Tag: spain

Latest Gran Canaria News, Views & Sunshine

La Alcaldesa Bueno Secures Incredible Majority in Mogán

Mogán, May 29, 2023 – The often controversial incumbent, O Bueno, La Alcaldesa, has achieved an unprecedented and resounding victory once more in Mogán. The candidate who switched her party’s name, for these elections, to “Juntos por Mogán”, a local ally of the regionalist conservatives “Coalición Canaria” (CC), will once again assume the role of mayor. Her party has clinched a rather noteworthy 17 out of the 21 seats in the Municipal Council of this popular tourism destination located on the sunny southwest of Gran Canaria.

The Canary Guide Día de Canarias #WeekendTips 26-28 May 2023

What an interesting last weekend of May ahead. Weather predictions are showing some rain showers are likely across Gran Canaria. This extended #WeekendTips covers up to Tuesday, when all things Canarian are celebrated on the Día de Canarias. There’ll be some gorgeous Patron Saints’ festivities happening in San Fernando de Maspalomas as well as in Valleseco.

Fun Fact:
Valleseco literally means “dry valley” in Spanish, but is actually one of the wettest municipalities Gran Canaria. Nestling between the famous fresh water sources of Firgas & Teror, half way up the island’s mountainous northern slopes, this area is well known for its apple growers, cider and its weekly market

Six weeks since the unexplained disappearance of Anna-Karin on Gran Canaria

The authorities on Gran Canaria have been engaged in a rigorous search for Swedish tourist Anna-Karin Bengtsson, who went missing in the south of Gran Canaria around April 9. Her unexplained disappearance has caused her family much distress, with no clues to her whereabouts having emerged in the six weeks since they first realised her phone was no longer functioning.


The Canary Guide #WeekendTips 19-21 May 2023


An exciting May weekend ahead with abundant events and festivities taking place all around Gran Canaria. There are Patron Saints’ festivities for Motor Grande, in Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria, and in El Tablero in the municipality of San Bartolomé de Tirajana and up in the mountains of Artenara. There is also a two day lively exhibition event in Meloneras boulevard and the Rally Gran Canaria is held this Friday and Saturday.


Spain and The Canary Islands remove restrictions on travel for British youths

The Canary Islands State Gazette, the BOC, this Friday included an order by which, as of Monday, British people between 12 and 18 years of age will be allowed to travel to Spain, and specifically to the Canary Islands, with a vaccination certificate or PCR carried out within 72 hours prior to arrival.
The restriction had caused a huge drop in bookings and in the arrival of tourists, according to the hotel sector, during the high winter season.


The tourism sector, given the decline in reservations in family tourism, blamed this restriction in particular because many British minors do not have a complete vaccination schedule.
The ministerial order, which is being finalised between the Spanish Ministries of Health, Interior, Foreign Affairs and Industry, Commerce and Tourism, has also been published this Friday in the Official State Gazette (BOE) and will come into force on Saturday, official governmental sources confirmed to El Confidencial.
Until now, the Health order prohibiting young Brits of this particular age group from traveling to Spain without full vaccination had had to be accepted without argument. Children under 12 years of age residing in non-EU countries were exempt from presenting any health certificate if they traveled to Spain accompanied by a suitably vaccinated adult.
In a publication on his social networks, President Ángel Víctor Torres congratulated the regional government on the elimination of a measure that discouraged bookings, from tourists with children, to the islands. “From the Canary Islands we have been working on this issue for months, which has been slowed down by the high [number of] infections that the sixth wave of coronavirus has produced,” said the president.
Likewise, he highlighted the administrative complexity that the change entails, since it involves three ministries: the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Numerous meetings have been held between the Government of the Canary Islands and Spain’s Ministry of Health, and with its head, Carolina Darias, Torres confirmed, which have now borne fruit

“Excellent news for the tourist recovery and the high season in #Canarias. Today the BOE publishes the order that, as of Monday, British people between 12 and 18 years of age will be allowed to visit us with a vaccination certificate or PCR carried out in the previous 72 hours.”

