Roger Albinyana was invited to attend a meeting of the Commission of International Affairs of the Latin American country to discuss the independence process in Catalonia, the reasons behind it and what could happen after the 27th of September election. The Catalan Foreign Affairs Secretary appeared before the Commission, despite reported “pressure” from Spanish diplomats to cancel the event. The spokesperson for Liberal CDC in the Spanish Senate, Josep-Lluís Cleries, urged Spanish Minister José Manuel García-Margallo to clarify whether his embassy in Montevideo had tried to cancel the appearance. It’s the third time that a foreign country has convened a debate about the independence process in Catalonia, following similar events in Denmark and Ireland.
The proportion of investment earmarked for Catalonia in next year’s Spanish budget will be 10.7% of the total, a figure that the Catalan government spokeswoman, Neus Munté, considers totally insufficient. “It is far from the 19.8% Catalan contribution to the Spanish GDP or from the 16% that citizens living in Catalonia represent”, she said on Tuesday after the Spanish government defended the figures in the Spanish Parliament in Madrid. Munté regretted that cultural investment in Catalonia will plummet: the Spanish government will spend three times more money on three museums in Madrid than on all the museums of Catalonia. According to the Spanish Minister of the Treasury, Cristóbal Montoro, the budget is “what Spain, its economy and its citizens need”.
The Catalan capital attracts the interest of some of the most prestigious hotel chains in the world, and has more 5 star establishments than London or Paris. Up to 13% of tourist accommodation in Barcelona is provided by luxury or 5 star establishments, a percentage that is 10% in the British capital and 7.5% in the French one. The new mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, introduced in July a one-year moratorium on new tourist accommodation to regulate the influx of visitors to the city that has affected eight of the eleven new luxury projects in Barcelona. However, neither the number of beds on offer nor the ban have reduced interest from international businesspeople, whom continue to see the Catalan capital as a “very attractive” place to invest, according to experts.
Illegal street trading, known in Catalonia as ‘top manta’, is an old and complex problem in many tourist towns in Catalonia. But councils feel alone and powerless when they try to deal with it. The recent death of Senegalese citizen Mor Sylla in Salou during a police operation against illegal vending has raised the alarms about a phenomenon that has economic, social and security implications. The mayors of Barcelona, Roses, Sitges and El Vendrell, some of the towns most adversely affected by this issue, have urged the Catalan and Spanish governments to intervene because this “is not a local problem” but a national, and even international one.
The Museum of Wine Culture of Catalonia (VINSEUM) is exporting the enotourism model of its Penedès region to the Uruguayan towns of Montevideo and Canelones. The museum is coordinating a collaboration project with these Latin American cities in order to boost their wine industry. The strategy is to mirror the steps taken by cellars in Catalonia’s Penedès region, one of the oldest and most renowned wine-producing regions in the Iberian Peninsula, especially well-known for Cava, a Catalan sparkling wine. The project, which includes visits by Uruguayan producers to Catalonia, is also an opportunity for the Penedès region to boost its reputation in Latin America.
The Argentine received a total of 49 votes, beating Luis Suárez (3) and Cristiano Ronaldo (2) to the award. The recognition is deserved after an exceptional season for the Barça number 10 in which he scored 58 goals in 57 competitive matches in 2015/16. He scored in the Vicente Calderón against Atlético to hand the blaugranes the league title and he found the net twice in the Copa del Rey final win over Athletic Club. Messi was exceptional in the Champions League final against Juventus, although he was unable to score the goal his performance deserved. Previously, in the semi-finals against Bayern Munich, his two goals were decisive in deciding the tie, one of which has been voted as the best of the Champions League season.
Opposition parties have accused the Catalan President of trying to use the chamber for “electoral purposes”, and the PPC has already rejected attending the debate. Artur Mas will address Parliament “probably” on the 2nd of September, just one week before the electoral campaign kicks off, according to the President of the Catalan Chamber, Nuria de Gispert. His aim is to explain why he called early elections for the 27th of September, which are considered by supporters of independence as a ‘de facto’ referendum on separation from Spain. Mas’ appearance before Parliament has the support of his Liberal CDC and the left-wing pro-independence ERC, but has been criticised by all the other opposition parties.
The economic crisis might be over in GDP terms, with growth in both Spain and Catalonia, but its social and labour effects still persist. That is according to the two main unions in Catalonia, UGT and CCOO, that warned on Wednesday that much still needs to be done. A report by UGT has suggested that Catalonia needs to create 400,000 new jobs to reach the levels of employment that it had before the economic crisis. The report, which analyses the situation between 2007 and 2015, regrets the fact that there are now more temporary and part-time contracts. The CCOO has said that new street mobilisations will be needed this autumn in order to ask for better working conditions for employees in the country.