Spain is in the grip of the third wave of coronavirus infections with cases rising all across the nation.
Joe Biden was inaugurated Wednesday morning as the 46th US president in a solemn ceremony in which he called for unity to overcome the multiple crises facing the country and proclaimed that “democracy has prevailed” after the chaotic and divisive mandate of Donald Trump.
The ceremony on the steps of the US Capitol – during which Kamala Harris also took the oath of office as vice president, the first woman and person of black and/or Asian origin to occupy that office – was marked by unprecedented levels of security and precautions prompted by Covid-19.
It’s breakfast time. On the second floor of a building in one of the most expensive areas of Madrid, a young man opens the door of a luxury apartment that has been seized by the authorities from a drug dealer, and is now being used by a special team from Spain’s internal affairs unit to investigate Francisco Nicolás Gómez Iglesias, the young opportunist who managed to access the highest echelons of power using a cocktail of personal charm and extravagant lies.
The blinds are down and the plush furniture has been replaced by metal desks and office chairs. There is complete silence, but for the footsteps of the police officers on the wooden floor. The head of the group looks like he could easily be an actor playing the role of a detective. Tall and handsome, he leaves a number of documents bearing the police headquarters masthead on the table. The pages belong to a 2014 police statement given by Francisco Nicolás Gómez Iglesias, who, at that time, was a 20-year-old man still living with his middle-class parents in a modest apartment in Madrid’s northern Chamartín district. Up until then, Gómez Iglesias – or “El Pequeño Nicolás” (or, Little Nicolás) as he would later be dubbed by the Spanish media – had no criminal record.
The 15-page statement is the product of an interrogation that began at 8.35pm on a Thursday five years ago and continued until 5.35am the following morning. Earlier that evening the police had entered the home of Francisco Nicolás, who, at that time, was a charming young man regularly photographed with Spain’s elite who was close to important figures in the conservative Popular Party (PP). Inside, they uncovered evidence of his curious lifestyle: forged reports from the National Center of Intelligence (CNI), police sirens, Civil Guard badges, and various documents bearing the seal of La Moncloa, the seat of government, and the Royal Household.
“There’s something about that search I’ll never forget,” says the police chief. “And that is the incredible composure of that 20 year old. We were searching his grandmother’s house, discovering evidence of the vast lie he had been living, one that could land him in jail, but he watched each one of us with absolute calm as if he was trying to work something out. None of us were in uniform nor were any orders given in his presence. Suddenly, he looked at me half smiling and asked, ‘You’re the boss, right?’”
Just hours after the interrogation, the media circus began. Details and photographs began to reveal Little Nicolás’ double life, raising the question – still unanswered – of whether he acted alone or was merely a cog in the wheel of something darker and more complex. His need to be in the news continues unabated – there has been his recent stand-off with the Catalan pro-independence protest group, Committees for the Defense of the Republic (CDR) in Barcelona, his arrest in Madrid for hitting a waiter in a restaurant, and his appearance at the United Nations climate change summit in Madrid, where he said he had “a number of meetings” to attend.
What investigators do know is that Little Nicolás’ quest to be in the limelight began much earlier. Ten years earlier, to be precise. On April 2, 2005, Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls had announced the death of John Paul II, 84. The announcement was made at 10pm and the news spread fast with large crowds of mourners gathering in cities around the world. In Madrid’s Colón square, a TV journalist covered the event while a boy hovered in the background, eager to be interviewed. Eventually he got his wish.
“Fran. Ten years old, right?”
“Yes, that’s right,” said the boy, though he was still 15 days from his 10th birthday.
“What did John Paul II mean to you?”
“He seemed like a saint to me,” he replied.
Ten years later, when Fran had become a media sensation and his lawyer María Victoria Vega was trying to get him out of his various legal problems, his mother María del Carmen Iglesias said something to the psychiatrists examining her son that shone a light on how everything could have started: “We sent him to an elite school because we wanted him to make important friends.” And that was exactly what Fran did. He admits so himself.
