Monday, 27 September 2010

Caso Malaya

We shall be reading lots about the 'Caso Malaya' - the Marbella property scams which brought down the government of that city (although not until Jesus Gil, the master-fraudster, was carefully out of the way) as the trial starts today, 27th September. The trial is for an impressive 95 people: mayors, town hall architects, personalities, lawyers, cops and so on and will no doubt keep us refreshed, amused and scandalised for months and years to come.
Big stuff, with hundreds of millions of euros sloshing around. So, don't be in any hurry for judicial investigations and revelations into the smaller towns, with more modest crimes of corruption, a few bob missing here and there...
From: The Entertainer Online

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Video Nasty

For the Reader's amusement (just when you thought you had seen it all)!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Desperate times

This letter is a follow-on from a report published here:

and is published with the permission of Alain:

I will write this email in English, because I even do not have the strenght to translate anymore into Spanish !
This morning I received a visit from the local Police here in Cartama, to take pictures of our house to send back to the judge to see if we have really demolished the house as per the demolition order that we received in January of this year.
The local police told me that he is just doing what is ordered and I fully understand that, but how come, two houses away from us, the sister of a local police has not even received a fine ?
My personal chapter in this story is coming to an end, or it seems like it and all of the fighting that we have been doing, seems like it is just a waste of time if we cannot ALL get together and fight harder.
I said over and over again in hundreds of meetings, that we have to stay together and be strong and they will have to give in to all of their corruption, but it never happened and a few of us tried very hard !!
I am sick of paying lawyers, gestors, town halls, fines, tax offices and all of the rest and it only seems like we are paying into a pot that is shared between all of the corrupt people that has our faith in their hands !!
My friends, as I said before and I will stress it again, this is WRONG and I will go to jail for it, if someone comes to tear our house down !!
Our house is 500 meters away from the new hospital in construction and it is on its fourth floor at the moment, so I guess that they need the land also to expand in the area and the only way to do it is this way.
Are we REALLY part of Europe and if so, is this really the dream of a European Union that is together and same laws for all citizens in each country and if so, do we not have the right to own a house?
We payed for our building licenses to the Cartama town hall, nine years ago, we are registered in the house, we have been paying taxes now for the last 7 years on the house and on the plot, my daughter was born here and goes to school here, we vote in Cartama, we own two companies and employ local people and pay taxes legally ....what else do they want ? Three years ago, I spend 12 weeks in hospital, due to stress and have still not recovered 100% and my mind is just messed up with all of this corruption that is around us.
I was proud to live here, work here and have friends here......... but all of this is just draining away and I have nowhere else to go, with everything invested here !
May God take care of my daughter and the lady of my life, if anything happens to me. but I really cannot just stand up and accept all of this corruption anymore, after all, I am JUST human with a heart and a soul.
This is NOT a life anymore and the sad thing about all of this is that I am NOT the only one that is living this nightmare !!

Regards to all !!



PRESS RELEASE - C.L.A.R.O. - Partido para Orihuela-Costa

13 SEPTEMBER, 2010



A decision by the voter registration office (Censo Electoral) in Madrid announced in the Official Bulletin on 7 September, 2010 will severely curtail voting registration possibilities for next year’s local elections for those European Union citizens (majority British) resident in Spain since before 2007. This is a serious setback for the No Vote No Voice integration campaign being enthusiastically promoted by civic groups and local media, with official support from the British Ambassador in Madrid and Consulates in Spain.

Contrary to the procedure followed in previous local (and European Parliament) elections, those EU residents on the municipal register (padron) before the last local elections in May, 2007 WILL NOT receive a voting application form by post which simply needs to be signed and returned postage paid to the Censo Electoral. Whatever their circumstances, whether they have health, mobility or transport problems and without being sure of their rights and the documentation needed, they will have to go personally to their local Town Hall to fill in a voting application form.

It is obvious that this restriction will affect the great majority of EU citizens who moved to Spain and took up residence in the boom years before the present crisis began in 2007. It is, therefore, a deliberate and targeted decision which will result in the number of EU citizens registered to vote being kept at the present very low levels. It will introduce discrimination between those who were registered on the padron after the 2007 local elections, who will receive the voting application form by post and those registered on the padron before 2007 who will not. It will also discriminate between EU citizens who have been resident in Spain since before 2007 and, for example, citizens of Norway and those of mainly Latin American countries who will be able to vote next year and who will soon receive their voting application forms by post. It will also widen the gap between voting registration facilities for the Spanish, who are automatically registered on the voters list when they register on the padron, and the non-Spanish, long term EU residents who are going to lose a very important facility to enable them to register to vote.

