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Posts tagged ‘Iberian Land of Spain’

Spain PM calls new Catalan secession plans “authoritarian”

July 05, 2017

MADRID (AP) — Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has described as “authoritarian delirium” plans by the ruling parties in the northeastern Catalonia region to declare independence from Spain within 48 hours of a promised referendum Oct. 1, if voters say “yes.”

Rajoy told a business meeting Wednesday that Spaniards and Catalans could rest assured that the “confrontational’ gestures of the pro-independence parties will never win over the democratic state. He was speaking a day after Catalonia’s governing parties presented details of a proposed law to cover the planned referendum. The law says if the “yes” vote wins, independence will be declared within two days regardless of the vote’s turnout percentage.

Spain has pledged there will be no referendum because it violates the country’s constitution.

Spain says fire that threatened Donana park “under control”

June 27, 2017

MADRID (AP) — Spain’s interior minister says firefighters have brought under control a wildfire that threatened Donana National Park, a celebrated conservation wetland and home to the endangered Iberian lynx.

In a note on his official Twitter account Tuesday, Juan Ignacio Zoido says that roads had been reopened in the area and some 250 soldiers deployed to combat the blaze were returning to base. Some 600 firefighters, including the soldiers, have been working to prevent the fire on Spain’s southwestern coast from spreading east to Donana, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1994.

It was not immediately known when the fire, which started Saturday, might be fully extinguished. There were no casualties although some 2,000 people had to be evacuated from their homes and campsites.

Battle resumes to extinguish fire near Spain’s Donana park

June 26, 2017

MADRID (AP) — Spanish authorities were hopeful Monday that dropping temperature and favorable winds would help firefighters battling to extinguish a forest fire on the fringes of the Donana national park, one of one of Europe’s most celebrated conservation wetlands.

“Today is a key day,” Andalusia regional president Susan Diaz told reporters. “Before dawn, (the fire) advanced. There were moments of much difficulty and it was out of control. Today all the news is positive.”

Andalusia’s forest-fire prevention department said the some 550 firefighters had managed to encircle and confine two of the three blazes raging in the area but that a third one closer to the park was still out of control, mainly due to blustery winds.

Spokesman Ignacio Fernandez said the fire “has not affected the park at all” but had damaged protected areas nearby. Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said there were no casualties. There were no immediate details on how much land had been scorched so far.

Diaz said they were not ruling out the possibility that the fire was started deliberately Saturday. The blaze comes a week after wildfires killed 64 people in neighboring Portugal, which like Spain is suffering a severe lack of rain and soaring temperatures.

Donana Nature Reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1994. It protects over 107,000 hectares (264,403 acres) considered of extreme ecological value for their mix of ecosystems including wetlands, dunes and woods. It is a key stop for migratory birds and home to a variety of animals, including Iberian lynxes, one of the world’s most endangered feline species.

Park authorities said one of the lynxes, a female called Homer, died as a consequence of the stress after workers tried to get her and other adults and cubs out of a breeding center close to Donana. Enormous efforts have been made to recover the Iberian lynx population in recent years. There are now 483 cats in the wild or in breeding centers, most in southern Spain.

Maximum temperatures in the Donana area were forecast to drop to 33 degrees Celsius (91 Fahrenheit) from close to 40 Celsius in recent days. Authorities also hoped for favorable changes in winds. Some 1,000 people were evacuated from campsites and houses near the town of Moguer, where the fire started.

Moguer Mayor Gustavo Cuellar said 160 people, mostly tourists and agricultural workers evacuated from hotels and farms, had spent the night in a sports facility.

Marchers in Madrid urge Spain to take in more refugees

June 18, 2017

MADRID (AP) — Protesters marched in Spain’s capital Saturday to demand the conservative government fulfill its pledge to give shelter to refugees from war-torn countries like Syria. Braving temperatures that reached 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), several thousand marchers followed a huge banner reading: “We Want To Welcome Them Now! Enough Excuses, No More Barriers.” They marched along the city’s Gran Via street.

Spain has taken in less than 10 percent of the refugees it had pledged to accept by last September. It has relocated or resettled 1,304 refugees, while it promised in September 2015 to take in 17,337 people — 15,888 from camps in Italy and Greece and 1,449 from Turkey and Libya.

