevant government office.
  • Those who call for demonstrations through the Internet, social networks, or another other means may also be penalized for having committed a very serious offense.
  • The circulation of riot images during demonstrations can also constitute a very serious offense, punishable by 600,000€.
  • Disobedience or resistance to authorities; refusing to identify oneself; and giving false or inaccurate information given to state security agents are all prohibited.
  • “Insulting, harassing, threatening, or coercing” members of the Security Forces will constitute a serious offense.
  • Circulating information on the Internet that is understood to be an attack on an individual's privacy or that of a person's family, or that contributes to disrupting an operation, will be punished equally with fines up to 600,000€.
  • Failure to provide a valid ID to the police upon request is prohibited.
  • Covering one's face with a hood, hat, or helmet will also result in a heavy fine and a serious offense if the subject is detained during a demonstration for violent behavior.
  • Violence against street furniture is prohibited.

Verbal offenses or insults, in written form or via advertising, against Spain, its Autonomous Communities, or its symbols or emblems, will be punished with imprisonment from seven to 12 months. (See hashtag #OfendeAEspaña (#OffendSpain) on Twitter as a response in protest of this new regulation.)

Amnesty International Spain has developed a campaign [es] and even a video denouncing the government's cuts to democracy:

Online action platform Avaaz has also launched a campaign [es] that has already collected over 100,000 signatures protesting the law.

As seen in this video, socialist parliament member Eduardo Madina says that if the bill passes, it will be appealed in the Constitutional Court. He even assures viewers that it will be repealed in the face of a possible change in the government in the next election. Meanwhile, the Interior Minister insults him and loses his temper:

One of the most active groups in the civil protests in Spain, the 15M, has seen a direct attack on the bill. Public reactions can be seen via hashtag #leyAnti15M (#Anti15Mbill).

GreenPeace also participated in the demonstration, which took place in Madrid two weeks ago, by hanging a large banner over the España building in Madrid with the slogan “NO to the #LeyAntiProtesta (#AntiProtestBill)”:

Concern remains that the commotion caused by the bill is diverting attention away from blatant cases of corruption [es] in the People's Party, where senior officials stand accused of violating the law, while others have already been jailed.

December 02 2013

Spain Regional Education Minister Steps in it with Translation Gaffe

Spain's Regional Minister of Education for the Balearic Islands, Joana Maria Camps (@joanamariacamps), has proven herself not very familiar with one of the most important studies on education: the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). In a parliamentary session on November 21, she talked [ca] for some minutes about some important study called “trepitja”, the Catalan translation for the Spanish word “pisa”, a conjugation of the verb meaning “to step”. The mistake, probably the result of her advisers using an automatic translator to translate her Spanish text into Catalan, shows she did not know very well what she was talking about.

A YouTube video offers the audio of Camps’ speech, which ended with the conclusion that a reform in the education system is needed. On Twitter, netizens used the hashtag #InformeTrepitja (Trepitja Report) to post outraged comments and jokes on the tragicomic scene.

Camps is the same minister that dealt with the massive teachers’ strike and protests that took place in the region in September and October 2013.

November 20 2013

Catalan Independence Debate Explained in 16 Languages

The debut video of The Catalan Project (@Catalan_Project) features Fernando de Castro, “a Catalan from Galicia and Spanish”, presenting the project and explaining why some Catalans want independence from Spain using the 16 languages he is able to speak. Subtitles are available in English, French, German, Spanish and Catalan.

The Catalan Project, an independent and non-profit association, provides an open online platform where “all citizens that work and/or live in Catalonia and that have ideas on how to create a better country” can discuss how a hypothetical independent Catalonia should be. Because “independence is not a goal, it is a starting point”. The project is collecting funds on the crowdfunding site Verkami.

