14 January 2022: Covid = ‘flu now?; Spanish politics x 4; Bloody cookies; And an odd disparity.

Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable
Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’

Cosas de España/Galiza

Spain’s world-leading ’flu approach’ to Covid

The Xunta of Galicia has suggested that Galician(Galego/Gallego) become an official language in the next door region of Asturias. The Asturias have responded with a polite FO. Hardly surprising. Maybe the Xunta wants to convert them into would-be Celts.

Spanish Politics 1: A nice article from the estimable Guy Hedgecoe

Spanish Politics 2: Reverberations around an alleged bulo (hoax/lie/fake news)

Spanish Politics 3: How life has changed for the worse in nationalist Cataluña. Part 1.

Spanish Politics 4: Lenox Napier cited a very long article on the bulos of the truly appalling Vox party – like the UK’s BNP but far worse – and I’ve filleted it to give you the version below. This took quite some time and effort, so I hope one or two readers will peruse at least the headings.

The UK

As I’ve long predicted – at least to myself – The Times says that the post-Covid revolution in society ain’t going to happen. Things will return to the status quo ante.

The Way of the World

I’ve taken to checking those bloody irritating pop-ups about cookies, to try to stop spam mails/circulars/offers/updates getting past Google’s filters. Yesterday, for one company I was given 27 boxes to tick or not . . .

Finally . . .

See any difference?

Well, one costs €8.95 in a supermarket, the other €20.05 in our only urban petrol/gas station. Where, even worse, they also charge €1.50 for a Mars bar that sells for €0.70 in town.

This blog can be seen on Twitter and on the Facebook group page – Thoughts from Galicia.  

If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here


The lies that Vox has tried to make you believe in 2021

Vox and the extreme right in general, use as one of their essential weapons the dissemination of lies and fake news, creating an alternative vision of reality that serves to support their narrative. These liees reinforce the areas of their political ideology, either supporting their thesis or attacking rival ideologies and movements: immigration, LGBT people, feminism, left-wing people, etc. They are also often supported by certain conspiracy theories or, at least, based more on beliefs than on objective data and arguments. We present a compilation of the liees in which Vox and its politicians have actively participated, either by launching or spreading them, and what is the reality about which they have lied, throughout the year 2021.

Attacks on rival politicians and ideologies. One of the first categories where Vox is prodigal in launching liees is in attacking its political and ideological rivals. In this area, almost all of its liees are aimed at left-wing parties. Particularly prominent among these are those that form part of the government: the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and United We Can (UP). Of course, the harassment does not stop at the administrations or parties. If there is one thing that distinguishes the far right, it is the personal attack, directly targeting politicians and activists for any of their traits even if it has nothing to do with their political work.

1. Podemos’s own-attack on its Cartagena headquarters: In April of this year, an explosive device attack on the Podemos Cartagena headquarters was recorded by a security camera inside the building. The recording was broadcast on social networks and, subsequently, on television channels. Podemos denounced that this attack had not been isolated, but that it was a representation of social polarisation and an attack by the extreme right within the usual amalgam of offences such as threats, insults, lies, etc. For their part, a large part of the right-wing media and especially the extreme right launched liees on this issue. The various members of Vox in networks and also Popular Party officials  former Ciudadanos officials were quick to cast doubt on the attack or even directly described it as a self-assassination attack. This reading was also made by many media outlets close to the extreme right, subtly defending the hypothesis of a self-assassination or directly defending it as a set-up. For this, all kinds of arguments were used, such as the fact that in the moment before and after the explosion of the device there was a change of colour in the footage, or that the objects suddenly disappeared from the table. In the end all these accusations and conspiracy theories turned out to be liees, as the culprit of the attack on the Podemos headquarters in Cartagena was arrested at the beginning of this month. Before that, moreover, Podemos personalities and also various users of social networks had given explanations to counter the arguments about this alleged set-up. The alleged attacker is a young neo-Nazi resident near the aforementioned headquarters. To this day, a large part of the extreme right continues to maintain that these threats and this attack were theatrical.