“I am now 25,” he says in an interview, held before it was revealed that he could be facing 30 years in jail for various fraud cases, including passing himself off as an envoy of Spain’s King Felipe VI, a government representative, and even a secret agent. “I was 20 when I was arrested. But it was from the ages of 15 to 20 when I really had power. You have to take into account that I was sent to a school in El Viso where everyone was rich except for me – I was poor. Everyone lived in massive houses but me. I lived in a small house. So I told myself: ‘I have to have the standard of living I deserve.’”
Five years later, Fran recounts almost word for word everything that he told the psychiatrists in court – that before he was 15, he was the director of a teenage disco; that every weekend he would get 800 to 1,000 young people together, most of whom were the children and grandchildren of important figures; that he started to handle lots of money, which was when the Foundation for Social Studies and Analysis (FAES) signed him up to attract other young people. This catapulted him to center stage.
“After that, I met [former prime minister] José María Aznar, [former Madrid mayor] Ana Botella, [Spanish billionaire] Juan Miguel Villar Mir, [banker] Emilio Botín and all the businessmen who had made it and were yet to make it,” he says.
“And what happened then?”
“Well, as it says on the psychiatric reports, which by the way I totally agree with, my choices changed. They said that everything I have lived through could have shaped my cognitive capacity. Because the life I began to live was not at all normal. It wasn’t normal that I went to school in an official car or that I was invited to the coronation of [Spanish King] Felipe VI, or that I was on the balcony on Génova street when [Spanish prime minister] Mariano Rajoy won an absolute majority [at the 2011 election]. None of it was normal at that age, and it ended up shaping my capacity to know right from wrong.”
“Do you mean that at times you acted on the fringes of the law?”
“Yes, yes, there’s a moment when you are so immersed in power that you can’t tell black from white. I totally recognize myself in those reports and I agree with them.”
What the psychiatric reports highlight and what the police officers who interrogated Little Nicolás in 2014 also attest to is that, even after the arrest – even knowing that he could be in trouble with the law – Francisco Nicolás was getting a great deal of pleasure from describing his incredible story in minute detail.
In the 15 pages of his statement, the main players in Spanish politics crop up one after another. Little Nicolás admits that he had acted as a go-between for the Trade Department and the businessman Juan Miguel Villar Mir; that he collaborated with the CNI in the embezzlement case against Iñaki Urdangarin, King Felipe VI’s brother-in-law; and the fiscal fraud case against former Catalan premier Jordi Pujol; not to mention the Catalonia referendum. He also worked for Ana Botella, the former mayor of Madrid when she entered office, and a Chamartín district councilor with whom he often had breakfast so that his chauffeurs and bodyguards could take him to school afterwards in an official vehicle.
You are so immersed in power that you can’t tell black from white
Little Nicolás gave the police dates, names and places. And when it all sounded too surreal to be true, he would introduce some precise detail that would blow them away.
The most striking example of this is when Little Nicolás talked about how he collaborated with Spain’s secret service on some of the country’s most delicate matters. He explained that his contact was none other than Ángeles Maroto, the chief of staff at the CNI. The head of the interrogation looked skeptical. And so Francisco Nicolás went into detail: “Ángeles Maroto’s office is in the inside of the CNI complex after you pass the access control point where you have to leave your cellphone and electronic devices in green lockers. The office is on the first floor. To the right, there is a reception room where the coasters feature the CNI emblem. And on the left, there is an office a little removed from the rest where a secretary called Isabel works.”
The police were shocked. In the days running up to Francisco Nicolás’s arrest, they had often watched as he entered the printing store Workcenter on General Moscardó street, where he would pay for the use of the computers to draw up false reports with the masthead of the CNI or the Ministry of the Presidency. The same reports were later found in his grandmother’s apartment where he lived, having moved there aged 14 because it was less modest than his parents’ home.
The investigators were perplexed. Little Nicolás was a fraud but the extent to which he infiltrated the system was hard to fathom. The court statement from one judge who heard the case in 2014 sums it up: “Let me begin by saying that this judge could not understand how a young person of 20, using just his words […] could have been able to attend conferences, places and events without alerting anyone.”
