Tag: spanish

Spanish health minister quits over ‘degree-gate’

Spanish Health Minister Carmen Montón was forced to quit recently after mounting irregularities emerged regarding a master’s degree she had studied for at Madrid’s King Juan Carlos University (URJC) in 2011. The institution has been at the centre of a series of scandals, which have involved current Popular Party (PP) leader Pablo Casado, and former Madrid regional premier Cristina Cifuentes, also of the PP. The latter was also forced to step down over her master’s degree, among other matters.
A story published earlier last week by Spanish online newspaper eldiario.es revealed that Montón’s grades had been altered in the university’s online system. Montón did not pass all parts of the masters’ course in June 2011, which is when she should have finished her studies. According to her student records, at least one part of the coursework was marked as “not submitted.”
On 25th November, 2011, “someone entered the IT system” of the URJC and changed “not submitted” to a “pass,” despite the fact that the administrative procedures for the course had been closed, according to eldiario.es. This alleged modification of the grades outside of the deadline would explain why Montón’s official certificate states that she completed the course in 2012.
The minister had stated that she handed over her final thesis on gender studies in June 2011, something that would have been irregular since at the time she had not completed all of the coursework – an essential requisite.
As the story broke Montón insisted that she had not done anything wrong, voicing the same arguments used by Cifuentes and Casado over their suspect master’s degrees – i.e. that they had done everything they had been told to by the university.
PSOE Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez had, until last night, backed the minister. But the revelation that her final thesis contained sections that had been plagiarized was the final straw.
The work is entitled “Assisted reproduction. A liberation or a setback in equality,” and is 55 pages long. And it is alleged that whole pages and paragraphs are copied from other theses and articles that are freely available on the internet – even containing texts lifted from Wikipedia.
For example, practically the entire first chapter is the same as an article entitled “New identity,” written by Mexican Mónica Pérez, in an article dated 26th July, 2004.
The episode is an embarrassing one for Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who came to power earlier this year after ousting PP Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in a vote of no confidence, precisely due to the corruption scandals that were plaguing the party.
“I have been transparent and honest,” Montón told the press last night after announcing her resignation. “I have not committed any irregularity.” She went on to praise Sánchez, and stated that she was quitting so as not to cause him damage.
She also highlighted the work that she had done as health minister in the first 100 days of the Sánchez government. “We have brought back universal healthcare. We have laid the foundation for the approval of a law for protection against childhood violence. This is a good result for the first 100 days,” she stated.
Montón will be replaced by María Luisa Carcedo, who was until now the high commissioner against child poverty.
Montón is the second minister to have to quit in the first 100 days of the Sánchez administration. Culture and Sports Minister Màxim Huerta resigned in June after just a week on the job, after the media reported that he withheld taxes in the early 2000s and was recently forced to pay €365,000 in back taxes, late fees and fines.
More degree-gate
In late April, Cristina Cifuentes of the Popular Party (PP) was forced to step down due to irregularities in connection with a master’s degree that she obtained in 2012 from King Juan Carlos University. That case has led to a criminal investigation into forgery of public documents by officials at the public university.
And the current leader of the PP, Pablo Casado, is under fire for a similar degree obtained from the same institution in 2009. So far he has refused to hand over his final dissertation, and has stated that he will not resign even if the Supreme Court, which is investigating the case, decides to charge him.

Spanish women live the longest

Spanish women have the highest life expectancy in Europe at birth. According to an analysis by Public Health England, the women in Spain come out top at 86.3 years followed by France and Italy. The UK is ranked in 17th place out of the 28 EU countries that are featured in the table. At the bottom are Bulgaria, Romania and Latvia.
The results are based on informationpublicised by Public Health England as part of its Health Profile. This brings together a variety of reports, data and research to provide a picture of the health of people in England in 2018. One of the reports it draws on is that of Eurostat data from 2016.
Obesity is one of the reasons being given for the difference between the two countries. The Mediterranean diet has long been referred to as a major reason for longevity, both for the nutrients it provides and also as a combatant to obesity.
Men in Spain do not do quite as well. Their life expectancy at birth is down to 80.1 years. However, this is still relatively high in comparison to many other countries and again beats the UK whose men have a life expectancy of 79.4. Top of the charts are the men in Italy who can expect to live until they are 81 years old.
Life expectancy at birth is an indicator of the number of years a baby could expect to live if mortality patterns when it is born stay the same throughout its life.