2. The egovernment  promised “Before the summer, 70% of the population will be vaccinated”.  It is a lie: no one in the Spanish Government or Pedro Sánchez himself set a target of 70% of the Spanish population vaccinated before the summer. The lie, despite practically denying itself, had a huge explosion in practically all the opposition’s networks.  

3. An ultra-leftist kicks a Civil Guardsman: A video of a young man kicking a plainclothes Guardia Civil went viral at the beginning of the last week of April. Soon, the extreme right used it against the left, accusing the young man of being an ultra-leftist. Santiago Abascal himself, leader of Vox, published this accusation on Twitter on 22 April, branding the aggressor as Pablo Iglesias’ attack dog. So, that the young man is an ultra-leftist was a lie. Although the tweet that Abascal quoted has already been deleted, the leader of the far-right party has not deleted his own publication, which has more than 2,000 retweets and more than 5,000 likes.

4. The Louis Vuitton of Irene Montero:  On 20 October, social networks were ablaze with the alleged message that Irene Montero was carrying a €2,114 handbag from Louis Vuitton. But this is a lie. The bag in question belongs to Carmen Calvo. the former vice-president of the PSOE government. However, this served the extreme right to give a dramatic twist to the matter. When the obviousness became clear after having been TT, they continued to use the hastag but to attack Carmen Calvo:

5. The highest unemployment in history:  “It’s very curious that the unions don’t take to the streets, isn’t it? When we have the highest youth unemployment rate in history and the unemployment rate, if we also count the people who are in ERTE, the highest number of unemployed in the history of Spain”. There is not a single truth in this sentence. The youth unemployment rate, which includes young people under 25 and over 15, showed how the highest unemployment rate was during the legislature of Mariano Rajoy, reaching 57% in the first quarter of 2013. Since then, the youth unemployment rate has remained high, not falling below 31% in the 4th quarter of 2019 in the last decade. Moreover, it was a lie to include people in ERTE in the unemployment rate: these people are paying contributions and keep their jobs.

6. Immigration: Possibly the area where Vox launches or supports the most lies is immigration, blaming migrants and foreigners in every possible way. Vox painst a narrative in which these people are violent, criminal or even socially privileged. With this, Vox hopes to generate social alarm and gain popular support for its measures against migrants (but also against foreigners living in Spain, even if they have Spanish nationality). This fight against immigration tends to focus on immigration from Africa and the Middle East, as these people do not share cultural ties with Vox’s idea of Christian Europe and Catholic Spain. Moreover, its alliance with the ultra-Catholic sect El Yunque gives it a special relationship with Latin America, supporting Latin American immigration, especially from Cuba and Venezuela. Some of these liees correspond to the special on the most viral far-right immigration liees of 2021. Vox launched a tweet on its official Twitter account denouncing the fact that immigrants from the Maghreb make up 0.2% of the population but account for 93% of crime complaints.  In fact, official data indicates precisely the opposite, which can be easily corroborated in the sources of the National Statistics Institute (INE). The reality is that according to INE data from 2019 (the last year for which data was available at the time), 75% of those convicted were of Spanish nationality. The second block with the highest number of convicted persons is intra-Community foreigners. In the case of minors, 77% belong to Spanish minors and 23% to foreign minors. Moreover, according to data from the Mossos d’Esquadra, Catalonia’s autonomous police force, the nationalities with the highest number of arrests are Spanish (41%), followed by Moroccan (16%) and Pakistani (7%).

7. Last night in my city (Seville) a nursing home burned down. An 89 year old woman died, 81 were hospitalised and 5 are in critical condition. The hundreds of old people who have been left homeless have been sent to a sports centre. They’re not immigrants they deserved a hotel. “If ILLEGAL immigrants are housed in 4 star hotels by the Spanish state, why do they house the 68 elderly survivors of the fire in their residence in a sports centre?: The reality is that Vox lied or withheld information, as the photographs of the residents in the sports centre did not correspond to any kind of residence for the elderly, but were used for the receptive triage before going to the residences.

