Protests and Caceroladas

Over the last two to three months, a large number of protest activities have been staged all across Mallorca, in places such as Manacor, Alcúdia, Sa Pobla, Felanitx and Palma. The topic of contention was and still is public education or rather, the planned severe cut-backs in spending in the education sector. In all of Spain, budget cuts in education amount to 3,000,000,000 €; the figure given for the Balearic Islands is 30,000,000 €. Just to put things into perspective, may I remind you that the Spanish government has just bailed out Bankia (Spain’s third largest lending bank) to the tune of 4,000,000,000 €, after the conglomerate bank had already received 4,500,000,000 € from the Spanish government just over a year ago.

Yesterday, there were similar protests all over Palma. In the morning, 20 students occupied the office of the Conseller for the education sector, Rafael Bosch. In the afternoon, a few hundred protesters congregated outside the Conselleria de Educación, Cultura y Universidades and in the early hours of the evening, a few thousand protesters assembled in s’Escorxador (see photos). It is said that 100 schools all over Mallorca participated yesterday in protest demonstrations as well.

Often, political demonstrations in Spain and other Latin countries are accompanied by Caceroladas, where kitchen utensils are loudly banged to create a mind-numbing noise. The demonstration in s’Escorxador included such noisy beatings, as did a protest outside IES Ramon Llull in Palma, two weeks ago (see video below).

The photo (top) was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Spain. The date: May 22nd, 2012. The time was 19:35:54. The photo (centre) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es and the photographer, Bartolome Ramon. The video was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of YouTube and Barrumbo.

Thank you very much, and

muchas gracias.

Protests and Caceroladas

Of European Shags and Eastern European Thugs

I went back to the scene of our bag-snatching robbery yesterday in Es Molinar on the off-chance of finding a stolen laptop computer or else, a sign of the culprits. Instead, I found an idyllic scene of a flock of seagulls and a covey of European Shags (Latin: Phalacrocorax aristotelis, Castellano: Cormorán Moñudo), also known as Common Shags, being members of the cormorant family. The birds were waiting for a catch of fish, I suppose, before I saw them flying away, oblivious to our plight.

For those of you who might be interested in the petty crime scene in Mallorca’s capital, we were alternatively pointed to some housing estate of gypsies, to Latino gangs, to the drug scene of Son Banya, to the Moros and the Palma gangland made up of Eastern European thugs. But so far, no luck. Today, in the very early hours, we will try our luck at the Car Boot Sale in Consell. Wish us luck.

The photo was taken in Portixol, Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: January 28th, 2012. The time was 14:47:21.

Of European Shags and Eastern European Thugs

The Twilight Zone

I am happy to report that in almost 25 years of living in Mallorca I have never suffered from any lawbreaking.

Which is actually not quite true. I had my car broken into, windows smashed, some 20 years ago, on two occasions. Once an expensive leather jacket was stolen, and the other time, a cheapish car radio. Then, we had our country house broken into, again on two occasions, also some 15 or 20 years ago. But none of these burglaries or break-ins brought any serious material losses with them; the emotional damage might have been a different matter each and every time.

Yesterday was different, though. I suffered, or rather my female companion suffered, a pretty cold-blooded robbery attack, bang in the middle of  the Palma suburb of Es Molinar, on a relatively busy street, not too late at night. The assault made us feel as if we were in a bad movie, a bit unreal really, a bit like in the Twilight Zone.

What I wanted to tell you about, though, is how the law dealt with it, and this is the good news about an otherwise unpleasant experience. First, we went back to our car. Then we proceeded to the nearest Guardia Civil station known to me. There were three guards at the entrance to the post, a male and two female, all uniformed and armed to the hilt. We were not invited in but told that we would have to make our way to the Policía Nacional as the Guardia Civil would not deal in such criminal matters. When I inquired about the nearest Policía Nacional station there was quite a bit of humming and hahing, as if the officers were unsure as to where to send us. Eventually we were directed to the Paseo Mallorca. That’s were we went.

We were not allowed into the main building there but were redirected to a separate entrance dealing with Denuncios. We were dealt with in a friendly and efficient manner, although I have to say that we spent the best part of two hours reporting the juvenile bag snatching. We were given telephone numbers and a free phone line to cancel the stolen credit cards and mobile phones. We were given competent advise and a courteous treatment. My companion could not present identification as all that was stolen together with passport, mobile phone, laptop computer, camera and whatnot, but hey, her Spanish residence number came up on the screen in no time and, presto, the rest was easy. Two documents were fashioned with five copies each, a total of 20 signatures between the Denunciante and the police officer, and some 20 stamps were impressed upon the papers.

Halfway through the lengthy procedure I need to go to the toilet. There were, apparently, no such facilities in the building. I was directed to a bar some way away, as all the closet ones were closed at this time of night (23h00). When I found the bar, a group of youngsters, not older than 21 or 22, was cheerfully assembled in there, all seemingly tattoo embellished. On second glance I spotted from their t-shirts that they were in fact all CNP officers (Cuerpo Nacional de Policía), albeit of the Motorbike Brigade, and quite obviously off-duty by now.

