– ¿Cuál es la señal del camino, oh derviche? – Escucha lo que te digo
y, cuando lo oigas, ¡medita!
Ésta es para ti la señal:
la de que, aunque avances,
verás aumentar tu sufrimiento.
April 8 2008
British EP members call for action against Spain’s
‘land grab’ laws
Posted by Kevin Brass in News, General
Pressure is mounting for the European Parliament to take action against Spain for demolishing homes owned by foreigners.
“They [property buyers] were assured that deeds to their property were legal as advised by local lawyers, developers and officials,” British Labour MEP Michael Cashman said at a press conference, after members of Parliament staged two days of discussions on the issues. “Now because of a combination of corruption and interpretation of new property laws, these people are facing ruin.”
His Conservative party counterpart, Sir Robert Atkins, said, “The Spanish authorities have had long enough to talk about change. Now is the time for action. I am calling on the Spanish authorities to issue an immediate moratorium on demolitions and future land grab developments.”
Read coverage from Overseas Property Professional here.
The corruption in Spain runs far deeper than most imagine. While the US subprime and real estate markets are getting much coverage, the market in Spain is more corrupt as developers and agents take deposits for property which will never be built. The Spanish government has failed to properly control these developers and many foreign buyers have lost their deposits or are forced to take legal action in the slow court system.
Posted by: Derek, Baku — 08 April 2008 4:34 pm
Concur with Derek, corruption runs deep not only in Spain but in all countries that are south of a imaginary line that divide Europe between southern and northern countries from Portugal to Romania. It’s in fact a fabric of the Latin culture.
Posted by: Marc — 08 April 2008 4:56 pm
Corruption is a way of life in Spain. One has only to look at the case of Marbella to see how a corrupt town planner (almost)brought the town to its knees. Fifteen years ago he was unemployed. Then he came to Marbella and a job in town planning, until he was arrested two years ago for corruption. Today he is the country’s fourth richest man. To add insult to injury, he is likely to be out on bail in the near future. Who said crime doesn’t pay?
Posted by: Mara Lane — 08 April 2008 5:49 pm
It’s shameful that Britons, after leaving their countries, come to Spain and buy any property they are offered to without being assured from trustful lawyers what they are uying.
Fortunately Spain is ruled by the Law and I cannot agree on people who share their lives with us in Spain and are unfair.Corruption is not a fabric of the Latin culture but it’s out of greedy people everywhere
Posted by: Felipe Almería Spain — 08 April 2008 8:34 pm
This article is incorrect right from the title. Michael Cashman is not a British Minister and he has never held any position within the British Government. He is elected as a UK Member of the European Parliament in Strasbourg and Brussels and he would no doubt be amongst the first to say that he has no mandate whatsoever to speak on behalf of the government in Westminster.
Your Austin-based correspondent would be well advised to spend 15 seconds googling his key-quote before posting. And if he does choose to stick with this title do you think he might be able to come up the necessary apostrophe?
Raise your game, guys! I’m a faithful reader but I hope the subtitle “blog” doesn’t mean that journalistic basics get tossed completely aside.
Posted by: Jacques, Paris — 08 April 2008 8:38 pm
…Ah, of course, I’m sorry, the apostrophe wouldn’t be necessary if “call” is intended to function as a verb…But who are the other British ministers? Sir Robert Atkins isn’t one – although, ok, 13 years ago he was.
So, it’s my mistake on the intended grammar, but it’s yours on the facts!
Posted by: Jacques, Paris — 08 April 2008 8:40 pm
Buyer beware. If Spain is corrupt, it didn’t get that way overnight. If you chose to navigate a minefield, be prepared to take some hits. Thailand is no different.
Posted by: Mike, Thailand — 08 April 2008 8:56 pm
The headline was not meant to imply that they are British Ministers, only that they are British. As noted in the OPP story, the two members quoted represent different points in the British political spectrum, which is significant for people following the issue. And, yes, in a rush, “ministers” was used instead of “members.” The post has been corrected. Thanks for pointing it out.
Posted by: Kevin Brass — 08 April 2008 9:13 pm
I disagree with many of the comments here, specially Marc’s.