8. Schools are being closed to accommodate migrants: A lie which, although it did not have much traction, generated a great deal of interaction, taking advantage of  existing discontent in the Canaries, with the arrival of migrants on the coast.

9. Carmen, the poor old woman whose house was taken away from her by a Moroccan carer: At the end of August, a news story made the rounds of the main television channels and newspapers, causing great social indignation. An 89-year-old woman, had been left without a home because it had been squatted by a Moroccan immigrant carer, Loubna. A lie The squatter was in fact a Moroccan student of Hispanic Philology who teleworks for a multinational and had rented one of the 2 rooms in the flat for 400 euros. The flat in question was not owned by the old woman. She enjoyed an old fixed rent of €121.5 euros, always under the condition of not subletting.  

10. Fewer unaccompanied foreigners: Unaccompanied foreign minors are a constant victim of attacks from the extreme right, trying to blame them for aggressions and trying to make people believe that they receive extraordinary help and derogatorily calling them “menas” (from the acronym Menores Extranjeros No Acompañados). Attempts are made to portray these young people as dangerous, criminal people, when in reality we are talking about children and adolescents who arrive in Spain without resources and without a support network. Moreover, the extreme right tries to blame them for almost every criminal act that occurs and to amplify their numbers, as if they were everywhere causing chaos. The reality is that in the Community of Madrid there are only 269 MENA out of a community with 6.6m inhabitants. An insignificant number and incapable of tackling major social problems. The reality is that there is no benefit that foreign minors under guardianship can receive, as the centres where they live take care of their basic expenses. Once they reach the age of majority, they are eligible for different benefits, as are all those who have been minors under guardianship, regardless of their origin. This benefit of 664 euros requires an Individualised Work Plan and further training. Its aim is to enable  young person to become emancipated and continue studying, which would be difficult if he/she had to take a full-time job, possibly making it impossible for him/her to continue studying and condemning him/her to work eternally in low-skilled jobs. So this is yet another lie  

11. Aggressions: Drawing migrants as aggressors or rapists is also a common tactic within the far right, blaming them for attacks, crimes of violence and similar crimes that sometimes have not even taken place. “The 7 illegal immigrants who beat up and stabbed a Valencian in Ceuta”:  An atmosphere of discord was sown in the city and a demonstration for the security of Ceuta was called a few days after the attack by the “Asociación Ceutí de Estudiantes”, a mysterious organisation with no presence in social networks that pointed to migrants as the culprits of the event and of insecurity in Ceuta in general. The reality is that shortly after the attack, on the 28th, the police issued a press release stating that two people had already been arrested, both local residents. Now the investigation is closed, and all those involved in the attack were Spanish and residents of Ceuta.  

12.   Latin gang records “faggot” on the ass of a gay boy in Malasaña: On 5 September, a young man reported a terrible aggression, where 8 hooded men had attacked him in a doorway and had written the word “maricón” on his buttocks, as well as leaving him with other wounds and having suffered insults and other humiliations. Without proof of what had happened, various far-right media outlets accounts reported that the attackers were a gang of immigrants, presumably a Latin gang. Only a few days after the statement, police pressure on the investigation caused the young man to collapse: the attack had been invented and had apparently been the result of prostitution. All of the information put out by the extreme right about an alleged Latino gang was false and lacked any evidence about it, being fabricated information to deflect any other possible information in the midst of an evident growth of aggressions towards LGTB people.

13. The murder of a sacristan by a Moroccan man: On 26 February, Francisco Zúñiga, sacristan of the Consolation parish, was murdered by a beggar. The police confirmed the Romanian nationality of the perpetrator of the crime.

14. Conspiracy:  Vox constantly uses post-truth, attempting to draw a narrative far removed from reality and based purely on emotions and what its voters want to hear. This narrative is usually never supported by data. But that does not make it any less effective for their electorate, polarising them into believing that any attempt to disprove it is false and manipulated. In this scenario, conspiracy theories are easy to spread and intermingle with far-right ideology, serving to sell their reactionary ideology.