Excelente noticia para la recuperación turística y la temporada alta en #Canarias. Hoy el @boegob recoge la orden que, a partir del lunes, permite que los británicos entre 12 y 18 años puedan visitarnos con certificado de vacunación o PCR realizada en las 72 horas previas. pic.twitter.com/I02uAVs8qd
— Ángel Víctor Torres Pérez (@avtorresp) February 11, 2022


€51 million project to manage Canary Islands migrant reception facilities announced as referrals increase from the Canary Islands

The Spanish Central Government’s Council of Ministers this Tuesday approved an initiative from the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migrations, agreeing to contract the public company Tragsa, for the amount of €51 million, to provide properly managed migrant reception services on The Canary Islands over the next year.


Government spokesperson, María Jesús Montero, announced at the press conference following the Council of Ministers, that the Ministry’s commission will consist of “the provision of a series of basic services in these migrant reception facilities to provide dignified humanitarian care, in safe conditions, to the migrants, and the vulnerable, who arrive on the Canary Islands”.
Among the services that will be provided are included food, security, cleaning and maintenance of reception centres, able to accommodate up to 7,000 migrants at a time, explained Montero.
Following the apparent lack of preparedness to face last years predicted “sudden” increases in arrivals via The Canary Route, the Spanish Government are attempting to ensure that they do not get caught out once more. The term of the agreement between the Ministry and Tragsa will extend throughout this year, from July 13, 2021, until July 12, 2022.  There has already been a significant increase in arrivals this year, which is expected to continue through the autumn, hopefully with a little more planning as to how we will cope with a new influx.

Until April 24, the Secretary of State for Migration – with the authorisation of the Ministry of the Interior – had transferred 4,385 people from the Canary Islands migrant reception camps and other reception centres on the islands, taking them to resources on the mainland, according to information obtained via the Portal de Transparencia, a Spanish Open Government resource funded to facilitate citizens’ access to information and good governance. Sources close to the situation estimate that by the end of May that number may have reached 6,000 people. The 2021 transfer figures contrast starkly with the rigidity with which transfers were being authorised last year when, despite the humanitarian crisis that caused the arrival of more than 23,000 migrants, barely 2,168 people were authorised for referral. Thousands of vulnerable people, many of whom were not candidates for expulsion, were detained on the islands for months, unable to leave even if they had valid tickets and travel documents.
Migrant Reception Referrals from the Canary Islands