Your comment is very near to a imaginary line that divide the legitimate criticism and the xenophobic delirium.
Spain ranks 25 in the index of countries with less corruption in a list of 170 countries, USA is 20, (Transparency international list). by the way, UK is not in the top ten, neither.
Posted by: carlos, Spain — 08 April 2008 9:29 pm
To the moderators at the IHT!
You’re the business, really! The efficiency with which you’ve sorted out the title of this article is truly impressive. I didn’t at all intend to sound too ill-tempered so please don’t think that you’ve got another stoppy reader on your case. You haven’t.
Thanks, good luck and I’ll keep reading and buying. And before I leave you alone – I’m wondering, are you in Neuilly or in the States?
Posted by: Jacques, Paris — 08 April 2008 9:33 pm
Thank you for the followup. I am, in fact, based in the States. But I write this from Madrid, where I’m covering SIMA, the property industry show. So let’s chalk it up to jet lag.
Posted by: Kevin Brass — 08 April 2008 9:53 pm
Europeans and members of the U.K. have a right to expect that fundamental rights and laws are upheld throughout the European Union. One of those fundamental rights is to own property. If Spain cannot regulate developers to the extent that corruption is not commonplace, then perhaps their place in the Union should be in question. Lawlessness has no place in the Union.
Posted by: Philippe, CA USA — 09 April 2008 12:02 am
In USA, there is not a single day without that the newspapers report a new case of corruption with a public officer caught taking bribes from a developer, and you dare to put in question to my country. Before to do it, do clean your own house, because it looks like dirty.
Posted by: carlos, Spain — 09 April 2008 10:05 am
Trust the English to always comment badly on Spain. For them everything is wrong. Please look at your own U.K. I bought my house without any complication but ofcourse I used spanish lawyers and not inglish who know nothing about spanish law. Anyway if they are so dissatisfied why come to buy in spain at all.Regards to all from beautiful wonderful Marbella and the Spanish people. Veronique
Posted by: R.Nedelec Marbella Spain — 09 April 2008 10:33 am
When you talk about the rule of law seem to ignore that demolishing is the fate that law gives to non legal buildings. It seems instead, that some of the readers propose to skip those unconfortable spanish laws, something they wouldn’t do at home.
In Spain we have a say “The cheap becomes expensive”. Trying to become a landlord skipping some checkpoints can cause those situations.
I´ll give you a clear example.
Spain is a mediterranean country where rain comes just a few times a year but in high proportion. Many of those developments where located in apparently safe areas but with flood risk. Doing exactly what this british politician say could change the topic of the blog to “Unsafe buildings sold to british in Spainish land caused several losses in last rains”
¿Where do we stand? As I see quite far from objetivity.
Posted by: Pedro, spain — 09 April 2008 1:59 pm
Having lived in Spain (Madrid) for a few years now I can clearly see the imaginary line between north and south Europe. Essentially, we have 2 Spain. One is Catalunya with the capital in Barcelona and the other is Castellana with the Capital in Madrid. Catalunya is part of Europe as they behave more like Europeans. Castellana is an updated version of Morraco and North African countries. Castellana is definitely not Europe as people cross the red light, don’t respect lines, don’t work but continuosly smoke and drink coffee and chat. In Castellana a little General Franco lives in heart of every Spanish citizen. Every one is a boss. You never can complain even if they refuse to do their job.
The corruption ranking belongs to Catalunya not Castellana. Although I’m not English, I can understand why British have such opinions about Spain.
But as any ther place on this planet, there are positive aspects too. Here people are more flexible about daily life affairs compared to rigid Germans. The weather is gorgous and there are plenty of good parks.
Posted by: Emry, Madrid — 11 April 2008 10:36 am
I am astonished reading you are living in Spain, but you think that Spain is just Catalunya or Castille, no offence but your way of thinking is a bit lazy in my opinion, are you seriously sustaining that Galicia, the Basque country, Andalucia, etc,… are the same thing and Catalunya another different one? In fact, the Basque country, where I do live, would be much more different than Catalunya, and I think of myself as basque, european and very spaniard.