Five years later, seated in a café, Francisco Nicolás attempts a response.
“I would define myself as quick; a very young, sharp person who knew everyone – especially, the sons and grandsons of those in power because I went out with them and they liked me. And when politicians see people with a future, it’s in their interest to get close to them. Everything followed from there. At 15 and 16, I sat behind [Spanish businessman] Florentino Pérez and next to the US ambassador in the presidential box for the Copa del Rey soccer final. That was power. Nobody in Spain had managed it at 16. And I told myself, ‘If I can do this now, imagine me at 30 – I will have the world at my feet.’”
“And it was all your own initiative, or were you working for someone?”
“It was always my initiative. I liked politics, in fact I have now founded a party called Influencia Joven [or Young Influence]. When you are so young, you surround yourself with people who don’t have good thinking. I always say that I am neither clever nor intelligent. What I do have is talent, which might be emotional intelligence or simply getting people to like me, but it is true that my story is different from most. Really there’s no other story like it in the world. […] It’s unique.”
“And how do you explain that?”
“Even I don’t understand it. Not even I know what happened. I suppose, in the end, there were a number of factions in the CNI and the government was in control of it and they were in conflict with some divisions between the police – the police against the police. The government against the government.”
“Do you think a red line was crossed?”
“Yes. When I am asked for information and I don’t give it.”
“Information about who?”
“About politicians. I am told: ‘Either you give the information or all your privileges will be taken away’ and I said ‘Well, no.’ And that’s when they saw a 20-year-old rebel who was meeting the most important figures in the CNI. And from then on, there were problems.”
According to Little Nicolás, a number of publishing houses have offered him a great deal of money to reveal all but he maintains it was never his plan “to hurt Spain.” For now, the only authorized biography is what lies in the cases against him and the two psychiatric reports. Little Nicolás is facing up to 30 years in prison for charges of forgery, fraud, identity theft, leaking confidential information and belonging to a criminal group.
A source close to him says the situation is rather sad. “Fran is being consumed by his own personality,” says the source. “He’s no longer a funny kid of 18; and his ambitious plan to springboard into politics from the PP youth wing [Nuevas Generaciones] has failed. He watched a lot of American series and films, and he made a mistake wanting to become a government spy. He thought he was cleverer than the chief of police and he is paying a high price for it. He no longer knows how to get the attention he needs to continue to feel he’s at the center of the country. One day he sets up a political party, the next he’s in the news for wearing a yellow ribbon [in support of the Catalan separatist leaders in prison for their involvement in the 2017 breakaway attempt] or he’s off to Barcelona so that the independence supporters bombard him with eggs. The last thing was an arrest for assaulting a waiter…”
He could be saved be returning to anonymity, but that would go against his very nature.
Abi Lindsay Clark talks to María José Sevilla, whose book Delicioso gives a fascinating account of the history of food in Spain.
María José, you are both a chef and a writer, when did you first feel your passion for the gastronomic world?
I am not actually a chef but a passionate cook and also a food and wine writer. My mother was an excellent cook and my grandmother was a professional cook admired by many. For decades I worked at the Economic and Commercial Office of Spain in London where my job was to highlight the virtues of Spanish Food and Wine as a marketeer, a broadcaster and an educator.
You are also a specialist in viticulture. Can you tell us more about that?
At a very early stage of my career it became clear that I needed to know more about wine in general, and the wines of Spain in particular. In the early 1990’s, I was lucky enough to become the first Spaniard to pass the Diploma of the Wine and Spirit Education Trust in the UK. This Diploma became fundamental in the development of my whole working life and it still is. One thing I feel very proud of is to have been elected a member of La Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino.
I understand you live in the UK, have you lived there for many years? What motivated you to move there?
The desire to learn the language and to enjoy the freedoms I did not have in the Spain of the 1970’s
In 1989 you wrote the book, ‘Life and food in the Basque country,’ was that your first book? How many other books have you written?