The Accused of the Prestige Environmental Catastrophe in Spain Are Exonerated

Marea negra en una playa gallega. Foto de Wikimedia Commons con licencia CC by SA 3.0

Black slick at a Galician beach.  Photo from Wikimedia Commons used under license CC by SA 3.0

On the 13th of November 2002, the petrol tanker Prestige wrecked off the coast of Galicia, in northern Spain, causing a highly toxic oil spill to pollute Spanish and French coasts in what is considered one of the worst environmental disasters in seafaring history.

Eleven years later, after ten years of investigation and a nine month trial, the Galician High Court of Justice has acquitted the three defendants – ship's captain, Apostolos Mangouras, Chief Engineer, Nikolaos Argyropoulos, and ex-director of the Merchant Navy, José Luis López Sors – of all crimes against the environment. 

The catastrophe occurred when, due to unknown causes, one of the ship's oil tanks punctured close to the “Coast of Death.”  The ship's captain asked Spanish authorities for permission to dock, but was prohibited from bringing the tanker closer to the coastline for fear that the leakage would pollute the port.  He received the same response from Portuguese and French authorities.  The Prestige was forced to return to the high seas, with a cracked hull and in terrible weather conditions, which would later lead to its sinking and a serious environmental and economic catastrophe.

 

El petrolero Prestige a punto de hundirse tras partirse en dos. Foto del blog Ecología Verde con licencia CC by NC 3.0

The oil tanker, Prestige, about to sink after splitting in two.  Photo taken from the blog Ecología Verde and used under license CC by NC 3.0

According to the blog El ojo Sostenible [The Sustainable Eye, es],

  • La catástrofe del Prestige fue la mayor catástrofe de este tipo ocurrida en Europa y la segunda del mundo después de Exxon Valdez en Alaska.
  • 2.000 km de costa se vieron afectadas y entre 250.000 y 300.000 aves murieron.
  • El coste supuso más de 10.000 millones de euros.
  • The Prestige catastrophe was the largest of its kind in Europe and the second worldwide, following the Exxon Valdez in Alaska.
  • 2000 km of coastline were affected and between 250,000 and 300,000 seabirds killed.
  • Cleanup costs climbed to more than 10 billion Euros.

The sentence has reverberated nationally and internationally with publications suchas as Aljazeera [en], The Telegraph [en], The Times [en], BBC [en], The New York Times [en], Le Monde [fr] and Spiegel [de], among others, covering the topic.  In Spain, the court's decision has outraged citizens, who have expressed their frustration in social media networks.  In Twitter, “Prestige” has been a trending topic for several days.

 ”Prestige” case: From everyone to jail, to everyone free! Long live wine!

Han sido 10 años esperando la sentencia del Prestige. La Justicia es lenta, pero injusta.

Waiting 10 years for the Prestige sentence. Justice is slow, but unfair.

The Prestige committed suicide. 

Manel Fontdevila: No one found guilty in Prestige case.

Some tweets compared and contrasted the disparity between this sentence and others:

We're idiots in this country: A 200 Euro fine for a man eating a croissant while cycling, and nothing for the Prestige case.

Playing the #piano: noise contamination and seven years in prison. The #Prestige dumps 63,000 tons of oil and it isn't a crime #verguenzadejusticia [Disgraceful sentence]

No one guilty in the Prestige case; but for defending public education?  Four years jail #MarcaEspaña [indicate Spain] http://t.co/5XXxH4Q4Gn [es]

Iván Pandora, in his blog La Caja de Pandora [Pandora's Box, es] writes:

Un grupo de voluntarios trabaja, en la localidad de Muxía, en la limpieza del fuel vertido por el petrolero 'Prestige'. Foto de eldiario.es con licencia CC by SA

In the Muxía region, a group of volunteers works to clean up the oil dumped by the Prestige tanker.  Photo taken from eldiario.es and used under license CC by SA

Parece que el hecho de que ese barco (monocasco) – que según los expertos era muy anticuado y con medidas de seguridad más que precarias – tuviera permiso para navegar por las costas gallegas no es punible.

La controvertida decisión de alejar el barco y esparcir el fuel durante horas por toda la costa, tampoco.