“In Castellana a little General Franco lives
in heart of every Spanish citizen”
Emry, you should to know that the half of Spain faced against the General Franco but they failed because of the cowardliness of certain countries that prefered an unfree Spain conveniently subdued to the fascism more than a free Spain oriented to the left. I can assure you there is not a little General Franco in most of the spanish population, but all the contrary one.
Spain was insulted, raped and kidnapped for 40 years, Spain resisted, screamed and requested for help from the countries of north Europe (much better ones and much more europeans than the south Europeans, as all of us know), and our north european neighboors did nothing for help us (well, that is not entirely true, some north European countries as Germany had the kindness to throw us a few bombs over our heads) and now when that time is long gone with the XX century and we have forgotten all that horror, we have to listen that we have a General Franco in our heart…Fine, thank you, Emry.
After all, maybe that imaginary line does exist really, and I am happy to be in this southern side, so happy as I would be in the northern side because as you well say there are positive aspects in any place.
Posted by: carlos, Spain — 11 April 2008 3:34 pm
I gave you an independent opinion while yours are biased due to “I think of myself as basque, european and very spaniard”.
There live different ethnic groups in the land known as Spain as you mention but the Galician and the Basque do not enjoy the self autonomy and local government as the Catalan do. That’s why I mentioned there are two Spanish country: 1) Republic of Catalunya, 2) Kingdom of Castille.
I’m not sure why the word “Franco” has a negative conotation for you. I find the Spaniard very proud people but at the same time very authoriterian. Being and behaving like a dictator is an integral part of Spanish culture. This has little to do with the “Farnco” as person. He was just a symbol. Long before Franco and long after him the authoriterian culture is very much alive in Spanish culture.
Just go to a typical government institution and you see how the employees act like God. They do not consider themselves accountable to anyone. If you ask them they proudly introduce and consider themselves as “Jeff”. The concept of “complain” has no place in Spain. No matter how much the bureaucrats abuse you, you still are not supposed to complain. All this are difficult for Spaniards to see because they born with it and it seems very normal but in the eyes of independent observers are not.
Again, these are not to criticize Spain as a nation or country but rather just observation and experiences that I almost assure you most foreigners can attest to.
It is also not the question of if you don’t like it then don’t come to Spain. Millions of Spaniards also live and work in other parts of the world. The free exchange of ideas about positive and negative aspects of a coutry and culture is essential for every free society. That’s is also something I miss in Spain. In general Spaniards take it very personally and very quickly when someone points them to less developed part of their culture.
I encourage you to come to Madrid and see it with your own eyes how easy people ignore the red light. Lot of people get killed every year just because of this. Every time I mention this problem, I get the comment: “Go back to your country if you don’t like it here …”.
Posted by: Emry, Madrid — 12 April 2008 1:53 pm
Since your opinion is independent and my opinion is biased, probably this comment is going to be entirely futile. Of course, a foreigner is much more authoritative to talk about Spain than a spaniard.
“the Galician and the Basque do not enjoy the self autonomy and local government as the Catalan do”
That is so funny, the Basque country and Navarre have a special system of financing what provides a higher level of autonomy than the rest of autonomies in Spain, Catalunya included. Money gives freedom. Catalunya have been for decades claming for a similar system.
“I’m not sure why the word “Franco” has a negative conotation for you”
Are you joking?
“Being and behaving like a dictator is an integral part of Spanish culture”
Not, you are not joking. You should feel shame saying such a nonsense. By your words, I see you do not understand what you are saying.
“In general Spaniards take it very personally and very quickly when someone points them to less developed part of their culture.”
In general the people in any part of the world take it very personally when someone starts saying you are corrupt, your country is corrupt, and it is because it is inherent to your culture, that is, of course, corrupt.
I think this is of very bad taste, specially when the indicators of international agencies and specialized groups in the study of the corruption, contradicts that statements. But well, some people have their minds made up, and they do not allow the facts nor the reality force them to change their minds.
“I encourage you to come to Madrid and see it with your own eyes how easy people ignore the red light”
I do know Madrid, as well as Barcelona, since a part of my infancy and some of my adulthood have passed there, as well as I know other cities out of Spain, and I can compare what things are better and worse in another cities in another countries, and what things are better and worse in my country, and frankly, I am very happy living in Spain.
