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Live News From Spain As It Happens

Keep up to date with all the latest news from Spain as it happens. The blog will be updated constantly throughout the day bringing you all the latest stories as they break.

Three Spanish restaurants in world's top 25 ranking
19 October 2017

THREE of Spain's restaurants have made it into TripAdvisor's top 25 in the world – and one of them is in the top five, according to the list released last night (Wednesday).

Based upon ratings, recommendations and votes from tourists and local customers, the travel information site ranks eateries across the planet every year, and Spain usually has at least two somewhere near the top.

This time, the number one spot has gone to The Black Swan in Oldstead, UK – a country which also takes number two with the French-style Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, in Great Milton.

'Real' French cuisine comes in third and fourth, with Maison Lameloise in Chagny and L'Auberge de l'Îlle respectively.

At number five, and ranked the best restaurant in Spain, is the eponymous eatery owned by Basque masterchef Martín Berasategui (first picture), based in Lasarte.

As well as being a work of delicate fine art on a plate, a meal at Berasategui's restaurant provides, according to one of the top reviews, 'the best combinations of flavours ever experienced'.

“The meal was culinary poetry,” the recommendation states.



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Theresa May: UK 'would not recognise Catalunya's independence'
18 October 2017

BRITISH prime minister Theresa May says the UK 'would not recogise' a declaration of independence on the part of Catalunya.

In a conversation with her Spanish counterpart, Mariano Rajoy this week, the Conservative leader stressed that the referendum 'had no legal basis' and that 'any unilateral declaration of independence would be inconsistent with legality'.

“Great Britain would not recognise Catalunya as an independent nation,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.

Mrs May has her own professional interest in not supporting any secession bid by Spain's north-eastern region, given that Scotland has already held a referendum on independence and has threatened to stage another now that its main reason for voting to remain in the UK in the initial poll was the knowledge that it would cease to be a member of the European Union.

This week, Mrs May has been discussing her Brexit plans with French president Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and according to Downing Street, also talked about these negotiations with Rajoy.



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Basque residents urged to push for EU intervention in Catalunya
18 October 2017

A BASQUE political party is urging the region's residents to join the 'Support Catalunya' campaign by writing to European heads of State.

Eusko Alkartasuna says the campaign, set up by the Catalunya National Assembly – whose leader Jordi Sànchez has, controversially, been remanded in custody without bail – and the Alianza Libre Europea, aims to get the other 27 EU member States to push Spanish president Mariano Rajoy into accepting 'international arbitration' over the situation in Catalunya.

“The political scenario in Catalunya not only affects the development of the right to decide, but also hits at the roots of democracy in the State of Spain and in the EU,” says Eusko Alkartasuna.

“Given the response that Basque society has given to the attacks against the people of Catalunya, its institutions and representatives, we are urging residents to get involved in the campaign aimed at making top political leaders in the EU fully aware of the reality in Catalunya.”



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Galicia fires spread to Asturias: 27 alight in neighbouring region
17 October 2017

GALICIA'S multiple infernos have jumped over the eastern border into the region of Asturias, and of the 35 forest fires burning there yesterday (Monday) morning, 27 continue to be active.

Emergency workers in the Principality of Asturias have managed to extinguish eight wildfires so far, and have reduced from seven to three the number of 'priority' sites.

The most urgent in Asturias now are the blazes in the Fondos de Vega area of Degaña, the Seroiro area of Ibias – both of which are close to the Muniellos Biosphere Reserve – and in the Corondeño area of Allande.

Improvements in the situation mean over 50 residents evacuated in the early hours of Monday in Larón, La Viliella and Gillón in the Cangas del Narcea district have been able to return to their homes, and the AS-15 regional highway has reopened.

The regional government has declared a pre-emergency for air pollution in the city of Gijón, and schools have been out since yesterday, although expected to return today (Tuesday).

Read motre at

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Puigdemont's deadline for 'clarifying intentions' passes
17 October 2017

CATALUNYA regional president Carles Puigdemont has ignored the central government's ultimatum and has not clarified whether or not his speech following the banned referendum was, in fact, a declaration of independence.

President of Spain, Mariano Rajoy, said Puigdemont had until Monday this week to say whether or not independence had been declared and, if this was the case, until this coming Thursday to retract his statement.

If neither happens, by Friday this week, the State will invoke Article 155 of the Constitution and withdraw all powers from Catalunya's autonomous government, placing it under national rule.

Article 155 has never been triggered before in this history of the Constitution, which was signed in December 1978.



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Rajoy confirms Galicia fires 'deliberately started'
16 October 2017

SPANISH president Mariano Rajoy has confirmed that the devastating infernos currently destroying Galicia were started deliberately.

They were ignited in at least 200 places and, although some are under control, between 30 and 80 fires have been burning at any one time since Wednesday, with 14 of them posing an extreme danger to the population.

Some have joined up with the northern end of Portugal's 300 fires and have even jumped the river Miño for the first time in known history, the water course that separates Galicia from the neighbouring country to the south.

Four people have died – two women, thought to be pensioners, trapped on the road in their van by flames in Nigrán (Pontevedra province) as they tried to drive away from the danger area, plus two men on separate occasions attempting to put out flames near their property.

