Category: Spanish News

Should the Guardia Civil have tattoos?

This is the debate currently being voiced between the Ministry of the Interior and the Guardia Civil themselves. The intention was announced a few months ago by the government to regulate more closely the appearance of the Guardia Civil officers, including their tattoos.
Currently the rules state that tattoos are acceptable but must not contravene constitutional values. They must not express discriminatory views or images and should not reflect a specific political opinion. However, a few months ago it was proposed that tattoos shouldn’t be allowed at all.
Since then a new draft decree amends this original prohibitive proposal and would allow those who are already Guardia Civil officers to retain their tattoos and would not require them to cover them up. However, the application of the new ruling would also be down to the head of the individual unit and this could cause internal difficulties within the force.
Traditionally, the prohibition of tattoos only applied to those joining the police force. Once they were accepted, trained and on duty then they were allowed to have them done. In some cases it could be that the head of the unit would require the officers to cover them up but now many officers on the beat are in opposition to the idea that this is no longer down to individual judgement but would be a ruling.
It is also quite difficult to cover up some tattoos, depending on their location. Those on the neck or hands are particularly difficult to disguise by using makeup and the use of bandages to cover them would look worse than the tattoos themselves.
The new draft is also causing concern because of the suggestion that those officers who already have a tattoo should have them photographed and registered in order to check that they do not have any more. However, many officers feel that this is an unacceptable intrusion and treats them like cattle. It is planned that officers would have three months in which to declare their tattoo and that following this, if they have another one then they could be investigated and charged.
It is not only tattoos that are included in the draft regulations. There are plans to include regulations about hair styles, beards and moustaches. For many members of the Guardia civil it isn’t their appearance that should be in the spotlight but the shortage of police officers and the difficulties with recruitment.

The ongoing story of rubbish collection

Once more the rubbish collection contract is in the news. For the past four years the local government in Torrevieja has struggled to find a solution that’s both good value and contracted correctly. The subject is always in and out of the papers in Torrevieja and in Orihuela Costa. The reason, is that collecting and disposing of refuse commands big money, around 16 million euros a year.
As the four party council is in its last weeks of government it is making one last attempt to put this issue to sleep. Torrevieja Town Council is planning to tender the waste collection contract, street cleaning and beach cleaning before the hand over to the next government on May 26th. The specifications for putting the contract to tender have more or less been in place since the beginning of 2017. However, the minority position of the four-party councillors has meant that they have been unable to pursue their wish to have a correctly contracted cleaning service.
Now, however, we are told that they no longer need the agreement of the majority of the councillors including those in opposition, and that they can go ahead with the agreement of governing councillors only. If this is passed then the publication of the details of the contract can take place and the process can begin.
The current cleaning service is carried out by Acciona. They have done so without a contract since June 2016. Their contract was originally first awarded in 2004 and was guaranteed for ten years. After the 10 years expired it was extended for another two years. However, the four-party government team has always had in mind to put the contract out to tender again and take over control of its management. Without having a clear majority, this has proved impossible to do.
Many people are unhappy with the current cleaning service. People complain both in the urbanisations and the town centre itself. There are concerns about insufficient containers, lack of litter bins and the use of old and outdated machinery. Certainly the need to look afresh at how the contract is carried out and the stock of trucks involved is evident.
The new contract will require environmental quality certificates and the electric operation of auxiliary vehicles. The government wants the collection to be done through a lateral loading system and street washing to be extended beyond a few areas in the very centre of the town.
The former mayor of Torrevieja and PP councillor Pedro Hernández Mateo.was imprisoned for three years for falsifying documents and had another 11 years of disqualification from public office imposed. The fraudulent awarding of the 2004 contract to Acciona was at the centre of his conviction. With such big money involved it is surely time to have a clear, transparent tendering and contracting process in place.