La pésima gestión del gobierno y la lentitud por no decir inoperancia, parece que no merece ninguna disculpa oficial.

 

It seems the case is nonpunishable due to the that the fact that the ship – single-hulled and, according to experts, very old and equipped with more than precarious security measures – had permission to navigate through the Galician coastline.

Also nonpunishable, it seems, was the controversial decision to remove the tanker from the coastline, spreading oil throughout the area for hours.

The government's abominable management and slowness, if not uselessness, seem to be deserving of not a single official apology.

Blogger Juantxo López de Uralde laments that charges were never pressed against those principally responsible for the catastrophe:

Ya al juicio se llegó sin que ninguno de los responsables políticos reales de aquella tragedia se sentaran en el banquillo. (…) Pero no sólo nos llama la atención la falta de políticos, sino también hay que preguntarse cómo es posible que ninguno de los responsables del fuel, del flete, de las compañías propietarias del buque… se sentaran en el banquillo. Pero es muy doloroso que quede impune la negligencia criminal de aquellos que mandaron el barco “al quinto pino”.

The trial came to an end without a single person politically responsible for that tragedy sitting in the docks.  (…) Apart from the remarkable lack of politicians, we have to ask ourselves how it's possible that not one of those responsible for the fuel, the cargo, the shipping company…sat there in the docks.  But it's particularly painful that the criminal negligence of those who sent the tanker out to sea went unpunished.

The platform Nunca Máis has decided not to appeal the sentence and the region's fishermen's cooperative is considering the same, due to the very high legal fees involved [es].  According to El Confidencial [es], in this catastrophe, it's the taxpayers who lose out:

Voluntarios limpiando la playa de Carnota (La Coruña). Captura de pantalla del vídeo «Historias del Chapapote» con licencia CC by SA 3.0

Volunteers cleaning the beach at Carnota (La Coruña). Screen shot from the video «Historias del Chapapote» [Tar Stories] used by license CC by SA 3.0

La sentencia considera que los únicos tres procesados por el accidente no incurrieron en ningún delito, por lo que no se le puede exigir responsabilidad civil a nadie. La consecuencia más importante es que los seguros del armador no cubrirán los gastos que generaron las labores de regeneración de la costa. (…) La Fiscalía cifró en 4.328 millones de euros los gastos y los daños generados (…). Pero el dictamen anula cualquier reclamación económica.

The sentence considers the three defendants processed not guilty of charges, and for this reason, civil liability cannot be imposed upon anyone.  The most significant consequence is that the shipowner's insurance won't cover the costs incurred in the coastal cleanup.  (…)  The prosecutor quoted around 4.328 billion Euros in costs and damages (…).  But the ruling takes away any right to economic claims.

Costs could rise if French plans [es] to re-file the administrative review presented by the coastal protection trade union of Las Landas [French area affected by the spill] to the National High Court, days after the disaster, are successful.  Their lawyer, Renaud Lahitète says:

Lo presentamos al día siguiente de llegar fuel a nuestras costas por precaución, para poder actuar en caso de que se dictaminase que no había delito penal, como así lo dice ahora la sentencia.

We presented the review as a precaution the day after oil arrived on our shores, in order to be able to act in the case of no criminal offence being laid, just as the sentence now says.

Greenpeace Spain now considers the sentence to be “a white card allowing the petrol industry to put the environment, and citizens, at risk.”  The organization's campaign director, María José Caballero states [es]:

La sentencia demuestra que en España no estamos preparados para juzgar una catástrofe medioambiental, ni para condenarla, ni para defender el medio ambiente.

The sentence shows that in Spain we are not yet ready to try an environmental catastrophe [in the courts], neither to condemn it, nor to defend the environment.

In Muxía.

Reposted bycheg00 cheg00

November 12 2013

Spanish Archbishop Publishes Book that Orders Women to “Get Married and Be Submissive”

[Links lead to Spanish-language pages unless otherwise noted.]

