Abdication Of The King Of Spain.
Having taken the decision to abdicate last January but only announcing it this week, the King of Spain, Don Juan Carlos is stepping aside for his son Don Felipe to take the throne. The process will take several weeks and most commentators are of the opinion that it is a good move. The change will help maintain the constitutional monarchy system in Spain at a time when there are certain autonomous regions seeking more independence from Spain and when the economy is still in crisis. Ill health, certain public relation gaffs by the old king as well as a financial scandal involving his son in law and his daughter are not cited as the official reasons for this decision, but most commentators believe theses issues have helped the king decide to step down. He is the fourth King in the world to abdicate in the last two years so it could become a trendy thing to do for aging monarchs. Crown Prince Felipe is popular as he appears to be in touch with the modern world and also because he married a ‘normal’ person from the world of news and communications rather than some one of royal blood. Even so, in some media there are reports of calls for a referendum to see if Spain should return to a republic now the King has abdicated.
King Juan Carlos Abdicates
King Juan Carlos took the decision to abdicate on the day of his 76th birthday, January 5th. It was the day before what would be one of his lowest moments as king, when, at the annual Pascua Militar armed forces ceremony in Madrid’s Royal Palace, he looked tired and nervous, finding it difficult to read his short three-page speech. It was not the image he wanted to convey, and from that moment on, he resumed his trips abroad and increased his activity so as to make sure the day that he announced his decision, nobody would think that he had been forced to quit, but rather that it was a decision he had taken.
The king first spoke about his plans with his son Prince Felipe and his wife Queen Sofía, and afterwards to the current head of the Royal Household, Rafael Spottorno, and his two predecessors in that role. He commissioned a report from them on the political, legal and practical aspects of his abdication, and once it was ready, he spoke to the government.
He told Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of his plans on March 31st. That was the day of the funeral of his friend Adolfo Suaréz, Spain’s first prime minister following the Franco dictatorship, and with whom the king paved the way for a successful transition to democracy. In his abdication speech on Monday, the king championed the legacy of that process, and “the exciting national task of allowing citizens to choose their legitimate representatives,” thus turning Spain into a “modern democracy.”
He told opposition Socialist Party leader Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, with whom he has always kept in contact, three days afterwards. And from then on he started working on his abdication with a small group of representatives from the Zarzuela royal palace and the government, including Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría. From January 5th onward, all efforts were focused on the plan.
He was determined, but it wasn’t easy. At 11am on Monday morning, half-an-hour after Spaniards found out that the king was to abdicate, he sat down in front of a camera to explain to why. But Juan Carlos was overcome with emotion, according to Zarzuela sources. The recording had to be interrupted several times as the king’s voice faltered as he read. The text was one of the few speeches of the very many he has given in his life that had not been written for him by the government. It was his most personal speech, his farewell speech: “Spain will always be in my heart,” he said. Prince Felipe, just back from a visit to El Salvador, was with him in the office that will soon be his. Felipe VI will, however, go on living in his current house, with Juan Carlos staying in the main Zarzuela Palace.
Juan Carlos, who wants to be remembered as “the king for all Spaniards,” spent Monday afternoon calling a number of officials, from Spain’s regional premiers and labour unions to European Royal Households. “There’s never been as much interest around here like there is today, eh?!” he joked with the swarm of journalists tracking his every move on Monday.
Felipe VI will be crowned the new king of Spain sometime after June 16, and the ceremony will take place inside Congress, as befits a parliamentary monarchy.
Although Juan Carlos I has sat on the throne for nearly four decades, Spain still lacks a law regulating the procedure to be followed for a royal succession.
That is why the government now needs to pass fast-track legislation covering every aspect of the handover.
The executive is scheduled to approve a draft law on Tuesday and send it to Congress, which will debate it a week from today. An absolute majority is required for the bill to pass and move to the Senate that same week for final approval.
King Juan Carlos is abdicating from the Spanish throne at a time when the popularity of the monarchy is at its lowest ebb, according to a number of polls. The last official survey from the Centre for Sociological Research (CIS), which was carried out a month ago, gave the crown an average approval rating of just 3.72 out of 10. This was a slight improvement on the last study, from 2013, which was down to 3.68. Scandals such as the alleged tax fraud and embezzlement of the king’s son-in-law, Iñaki Urdangarin, as well as the public outrage over a hunting trip Juan Carlos took to Botswana, have all had a negative impact.
Thousands of people came out across Spain on Monday evening to demand the abolition of the monarchy and a republican system of government.
Protesters also called for a referendum so that the people can decide what form of state leadership they want.
The demonstrations were a result of King Juan Carlos’ televised address at 1pm, in which he informed Spaniards of his decision to abdicate the Spanish throne in favour of his son Felipe.