If you ever needed to have your handbag and/or laptop stolen, it might not be less painful here in Spain but it would seem more relaxed, more human and more colourful. And the bag snatchers, three youngsters of no more than 15 or 16 years of age, seemed full of canny, street-wise chutzpah. In a way I admired their astute temerity.

If you are offered a newish Mac Book Pro with a French keyboard at a knock-down price here in Mallorca, any time soon, please let me know.

The photo was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: December 8th, 2011. The time was 23:03:49.

The Twilight Zone

Crimes and Misdemeanors

Last Monday, the court case against Jaume Matas, former President of the Govern de les Illes Balears, began at the Tribunal Superior in Palma. Yesterday, proceedings went into their fifth day. Señor Matas stands accused of 26 separate charges of corruption and other misdemeanors. For reasons of diligence, the accusations were separated into five different court cases, the first one of which is the present one in which the former president stands accused of alleged corruption of public funds. The prosecution is requesting 8 years in prison for Don Matas for the charges heard this time.

Press photographers and radio and TV stations were on stand-by every day this week outside the court building in central Palma to report on the court proceedings. The current court session is expected to last for one month, which means three more weeks.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: January 13th, 2012. The time was 10:48:12. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es and the photographer, B. Ramon.

Muchas gracias.

Crimes and Misdemeanors

Escritura Dealings

notario

The legal system in Spain is based on the Napoleonic Code which makes things quite distinct from countries such as the UK and the USA, where the respective legal systems are rooted in the Roman Law. The difference is quite significant in matters of daily considerations.

One of the legal characteristics here in Mallorca, and Spain as a whole, is the frequent need in legal matters of a notario. If you are a resident here for sure you will have heard of the procedure of Escrituras Publicas. They are legally binding documents signed in the notary’s office as a basis for later inscription into the Land Register, the Registro Mercantil (Companies House) or the Registrar’s Office. The notario is the man to see if you want to buy some land, sell a house, sign a mortgage, sign a last will, sign a power of attorney, set up a company, buy company shareholdings, accept an inheritance, and so forth.

The notario is appointed to the position by the Spanish state and as such has to act independently and neutrally. A notario will not be called upon in matters concerning the criminal law.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 26th, 2009. The time was 14:20:08.

Escritura Dealings

Sniffer Dogs

sniffer_dogs

You might once have come to Mallorca on a ferry boat. If so you might have noticed a search done by sniffer dogs, or even been subjected to one.

There are about ten or twelve sniffer dogs on the island of Mallorca, seven of which are under the auspices of the Guardia Civil and their Servicio Cinológico.

Sniffer dogs are trained by the civil guards for three main areas of detection duties: drugs, arms/explosives, and people search. I was surprised to learn from one of the officers that dogs can be trained in sniffing out absolutely anything, including banknotes, coins, CDs, you name it. This is possible due to the dogs’ highly developed natural sense of smell.

Servicio_Cinológico

Even poison can be traced by a dog’s nose. Sniffer dogs trained to trace hidden poison in Mallorca are under the responsibility of the environmental department of Govern de Illes Balears. Sometimes farmers use poison to kill perpetrators of their chicken and other livestock. However, the practice of using poison in farming other than rat poison is now illegal for environmental reasons and severe punishment of perpetrators can result. During the last six months, three Mallorcan farmers were caught by the officials with the help of their sniffer dogs; the culprits were fined up to 30,000 € each. Raids can be made on farms and in farmhouses by surprise and without warrant.

The photo (top) was taken in Manacor, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 24th, 2009. The time was 12:50:10. The photo (bottom) was taken was taken from the Internet and the Guardia Civil website. Muchas gracias.

Sniffer Dogs

No More Press Kiosks In Palma

quioscos_prensa

The quioscos de prensa in Mallorca’s capital city Palma have disappeared.

Actually, the press kiosks are still there, but they have been closed down. There were about fifteen newspaper stalls in Palma de Mallorca during the last fifteen or twenty years, but that number dwindled to about seven or eight over the years. At the beginning of this year, there were only five kiosks left. Two weeks ago at the end of June, these remaining press stands were closed, abandoned, shut down for good.

I used to be a regular client myself, in the early years. I bought at the kiosk in the Passeig des Born quite frequently to get my shot of international papers and news magazines that I thought I could not live without. But in recent years, probably brought on by me feeding my need for information more and more from the Internet, I found that I bought less and fewer periodicos in Palma. The quiosco de prensa opposite Bar Bosch in the Born disappeared two or three years ago. I missed it being there but I had already become a rather infrequent customer.

Now all the other kiosks have gone too. I understand that the business just was not profitable enough any longer.

The Palma city council will now decide what to do. They may try and find a new taker for the concession, or they may find a different use for the still existing kiosks. We shall have to wait and see. But it may be the end of an era.

There are newsagents in Palma in regular shops. One can still buy newspapers. But it is not the same, and not like it used to be.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 3rd, 2009. The time was 13:37:28.

No More Press Kiosks In Palma