Constanza Miriano interviene en el congreso «La figura del padre en las series televisivas», abril de 2013. Foto del usuario lafiguradelpadre Congreso, con licencia CC BY 2.0

Constanza Miriano takes part in a conference addressing “The depiction of fathers in TV series”, April 2013. Photo by lafiguradelpadre Congreso, under license to CC BY 2.0

Nuevo Inicio, the publishing house belonging to the Archbishop of Granada, Spain, has put out a new book entitled “Get married and be submissive”. The book, by the Italian author Constanza Miriano, is introduced on the publisher's website with these words:

…ahora es el momento de aprender la obediencia leal y generosa, la sumisión.

now is the time to learn faithful and generous obedience, to be submissive.

Constanza Miriano, journalist and married mother of four, first published the book in Italy in February 2011, where it sold 70 000 copies. On her blog, the author asserts:

el hombre debe encarnar la guía, la regla, la autoridad. La mujer debe salir de la lógica de la emancipación y abrazar con júbilo el rol de la hospitalidad y del servicio

men should embody guidance, rules, authority. Women should abandon the rhetoric of emancipation and joyfully embrace their role as attendants and caregivers. 

Constanza Miriano is inspired by the words of Saint Paul to the Ephesians, “Women, submit yourselves to your husbands.” In an interview published by Religión en Libertad, Miriano made the following statements:

San Pablo nos recuerda que a las mujeres nos gusta controlarlo todo, decir la última palabra, manipular por detrás. Ser sumisas significa, literalmente, estar por debajo para ser el apoyo de todos los miembros de la familia, para acompañar a los más débiles. Es una cualidad propiamente femenina, a pesar de lo que diga la revolución feminista.

Saint Paul reminds us that women like to control everything, have the last work, manipulate from behind. To be submissive means, literally, to be below in order to support all the members of the family, to accompany the weakest members. It is an intrinsically female quality, despite what the feminist revolution might say.

Although the book was published in Spain in July 2013, it came to the public's attention on 9 November when several news websites mentioned it. On Twitter, the words and phrases “Archbishop”, “submissive” and “get married” were trending topics throughout the day. Netizens harshly criticized the Archbishop's initiative with comments such as, ”it makes me cringe“, “It's not the 12th century, no, it's Spain in the 21st“ or “outdated and unpleasant.”

The Archbishop in tune with the times. Hoping 50 Shades of Grey isn't the only blockbuster  http://t.co/GlIQDea8Sn pic.twitter.com/9C0KNsI83r 
— Fran Martínez (@_FranciscoDavid) November 10, 2013

Tick off the box marked church so the Archbishop of Granada can publish a book that teaches women to be submissive http://t.co/zNteLmna14
— Guille #SiSePuede (@itoguille) November 9, 2013

Many tweets accused the Church of having anachronistic ideas:

“Get married and be submissive”?????? this church isn't moving ahead with life, it's being dragged along by it.
— Yolanda (@yolisanca) November 9, 2013

The Archbishop of Granada publishes a book that teaches women to be submissive!! Pathetic!! all that's missing is an owner's manual for a chastity belt!
— Arantxa Alvarez Muñi (@Aranzazucina) November 10, 2013

With news like this, I have to wonder what century we're in…
— Angelita (@AngSerr) November 10, 2013

Imagen subida a Twitter por El Caín con el comentario: «Mujer, ¡CÁSATE Y SÉ SUMISA! Misoginia subvencionada con dinero público»

[Bubble text: Get married and be submissive because the Lord said: I will multiply the suffering of your pregnancies; you will give birth in pain; you will yearn for your husband, and he will rule over you.] Image uploaded to Twitter by El Caín with the comment: “Woman, get married and be submissive! Misogyny subsidized by the public coffers.”