In a matter of hours, the social networks had managed to rally thousands of people in many of Spain’s main cities, including Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Valencia, Alicante, A Coruña and Vigo.
The capital registered the largest rally by far, with some 20,000 people filling Sol Square according to police calculations. Around 5,000 marchers came out in Barcelona.
The Madrid demonstration was quickly organized by leftist parties and associations, including Podemos, a brand new political party that became the fourth-most-vote force in Spain at the recent European elections.
Spain’s old republican flag, dating from the period before General Francisco Franco’s dictatorship, featured prominently in Madrid and elsewhere, as did references to the Spanish Communist Party and other leftist groups. Several United Left leaders were in Sol, as was the head of the green party Equo, Juan López de Uralde.
Hilario Montereo, a 68-year-old retiree, was one of the first protesters in Sol. “I am here to proclaim the Third Republic. A monarchy in the 21st century is an anachronism,” he said.
“I am here because what happened today, the abdication of King Juan Carlos, is a historical event,” added a young woman. “I am in favor of the referendum, although rather than oppose the monarchy, what I really oppose are our leaders. I know it sounds strange, but that’s the way it is.”
A large police contingent cordoned off Congress and the Royal Palace to prevent marchers from congregating there. The protest was peaceful, although analysts note that it was technically illegal, as government authorities need to be informed ahead of time when street marches are going to take place.
In Barcelona, around 5,000 people came out to Plaza de Catalunya, where the “estelada,” a striped flag with a lone star used by supporters of Catalan independence, was being waved along with the Spanish republican flag, with its three stripes in yellow, red and mulberry.
In Seville, between 2,000 and 5,000 people chanted slogans such as: “Felipe, step on the gas, the third [republic] is coming.”
In Galicia, protesters in Vigo cried out “Next eviction, La Zarzuela,” in reference to the royal residence.
Legal Situation Unclear.
The disco/club Plan Be located in the Ca Na Palava area was emptied and then closed by the local police from Santa Eulalia after lots of complaints were received when a party was taking place. Initially the police went to seal the music equipment to stop the party but when they realised that the gathering was unauthorised they closed the event and the club. It appears there is a dispute between the owners of Plan Be and the Town Hall in Santa Eulalia who claim the premises only have a license to open as a restaurant not a club. This is reportedly the third year running that there have been problems between Plan Be and the authorities.
Electricity Company Blamed.
After completing work on installing underground cables in the village of Jesus, the local electricity supply company is under fire from the opposition councillors in the village. They claim that the roads used as alternatives when the main through fares were being dug up for the cable laying have suffered from the unusually high volume of heavy traffic and that they need urgent repair. Repairs that the opposition is urging the PP Conservative run Town Hall to make the electricity company pay for!
Cyclist Badly Injured By Hit and Run Driver.
A 23 year old lady cyclist was badly injured when she was knocked off her cycle by a car in the early hours of the morning on the Es Canar to Santa Eulalia road. The woman was rushed to hospital for treatment but the car which hit her failed to stop and give assistance. A police search started for the vehicle and the driver later detained.
Old Cinema Rumoured To Become A 5 Star Hotel.
It is rumoured that a prestigious firm of architects from Barcelona had a meeting with the planners in Ibiza Town this week with the view of making the Cine Serra cinema in the centre of the town into a 5 Star urban hotel. This big historic building is listed so the conversion to a hotel could be problematic and there are serious practical issues to sort out, such as parking facilities for guests, if this project is to ever go ahead and be presented officially to the authorities for planning permission.
The first floor of a house located between Sant Carles village and Aïgues Blanques beach was destroyed by fire this week and the ground floor was also affected before the emergency services could control the blaze. Starting at around 5pm, first on the scene were the police who used a garden hose to tackle the blaze until the fire service arrived with more fire fighting equipment. There were no injuries caused by the fire, just material damage.
Ferry Fares Unfair!
The PIMEF local business association claims that Ibiza and Formentera are not being treated fairly with regard to ferry prices. The most economic fare for two people with a car this summer between Ibiza and Palma costs 109,6€ for the 129,64km crossing (0,85€/km). However, it costs only 105€ for the longer 187,05km between Palma and Menorca (0,56€/km). Worst still is the cost of travelling the 20,37km between Ibiza and Formentera. This costs 92,9€ which is nearly 4,56€/km even with residents discount and 5,76€/km without.
Tragic Balcony Accident.
A 56 year old German woman fell to her death from a fourth floor balcony in Santa Eulalia this week. It appears that the woman was stood on a chair outside on the balcony cleaning the windows of a flat she was preparing for visitors to stay when she fell. The initial police hypothesis is that the woman possibly lost her balance when she accidentally sprayed cleaning agent in her own face.