Rajoy has given instructions to the Guardia Civil and National Police to 'multiply their efforts' to catch the culprits, saying: “This is no coincidence.”

Regional president of Galicia, also on the PP – like Rajoy – Alberto Núñez Feijoo, has come under fire from residents for having slashed forestry brigadiers' jobs recently, meaning resources are more scarce than usual.

But Feijoo insists the emergency response team is up to the job.



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Residential property sales up 16% in August
16 October 2017

HOME sales and purchases went up by 16% in August based upon the previous year's figures, following four months of consecutive decline, according to Spain's National Institute of Statistics (INE).

That month, 82.1% of the total of 41,282 residential properties which changed owners were second-hand, with the rest being new builds.

Over the course of 2017, from January to August inclusive, property buying and selling rose by 14%, largely helped by bumper sales in the last of these eight months which saw a hike of 6% on July.

August 2017's year-on-year rise was not quite as buoyant as that of July – where the difference in sales compared with the same month in 2016 was 16.8% - but was still the third-best result since February 2011, with more homes shifted than ever and only beaten in number by May and June 2011 when each month saw over 44,000 properties shift hands.

Second-hand home sales in August represented a rise of 14.9% year-on-year, whilst new-build sales increased by 21.3%, totalling 7,396.

The highest number of homes purchased was seen in the Valencia region, with 163 bought per 100,000 inhabitants, and followed closely by the Balearic Islands' 152 and Andalucía's 125.



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Hurricane Ophelia to hit Galicia
13 October 2017

HURRICANE Ophelia will bring gale-force winds and choppy seas to Spain's far north-western region of Galicia in the early hours of this Monday morning.

The tropical storm reached the Portuguese islands of the Azores at 23.00 on Wednesday and began to drift north-east, but will bypass the Canary Islands by several hundred kilometres.

It will remain some distance from mainland Galicia, around 500 kilometres away, but enough to cause high winds and tidal surges in the region somewhere between late Sunday night and early Monday morning, says the regional meteorological agency, MeteoGalicia.

By 18.00 on Monday, Hurricane Ophelia will have left Spain, skirting France by a very wide margin and cross the Republic of Ireland, settling over Northern Ireland and gradually heading across Scotland and the far north-west of England.

It will then burn itself out before reaching Scandinavia.

According to MeteoGalicia spokeswoman María Souto, gale-force winds are a worst-case scenario, but at the very least Hurricane Ophelia will cause temperatures to drop sharply over Sunday night and Monday morning in the region – except in the east of the provinces of Lugo and Ourense – after an unseasonably warm weekend forecast for Spain as a whole with the mercury soaring to around 30ºC.



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European pet protection and animal welfare law passed in Spain
13 October 2017

A EUROPEAN directive on animal protection will finally enter Spanish law and come into force in February – 30 years after it was passed.

Among other requisites, the new law will ban docking or removing tails, cutting ears and de-clawing unless they are for purely medical reasons, meaning these practices for aesthetic means, to stop cats ruining furniture or to make hunting hounds more aggressive by slicing their ears off will now be outlawed.

Anyone who attempts to carry out any of these operations on their domestic animals will be refused by the vet.

The law was due to go live in Spain 10 years ago, but the right-wing PP – then in opposition – blocked it by pushing for an amendment allowing de-clawing, tail-removal and ear-cutting to still be allowed.

This amendment was instantly rejected by the then socialist (PSOE) government, and the impasse was never resolved.

Now with the reigning PP government in a minority, it has been overruled on the 'cosmetic surgery' aspect.

In fact, other than sterilisation, no other surgery may be carried out on domestic animals except for therapeutic means.

The law, which will come into force in Spain on February 1, 2018 – having been approved in Strasbourg on November 13, 1987 – will also require authorities to actively promote dogs and cats being sterilised, a practice that remains shrouded in urban myth in Spain.

Many pet-owners still believe neutering or spaying their cats and dogs makes them 'fat and lazy', although medically, there is no evidence that doing so makes any difference to animals' body weight or behaviour; in fact, those who sterilise their pets in an attempt to calm them down are usually disappointed.



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Catalunya could lose its autonomy in seven days
13 October 2017

CATALUNYA president Carles Puigdemont has just four days left to clarify to the Spanish government whether or not his 'simulation of independence' but with 'delayed effects' speech means he has unilaterally declared the region's secession.

National president Mariano Rajoy criticised Puigdemont for 'causing confusion' for the people of Spain and Catalunya by his somewhat cryptic discourse.

The uncertainty created means businesses are opting to shift their head offices out of the region and to other parts of Spain as a precaution, with well over 30 corporate giants having already moved and more planning on doing so.

Rajoy says if Puigdemont has, in fact, declared independence, and clarifies that this is the case, he will then have three days to withdraw his declaration.

If he does not do so, Spain will invoke Article 155 of the national Constitution, which means withdrawing all self-governing powers from the region and putting under the direct rule of the national government, including finances, law, public services and the justice system.

Opposition members in Spain's government have urged Rajoy not to trigger Article 155, but instead to agree to talks and to amend the Constitution.



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