Saturday, May 30, 2015

Canary Islands celebrate

Today is Dia de Canarias, the Canary Islands' celebration of all things that make the Canaries so unique and different from their Spanish colonial masters. 
There are many events taken place in virtually all towns and villages this weekend, so make sure to  enquire locally for further information, but probably you couldn't miss the main festivities anyway.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Civil rights cut in Spain

Mural spotted in Vueltas on La Gomera last winter
Spanish Congress Approves Draconian Laws

Recently three laws widely criticized by the opposition and human rights groups were approved in Spanish Congress. The Penal Code, the new Anti-Terror Law and the Law on Citizen Safety. The three new texts challenge freedom of expression in the streets and on the Internet. All three laws are scheduled to go into effect July 1, 2015.

Law on Citizen Safety (Gag Law)

“The gag law is revenge against social movements that emerged after 15M” – Patricia Martin, Avaaz

Under the new Citizen Safety Law or Ley Mordaza (Gag Law) as human rights defenders have renamed it, public protests, freedoms of speech and the press and documenting police abuses will become crimes punishable by heavy fines and/or jail. Some key points on the Ley Mordaza:

Photographing or recording police – 600 to 30.000€ fine.
Peaceful disobedience to authority – 600 to 30.000€ fine.
Occupying banks as means of protest – 600 to 30.000€ fine.
Not formalizing a protest – 600 to 30.000€ fine.
For carrying out assemblies or meetings in public spaces – 100 to 600€ fine.
For impeding or stopping an eviction – 600 to 30.000€ fine.
For presence at an occupied space (not only social centers but also houses occupied by evicted families) – 100 to 600€ fine.
Police black lists for protesters, activists, and alternative press have been legalized.
Meeting or gathering in front of Congress – 600 to 30.000€ fine.
Appealing the fines in court requires the payment of judicial costs, whose amount depends on the fine.
It allows random identity checks, allowing for racial profiling of immigrants and minorities.
Police can now carry out raids at their discretion, without the need for “order” to have been disrupted.
External bodily searches are also now allowed at police discretion.

The government can prohibit any protest at will, if it feels “order” will be disrupted.
Any ill-defined “critical infrastructure” is now considered a forbidden zone for public gatherings if it might affect their functioning.
There are also fines for people who climb buildings and monuments without permission. (This has been a common method of protest from organizations like Greenpeace.)
The Gag Law will also affect internet freedoms as tweets calling for demonstrations or protests may be subject to penalties and fines for organizers. While an individual user may not be considered “an organizer” it could also be construed to include anyone who disseminates a call to protest through any media, including social media.

“This is the worst cut of rights and freedoms since the Franco regime,” – Virginia Pérez Alonso, PDLI

Above article was posted recently by Queenie on queeniesdailysnippets

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Landslide victory for new party

Casimiro Curbelo (image:
The new party of Casimiro Curbelo, the long-time president of La Gomera's government, has won just over 50% of the votes cast in the local elections 2015. Curbelo had started the new party called ASG, which stands for 'Gomera Socialist Group', after he failed to be selected as the candidate by the PSOE (Span. equivalent to the Labour Party) of which he had been a staunch supporter and member for many years. The formation of the new political entity proved very divisive and many of his former party colleagues switched allegiances and joined the new party. Labour gained only three seats in the election while the new ASG won ten seats and a very comfortable absolute majority in the cabildo, the island's governing body, which has 17 seats.
Curbelo has weathered many a political storm unscathed and was involved in many controversies which he all survived, but not many had expected him to do that well in last Sunday's poll. His position now is stronger than ever and his ASG party not only has control over the island's government, but won many seats in all the municipal elections on La Gomera, as well as winning three of the four seats La Gomera has in the Canarian central parliament and as there was no clear winner there the ASG's support may even be needed to form the new Canarian government.
Many commentators have called last Sunday's landslide win by the ASG ''Curbelo's revenge''. In a press conference yesterday he himself stated that '' a new political period inspired by consensus, dialogue and citizens' participation has begun on La Gomera''.
Below are the detailed results of Sunday's poll, which had a very respectable turnout of nearly 77% :

Monday, May 25, 2015

The results: Canary Islands local elections 2015

Click above to enlarge (Source: Gobierno de Canarias)
Above are the results of the elections to the Canary Islands parliament (2015 poll on left, 2011 results on the right). The outcome means that no party will be able to form a government on its own and soundings to produce a coalition government have already begun. 
The biggest loser in Sunday's poll were Spanish prime minister Rajoy's Partido Popular and the biggest winners were the Podemos movement who didn't even exist when voters went to cast their votes in the last local elections. They did well all across Spain and now won 15% of the votes in the Canaries. Also new in the Canary Islands' parliament is the party of long-time Gomeran president Casimiro Curbelo, who after failing to win a nomination from his former PSOE party, quickly founded a new one called ASG (Gomera Socialist Group) and won 3 of the 4 seats that will represent La Gomera in the Canarian parliament, and these three seats his former PSOE would have needed now.
More about the ASG and their landslide victory in La Gomera soon...

Local election results for Valle Gran Rey 2015

All votes for the local government of Valle Gran Rey have now been counted and as you can see from the results below there was a major shift in voting patterns, but none of the elected parties will have a majority and forming a new local government will not be easy. 