The book about Basque food (Weidenfeld and Nicolson) was the first. It was followed by ‘Spain on a Plate’ (BBC Books), ‘Mediterranean Flavours’ (Pavilion Books) and more recently ‘Delicioso, a History of Food in Spain’ (Reaktion Books). Over the years I have contributed to a number of other books such as ‘The Cook’s Room, A Celebration at the heart of the Home’ (Macdonal and Co Publishers Ltd.), ‘The Cook Book of Ingredients’ (Dorling Kindersley), ‘Street Food around The World and ‘An Encyclopaedia of Food and Culture’ (ABC-CLIO), among a number of others.
You have worked as a presenter on UK television, for example with the BBC. Can you tell us about these projects?
I started working in television in the UK at the end of the 80’s . I just had published ‘Life and Food in the Basque Country’ and it had been well received by the press and by a couple of television producers looking for new ideas and faces. In those days very few people was writing about Spanish food outside Spain. Out of the blue, an independent British TV channel asked me to present a short program about Spanish drinks for children. This was followed by a request from BSB (British Satellite Broadcasting) to write and present five 30 minute programs for a new series under the title ‘Plat de Jour’ . The series featured ingredients and dishes from a number of countries including Spain. In 1991 I received a letter from BBC TV offering me to write and present a new series about Spanish food. At the end of 1990, the Corporation decided to produce two series about Spanish food, as part of their contribution to the 500th Anniversary of the European discovery of America and also the Olympic Games to take place in Barcelona in 1992. One of the series would be filmed both in Spain and in Ealing Studios in London and presented by a Spaniard. More importantly, the series was going to be fully backed by my employer in Madrid, ICEX. ‘Spain on a Plate’ was broadcast first in the UK in March 1992 and later in many other countries around the World. The BBC also asked me to write a book under the same title which was to become a bestseller. In 1993 ‘Spain on a Plate’ was selected as the ‘TV Program of the Year’ by the prestigious Glenfiddich Awards in London . The same year the series was granted a ‘Premio Nacional Alimentos de España by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture which particularly touched my heart . Since then I have contributed to a number of TV food programs in the USA, Australia and Japan among other countries.
Last year you published your latest book Delicioso, A history of food in Spain, in English, with the UK publishers Reaktion books, could you give us an overview of what it is about? Would you like to have it translated into Spanish at some point?
‘Delicioso’ belongs to a s book series published under the generic title, Food and Nations. It explores the rich history and geography of Spanish food from Palaeolithic times to the present day, telling the story of how food production and consumption developed and how it was influenced by other places and peoples. From the beginning I had something clear in my mind; The book had to offer a readable account of the unique “flavours” and long history of the food of my country.
I would love all my books to be translated into Spanish but it has not happened so far.
When I first moved to Spain back in 1997, I noticed certain apprehension in the Spanish people to try dishes from other countries, but this has changed dramatically in the past few years. What do you feel has been the main cause of this?
It was natural that it would change , particularly in the big cities but actually it changed quite slowly. The country had been opening up since the end of the seventies and the people, including chefs had started to travel abroad. They were bringing back other ideas, and also new ingredients, not necessarily to copy other chefs and other recipes, but to update they own traditions. Later, a new generation headed by very innovative and creative chefs mainly from the Basque Country and Catalonia, would position Spain at the top of the professional world of food. Perhaps the improvement and excitement created by Spanish food during a period of almost forty years, did not encourage enough investment in restaurants from other countries, with some exceptions such as a number of Japanese and Latin American restaurants which have managed to develop a healthy following. Sushi, pizza and American style hamburgers are now available over the counter in shops and supermarkets all over the country . However, in certain parts of the country there is still a strong resistance to change. I can give you a good example. In the Andalusian Sierra where I live for a few months of the year , the changes I have encountered over a period of fifteen years are related to local cooks and chefs becoming more professional. It is the improvement of local traditional dishes, rather than the desire to try dishes and ingredients from other countries or even from other parts of Spain that has become important . A Chinese family opened a restaurant in Aracena our closest town and after two months, due to the lack of interest sadly had to close. This is not happening exclusively in Andalusia. In most parts of the country local food traditions and dishes have remained very strong and will most likely remain so.
