Wirdheim in Vilanova
To run your own business is not always a pleasure in these times of crisis, but last Monday it made it possible for me to give myself an afternoon off. That is why I was able to watch Diada de Sant Fèlix with its amazingly high human towers (castellers) in Vilafranca del Penedès. Later that evening, I also experienced the highlight of this town’s Festa Major: L'entrada - a procession with performances which ends with the patron saint Sant Fèlix being carried into the church.
This week's media event for a Swede living in the province of Barcelona has, of course, been the twists and turns of Zlatan Ibrahimović’s move from Barça to A.C. Milan. Leaving aside that the deal has cost Barça loads of money, everybody now seems to be satisfied: the club does not any longer have a player who did not want to adapt, Ibra claims to have regained his joy for football and, on top of that, we again have an internationally well-known captain of the Sweden team. Personally, I am glad it is all over and wish that also the player himself will soon realize that.
Vilanova i la Geltrú
Starting this academic year, UPC Vilanova i la Geltrú offers Catalonia’s first Master’s degree course with a specialization railway engineering.
Garraf and Penedès
A major forest fire which has raged in Olivella and Parc del Garraf, forced 150 people to leave their homes and scorched 60 hectares of land. It is suspected that the fire was started deliberately.
Memorials in Penedès related to the Spanish Civil War will be highlighted through three new tourist routes. Before the end of the year, a museum will be opened in Santa Margarida i els Monjos, from where there will be a route to the former Republican airfields. The old bomb shelter in central Vilanova i la Geltrú will form part of the route along the bunkers of the coastal defense. The third route will center around the last Republican holdout in Subirats and follow the old front line.
The waste collection in Sitges will improve, the local government promises.
Thanks to a change of train types, the commuter trains Rodalies from Barcelona to Sant Vicenç de Calders, via Vilafranca del Penedès, will have more seats.
From now on, RyanAir flies also on Barcelona airport, Prat. The presence of this "point-to-point" airline is positive for low-cost tourism but collides with the airport's strategy to become a hub.
Apple has opened its largest own store in the world and its first in Spain in the shopping mall la Maquinista.
The rankings to decide which teams will take part in the Concurs de Castells in Tarragona, October 3, have been completed. The 12 teams which have qualified are Castellers de Vilafranca, Colla Vella dels Xiquets de Valls, Colla Jove Xiquets de Tarragona, Capgrossos de Mataró, Colla dels Joves Xiquets de Valls, Castellers de Sants, Castellers de Lleida, Xiquets de Tarragona, Castellers de Barcelona, Castellers de la Vila de Gràcia, Xicots de Vilafranca and Nens del Vendrell. In addition, the local teams Castellers del Serrallo and Castellers de Sant Pere i Sant Pau are also invited. Minyons de Terrassa hold the second position in the rankings but will, as expected, not to participate in this competition of human towers, organized every two years.
The elections to the Catalan Parliament which will be held at the earliest in November. The final date has not yet been announced by President José Montilla (PSC), but, by law, elections must take place no later than December. Among the parties of the ruling Tripartit government, above all PSC and ERC hope that the extra time will give them the opportunity to win back some of the votes that they, according to consistent opinion polls, have lost.
The Generalitat has revisited the brothel regulations. As earlier, it is mandatory to offer separate rooms with a shower and CE certifited condoms. However, the prostitutes do not any longer need to undergo regular health checks since many customers have used these as an excuse for not using condoms.
The Generalitat has created its first regulatory framework for establishments open until late the following morning, so called After-Hours. Such clubs will only be permitted in municipalities with more than 50 000 inhabitants, may not admit minors, must have a separate parking and be located at least 500 meters from inhabited areas.
The Chinese automaker Chery will, together with the Generalitat, carry out a viability study to see if the company's first plant in Europe is to be built in Catalonia.