Others feel the book incites sexist violence: 

After, woman, learn to be submissive, comes “woman, let yourself be whipped”, no? And then the musical http://t.co/A0I5WceZG3 A real shame!
— Laura Cornejo (@lauracorama) November 10, 2013

And if he hits you, turn the other cheek, come on! The Archbishop of  #Granada publishes “Get married and be submissive  http://t.co/6NLQgbvj9Y via @andalucesdiario
— Chus Azor (@chusazor) 
November 10, 2013

Girl “Get married and be submissive.” And if he ever lays a hand on you, know that your lord and master is doing it for your own good. http://t.co/SuxXnJP6UJ
— Karloto (@KalkuMadrid) November 10, 2013

In fact, the Archbishop of Granada, Msgr Francisco Javier Martínez, who is also president of the publishing house Nuevo Inicio, is a controversial figure. In addition to being the first bishop found guilty of injury and harassment [en], he is famous for his comments against abortion, the LGBT community, and even the use of contraceptives. On 20 December 2009, the archbishop spoke these words in his homily:

El arzobispo de Granada en una imagen subida a Desmotivaciones.es por el usuario DelicateMotherFucker

The Archbishop of Granada in an image uploaded to Desmotivaciones.es by the user DelicateMotherFucker

Pero matar al niño indefenso, y que lo haga su propia madre, eso les da a los hombres, a los varones, la licencia absoluta, sin límites, de abusar del cuerpo de la mujer, porque la tragedia se la traga ella.

To kill a defenceless child, and that it should be done by its own mother, this gives men absolute license, without limits, to abuse the body of a woman, because she will have brought the tragedy upon herself.

In January of 2011, he talked about the Conquest of Granada by the Catholic Monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand:

…estuvo marcada por una extraordinaria humanidad y gestos de amor a las personas a las que se incorporaba a la comunidad de la Corona española. Y ese pensamiento español fue el antecedente de los derechos humanos (…)

It was marked by an extraordinary humanity and gestures of love to all those who joined the community of the Spanish Crown. And this Spanish enlightenment was the precursor of human rights (…)

In the online press, information about the book received innumerable comments that vacillated between sarcasm and indignation. Pajarraco Blanco said the following on 20minutos.es:

Me espero mejor al próximo libro: “Monaguillo se sumiso y complaciente”.

I'm looking forward to the next book even more: “Altar boy be submissive and obliging.”

Barraca wrote in El País:

¡Qué pena, esta genial obra llega tarde a España! En efecto, hace mes y medio se suicidaba una mujer de 24 años cuyo marido la había forzado a prostituirse desde los 16. No cabe duda de que los maravillosos consejos de la Sra Miriano para asumir su condición de esclava sexual habrían transformado el calvario del ultraje continuo en orgullo de hembra sumisa.

What a pity, this great book arrived late in Spain! In fact, it was just six weeks ago that a 24-year-old woman, whose husband forced her into prostitution from the age of 16, committed suicide. There is no doubt that the wonderful advice of Mrs. Miriano to accept her condition as a sexual slave would have transformed the torment of her continued humiliation into pride at being a submissive woman.

Arros left this note on ABC.es:

Sería divertido, o incluso serio, un libro sobre el clero sumiso.

It would be entertaining, or even fitting, to have a book about a submissive clergy.

Pytykli commented on Huffington Post:

Buenooooo, yo me voy a dejar el pelo largo, para que me puedan arrastrar hasta la cueva.

Gooood, I am going to leave my hair long so they can drag me back to the cave.

And in the same publication, Juanjo Montes expressed himself like this:

Lo que más me fastidia de todo ésto es que se editen estos vergonzantes libelos fascistas y discriminatorios con el dinero de los impuestos que reciben los curillas porque alguien marca la cruz en la casilla correspondiente de la declaración del IRPF. Como siempre digo, depende de nosotros.

What angers me the most in all of this is that these embarrassing fascist and discriminatory denigrations are published with money from the taxes that the clergy receives because someone ticked off the corresponding box on their IRPF declaration [income tax form]. As I always say, it's up to us.

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