Entries in Spain (18)


Second American Dies as Result of Train Crash in Spain

MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images(SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain) -- A 58-year-old woman from Houston died Sunday as a result of injuries sustained in the train crash in Spain, making her the second American to have died in the accident.

The Spanish paper El Pais and the family Facebook page have identified the deceased as Myrta Fariza.She was traveling with her husband Robert, who survived the deadly crash with less serious injuries.

The couple had just attended their daughter's wedding in Rome and were traveling to celebrate the Day of the Apostle in Santiago de Compostela.

“Our sweet Myrta went to be with The Lord,” the family said on their Facebook page. “We have truly lost a wonderful person and heaven has gained an Angel.”

Fariza’s death brings the death toll up to 79.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Deadly Flooding Forces Hundreds to Evacuate in Spain

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ANDALUCIA, Spain) -- Drenching rainfall and devastating flooding in southern Spain have killed at least ten people and forced hundreds to evacuate their homes. 

Floodwaters rose several feet in Andalucia, completely inundating streets and soaking the first floors of many homes with filthy water. Now declared a red alert by the government, at least 600 people in that region had to leave their homes behind for higher ground.

In nearby Murcia, torrential rain caused a highway bridge to collapse, and open fields turned into lakes in a short period of time. Adding to the misery, 35 people were injured at a fair in the region of Valencia when a tornado swept through a fairground and knocked down a Ferris wheel.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Spanish Mayor Leads Store Heists, Gives to Poor

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MARINALEDA, Spain) -- The town of Marinaleda, Spain, has its very own real-life socialist Robin Hood: their mayor, Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo. The controversial political figure is gaining both national and international attention for his less-than-conventional message to the government.

You know how the story goes: steal from the rich and give to the poor. That seems to be the inspiration for Sánchez Gordillo’s latest stance against the government and the downward-spiraling Spanish economy.

The controversial Spanish mayor, who is also one of the leaders of the Andalucian Workers’ Syndicate (SAT), decided to take matters into his own hands, urging SAT members to steal from supermarkets. Members raided two grocery stores, loading up their carts with food and leaving without paying. Those goods went straight to charity.

Sánchez Gordillo said the robberies were intended to be more far-reaching than just giving that food to the poor.

“People are losing everything,” Sánchez Gordillo told Time. “We wanted the authorities to really pay attention to what is happening.”

And while it did gain both national and international attention, seven people were arrested for participating in the two raids.

Sánchez Gordillo has political immunity as an elected member of Andalusia’s regional parliament, so he did not face the same consequences. But, reportedly, he says he will happily renounce his immunity and be arrested himself.

“We robbed to give to the poor because the rich are already robbing,” Sánchez Gordillo told Time. “This crisis is a great robbery.”

Sánchez Gordillo hails from one of the hardest-hit areas of Spain, where one in three workers are unemployed.

As the mayor of Marinaleda for almost 30 years, this is not the first time Sánchez Gordillo has taken extreme actions like this one.

In the 1990s, Sánchez Gordillo convinced the government to turn over part of an aristocratic estate and transfer it to the people of Marinaleda, who began a collective farm on the land.

And earlier this year, Sánchez Gordillo and the SAT occupied a military estate in an attempt to force the government to redistribute it to the people.

Sánchez Gordillo, who has become somewhat of a national celebrity, also announced an upcoming three-week march across the province of Andalusia to persuade local leaders to take similar stances against the government.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


WATCH: Spanish Fireworks Explode Prematurely, Injuring 28

Goodshoot/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- A fireworks explosion over a church bell tower set the sky ablaze and resulted in 28 injuries during a festival in eastern Spain.

Fireworks stored in a church bell tower in the town of Elche were scheduled to go off at midnight Monday, an Elche Town Hall representative told The Press Association.

Instead, the fireworks, protected by a blanket and in a pack inside the tower, were struck by rogue fireworks that had launched from somewhere else.

That strike caused the covered fireworks to launch prematurely, sending an explosion of mini-rockets into the air and raining sparks and burning material down on people below.

The town representative said three of the 28 people injured were fireworks operators who had to be hospitalized for serious burns.  The other 25 people were treated for minor injuries.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Three Suspected Al Qaeda Members Arrested in Spain

Photodisc/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Spanish police arrested three suspected al Qaeda operatives on Wednesday out of fear they were planning an airborne attack in Europe, Spain's interior minister, Jorge Fernandez Diaz, said Thursday.