Stop Smoking Success.
Since opening in 2002 the anti smoking section of Can Misses Hospital has treated nine hundred patients. Each has been seen seven times in a year of treatment and seven hundred have managed to give up! If you want treatment, it is a two-and-half month wait to be seen once your local GP defers you to the unit.
English Pensioner Found Dead.
An 82 year old British resident in the Sant Agustì area of the island died this week when it is assumed that she lost control of the Jeep she was driving along a dirt track on a hill side. A neighbour in the area alerted that something was wrong after hearing dogs barking. These dogs were thought to have escaped from the woman’s car when she crashed. The Emergency services were called and started a search eventually finding the car badly damaged after having overturned many times whilst rolling down the hill side. Reportedly, the accident could have happened anytime between 12 and 24 hours prior to finding the car.
Better Employment Figures.
With the summer tourist season kicking in it is hardly surprising that the figures for unemployment have dropped on the islands. Throughout the Baleares there are 8,287 less persons unemployed this May when compared to May 2013.
Sound Checks On Party Boats.
The Town Hall in Ibiza Town are going to carry out sound metre readings in areas of the town that suffer from the noise generated by Party Boats out to sea. If the levels are above the legal limit then action will be taken. This announcement comes on the heals of reports in the media that neighbours in the Figueretes area of the town were very annoyed last week because of the noise generated by a party on a boat carrying on until the early hours of the morning. Just as the police arrived at 1,20am to carryout a sound metre reading, the music stopped.
Car Sales Increase.
As a positive sign that there is more confidence in the local economy, it is nice to report that new car sales rose in the period from January to May 2014 when compared to the same period last year. The increase was 8,41% which equates to nearly 12,000 new vehicles sold.
Historic Well Flattened.
A land owner in the Sant Josep area flattened a historic well and associated structures during earth moving work on the property this week. Known as the Pou de Can Pere Arabí and dating from the 1700s, the destruction of the well brought an outcry from locals who traditionally have used such well sites for socio-cultural gatherings. Apparently, the well and associated structures were only catalogued but not historically protected. The Town Hall has suggested that the landowner did not have the necessary permissions for the earth movements and they will be investigating the case further. Even so, it does look like the well will not be restored.
Bouncers Fail Entrance.
In recent exams to obtain a security guard license to work in Ibiza, six out of every ten of the two hundred and seventy would be legal security guards who took the tests and were classified as not appropriate to work as doormen. Twenty-four candidates were disqualified for not presenting the correct documents and one hundred and thirty-five failed the test. These hopefuls can re-sit in October but cannot work as security this summer. Several complained that the test was very detailed and difficult asking questions that do not really relate to the day to day work of security guards.
Oil Prospection 9 Kilometres Off Shore.
The Energy and Industry Minister of the Spanish Central Government, José Manuel Soria, made it clear to the media that, if the exploration for oil and gas in the Baleares goes ahead, it will be permitted to within 9 kilometres from the shore line and not 50 kilometres as is the case in the Canary Islands. Soria suggested that a lot of the opposition to the oil prospections was political in nature rather than environmental as it was claimed to be.
Tagomago Beach Club A Step Closer
The island of Tagomago measures just 1,5km long, it is private property belonging to the famous couple, Matthias Kühn and Norma Duval but it is also a naturally protected area and is home to the Sea Falcon and a local bird in threat of extinction called a Pardela Balear. Often an escape hide out for stars and the location for very chic marriage ceremonies, at present it is reported that the couple charge between 100,000€ and 250,000€ for a week to the rich and famous to stay at the only house on the island.
Now it appears that the property management company, owned by Matthias Kühn and Norma Duval, has plans to change the small beach bar on the island into a VIP Beach Club. They are seeking permission to make the bar bigger, install five yatch anchorage points and a floating platform measuring 45m2 for unloading provisions for the island, another of 60m2 platform next to the Kiosk to use as a solarium plus the installation of thirteen tables and seventy-eight chairs along with two toilets. This week these plans got the go ahead from the Xarxa Natura which is a sub committee of the Environmental Ministry of the Balearic Government. This Xarxa Natura approval will now go before the Environmental Ministry for final ratification of their sub committees decision.
It was reported that, to get this tentative yes from the Xarxa Natura, Matthias Kühn and Norma Duval have already had to plant over one hundred new trees on the island, replant an area they extracted hard core from when reforming the villa, reduce the network of tracks on the island, get rid of species not naturally found on the island such as cats and remove a seventy metre long wooden walkway because it was affecting birds nesting.