In an interview you gave with the newspaper La Vanguardia you commented that, ‘In reality, Spanish cuisine, as such, doesn´t exist,’ can you expand on this?
In the introduction, and in chapters seven and eight of ‘Delicioso’, I wrote on the subject of a Spanish Cuisine or the ‘Cocina de España’ in the singular, which for me does not actually exist. My language is the language of the ‘Cocinas de Espana’ in their plurality and individuality, Mediterranean and not so Mediterranean. The most beautiful thing for me about my country is its diversity; the various languages, the climatic variations and the geographical barriers that for centuries have tended to keep apart the regional identities of its peoples and their food.
I became aware of the great diversity of the Spanish kitchen as my family moved from place to place following my father’s postings in the air force. My grandmother’s and my mother’s dishes , as well as the dishes prepared by the local cooks they employed , reflected the parts of the country where they had lived . Although the food they loved and served most days was from Navarre and Aragon, where they were originally brought up, dishes from Extremadura, the Balearic Islands or the Basque Country would appear at our table from time to time, each dish so different and quite distinctive . For the last thirty years I have been travelling all over Spain. I have been lucky to eat in amazing restaurants in Madrid, Barcelona or Bilbao but if I wanted to understand local food I would eat in bars and small traditional restaurants where I could talk to the cook and so appreciate local traditions.
There has been a huge increase in the exportation of Spanish cuisine to other countries of the world over the last few years, do you think that the gastronomy is truly reflective of the standard of the cuisine at home?
The image of Spanish food outside Spain has improved dramatically contributing to the improvement of the image of the country as a whole. Gone are the days when Spanish food was served in restaurants outside Spain where cooks, many working without any form of training, were trying their best to reproduce authentic Spanish dishes and not succeeding . The lack of shops selling authentic Spanish ingredients especially in major cities did not help. In those days Spanish chefs did not travel or had any intention to work or train outside their own localities. Twenty years on, the work and influence of talented Spanish chefs is now reflected in the food cooked in very popular tapas bars and in prestigious restaurants in many cities and towns all over the world. What has proved to be difficult is maintaining outside Spain the level of quality and innovation that characterises the best of Spanish food today, both traditional or innovative. However until now there have been some wonderful examples of excellent Spanish food served in Europe, Asia or America . A permanent challenge affecting Spanish restaurant business abroad has been to attract and retain, fully trained Spanish chefs prepared to work in kitchens outside their own country, even when a good offer has been made . They normally don’t speak the language and most importantly they miss life in Spain, their families and their friends. Unfortunately the future of many businesses is now in the balance owing to the devastating pandemic that undoubtedly will affect Spanish food and the whole hospitality industry all around the world.
Given the latest fashion for Vegan dishes and the introduction of new products for example Quinoa, how do you think this will affect the traditional Spanish cuisine?
As Spanish food is a melting pot, layered by ingredients and cooking traditions from many different cultures, it should not be difficult to absorb these new tendencies without seriously affecting the traditional ‘Cocinas” It is in fact already happening.
You are the first Spanish person to obtain the diploma, of ‘The wine and spirit education trust,’ congratulations! Can you elaborate on this?
The Wine and Spirit Education Trust is of course the prestigious organisation which has been behind the advancement and improvement of peoples knowledge of wine all over the world. Its qualifications cover the study of all aspects of viticulture, wine making and marketing. I was required to study for over four years alongside my regular job and pass the final examinations before obtaining the Diploma in Wine Studies.
How do you think dishes in the globalised world that we live in will evolve? Do you think that we will end up losing the traditional dishes from the different countries?
This is a complicated question and the reply would have to be analysed almost country by country. It will be necessary to look into their development and how strong still are their food traditions, among other factors, including food production, trading and very importantly , food history. Quite often I judge food and wine writing competitions and every time it surprises me how many books are full of traditional dishes or based totally on traditional dishes. One of the most beautiful books I have seen in recent years was dedicated to the food traditions of Ethiopia, so intriguing and amazing were the recipes that I tried to cook a few. If we talk about European food in general and the food of Spain in particular , we need to look at the presence or not in daily life, of traditional dishes and the desire of people to eat them frequently even if around the corner they can eat also delicious food from another country. We cannot talk in the same way about traditional dishes in the U.K as in Italy or in Spain which brings us to another question What is a traditional dish? Is a curry a British traditional dish? For me it is.