Spanish police have arrested dozens of alleged militants since 2004, when a key Madrid train station was attacked, but Spanish media reported these were the first caught with explosives -- meaning they had become an operational cell.

The three suspects -- two from ex-Soviet republics and a Turk -- had timers and enough explosives to blow up a bus, Diaz told a press conference in Madrid.

At least two of those arrested had practiced flying light aircraft -- believed to be a motorized paraglider, according to Spanish newspaper El Pais.  Diaz called one of those arrested a "very important member" of al Qaeda who is an expert in explosives and poison.

"It is one of the most important operations against al Qaeda to date to be carried out on an international level," Diaz said.  "There are clear indications that the suspects arrested could have been planning an attack in Spain, and or, other European countries."

Diaz described the two suspects from ex-Soviet republics -- believed to be Chechnyan -- as al Qaeda members and said they were arrested as they traveled on a bus, possibly to cross into France.

"Police moved to arrest them when it became known that they planned to leave Spain," he said.

Diaz said the Turk, who he described as a facilitator, was arrested in a house in the southern town of La Linea, where the explosives were found.

Diaz said non-Spanish, international investigations aided in the operation.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


One-Eyed Matador Returns to Ring

NAYADE MONCIN/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Five months ago Juan Jose Padilla’s gory face and cries of “I can’t see!” shocked spectators, who seconds before were watching the world-class matador participate in a bullfight.

Blood dripped down the Spanish bullfighter’s face after his lower jaw was gored by the bull, going all the way through to his left eye.

After extensive surgery, Padilla wears an eye patch and can’t chew. Despite his injuries, he plans to return to the ring on Sunday for the first time since his accident.

“I’m somebody who has always accepted the risks of my profession, as well as its rewards,” he told the New York Times.

In 2001, Padilla suffered a neck injury while fighting a bull in Pamplona, Spain.

One week after his 2011 accident, Padilla spoke to fans, the U.K.’s Mirror reported.

“I do not want fans to feel sorry for [me],” he said. “I will fight again dressed as a bullfighter because this is my dream to meet the fans.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mexican Presidential Candidate Has His Own Rick Perry ‘Oops’ Moment

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(GUADALAJARA, Spain) -- Apparently Rick Perry’s now-famous brain freeze was felt across the Mexican border.

If you thought the Texas governor’s “oops” moment at last month’s GOP debate in Michigan was the worst case you’ll see in a presidential race this year, there’s a new contender: Enrique Pena Nieto's lapse last weekend at a press conference at the Guadalajara International Book Fair.

When asked what three books had influenced him the most in his personal and political life, a question that even audience members described as “facil” (easy), Pena Nieto stumbled and bumbled his way through an answer that was filled with mistakes and at times virtually incoherent.

Pena Nieto said he read “parts of” the Bible as a child and then cited a number of novels, at one point asking for help in recalling the names of the authors, help he sorely needed since he incorrectly identified some of them.

“When I read books the titles don’t really sink in,” he acknowledged.

At least Perry blanked on the names of the three federal agencies that he would eliminate as president, not on something as basic as his favorite books, but both gaffes are likely to haunt the candidates.

If Pena Nieto -- who leads in the polls -- and Perry -- who trails far behind current Republican frontrunners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich -- both manage to emerge victorious in their respective elections, the two would inevitably end up working together. Last week in New Hampshire Perry even said that if he were elected president, he would request a meeting with the Mexican president-elect to discuss the relationship between the two neighboring countries.

A few reporters snickered: if a Perry-Pena Nieto meeting did take place, would the two be able to remember what topics to discuss?

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


European Leaders in Last-Gasp Effort to Stop Financial Meltdown

Hemera/Thinkstock(BRUSSELS) -- What happens to the European currency, the euro, may seem a distant and complicated financial issue to many, but doubts about its survival are driving market uncertainty everywhere -- and impeding economic growth in the U.S.

It’s hoped that at Wednesday evening’s European summit in Brussels, a plan will be agreed on to deal with the Euro debt crisis once and for all. But that is looking unlikely.

Several countries in Europe are drowning in debt. Greece is the worst off, living off bailout loans from its European partners and now locked in recession.