The Ministries of Interior and of Migrations have not yet offered any official explanations why the numbers of transfers have been increasing, in fact they do not recognise the increase, but a mixture of factors, including court rulings against the continued blocking of travel, as well as a damning report from Spain’s Ombudsman, among others, have clearly smoothed the path and led to increased resources having been made more available. The gradual relaxation of covid-19 concerns and restrictions as well as the basic need to manage the day-to-day situation on the islands have all meant the transfer of thousands of migrants from the islands, which in turn helps to decongest the reception camps, which still accommodate hundreds of people who have met the vulnerability requirements to be referred. The transfers have helped to reduce social tension and conflicts at the centres themselves and will help to facilitate management of an expected increase in arrivals over the coming months.  Arrivals have already more than doubled since the beginning of the year, with summer and autumn expected to bring more, though expulsions are expected to also be much higher this year so long as the pandemic remains under control.
There are currently just over 4,000 irregular migrants still on the Canary Islands, though that number is expected to continue to drop over the coming days and weeks. This now represents the lowest figure since the Canary migrant crisis became most apparent during the second half of last year, and all in the midst of border closures and restrictions due to coronavirus having paralysed travel across the globe. Of the 23,023 arrivals in 2020, more than 16,000 arrived in just the last three months of the year, half of those in November alone.  Last December there were still more than 8,000 individuals in migrant reception facilities and among them were potentially thousands of vulnerable migrants (including some families, mothers with their children, asylum seekers, the sick and others) who all met the requirements to be transferred to centres on the Peninsula, but they were not allowed to leave. Thirteen, otherwise empty, hotels were employed to assist, after the Arguineguín dock, where the red cross had set up a makeshift camp for up to 400, had become overcrowded with more than 2,600 people in November, while deportations remained suspended due to the pandemic. There were several other resources available on the Peninsula, but the Interior Ministry voiced concerns that facilitating transit could generate a “call effect”.
The build up of so many people in temporary migrant reception facilities during those months ended up generating tensions among the resident population, exacerbated in many cases by misinformation, which led to various demonstrations demanding solutions to problems that could not be solved quickly, nor easily. Some even tried to equate the lack of tourists with the temporary accommodating of migrants in empty tourist resort towns.  The Spanish far-right repeatedly tried to impose their own agenda, joining several of the marches and attempting to form mobilisations of their own. This discomfort is still evident in some of the municipalities, particularly near where camps have been set up, and the situation is still very complicated in various centres that house large numbers of people, and in particular unaccompanied minors who represented more than 10% of the arrivals last year, with more than 20 emergency accommodation facilities suddenly having to be set up without prior warning. Some 300 or so have had to remain in temporary hotel accommodations for nearly 8 months, cared for by specialist NGOs, due to a total lack of alternatives.  This has led to angry complaints from nearby residents, primarily due to noise and occasional incidents disturbing people’s sleep.
Transfers continue to be carried out based on vulnerability criteria (families, mothers with their children, asylum seekers, the sick …) but as well as that several thousand migrants have also been able make their own way, if they have the documentation that allows them to take a plane or a boat. In the case of referrals, the NGOs that manage the reception centres on the islands draw up lists of those who meet the vulnerability requirements and send them to the Ministry for Migration, which, in turn, requests authorisation from the Ministry of Interior for the Police to issue a pass for each of them. These referral transfers are financed by the Ministry for Migration, which relocates the migrants to reception centres on the Peninsula that are more suitable for their specific needs. From these centres, many of the migrants are able to meet up with their families and friends in other provinces or elsewhere on the continent.
The Government’s lack of transparency about referrals has been pretty constant since the migration crisis became overloaded at the end of last year. Spain’s Government delegate in the Canary Islands, Anselmo Pestana, said in August to the Spanish News agency Efe: “Derivaciones? That is not talked about, because it can generate a call effect, obviously”. Pestana stated that if transit to the Peninsula was openly facilitated for migrants rescued in the Canary Islands “instead of 3,000 arriving, 30,000 will arrive”. On the premise that reporting the number of people leaving the islands for humanitarian reasons might encourage more arrivals, the authorities have refused to release this information. However respected Spanish language daily, El Pais, was able to obtain these data after requests through the Transparency portal to the Secretary of State for Migration and the Interior. After two months of waiting, Migrations responded, while the Ministry of Interior refused to give out the information.
The main objective of the Migrations Ministry now, is to improve conditions in the camps, with the macrocentre of Las Raices, on Tenerife, seen as a priority. Although it has never reached its maximum capacity of 2,400 people, the camp has hosted more than 1,500 migrants and various problems since its inauguration last February have been fairly constant. Installed in one of the coldest and wettest areas of the island, there was no hot water, the food was often insufficient and conflicts between groups of different nationalities ensued. The current plan is that by the end of May, the capacity of Las Raices, which now accommodates more than 1,100 migrants, will not exceed 800 people.

Editor’s Comment:
Of course all of this preparation, as welcome as it is, only goes a small way towards dealing with the issues.  We are simply managing resources to try to cope with the symptoms of a problem that originates elsewhere.
Reception, referral, asylum or expulsion are all necessary parts of our response, but this problem isn’t going to just disappear.  We need large scale, long term commitments made to help change the circumstances that cause people to risk their lives in this way.
The truth is we are only seeing a very small part of the problem.  More than 4.2 million displaced people in the Sahel are trying to survive water poverty, oppression, failed crops, resource depletion, armed conflict, rape, torture, violence and corruption.  We need to focus our efforts on trying to improve the prospects of the people in these countries, and to provide more adequate pathways for temporary migration and transfer of knowledge and support to help ensure that Africa’s future does not depend on so many people trying to escape to Europe.
Africa’s future is in Africa, and in partnership with Europe and the rest of the world.
IMHO Timon .:.