If you are not happy here and you see so much inconveniences, you should consider to look for a country that you can love and not to live in a country that you think it is not as you want it. If you still want to try to love this country, you should accept it as it is, because Spain is an old country with a very long past and it is not easy it is going to chance overnight to be a different one in the morning after just for you. Better love it or leave it, do not try nor expect to change it.
Posted by: carlos, Spain — 12 April 2008 10:38 pm
>>Better love it or leave it, do not try nor expect to change it.–
Dinaseurs did not change and vanished. Everything including cultures are subject to change. Those who resits change toward good direction will suffer.
No one said Spain is a corrupt country and others are not. We just say the corruption level in Spain compared to north European countires is higher. That is a fact and is you don’t like it then the fact still remains.
But I also agree with you to look for another place. After a few years I have not been able to adjust to the way of life in Spain. So for me the best option is to exit. However, my stay or leave does not change anything to the subject of this discussion.
Posted by: Emry, Madrid — 13 April 2008 12:48 am
Any culture has something to change, but in Spain we think our culture is enough good and we want not to change it, just improve it.
“We just say the corruption level in Spain compared to north European countires is higher”
“We just say”? I disagree, people here said things as “Corruption is a way of life in Spain.”,”It’s in fact a fabric of the Latin culture”, “their place in the Union should be in question”. Such statements should be proved or rectified by the people who said it, and I have not seen none of both things.
About the corruption level in Spain being higher than in north Europa, yes, you are right, the level of corruption in Spain, USA and UK is much higher than in north european countries as Denmark, Finland and Sweden. Maybe the level of corruption in anglo countries as UK and USA is in fact a fabric of the anglo-american culture. UK and USA should change toward the good direction of the scandinavian culture and leave behind the corruption inherent to its culture. That is a fact, you can not like it but the fact still remains…. Just kidding, sorry, I could not resist.
“I have not been able to adjust to the way of life in Spain.”
Do not worry, we the spaniards say the same thing very often and it is our own country, then it is very understandable that you feel so way in a culture(s) with different codes unrelated to your native culture.
You seem a nice person and it is a pleasure to discuss and talk you with, I am sure you will find a place where to fit in wherever you go.
Posted by: carlos, Spain — 13 April 2008 3:37 pm
Look the sub-prime scandal has destabalised the world economy, so check the strength of the glass in your houses before throwing stones at “Latin” people. As someone born in an anglo saxon country and living in a latin one, I see little difference in levels of corruption; perhaps corruption more obvious in southern Europe. Many people caught up in the Spanish land scandal signed contracts without taking local legal advice and that’s never a good idea.
It is true that the national government at the time (the Conservative Partido Popular) turned a blind eye to swathes of illegal building work. This is being addressed by the present PSOE government-but their hands are tied where local government remains in the hands of the Partido Polpular. Recently arrests have been made in relation to this scandal.
Posted by: vince smeaton — 13 April 2008 4:40 pm
It is true that the Malaga property scandal was the result of an investigation carried out by the socialist Zapatero government. Their zeal, however, suddenly came to an abrupt halt by another subsequent property scandal in the Baleares when it was revealed that the national spokesman for PSOE had given his approval to collect party funds via some very shady property dealings. The aftermath of all this, of course, is the PSOE´s white-washing campaign of appearing to clean up by the coast through demolitions and land grab developments at the expense of those who followed the rules. All this can go on because 80% of the Spanish news media is controlled the Polanco organization, which turns a blind eye and an empty voice to PSOE blunders and corruption!
Posted by: Ronald Watson, Madrid, Spain — 18 April 2008 1:33 pm
“it was revealed that the national spokesman for PSOE had given his approval” “The aftermath of all this, of course, is the PSOE´s white-washing campaign” ” 80% of the Spanish news media is controlled the Polanco organization which turns a blind eye”
May you provide me a link proving any of the things you sustain in your comment?
I can give you another link as an exchange.
Posted by: carlos, Spain — 20 April 2008 10:23 pm
Posted by José Ortega