The stated reason for this restriction is to save money by limiting the number to whom the voting application form is sent by post. The justification used is that those on the padron before 2007 will previously have received voting application forms by post and if they have not registered to vote, they are not interested. This is a particularly harsh judgment. It flies in the face of incontrovertible evidence that in previous years, for various reasons and sometimes on a massive scale, voting application forms sent by post were not received and were returned undelivered by the post office to the Censo Electoral. The most striking example of this occurrence was in Orihuela Costa in Alicante where some 12,500 voting application forms (75% of those sent) were returned undelivered. (It is equally certain that many of the remaining 25% also failed to reach addressees but were not formally returned as undelivered.) The consequence of the present decision to curtail voting registration facilities will mean that those people who, for no fault of their own, failed to receive the voting application form for the 2007 local elections, will not receive it this time either. Instead of taking action to improve the efficiency of the voter application by post facility, the Censo electoral is going to eliminate hundreds of thousands of people from the facility altogether.

The argument that it is sufficient to have sent the voting application form in the past also ignores the right of long term EU residents to change their mind and decide to register to vote for next year’s elections if they have become more interested in and more integrated in the life of their local communities. They should be encouraged rather than discouraged to do so.

The decision of the Spanish government to restrict the facilities for voter registration for long term EU residents is a complete denial of the government’s proclaimed policy of promoting integration. The government has been notably lacking in its support for EU citizens who have been the victims of land and urban abuses in Spain. Now they are taking a deliberate backward step which will hinder integration. It is an incomprehensible decision at a time when, often because of corruption in local government, Spain’s reputation as a destination for residential tourism and a haven for the purchase of holiday homes is under severe criticism. Greater participation in the political process by EU expats living in Spain, who are so often the victims, would surely be an effective means of helping prevent the causes of urban abuses.

The justification of saving money is most unconvincing. Since the whole voter registration machinery of the Censo Electoral remains intact and will function for all but the long term EU residents, the only saving will be the postage. How can such a meagre saving be envisaged at the expense of the hundreds of thousands of EU residents who have contributed so much to the Spanish economy by their investment in property, payment of taxes and their daily consumption of Spanish goods and services?

The Spanish government is obliged by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, as well as European and Spanish law, to guarantee the right to vote of EU citizens resident in Spain in local and European Parliament elections “under the same conditions” as Spanish nationals. Now, the Spanish government is taking a deliberate and serious step away from this obligation.

It is hoped that this retrograde decision will be opposed by EU citizens resident in Spain and the hundreds of civic groups which they have created. They should protest by all means possible: in the media, local, national and international, with their Ambassadors in Madrid, the national Ombudsman (Defensor del Pueblo) and directly to the provincial office of the Censo Electoral (telephone number of the Alicante office 901 101 900) seeking information and, if possible an exemption from this harsh decision. The possibility of legal action is being urgently studied.

It is not too late to reverse this mean, unfair and damaging decision. If the Spanish government gets away with it this time, who knows what they will do in the future not only in relation to voting rights but perhaps padron rights more generally – a policy with disquieting implications called “limpieza del padron”, clearing up the padron, has already been started.

To reverse the decision will require an urgent, serious and determined effort on the part of many people. It is an effort worth making.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Spain's Property Laws Headed to Court

Posted by Kevin Brass

After years of complaints and political challenges, the European Union's

Court of Justice is scheduled to review Spain's notorious "land grab" laws

next week.

During the boom years, many regional governments in Spain adopted laws

allowing jurisdictions to annex land for new developments, in many cases

with little or no compensation. Many of the properties were owned by expats,

who bought in good faith, without knowing their property might be subject to


Next Thursday the court will focus on the laws in Valencia, where the land

grabs were considered most egregious. Several protest groups were spawned by

the Valencia policies, including Abusos Urbanisticos No, which works with

protesters around the country.

The court won't address the propriety of taking land, only its

appropriateness for funding public works projects. Specifically the court

will review Spain's failure to follow EU's law on the "coordination of

procedures for the award of public works contracts, public supply contracts

and public service contracts," according to the published agenda.

"The Commission considers that the LUV [Valencia's land law] infringes the

Community public procurement directives in various aspects," and that

Spain's government has "failed to fulfill" it's obligations under EU law.

Members of European Parliament have long condemned Spain's unwillingness to

address the regional government's laws. But the ability to take action

against Spain falls to the Court of Justice, which could levy heavy fines.

"This marks an important--almost final--step in a long process that we hope

and trust will seriously erode some of the more predatory aspects of the

land laws in this region," said Charles Svoboda, vice-president of the AUN,

in a statement.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

New rules on voter registration

Received from the AUN:

We have been forewarned of a serious restriction of voter registration procedures to be adopted for the 2011 municipal elections.