The Canary News

Blood & Gold: The ‘Discoverer’ and the brutality of conquest

by Timon .:. | October 11, 2022 | Crime, History, Immigrants, Military | 0 CommentsMany in Spain celebrate the national day, October 12, as a day for all Spaniards to revel in Spanishness, and remember an empire, replete with displays of military might, with marches and the waving of flags coloured blood and gold. For many, it is not a day of...
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Canary Islands Migration: Ukraine war exasperating food shortages, poverty and unrest in the West African Sahel

by Timon .:. | June 25, 2022 | #TheCanaryMigrantCrisis, Editor's Thoughts, investigation, Migrants Gran Canaria, News | 0 CommentsSpecial ReportTimon .:. Without being overly sensationalist, it would be fair to say that, a perfect storm has been brewing for some time in Western Africa.  The Canary Islands is a region on the frontier, and needs to avoid allowing fear to drive decision making. The...
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€51 million project to manage Canary Islands migrant reception facilities announced as referrals increase from the Canary Islands

by Timon .:. | May 11, 2021 | #TheCanaryMigrantCrisis, News | 2 CommentsThe Spanish Central Government's Council of Ministers this Tuesday approved an initiative from the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migrations, agreeing to contract the public company Tragsa, for the amount of €51 million, to provide properly managed migrant...
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Unaccompanied migrant minors: Canary Islands Ministry of Social Rights has been appealing for help for months and to all the administrations to help take responsibility

by Timon .:. | May 7, 2021 | #TheCanaryMigrantCrisis | 0 CommentsThe Deputy Minister of Social Rights of the Government of the Canary Islands, Gemma Martínez, said back in January that the archipelago is "clearly facing an humanitarian emergency situation" in the care of unaccompanied foreign minors, she appealed to all the...
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Judge insists on removal of 150 minors from Tamanaco apartments in Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria

by Timon .:. | May 6, 2021 | Migrants Gran Canaria, News | 0 CommentsA judge has denied any further continuation to migrant minors being allowed to be temporarily accommodated in the Tamanaco Apartment Complex in Puerto Rico de Gran Canaira ordering the removal of migrant minors within the next few days and weeks. The Las Palmas de...
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Disturbing paradise: A small group of foreign residents feel themselves “besieged” by youths living in a Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria hotel

by Timon .:. | May 5, 2021 | Community, Editor's Thoughts, Immigrants | 0 CommentsAnother normal day in Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria, but disturbances, on one street at least, have become more frequent in recent times. Some will claim there are "daily riots", this is inaccurate.  There are incidents, however.  Mostly noise related, occasionally more...
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“An unprecedented emergency” Spain’s Ombudsman demands that the Interior Ministry not prevent the departure of migrants from the Canary Islands

by Timon .:. | April 28, 2021 | #TheCanaryMigrantCrisis | 0 CommentsThe Ombudsman, Francisco Fernández Marugán, tasked, as the Public Defender, to investigate Spain's response to The Canary Migrant crisis, has directly demanded that the Ministry of the Interior cease “police practices” that prevent migrants from leaving the Canary...
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On The Canary Route this year at least one person dies at sea, on average, every 32 hours

by Timon .:. | April 28, 2021 | #TheCanaryMigrantCrisis | 0 CommentsAir Force photograph showing twelve survivors and five deceased on board a cuyaco located in August 2020, by Search and Rescue (SAR), some 205 kilometres south of Gran Canaria. At that time there were twelve survivors on board. One died shortly after in the...
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Policia nacional’s “Operation Arión” broke up a trafficking ring that may have organised transit for thousands of migrants, using false documentation, and with access to thousands of passports

by Timon .:. | April 22, 2021 | Migrants Gran Canaria, News | 0 Comments“Operation Arión” was the name given to a coordinated series of raids, as part of a covert operation, across the south of Gran Canaria, and on mainland Spain that has managed to smash an organised criminal gang, suspected of having arranged transport for thousands of...
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Las Palmas judgement concludes that migrants can legally travel from the Canary Islands to the Peninsula, with just their passport and an asylum request

by Timon .:. | April 17, 2021 | #TheCanaryMigrantCrisis | 0 CommentsA passport and an asylum application are sufficient documents for any migrant to legally travel from the Canary Islands to mainland Spain. This fact, under the law, was formally recognised by a judge at the Contentious-Administrative Court number 5, in Las Palmas de...
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Fore! Huge success for the European Tour at the Gran Canaria Lopesan Open helped with a header from our man Gilliam…

Golf’s prestigious European Tour returned to the Canary Islands this April, for the first time in nearly 20 years with The Gran Canaria Lopesan Open, staged on the south coast, at the visually outstanding Meloneras Golf. The European Tour has form in the Archipelago, having visited Campo de Golf de Maspalomas in both 1995 and 1997, as well as El Cortijo Club de Campo in 2002, but this was the first time the international event has been held at Lopesan’s flagship course, on an island that is the undisputed and authentic home of Spanish golf.