To reply at this moment to the second part of the question, let me share with you a few thoughts all related to Spanish food.
The hospitality industry has been forced by a brutal pandemic to alter its business models in a matter of months. With a second or possible third wave of the pandemic on its way, it looks like the original models may have to be altered forever if they are going to survive. In this new world in which we are already living, recipe innovation and evolution in which Spain has reigned supreme for several decades now, will have to be set aside at least for a while. The investment, energy and expertise needed, will have to be redirected to new areas of the business, such as delivery systems, packaging design and marketing innovation including, an even more sophisticated social media . Many kitchens will have to be redesigned and recipes to be selected more in tune with the new business models and their capacity to be adapted to new requirements, especially if the meals have to be delivered. It has not been easy but in London for instance, Spanish restaurants and tapas bars such as the Grupo Iberica, Pizarro or Sabor have already been very active and quite successful in altering their business . What they have done is to concentrate on their most popular and traditional recipes, which in the case of Spain is very important. Furthermore, some Spanish bars and restaurants have invested in shops selling authentic Spanish ingredients, which they can also sell on line: sauces and ‘caldos’ already prepared, fresh produce such as meat or seafood, specialised breads and even wines.
One thing that will protect different food cultures today, including the Spanish, is that food for the majority of the people, is very emotional. When we are threatened or unsettled we need comfort and reassurance from recipes we love whether they are from our own culture or from other cultures that make us feel good.
Thank you Maria José!
The Ministry of Health of the Government of the Canary Islands notified 312 new cases of coronavirus COVID-19 as at January 19th.
The total accumulated cases in the Canary Islands is 31,984
with 8,178 active, of which 62 are admitted to the ICU and 309 remain
In the 24 hours up until January 19th, there were
seven more deaths, five of them in Tenerife, one in Gran Canaria and one
in Lanzarote, aged between 64 and 96 years. Two of the deaths are associated
with the outbreak in the Cataleya centre for the elderly and another
socio-health centre in La Matanza, in Tenerife.
The Accumulated Incidence at seven days in the Canary
Islands stands at 95.76 and at 14 days at 178.09.
By islands, Tenerife added 42 cases with a total of 14,840
accumulated cases and 4,613 epidemiologically active cases; Gran Canaria has
12,558 accumulated cases, 135 more than the previous day and 2,442 active.
Lanzarote adds 114 new cases with 2,654 accumulated and 876 epidemiologically
active; Fuerteventura has 1,281 accumulated cases with 20 more cases than the
previous day and 223 active. La Palma does not register new cases and has 329
accumulated and three active cases; La Gomera without new cases, remains at 207
accumulated and nine active. For its part, El Hierro adds a new case and has
115 accumulated and 12 assets.
To date, a total of 740,412 PCR tests have been carried out
in the islands, of which 2,460 correspond to January 18th.
The present curfew comes into effect at 22.00h each evening until 06.00h the next morning, seven days a week. To be out you need a valid reason.
Valid reasons include going to or returning from work. It also includes a trip to a pharmacy, but in each case you have to have a document to justify it, either printed out or on your phone.
Now, the Junta, along with quite a few other regional PMs want to bring the curfew forward to 20.00h and in fact one region has already done this and is being taken to court by the Central Government.
So, what happens if the Central Government caves in and permits the curfew to begin at 20.00h – can you take your dog out for a walk at 20.30h so that it can do its final necessities?
Well, the Junta bigwig, Elías Bendodo, when confronted with this question at a press call, responded that yes you could, as long as “you used your common sense.”
Editorial comment: the trouble is that interpretations like this one do more to confuse rather than clarify as it is too loose a description. This was also the case over Christmas with the term allegado (close family friend).
The UK National Lottery is drawn at around 20:00 every Wednesday and Saturday and the UK National Lottery Results and Winning Numbers are made available online shortly after that time.