The budget is approved!

And finally, Torrevieja has a budget for 2018. This year’s budget was at last
agreed after months of debating when the two small opposition parties, Sueña
and Ciudadanos, agreed to back the proposals of the current town council.
The PP party continued to oppose the budget until the very end.
The final decision that the budget could go ahead was made on Monday 12 th
February at the town hall’s plenary session. The budget amounts to 90.6
million euros and received the final approval it needed to allow the council to
begin to make the changes they are hoping for. As the current government is
still in a minority they depended on the two parties of Sueña and Ciudadanos
joining them to provide 14 votes in favour.
The Popular Party (PP) remained the only party to oppose the budget but
their 11 councillors were insufficient to prevent the budget from going through.
They had raised a number of legal issues to try and prevent it being agreed
but these were insufficient to see its passing quashed.
Two unresolved issues were used by the PP to freeze agreement on finances
for the coming year. One was in relation to Torreta III where a case had been
brought by the residents for renovation of the estate. However, a court ruled
that this appeal be suspended. Another hurdle had been the Sustainability
Mobility Plan which the PP demanded be included in the budget. However,
the opposition were unsuccessful in holding this as an impediment to the
budget being agreed.
The arrival of a new budget to work with is a significant relief for the local
council. It should enable them now to go ahead with their plans and make
some improvements to the town. It should allow them to address issues to do
with the rubbish collection service, the cleaning of public buildings and urban
Explaining their support for the budget, Ciudadanos spokesperson Pilar
Gómez Magán explained; ‘We can not hinder the normal development of town
hall projects. If we do not support the budget we will be harming the citizens of
the town.’
Speaking for the Sueña political party, Pablo Samper recognised that this is a
budget with cross party support. It is the first budget where those in opposition
have also had opportunity to make a contribution. There was criticism of the
PP’s attempt to block the budget. However, they remain resolute in their
objections to it.

MABS to open Respite Care Centre

In late 2017 MABS Cancer Support Group was granted Foundation status by the Spanish
Authorities, this is a great achievement and its members are all exceptionally proud of this.
The groups is now known as MABS Cancer Support Fundacíon CIF – G54982681.
A spokesperson for MABS told the Costa Blanca People, “Becoming a Foundation means we
are able to grow and further expand our regular services; undertake new ventures and
explore new opportunities. So we can now proudly announce that MABS Cancer Support
Fundacíon (Costa Calida) have been able to purchase a property which will soon be
converted into our first Respite Care Centre.”
Situated on Camposol, the Centre is being funded jointly by MABS groups in San Javier;
Calasparra and Mazarron. Donations and support from members of the public have made
this possible and MABS asked the Costa Blanca People to extend its thanks to each and
every one of our readers who has donated to or purchased from the group’s Charity Shops
and Markets.
The Centre will support cancer patients from all corners of the Costa Calida area – La
Manga, San Javier, Los Alcazares, Totana, Alhama de Murcia, Puerto de Mazarron,
Mazarron, Calasparra, Pinoso and anywhere in between irrespective of their nationality or
MABS have made great progress so far but there is a lot of work to do before the centre
open and the Foundation still needs some help in various areas:
MABS told us…
 We need help to make the Gardens pleasant including a patio area so our residents
can enjoy the fresh air
 We need help to Paint and Decorate the inside and outside of the property when
the builders have finished.
 We need A/C units for each room – four would be ideal
 We need showers, tiles, WCs and basins for our soon to be created en-suites
 We need bed linens and towels
 We need curtains and blinds
 We need Internet connection and IPTV so our residents can enjoy their favourite TV
Can you help MABS with any of these things?
If so please get in touch via the Facebook pages or email MABS at
finance@mabscancersupportfoundation.com / mabsmmcoordinator@outlook.com
or call the Helplines on 620 422 410 or 693 275 779

N332 to be widened at last?