Gran Canaria’s rich golfing history started with the founding of Spain’s very first Real Club de Golf, by British merchants who brought the sport, and the cucumber sandwiches, to Gran Canaria in 1891, on a dusty hillside known as the ‘Lomo del Polvo’ overlooking the, then newly built, Puerto de La Luz de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. It would be 14 years, in 1904, before Spain’s second-ever club for golfers was founded, at the Madrid Polo.  Gran Canaria’s burgeoning British Colony club originated with several members, who had a tiny block-built club house constructed, with a rough corrugated iron roof, held down against the wind with rocks. The site, with commanding views over the Ciudad Jardin, is now occupied by the architecturally remarkable Altavista building, owned by the Korean church. The Real Club de Golf relocated to Bandama, in the mid 50s, where it remains, overlooking the famous volcanic crater, from the heights of Llanos de la Atalaya, near the up market bodega wineries of the historic municipality of Santa Brígida.
The Bandama course was designed by none other than legendary Scottish golfing architect Philip Mackenzie Ross, and officially opened in 1957 where it has stayed, inspiring 9 other courses to emerge on just this one little island.  Those who have played Bandama with frequency and regularity, represent a literal who’s who of 20th century royalty, prime ministers, diplomats and dignitaries as well as some of the highest level, elite sportsmen of their day, including a long roster of Grand Slam and Ryder Cup winners, though for this tournament all local eyes were on native islander Rafa Cabrera Bello, who returned as an honorary host to the European Tour 2021.
Meloneras Golf, in Maspalomas, opened in 2006, and was designed by Rob Kirby. With a picturesque, yet wild, coastal layout, the course is lined by palm trees and offers unparalleled horizons, out to sea, and a stunning backdrop of mountain views. Quite short, it plays to just 5,946 metres and at par-70, so scoring was expected to be relatively low.
The Canary Islands President Angel Victor Torres came to visit the course to inaugurate the Gran Canaria Lopesan Open event, joined by several local VIPs including Bello, and Francisco López Sánchez, Lopesan Hotel Group’s CEO, who pledged further support for these events, alongside Manuel López Santana, General Director of Sports and Teresa Berástegui, Deputy Minister for Tourism of the Government of the Canary Islands and Florencio de la Rosa Camejo, director of Corporate Strategy and Diversification for DISA, the provider of energy services that supported the events across The Canary Islands.
Ángel Víctor Torres said how pleased we was with the various sponsors and that “we have first-rate tourist and sports infrastructures [able] to host competitions such as the European Golf Tour. Having 150 of the best golfers in the world on Gran Canaria and Tenerife is great luck.”
Francisco López, Managing Director of Lopesan Hotel Group, echoed these sentiments saying “The golf industry is one of the fundamental pillars on which the tourist recovery of Gran Canaria, as a global destination, must be based.”
With major sponsorship at stake, from the likes of Rolex, BMW and the airline Emirates, these major internationals are always tightly controlled, but perhaps never more so than in the time of Covid, with super-strict rules in place, for weeks ahead of time, to help ensure that this top level event went off without a hitch.  All Gran Canaria Lopesan Open players, caddies and course staff were required to maintain a sports “bubble” as were visiting journalists, staying at the luxurious Villa Del Conde, in the otherwise empty Meloneras area of Maspalomas, not 5 minutes from the course.
Head of Press for the hosts, Lopesan’s Rodrigo Perez Cano, confided that this had meant many local press outlets had been disappointed at not being able to directly share in such an historic moment for the island’s golfing classes, nevertheless the European Tour team were well prepared, with trademark efficiency and a most studious care to detail, so as to ensure that all those who wished to gain access could do so, through Vanessa O’Brien’s elite comms team, making everyone feel welcome, as well as offering a specially set up virtual media hub, allowing journalists from across the world direct access via video press conferences and onsite reportage.  It’s great to see such a professional circus come to town.

