Archive for the ‘Spain’ Category

Madrid’s City Hall and the man on the Moon: Tales from a socialist mindset

Saturday, July 25th, 2015

Taking time out from Latin American news stories to look at a news item that illustrates one more instance of government overreach:

Edificio España is a 25-floor, 384′ high building that took 5 years to build, and at the time of its inauguration in 1953 was Europe’s tallest hotel, office and apartment building. If you are in Madrid, you can’t miss it.

It has been vacant since 2007.

Last year the Chinese real estate conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group bought it for €265 million from Banco Santander, who had paid constructor Metrovacesa €389 million. Under the deal,

the city allowed the proprietor to tear down part of the 25-story structure but stipulated that the façade and side wings should remain intact.

Dalian Wanda proposes tearing down the whole thing, and rebuilding

the façade to make it look exactly the same again, using similar materials that comply with modern building standards.

But noooo! (emphasis added)

The request was not well received in Madrid City Hall, now in thehands of a leftist bloc named Ahora Madrid after a quarter century of conservative rule by the Popular Party.
. . .

Local government sources have told EL PAÍS that the department of city planning will instruct Dalian Wanda to maintain as much of the main body of the building as necessary to prop up the façade, which may not be demolished in any case.

The company, which is chaired by Wang Jianlin, China’s richest man according to Forbes magazine, says that “the consolidation of the façade is not viable under safe conditions. There are no prior references or similar experiences relating to maintaining a structure of similar height and dimensions, which additionally lacks bearing capacity.

To which City Hall found a former head of the Madrid Professional Association of Architects and a university professor who teaches structure calculus, who compared tearing down the building while preserving the façade with putting a man on the Moon,

But if we’ve been to the Moon, there’s almost nothing that is technically impossible.

Last time I looked, Spain didn’t send anyone to the Moon, but you can be sure any foreign investors thinking of doing business in Madrid (with an unemployment rate of 17.53 % in 2014) will be looking elsewhere.

In the meantime, Dalian Wanda is left holding the bag.

Up next: The King’s Spanish

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

All this, and grammar, too.

King Felipe of Spain is visiting Mexico, with a new proposal:
The only Spanish language proficiency certificate for the whole planetSpain’s King Felipe presents new test for determining students’ levels, wherever they are

Of course I couldn’t resist the snark opportunity, and my first reaction was, Who died and made you king of the world?, which is not only snarky but also obnoxious, considering Felipe is king since Juan Carlos had to abdicate following allegations of corruption and a dead elephant.

The fact remains, however, that

There are 550 million Spanish speakers in the world, yet no international examination to certify proficiency in the language exists.

So I’m with Felipe and his Mrs., who

presided the presentation of Siele – the International Service for Evaluation of the Spanish Language.
. . .
The new certificate will be available on five continents, but the greatest effort will be focused, until 2018 at least, on three countries: Brazil, with 120 test centers, the United States with 100, and China with 60. More than 15 million people are currently studying Spanish in those three countries alone.

The Instituto Cervantes has more on SICELE (not Siele) here.

Siele? SICELE? We’ll find out soon enough.

The government wants to protect you from ham

Friday, June 19th, 2015

The government wants to protect you from ham, and not just from any old ham, but from the gold standard of celestial hammy exquisiteness.

Read my article here.

While Customs and Immigration protect us from ham, here are a few Drudge headlines,

Venezuela: Keeping the money in Andorra wasn’t such a good idea

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015


Yes, Andorra, the money laundering center.

The story is like something out of Chavistas en el imperio, only that the money was stashed in Europe and not the U.S.:
Andorra: CEO of bank accused by US of money laundering is arrested, will appear in court

The Treasury Department said BPA managers helped launder money, including $2 billion allegedly siphoned from the Venezuelan state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA.

It also said one unnamed high-level BPA manager accepted “exorbitant commissions” to develop shell companies that helped launder the Venezuelan company’s money.

How Russian, Chinese gangs use a tiny European state to wash ‘dirty’ cash

Cervantes’s grave found

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

I rarely post about the Old Country, but here we go,

Mystery tomb belonging to ‘Don Quixote’ author Cervantes found in Madrid

The remains were found at the Convent for the Nuns of the Holy Trinity; authorities are discussing ways to grant public access without disturbing the nuns (link in Spanish).

En español: El Rey Juan Carlos en la Unidad de Quemados

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

@DrNetas le saca los trapitos al sol,

En español: “Libres como dioses: una reflexión libertaria sobre las comedias griegas”

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Conferencia de María Blanco, “Libres como dioses: una reflexión libertaria sobre las comedias griegas”

Yesterday’s podcast, and a 10th anniversary

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Yesterday I had the pleasure and the honor of being in Silvio Canto’s podcast with Miguel Portillo-Cuadra talking about Elections in El Salvador plus other US-Latin America issues.

Updating, the ARENA party requests that the election results be annulled (link in Spanish).

Yesterday was also Fausta’s Blog’s 10th birthday, which I celebrated at the podcast. I had initially started blogging on local issues but over time turned to what really interests me, Latin American politics.

March 11th was also the 10th anniversary of the Atocha train station bombing in Madrid. Barcepundit has a list of all the people who died.

¿Cómo se dice “chutzpah” en castellano?*

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Elderly woman who botched religious fresco demands royalties
The elderly Spanish woman who ruined a religious fresco with her botched restoration is now demanding royalties from her work after it became an unlikely tourist attraction.

Give it time: the Whitney will have her as guest artist.

* How do you say “chutzpah” in Castilian Spanish?

Spain: Go elsewhere, young man (and woman)!

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

As the country hopes for a huge bailout, Spanish newspaper El País has an article in Spanish inciting Spaniards of all ages to legally look for work anywhere in the world, since Spain’s unemployment rate is a mind-boggling 25%.

By “anywhere in the world”, I really mean anywhere, including Communist China. The only continent they don’t mention is Africa.

¿Hora de hacer las maletas? Un repaso a las oportunidades que hay fuera
El mercado laboral no levanta cabeza y emigrar es una salida cada vez más habitual.
Europa es el primer destino recomendado a los profesionales españoles.
Le siguen América Latina y EE UU. China ofrece oportunidades para los más arriesgados.

Time to pack your bags? A review of opportunities abroad.

  • The labor market is not recovering, and emigration is the most frequent alternative.
  • Europe is the preferred option for Spaniards.
  • Latin America and USA follow. China has opportunities for the most daring.

English-speakers in engineering, tech, and health-related professions are in demand. The article says that recruiters from Norway, Austria, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, United Kingdom, France and Switzerland are hiring Spaniards. Singapore, Israel are also hiring. The Latin American countries are ranked by most-restrictive (Brazil and Chile) to least restrictive. The only country they do not recommend is India.

They have a world map showing the local unemployment rates, and jobs in demand.

This is terrible in two ways: Spain had briefly recovered from the centuries-long diaspora of its best and brightest, most of which were not schooled but found education and opportunity in other lands (as my grandparents did). Now the brain drain is striking twice as hard, with Spanish engineers looking for work elsewhere, even unemployment among engineers is “only” 8%.

The article goes on to compare entrance restrictions among countries, and advises anyone contemplating China to look in medium-sized cities, settle for much lower pay, and, if you are going to live there while job hunting, to give yourself six months to learn the local language and have 4,000-5,000€ to live on.

It ends by saying,

Now all you need to do is to gather your courage and pack your bags. These countries offer a better job future than Spain. Without a doubt.

Back to the future, again.