It is hard to see through all the claims and counter claims as to who is really
responsible for the bottleneck on the N332 as it passes through Torrevieja.
However, it does seem as though we might be moving towards a resolution of
the debate surrounding this controversial road.
The mayor of Torrevieja, José Manuel Dolón, has reported that the Ministry of
Development has once more taken up the issue and is prepared to set the
project in motion again. The mayor has received a letter from the Minister,
Inigo de la Serna, which indicates that the General Directorate of Highways
has decided to order the drafting and construction of the N332 through
The mayor displayed to the press on the 12 th September the number of letters
and other forms of communication that have been made by the present local
government. The expressed aim is to secure the reopening of the issue and a
commitment from the Spanish government to solving the problem once and
for all.
There has been debate over a period of years as to where exactly the
responsibility for the modifications to the N332 lie. Finally it would seem that
the national government is prepared to take responsibility and move ahead
with the much-needed changes. The citizens of Torrevieja and surrounding
areas will now wait anxiously to see if this commitment is acted on any time

The battle to park your car

It’s summer and almost impossible to park your car in the centre of Torrevieja.
In spite of this the actions taken by a frustrated car driver may seem a little
harsh. He called the police to report that a group of women were sitting out
side their houses to take the air in the very place where he wanted to park his
The habit of the Spanish, particularly the older generation, of taking their
chairs outside in the evening to enjoy the cooler air outside, is well
established. The women were engaged in this practice at the junction
between calle Santa Trinidad and Patricio Pérez. They were taking the
opportunity to chat when, according to Informacion, the difference of opinion
is reported to have taken place
From one view point the two or three women were engaged in the harmless
activity of taking the air at their doors. From the other view point, they were
occupying a potential parking space and perhaps even ‘saving it’ for one of
their relatives. The police were called and the women asked to move their
chairs onto the pavement and off the road. They apparently obliged and a
possible conflict was avoided.
This is not the first time that such an incident has occurred in the area
between el Calvario and Acequión. Tempers flare easily as old traditions meet
young blood and high speed city life. And still there is the rest of August to

A catalogue of closures

Councillor Fanny Serrano has an unfortunate name for her current position as
councillor for planning. In the Spanish press much has been made of the
resemblance of her surname ‘Serrano’ to ‘cerrado’ which means ‘closed’.
Councillor Serrano has got a reputation during her two years in office for
closing a number of public buildings and bars, restaurants and clubs.
The latest closures have been three beach bars in Punta Prima, an action that
has been noted by many people who enjoyed using the facilities during the
summer season. The question they have raised is – why now?
The majority of the premises being closed never had an opening licence in the
first place. Before any building is open to the public for trading, it must have
been checked and approved for use for a specified purpose. However, a
number of buildings in Torrevieja do not appear to have had this piece of
paper work in place but have been continuing to trade for a number of years.
Two of the beach bars that were recently closed had been trading since 2012
and one of them since 2007. They had also been paying to use a terraced
area without a closure order being put into place. For those who have enjoyed
the use of these facilities it now seems absurd to say that they must close
when they are part of the local landscape.
However, the opening licences are there for a reason. The council do make
money out of them and they are not cheap, but they are also a way of
checking that the correct facilities are in place and that the premises are fit to
use. Questions are now being asked about why so many buildings and
businesses have been allowed to continue to provide services for the public
without them.
There are allegations that people in office did know that licences were missing
but turned a blind eye to this. It is also argued that with the number of
businesses operating in a town like Torrevieja, it is very difficult to keep a
check on what’s on the right side of the law and what isn’t.
To keep regular checks on all the catering and business premises would
require a large administration backed up by police officers with the time to do
it. Without these it is difficult for the town to have systematic inspection in
Perhaps what upsets people most about this subject is that some places are
still ‘getting away with it’ whist others are not. The beach bar owners are one
example of people who feel that one law is being applied to them but not to
others. What is more likely is that the town hall simply hasn’t got round to
checking up on everyone and, given the size of the task, are unlikely to do so
any time soon.
In the meantime, the question might be asked – what should be done? Should
we continue to turn a blind eye and circumvent requirements or enforce them
Perhaps what most people would like to see is a middle ground between the
two that allows businesses time to bring themselves into line without
necessarily imposing the hefty fines that can result. However, where laws are
in statute it can be difficult to apply ‘special considerations’ without breaking
the law.
In the meantime, the beach bars will be missed and those who usually
frequent them would perhaps have preferred that the town hall had targeted
somewhere else. Now, we wait with interest to see what Councillor Serrano
will close next.

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