But others, including much larger economies like Italy and Spain, are also dangerously indebted. If they go the way of the Greeks, the European single currency project would likely collapse, sparking a massive financial crisis.

The heads of European governments are working on a three-point plan to save the Greek economy from imploding, and the crisis spreading to Italy and Spain:

Point 1 – Forcing banks which have lent money to Greece to accept a write down of their Greek loans of up to 60 percent.  There's been no agreement yet, and the banks, not surprisingly, are resisting.

Point 2 – Providing those exposed banks with a safety net of almost $150 billion to protect them from their huge losses.

Point 3 – Increasing the so-called European Financial Stability Fund so that it can throw up a financial fire wall which will protect the crisis spreading to Spain and Italy.  The International Monetary Fund says this will need around $2 trillion.  There are major disagreements between the French and Germans on how to do this.

Add to this toxic mix Italy and demands from European Union leaders that it must present serious plans for spending cuts in return for financial “protection” from the EU. Opposition to such austerity measures -- like the limiting of generous government-funded pensions and the like -- continue to spark unrest in the streets of several European countries.

But Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is in real political difficulty over this. He is locked into an unwieldy coalition government in Rome which does not want to respond to the demands of the European Union. Reports in Rome early Wednesday suggested he may even be considering resignation.

An eleventh hour deal in Brussels can’t be ruled out, but the more likely result is a late night statement of principles by leaders, with details being worked out by EU finance ministers in the coming days ahead of next week’s G20 summit in Cannes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Spain's Stolen Babies: A 50 Year Trafficking Scandal Revealed

Hemera/Thinkstock(MADRID) -- A new BBC documentary sheds light on a chilling practice that took place in Spain beginning under General Francisco Franco’s dictatorship in the 1930’s. From this time to as late as the 1990s, thousands of mothers were told by doctors and nurses that their newborn babies had died, when this was not the case.

This practice of removing children from parents deemed “undesirable” and placing them with “approved” families was believed to have first been motivated by ideology, but it soon seemed to change. Newborn babies were taken from parents who were considered “morally” or economically “deficient” and then sold for as much as $8,000 to new parents.

The scale to which this baby trafficking was carried out was largely unknown until this year, when two childhood friends from a town near Barcelona discovered that they had been bought from a nun. It was not until the father of one of these men was on his deathbed, that he finally confessed to have bought him from a nun as a newborn baby.

After the pair went to the press with their story, more and more mothers around the country said they experienced eerily similar situations, and adoption lawyers agreed that they had come across cases similar to theirs more than just a few times.

One of the reasons why this scandal was hidden for so many years, is because it is closely linked to the Catholic Church, which held a hugely prominent role in Spain during Franco’s reign.

Nuns and priests were heavily involved in compiling waiting lists of would-be adoptive parents, while doctors allegedly lied to mothers about what happened to their children.

One doctor in particular, Dr. Eduardo Vela, has come up in a number of investigations, but he insists he has always acted within the law.

A Spanish magazine has even published photos of a dead baby stored in a freezer at the San Ramon Clinic, where Dr. Vela works, that was said to have been used to show mothers that their babies had died.  

Parents whose children were stolen after birth are now threatening to go to the European Court of Human Rights to urge the government into launching a national investigation. According to lawyers, there could be a total of 300,000 cases of stolen babies.

The BBC documentary by journalist Katya Adler is called Spain's Stolen Babies; it airs on Tuesday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Wealthy Germans Join List of Europeans Who Wish to Pay Higher Taxes

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Fifty wealthy Germans have pledged to their country's Chancellor Angela Merkel to "stop the gap between rich and poor getting even bigger," and join the "tax me harder" movement, which began with American billionaire Warren Buffett and caught on in several European countries, according to The Guardian.

When Buffett stated earlier this month that America's wealthy had been "coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress," and called for higher taxes on wealthy incomes, some of the wealthiest in European countries such as France, Italy and Spain stepped forward willing to contribute towards debt reduction in their respective countries as well.

Now The Wealthy for a Capital Levy, a group of well-off individuals in Germany, say if the country's wealthiest paid a five percent wealth tax for two years, the country could raise $ 144.3 billion, The Guardian reports.

Other countries are also considering temporary tax hikes for the rich.  French president Nicolas Sarkozy last week proposed a three percent tax on incomes higher than $721,350.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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