Whilst the yes of the Xarxa Natura sub committee is an important step forward to realise the plans of the property management company, this project was met by dismay by the local environmentalist groups who fear for the wild life and natural environment if the island is exposed to more human activity. The GEN environmentalist group is threatening legal action against the decision and it is also reported that the Consell Island Government is against this beach club project. The Consell are passing a motion calling for the island to be more environmentally protected and classified as a fully fledged Nature Reserve.
Tagomago island is in the borough of Santa Eulalia and the Town Hall reportedly carried out an inspection of the island on the 19th May, well before the yes decision by the Xarxa Natura sub committee. This report apparently detected that there were already six anchorage points installed and also that toilets were operating and seemingly discharging waste water into the sea. CCTV was found to have been set up incorrectly pointing towards areas that are the public right of way on the island and there was a sign saying No Right Of Way as well as rubbish and remnants from building work stacked by the existing jetty. All this information and more has been presented to the public prosecutor who is already studying reports about the legality of the building work which was carried out on the house on the island some time ago.
Storm Hits Formentera!
Arresting fourteen people and dismantling two drug making labs, the police operation, code named Storm, was carried out with great success simultaneously in Formentera and in the town of Alcabón near Toledo. A total of fifty grams of cocaine, fifty grams of heroin, over nine hundred grams of MDMA (methamphetamine), ten grams of hashish, drug cutting and supply equipment as well as 19.000€ was confiscated in the raid. The investigation started in January after police became suspicious of 2 men, who had drug dealing connections in Toledo, and were detected hanging around with local drug users in Formentera. From detective work, it appears that the sister of one of these men and her husband organised the Formentera operation for these men from Toledo. The gang used cleaning staff at rental villas to help them hide the drugs in various properties around Formentera before the merchandise was sold on the island or on the mainland.
More Coke Heading To Ibiza.
Two Italian men aged 24 and 35 were detained at Madrid airport after arriving from Rio de Janiero carrying over eleven kilos of cocaine bound for Ibiza. Attracting the attention of the airport security, when searched, the men had the drugs hidden in various packets in the false linings of their four suitcases.
Police Sting Street Sellers
The Local Police and the Guardia Civil from San Antonio have reported twenty-four people in two different police devices that have taken place since Thursday. The first one took place on Thursday 29th of May in the area of S’Arenal beach, eighteen people where reported for street selling and another four where reported for drug possession and consumption in public areas.
The second police device took place at Cala Saladeta beach where two people where reported for street selling. They were selling salads, mojitos, soft-drinks and even packets of cigarettes. These police stings are part of the cooperation plan between police departments that the San Antonio Town Hall has been working on for the last couple of years.
Godfather of Ecstacy Dies
Alexander ‘Sasha’ Shulgin , the man who can claim to have put more E into EDM than electronic, died on Tuesday June 3rd 2014 aged 88. Shulgin is credited with the synthesis of Ecstasy, the drug of choice for a generation that went hand in hand with the emergence of the electronic dance music culture from the earliest days of the warehouse and rave scene in the 80’s.
A Facebook post by his wife and research partner, Ann, read:-
“Dear Friends, Sasha died today, at exactly 5 o’clock in the afternoon. He was surrounded by family and caretakers and Buddhist meditation music, and his going was graceful, with almost no struggle at all. Thanks to all of you, and Blessings, Ann Shulgin”
Shulgin began his study of organic chemistry at Harvard University in his teens and, after a stint in the US Navy during World War Two, returned to Berkeley to get his PhD in biochemistry at the University of California.
In his early working career, he joined Dow Chemical Company and, while there, developed the world’s first biodegradable pesticide.
But it was while he was pursuing his own research that he began experimenting with psychoactive compounds.
He tested out his new creations on himself, inviting small groups of friends to join him in the tasting sessions.
During the swinging ’60s, he says he made and tested hundreds of concoctions.
In 1965, he parted company with Dow, but continued his studies and began teaching classes at local universities.
Nearly a decade later, he came across a compound closely related to what we now call ecstasy or MDMA.
MDMA had been previously synthesised and patented in 1912 by the pharmaceutical company Merck, but was never fully explored within humans.
Shulgin decided to start human trials – again, starting with himself.
Once he had fine-tuned his recipe, he introduced the chemical to a psychologist from Oakland called Leo Zeff.
And Zeff introduced Shulgin to a lay therapist called Ann, who later became Shulgin’s wife.
Zeff used small doses of the substance in his practice as an aid to talk therapy, and introduced it to hundreds of psychologists across the nation.
Ecstasy was seen as public enemy number 1 in the 1990s, held responsible for the death of young people including Leah Betts in 1995. Prof David Nutt, professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London and a former government adviser, said today that fewer young people might have died from recreational drug toxicity if society had “listened and learned from Shulgin rather than tried to suppress his knowledge and ideas”.