In February, at least 160,000 people marched in Barcelona to demand the Spanish government fulfill its commitment on refugees.

Protest against bullfights in Pamplona before famed festival

July 01, 2017

PAMPLONA, Spain (AP) — Around 400 people have protested bullfighting in Pamplona, a week before the city hosts its famed festival featuring dangerous bull runs. Holding signs that read in English “Bullfight Is Cruel” and “No Tradition Trumps Reason” in Spanish, the protesters marched Saturday through the city’s old quarter. The route included a stretch of the narrow streets that will be used for the bull runs that have made the San Fermin festival known worldwide.

Tens of thousands of partygoers from Spain and abroad come each year to Pamplona to witness or take part in the early morning bull runs, when crowds of runners risk being gored or trampled as they lead a pack of bulls to the ring where they will be used in bullfights.

The festival runs from July 6-14.

Thousands in Madrid back no-confidence vote against PM Rajoy

May 21, 2017

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Thousands of Spaniards have rallied in Madrid to support a no-confidence vote against conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy brought by the far-left Podemos party. Podemos organized the gathering Saturday to bolster its no-confidence vote against Rajoy’s ruling Popular Party, which has been hit by a series of corruption scandals.

The rally under the slogan “We have to throw them out” was held in the Puerta del Sol, a large square in the heart of Spain’s capital. Many protesters held signs that read “Enough!” or “Corruption!” “We are governed by a party that is not a party but is a corrupt institution that has robbed the country,” said Jose Ramon de la Valencia, a 45-year-old unemployed worker. “If we don’t take over the streets and the parliament, the Popular Party is going to do whatever they want.”

Podemos registered its intent Friday to bring the no-confidence vote to Parliament. It is presenting the party’s ponytailed leader, Pablo Iglesias, as an alternative candidate to replace Rajoy. No date has been set for the no-confidence vote but the move appears designed to fail. With only 71 members in parliament, Podemos would need help from other parties to reach the majority needed of 176. No other major party says it will back the move to topple Rajoy.

Iglesias struck a defiant tone at the rally, calling the Popular Party “a mafia-like party.” “The people are not afraid. They are telling the corrupted to ‘get lost, we want a Spain of the 21st century,” Iglesias said. “This country is better than its parliament and we are showing the way to the future.”

Rajoy has been dragged into the most damaging of the corruption cases involving the Popular Party, an alleged kickbacks-for-contracts scheme to finance party activities. Spain’s National Court has called Rajoy as a witness in the case. Like his party, Rajoy has denied any wrongdoing.

On Monday, Podemos will present a motion for a separate no-confidence vote against Madrid’s regional leader, Cristina Cifuentes, for another corruption investigation involving the Popular Party.

AP television producer Iain Sullivan contributed from Madrid.

Thousands in Madrid demand end to bullfighting in Spain

May 13, 2017

MADRID (AP) — Thousands of animal rights activists protested Saturday in Madrid to demand an end to Spain’s long tradition of bullfighting. The march went through the Spanish capital’s city center, with several groups united under one clear-cut message: “Bullfighting is violence and you can stop it.”

Animal rights activists say the gory fights are among the planet’s most blatant forms of animal cruelty, with bulls lanced and finally stabbed through the heart. Matadors are praised for killing with a single stab, though some don’t succeed in finishing off the animal with repeated thrusts.

The march, scheduled during the famed San Isidro weeklong fair featuring numerous bullfights in Madrid’s famous Las Ventas bullring, is part of a growing divide between those who see bullfighting as a blatant form of animal cruelty and others who defend it as part of Spain’s traditional culture.

Protesters also demanded a change in legislation under which animal cruelty would be subject to Spain’s criminal code. Spokeswoman Laura Gonzalo called for an immediate halt to all bullfights. “It’s time for all of society to unite and say ‘enough,'” she said, while questioning the motive behind recent governmental tax cuts to bullfighting events.

Spain’s deep tradition of bullfights was named part of the country’s cultural heritage in a law passed in 2013. Madrid’s leftist Mayor Manuela Carmena hasn’t banned bullfighting events, but she has eliminated annual subsidies for their promotion.

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