15. The ‘Trumpist’ lie: the postal vote is rigged: In the US elections of November 2020, one of the slogans of the then president of the country, Donald Trump, was to announce that the postal vote was rigged. Or, rather, that it was going to be manipulated. With the early call for elections in the Community of Madrid, the Trumpist theory was used with force by the extreme right and its related personalities. These personalitieswere warning of the possible fraud of the postal vote. Meanwhile, in different conspiracy and/or extreme right-wing groups and Telegram channels, the lie of this possible fraud began to spread. The reality is that nothing has changed in postal voting. In Spain’s general elections, the right has governed on multiple occasions with postal voting being a valid system in all of them, so nothing should be different this time. The same in the different regional elections, such as Andalusia or Madrid, where the right wing obtained a majority, with good results for the extreme right. There has been no change in the postal voting regulations that now makes it more insecure. And, in fact, the government in the Community of Madrid was in the hands of the PP and Vox. This is just a strategy of the extreme right to be able to justify an electoral defeat and accuse the ideological rival of illegitimacy. After the elections, following the PP’s Isabel Díaz Ayuso’s victory, all the networks and accounts of the extreme right suddenly stopped talking about electoral fraud. In fact, there is no trace or mention of this lie after 5 May 2021, when the results were known.

16. Vaccines magnetise you: A particularly striking vaccine lie occurred in May. Vaccine lies have been commonplace during the pandemic, between the reasonable and the absolutely absurd. And the extreme right, behind much of the global denialist conspiracy theories about the coronavirus (and other scientific aspects), has also collaborated in spreading several of them, including the one described below. A lie has gone viral about people who have supposedly been vaccinated and who, after the jab, supposedly acquire a certain magnetisation in the area. Vaccine lies have been commonplace during the pandemic, between the reasonable and the absolutely absurd. And the extreme right, behind much of the global denialist conspiracy theories about the coronavirus (and other scientific aspects), has also collaborated in spreading several of them, including the one described below. The lie did not originally come from the extreme right, but it is striking that a Vox deputy has been one of the biggest accounts supporting this theory. The reality is that this has no scientific basis and is not true. Vaccines do not contain heavy metals. Moreover, according to all experts, to achieve a magnetic effect would require a magnet of sufficient size to make it impossible for it to be invisible. Not to mention the fact that the vaccine is transparent and all ferromagnetic substances are coloured. Furthermore, when the vaccine enters the human body, it does not remain static, but runs through the bloodstream, so it does not make sense that its magnetic effect would be focused, but would have to be produced throughout the whole body. But this does not mean that all videos are inventions, as there is another reason. In some cases, being small objects pressed against the skin, this would be enough to get them stuck for minutes. Tthe most common is the oily factor of the skin.  

17. A sizeable proportion of doctors in the Netherlands have performed euthanasia without consent: “30% of doctors in the Netherlands say they have performed euthanasia without people’s consent.”: The data brings together cases of euthanasia, assisted suicide and palliative sedation. The  Dutch euthanasia law requires an explicit request from the patient, which must be a voluntary act. This law is strict and requires a review process with regional commissions verifying the process. Since its passage, no doctor has been convicted of malpractice. The information provided by a Vox deputy was false.

18: The Junta of Andalusia approves a Parental Pin: Vox’s official account announced on 11 February that the administration had agreed to apply a controversial parental pin in Andalusia following an agreement signed between education minister and a Vox spokesman. Tthe Junta de Andalucía has denied that this agreement serves to implement a parental pin. And it seems that the problem here lies in the interpretation of the agreement. The signed pact states that the Regional Ministry is committed “to promote, before the end of the current session, the necessary regulatory changes to ensure equal opportunities in the education system that allow families to educate their children in freedom”. This part of the text has been interpreted by Vox as the concession of the parental pin (which PP and especially Cs have been refusing to accept since 2019), while the current government of the Junta wants to improve information for parents on the activities of the centres. Ciudadanos has already confirmed that there will be no Parental Pin in Andalusia. For its part, Vox has further strained relations with the current government and has confirmed that from now on it will not support them until the Junta implements the “parental pin”. Thus, Vox’s statement cannot be taken as true.