A Director General in the Censo Electoral in Madrid has told us that when arrangements are announced in the next few days for voter registration procedures for next year’s municipal elections, they will NOT include a procedure which featured in the voter registration procedures for the 2007 municipal elections and the 2009 European Parliament elections. Voting Application Forms will NOT be sent by post to all voting age, non-Spanish EU citizens registered on the municipal padron. Voting application forms will only be sent to those expats registered on the padron AFTER the May, 2007 local elections.

We consider this is a retrograde step which will greatly reduce the potential number of EU non-Spanish residents who could register to vote. Already the percentage of eligible expats who are registered to vote is very low, in Alicante on average, 10-12%. If 50% of those registered to vote actually vote, participation of non-Spanish EU residents would be so low as to be almost insignificant.

The stated reason for this measure is to save money. However, we believe the amounts involved will be minimal. If the Spanish government really wants to save money on voter registration for non-Spanish EU residents they should automatically include them on the voters list when they register on the padron, which is the procedure for Spanish nationals. This would more closely resemble the obligation in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union that EU citizens residing in another EU member state should have the right to vote under the same conditions as the nationals of that state.

The voting application form sent by post some 8 months before the elections to those eligible to register to vote is the most efficient and simple form of voter registration. The application form needs only to be completed and signed and returned postage paid direct to the provincial Censo Electoral. If these forms are not sent to those already on the padron before the last municipal elections in 2007, i.e. during the period when mass expat immigration took place, the great bulk of resident expats will not receive them. After May, 2007, with the onset of the crisis, it is likely that relatively few new residents will have registered on the municipal padron.

If the procedure for sending the voter application form by post is to be so severely curtailed, it will effectively leave as the only alternative, for the great majority of expats, to register in person at their Town Hall. For many people, for example those of retirement age, this will mean the hassle of a visit to the Town Hall, the uncertainty of documentation requirements and the prospect of language and communication difficulties. It will not facilitate high levels of voter registration. (In principle those registering on the padron should simultaneously be asked if they wish to register to vote: the fact that voter registration percentages are so low indicates that Town Halls are not doing their job and cannot be trusted in this politically sensitive area.)

We were told that those who were registered on the padron before 2007 will already have received voter application forms in the past and if they had not registered it was because they did not want to. This is a harsh judgement and does not allow for expats to change their minds, for example when they become more aware of the issues and want to influence local governance.

It is also a refusal to acknowledge the phenomenon of “devoluciones”, the return of voting application forms which Correos were not able to deliver. This happens on a large scale. Orihuela Costa is a prime victim. In the autumn of 2006 we were told that 12,500 voting application forms had been returned undelivered, nearly 75% of the total sent. The reason for this massive non-delivery of voting application forms is because Orihuela Costa did not have at the time an official address system. Street names and house numbers were those provided by developers and did not correspond to padron addresses to which the Censo Electoral sent voter application forms. Orihuela Town Hall had not even modified an out of date post code. Since 2008, after legal action and a Petition to the European Parliament, Orihuela Costa now has a physical address system which largely corresponds to padron addresses. The bombshell is that the 12,500 who were on the padron before May, 2007 will not receive voter application forms this time either.

The phenomenon of “devoluciones” is not unique to Orihuela Costa. In October-November, 2006, we saw with our own eyes in the Alicante office of the Censo Electoral trays full, literally thousands of returned undelivered voting application forms from elsewhere in Alicante province. We can only assume that similar address problems or postal unreliability were the explanation.

We know that your principal concern in AUN is with urban abuses but a great majority of these problems probably arise from corruption or bad governance by local Town Halls. More effective participation by expats in local government would be a way of controlling such abuses – politicians listen to voters. More effective participation begins with greatly increasing voter registration.

The latest decision, if confirmed, will not contribute to greater voter registration by expats. This consequence must be realised by the government – we have emphasised it with our contact in Madrid. He told us that there would be no announcement of this restriction, it would simply be observed in practice. However, the Censo Electoral would study the situation in the three weeks or so after the announcement, later this week, of the general arrangements. Implicitly, there would seem to be a possibility of a change of position depending on the reaction. However, by not announcing the restriction and perhaps not making it explicit in any published regulations, they are not facilitating any critical reaction!

We are so concerned by this retrograde measure that we plan to launch a media protest involving local, national and international media, letters to EU Ambassadors in Madrid, Ombudsmen and if there is a base, legal action and action with the European Parliament. We are also contemplating a demonstration in front of the office of the Censo Electoral in Alicante. This will involve a lot of activity in the next 3 weeks.