Election debates on TV

Información TV broadcasted a debate to allow the candidates in local elections in Torrevieja to share their manifestos whilst also questioning and challenging one another. Each of the candidates for mayor had one minute in which to introduce themselves and their party and make a brief case before passing on. Following this, different topical subjects were raised and candidates asked for their opinions.
Taking part were José Manuel Dolón (Los Verdes-Compromiso Municipal), Eduardo Dolón (PP), Pablo Samper (SueñaTorrevieja), Pilar Gómez Magán (Ciudadanos), Susana Fernández (IzquierdaUnida-Unidas en Confluencia) and Carolina Vigara (Vox).
The topics of conversation are familiar to those reading this paper. The town’s general plan, the theatre closure, the town’s waste collection service, health service and bus service. During the debate the current mayor, José Manuel Dolón defended the decisions and actions taken by the coalition government that has presided over the town hall for the past four years.
The general plan for the town is completely out of date and has been patched up for many years. Candidates were in general agreement that a new plan is needed. Debate continued around the subject of the lack of hotels in the town and the town’s approach to tourism. There was criticism of the plans to build houses rather than hotels in areas such as La Hoya. However, it was pointed out that some of these plans were laid during the jurisdiction of previous governments and could not be overturned.
All the parties agreed that they want the theatre to open but how to go about this was the subject of debate. The signature of the architect responsible for the theatre is needed for it to re-open. Although this was disputed by the PP who claim that it can open with existing licences. Other parties variously indicated that either there should be negotiation with the architect or he should be denounced. There was even an argument to say that the PP shouldn’t have built it in the first place.
The management of Torrevieja hospital is currently a public/ private model and the concession ends in 2021. Los Verdes, Sueña and Izquierda Unida would like to see the hospital brought back under public control. A move that is discounted by the right wing parties. However, they did agree that Ribera Salud should pay the staff over the summer.
One area that the parties all agreed on was that of the bus service. It was accepted that this could no longer continue as a free service to registered residents although there should still be concessions for pensioners and young people.
The town’s cleaning service was discussed with the PP accusing the current government of wasting two years trying to bring it back under town hall control. However, José Manuel Dolón pointed out that it was the constant voting block operated by the PP and Ciudadanos that prevented any progress being made with the reallocation of this service.
The parties were in agreement that elections are no longer a two-party affair. The dominance of the PP and PSOE is in the past. So who did the parties say they would sign up with?
Carolina Vigara (Vox) rules out any allegiance with the left. Susana Fernandez (Izquierda) has discarded the idea of supporting the three right-wing parties (Cs, Vox and PP) and PSOE indicated that they would be open to the parties of the left and possiblyCiudadanos too. Ciudadanos for their part indicated that they would not form a pact with Vox but neither with a party who wants to impose valenciano.
All those debating were quick to see the town’s problems but what is less clear is how they will work together to implement any solutions. What the town really needs are candidates prepared to put aside political ambition to ensure that decisions can be made and acted upon in the best interests of the town’s people.
The debate, Debate electoral Torrevieja, can be watched on YouTube:

Fire-fighters battle ‘bazaar’ blaze

A team of more than 15 fire-fighters battled a blaze that engulfed a Chinese ‘bazaar’ store in La Zenia, beside popular shopping mall Zenia Boulevard. Teams spent hours trying to keep the inferno under control on Thursday evening at the popular shop. Sources believe the fire started on the roof of the building, the cause of which is not yet known.
Eight units of the fire brigade were dispatched to the scene from Orihuela, Torrevieja and Almoradí with Policia Local and Guardia Civil also in attendance. Five people were evacuated from inside the store and taken to safety while emergency crews battled to keep the flames from reaching nearby homes and businesses.
No one was injured in the blaze, which took place at Oriental Market on Calle Jade in La Zenia. However, a significant amount of damage was done to the building and contents. With smoke visible for several kilometres around, there were fears at one point about having to evacuate Zenia Boulevard but luckily this was not necessary.
According to sources at the scene, there were several boxes of polystyrene on the roof of the building which could have accelerated the fire. Due to the intensity of the flames within the building, the temperature inside was extremely high, prompting fire crews to use a technique called a penetration lance, in which jets of water are guided through a hole in the wall in order to cool the building’s interior.
The blaze was finally thoroughly extinguished at around midnight on Thursday.

Dead dolphin found in Torrevieja

The body of a dead dolphin was washed up on Torrevieja’s Playa del Cura on Wednesday. The dolphin, a ‘stenella coeruleoalba’ or striped dolphin, was found mid afternoon by members of the public walking on the beach. The people phoned the local police who arrived at the scene along with the municipal marine biologist.
It is believed that the animal had become trapped and injured by industrial fishing fear, based on the injuries observed on its tail and fin.
Striped dolphins are among the most widespread dolphins in the world. They prefer deep tropical to warm temperate oceanic waters, and are attracted to upwelling areas, where deep, cold, nutrient-rich water rises toward the surface. and convergence zones, where ocean currents meet.
Striped dolphins are usually found in tight, cohesive groups of about 25 to 100 individuals and have been observed breaching, jumping, and leaping over 20 feet above the surface of the water. They display a unique behaviour called roto-tailing, when the animal leaps high out of the water and vigorously rotates its tail while airborne.


The 49 year old Hungarian man, arrested in relation to the alleged murder of his 37 year old partner earlier this week, has appeared in court today (Thursday). The man and his partner are believed to have lived in Spain since September of last year, although not officially registered on the padrón.
The alleged murder took place on Monday when the woman’s body was found at the couple’s apartment in Ciudad Quesada. Authorities are awaiting the result of an autopsy to ascertain how the woman died. The body was discovered shortly after 9pm when the suspect phoned a friend who lives in the same urbanisation of ‘Pueblo Bravo’ to tell him what had happened.