More election results soon !

Votes counted:100 %
 Total of Councillors elected:11
Turnout:214068.39 %
Abstentions:98931.61 %
Spoiled votes:442.06 %
 Blank votes:140.67 %
VOTes per party iN VALLE GRAN REY
PartyCouncillorsVotes           % 
CCa-PNC (Can. Moderate Nationalist Pact)460929.06 %
ASG (New Party of former PSOE member and Gomera President C. Curbelo)348423.09 %
PSOE (Span. Labour Party)240419.27 %
SSP (New party literally 'Yes We Can')234116.27 %
PP (Party of present Spanish Government/Rajoy,
Won 4 seats in last Local elections)
01416.73 %
('New Canaries')
01034.91 %
Above adapted from El Pais original in Spanish

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Local elections 2015

Today voters are asked to cast their votes in the local and council elections in Spain and the Canary Islands. Politics in mainland Spain have changed a lot and politics in the Canary Islands even more so. However,  the political upheaval on La Gomera in recent times was   an especially thorny issue full of surprises and it couldn't have been more complicated.
The 'political landscape' has changed completely on the island and this blog was at times lost for words and at other times wise enough to shut up. The times in between we filled with issues that avoided the party-political debate and the biased news, just to stay sane and independent.
Local politics are all too complicated on La Gomera to explain even in a 300-page book and by the time this would be published it would be ages out of date - such is the rate of political turmoil on the island. Suffice to say that there are several new and 'ex-old' political entities and sub-parties standing for election, changes of affiliation, new formations, parties that don't see themselves as parties, local political veterans re-inventing themselves and others not wanting to run for office again. Add to that all the fantastic promises and the exposure of newly-found, long existing problems - mostly denounced without proposing a solution. Just gimme your vote now !
Today those who have any opinion at all - and that includes a lot of people from abroad who are resident and have registered their vote - can and should have their say and influence in what promises to be a landmark election with a greater variety of contenders than ever before in Spanish local and colonial history. 
Count me out, as I'm not a permanent resident anymore !
However, I'm keeping a close eye on the results on La Gomera and will post the outcome in detail here once reliably available...

Monday, May 18, 2015

La Gomera - the energy...

I  found above short promotional video on YouTube recently. It shows off some of the many contrasting landscapes of the island.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Fire alert

With the arrival of summery weather conditions and the dry season in the Canary Islands the risk of fire has increased and precautionary measures have now been taken to prevent blazes. As in most summers on La Gomera, the public barbecue areas have now been closed and all open fire is illegal since yesterday. Cigarette ends must be carefully quenched and camping is prohibited except on designated sites and all waste materials like bottles, plastics and paper must be properly disposed of in bins. Even the use of chainsaws and welding equipment is not allowed in and near forested areas. 
All these measures came into force yesterday and apply for the whole summer season. Please be vigilant and report any sightings of fire or smoke immediately by phoning 112.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Be aware of the UV index

The UV index will be extremely high with a value of 11 today and for the coming days, so avoid being in the sun for too long and use adequate skin protection against the sun's harmful UV radiation.
As the summer weather is usually too boring in the Canary Islands to write up daily weather 'news' I have substituted that with the current sea water temperature ('surface' is at up to two metres depth) and the current UV index.
The sea also plays a part in the UV radiation because it will amplify it by reflection. Be aware that if you're anywhere near or on the water that the average given in the UV index can actually be much higher where the sea reflects it.
When the day's predicted UV Index is at a given value, the relevant recommendations for protection are as follows in the chart from Wikipedia:
UV IndexMedia graphic colorRisk of harm from unprotected sun exposure, for the average adultRecommended protection
0–2.9Green"Low"Wear sunglasses on bright days; use sunscreen if there is snow on the ground or reflection from water surfaces which reflect UV radiation, or if you have particularly fair skin.
3–5.9Yellow"Moderate"Take precautions, such as covering up, if you will be outside. Stay in shade near midday when the sun is strongest.
6–7.9Orange"High"Cover the body with sun protective clothing, use SPF 30+ sunscreen, wear a hat, reduce time in the sun within three hours of solar noon, and wear sunglasses. (Australian slogan: Slip-Slop-Slap-Seek-Slide.)
8–10.9Red"Very high"Wear SPF 30+ sunscreen, a shirt, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat. Do not stay in the sun for too long.
11+Violet"Extreme"Take all precautions: Wear SPF 30+ sunscreen, a long-sleeved shirt and trousers, sunglasses, and a very broad hat. Avoid the sun within three hours of solar noon.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Research vessel open to visitors

The oceanographic research vessel Angeles Alvarino (above, image: which is the most modern of the fleet of the Instituto Español de Oceanografía will visit the port of San Sebastian de La Gomera and and will be open to the public on Sunday, May 3rd 2015.
From 10am to 12:30pm and again from 4:30 to 7pm  every ten minutes groups of up to 12 visitors will be invited to come aboard to view the vessel and its scientific equipment. Crew and scientists will explain their work and the facilities.
The ship was recently employed in investigating the new submarine volcano and the biodiversity around it, just off the coast of El Hierro island and visitors can view the latest images and findings from there.