Thursday 21 January 2021
UK Lotto Draw Prize Breakdown
National Lotto Draw No. 2617
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Residents of Gran Alacant in Santa Pola are calling for a greater police presence and security cameras to be installed after a recent spate of burglaries.
Their association highlighted that some of these took place in broad daylight.
They have written to the national government representative in the province with proposals to improve security.
Full report in Friday’s Costa Blanca News – available from supermarkets, tobacconists/newspaper shops and online at www.costa-news.com
The Spanish health minister, Salvador Illa, has rejected calls from a dozen regions for an earlier curfew to start at 8pm rather than 10pm. One region, Asturias, had proposed 6pm.
During the meeting of the Inter-Territorial Council of the National Health System, Illa argued that with the current terms of the state of alarm, regions have the capability to increase restrictions without there being the need for an earlier curfew. The government is not wholly opposed to the earlier curfew but it doesn’t believe that it is necessary.
It would also require confirmation by Congress, where the government would face stiff opposition from the Partido Popular.
The Balearics was one of the regions which supported the earlier curfew.
This additional team will collaborate with the Local Police and the Civil Guard. The decision may well have had added urgency this morning, due to images and video shared across social networks, as well as in local and national media, in which three young people are observed in a brutally violent attack in a local car park, on Monday afternoon. In spite of this, Pestana recognised that the perception of citizen insecurity “does not correspond to the data”, referencing the repeated claims of criminality on social media, that bare little or no resemblance to official reports made to the police. Regardless, the importance of ensuring people feel safe has clearly been recognised, and this will hopefully allow for a decrease in unsubstantiated claims, as well as a lowering of the potential for actual crimes being committed.
Anselmo Pestana highlighted that the migratory flows to the Archipelago experienced throughout 2020 have been highly unusual. In addition, he expressed his faith that the numbers of people temporarily residing in the tourist complexes on the south of the island will before long diminish as they are transferred to the camps set up by the Ministry of Migration in various parts of the Canary Islands.
Over the last week transfers to emergency centres in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria have been well underway with more to follow as the facilities finalise their preparations, which have taken several weeks to complete.
The Government delegate has also indicated that the opening of borders with countries such as Morocco and Mauritania will favour and speed up deportations of those who do not meet an accepted profile of vulnerability.
The security meeting was organised by the Southern Mayor, last week, as part of her coordinated response to serious concerns raised by social media posts, news reports and members of the community expressing increased fears of disturbances and feelings of insecurity. The meeting was attended by the Government Delegate, Anselmo Pestana, the Mayor Conchi Narváez, the Security Councillor, Samuel Henríquez, the Superior Chief of Police of the Canary Islands, Rafael Martínez Lopez, the Commissioner of the National Police of San Bartolomé de Tirajana, Eduardo Manuel Caudet and the Commissioner of the Local Police of San Bartolomé de Tirajana, Isidro Armas.
The reasons for the safety meeting included the need to directly address the latest altercations reported in the municipality and provide an increase in resources for necessary measures in the face of feelings of insecurity expressed among citizens.
Mayor Conchi Narváez has demanded greater coordination between the administrations and their agreement to proceed with the preferential expulsion of any people who, having arrived in an irregular manner and who are now being hosted in the local area, might then adversely affect public order, as per article 234 of the Spanish Immigration Law. Spain’s Government Delegate, Anselmo Pestana, emphasised that expulsions of those people who have arrived on Canary Islands shores irregularly, are already well under way and that this had not been possible before due to the closures of borders caused by the pandemic.
In addition to taking the opportunity to also meet with the mayor of Mogán, the Government Delegate has committed to transfer an increase in resources, a further 40 national police officers, directly to the Policia Nacional headquartered in the southern municipality of San Bartolomé de Tirajana, to patrol the streets and strengthen citizen security, summoning the administrations, security forces and NGOs that participate in the reception of migrants for a future meeting to ensure better coordination. He also pointed out that the Spanish have already begun the progressive transfer of migrants from the tourist hotels in both municipalities, as other facilities are being prepared and become available.