FC Barcelona Technical Secretary Andoni Zubizarreta has publicly informed that the only problem which Josep Guardiola had with Zlatan Ibrahimović was related to football as such: Ibra, accustomed to always play, could not accept to often not be included in the starting eleven. Meanwhile, Josep Maria Bartomeu (Vice President for Sports Affairs) highlighted that the sales for EUR 24 million of a player who, only a year ago, was bought for 60 million, is a problem, but that it has now been resolved. Among established local sports commentators, there are many who are upset with the fact that Ibra has cost the club so much money, but possibly not anyone who regrets that he has now left Barça.
The Barça team of this season has the lowest number of foreigners since 1996. Although that might be an interesting detail, analyses show that the proportion of foreigners in the team does not bear any statistically significant correlation with the team's results.
Seydou Keita, midfielder originally from Mali, has signed a new, improved contract, in force until 2014.
Catalonia and Spain
The Reagrupament of Joan Carretero has not been able to reach an agreement with the Solidaritat Catalana of Joan Laporta, Alfonso López Tena and Uriel Bertran and it is thus clear that, in the Catalan elections, ERC will run agains two more parties advocating full independence for Catalonia.
With an unemployment rate at 20.3%, Spain continues to have the worst figures of the Euro zone. Additionally in August - after four months with a downward curve - another 61 083 people have left the labour market, of those 16 703 in Catalonia. Finance Minister Helena Salgado (PSOE), however, stresses that this is a typical seasonal variation and not a sign that the crisis is worsening again .
Labour Minister Celestino Corbacho will leave the Spanish Government, in order to strengthen PSC in the elections to the Catalan Parliament. The move reveals that PSC will focus its campaign on what is known as the "Red belt" (cinturó vermell) - the municipalities forming a crescent around Barcelona. Here the socialists dominate and their main threat is that people decide not to vote, but to stay home. Before the 2008 Spanish parliamentary elections, Corbacho - then mayor of Hospitalet de Llobregat - managed to mobilize the socialist vote despite the chaos which the municipality went through during the tunnel drilling for the high-speed train AVE. With both Montilla and Corbacho high up on the party’s ballot-paper, Spanish-minded top candidates will dominate, something that is not appreciated by the Catalan-minded part of PSC.
Corbacho’s departure comes with a good timing, because he will thereby avoid to hold the position as Labour Minister during the general strike to be held in the whole of Spain on September 29.
Corbacho’s departure also coincides with Health Minister Trinidad Jiménez announcing that she wants to be the socialist candidate, challenging Esperanza Aguirre (PP) in the next regional elections of Madrid. Both her rival candidate within the party, Tomás Gómez, and the PP opposition, interpret the resignations of two ministers as proof that Zapatero faces a government crisis. María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, first PSOE Vice President, denies that that would be the case and points out that Jiménez will leave only in the spring 2011.
For the first time ever, Spanish police has been able to break up a network which kept young men prisoned and forced them to be available as prostitutes, 24 hours a day. The boys had trafficked here from Brazil and their services were offered primarily in Palma de Mallorca, but also in Barcelona, Madrid, Alicante and León.
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The summary covers the period from my last text of this series until Saturday September 4. If there are news which you think that I have missed, I ask you toleave a comment and, even better, include links. All news that I consider fit into this context will be added as up-dates.
Find here an overview of the Catalan political parties and their equivalents on the Spanish level.
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Sources and Inspiration:
Vilanova i la Geltrú, the rest of Garraf and the rest of Penedès
Avui/ElPunt: Estrenen estudis de sistemes ferroviaris
Avui/ElPunt: El govern de Sitges vigilarà més la neteja
Avui/ElPunt: Incrementen les places als trens de la comarca
Avui/ElPunt: La cúpula de la TAP es tancarà del tot si plou
LaVanguardia: Sin Ibra se filosofa mejor
Perarnau Blog (Agosto 31, 2010): El verdadero problema con Ibra
FC Barcelona: La plantilla amb menys estrangers des del 96
Avui/ElPunt: Seydou Keita, fins al 2014
Catalonia and Spain
LaVanguardia: España lidera el desempleo en la zona euro con un 20,3%