Few editors, of course, except perhaps but from the most well-to-do and specialised of media and publishing partners, are willing to stump up the exorbitant expenses necessary to cover journalists and photographers on such a tour, especially having to leave them isolated for 5 whole days at a time, with a free bar at one of the islands top hotels; no matter how alluring that might have sounded to the golf reporting men and women of the press themselves. Consequently the European Tour’s Media Hub were left to step-up to the tee, which they did with great panache, to provide comprehensive daily coverage, images, video and direct quotes for a wide array of dry-throated golf scribes across the world, as well us we local hacks here on the islands, who were left perhaps a touch disappointed at not being able to witness this international, local event first hand.
Even the many local residents, who proudly feel most intimate with this course, arguably the very best on the island, were all relegated to watching the Gran Canaria Lopesan Open on Sky Sports, as per.  Nevertheless; never one to let us down, our man, Paul Gilliam, reporting exclusively for The Canary News was of course, at course side, throughout, and able to catch more than just a glimpse of the proceedings, the golfing elites playing his home course and perhaps a touch more of the action than he had anticipated.

Paul Gilliam’s heads up, for The Canary News, European Tour, Gran Canaria Lopesan Open, 2021 
Held at sub-tropical Gran Canaria’s luxuriant Meloneras Golf, Lopesan sponsored this major international event kicking off the 2021 Race to Dubai, with an initial prize fund of €1.5Million.
Hosting the tournament was home favourite, and three-time European Tour winner, Rafa Cabrera Bello. Rafa grew up next to the Maspalomas Golf course, and so when he turned professional, you would always see him practising at the Meloneras course. Local Hotel Group, Lopesan, were his first major sponsors.
Cabrera Bello, even established the Youth Circuit, that takes his name, in 2019, for young golfers from around the archipelago, and at the inauguration of this event said: “I am passionate about developing golf in the Canary Islands, and it is a great honour for me to return home, to play and host the Gran Canaria Lopesan Open. I would like to thank the Government of the Canary Islands and the Cabildo de Gran Canaria for their support, as well as the private sponsors who have helped make these events a reality”.
The course played fairly easy for the participants as during the first two days, of the four day competition, there was hardly any wind above the cliffs of Maspalomas, on this sunny south facing course looking out to sea. Some great scores were being produced and on day three, China’s Ashun Wu claimed a course record of 61.   The wind did pick up on the fourth day, but nothing could stop the young South African, Garrick Higgo, conjuring an excellent final round of 63 to win the tournament at 25 below par, and with a 3 shot lead, to claim his second European Tour win.    Rafa finished a rather disappointing joint 56th carding -9 for his 4 rounds.
Due to Covid restrictions, unfortunately, no spectator’s  were allowed to attend. But those of us who were very lucky, had managed to get picked for some of the highly prized volunteer spots, to help out with the European Tour TV productions team.  I had one job.  My role was simply to report back to the producer on the progress of each shot, from each player, in the group I was following.  This should have been an easy task, not to mention an amazing experience, getting to be really up close to the players, with full access to go where ever I wanted, and report back.  But then, somehow,  I managed to get unexpectedly involved in the action, just a touch more than I would have liked.
On the first hole, there was I, ready to spot, about 300 yards down the fairway, among the palm trees, watching my group tee off. The first 2 players both found the centre of the fairway, then trouble loomed from out of a clear blue sky.  I didn’t spot it until it was too late, after Italian golfer, Guido Migliozzi hit a powerful tee shot, with a lot of right draw on the ball, next thing I knew the ball had found me, knocking me right on the head!  I hit the deck, suffering a big gash to my skull, claret all over my sheet full of notes, suddenly, all attention was on me, with a swift acting medical team causing a stir, before whisking me off to an ambulance, literally having to be carried off the field, and on my way all the way up to the capital, Las Palmas, to get my flesh wound, and cracked nut, stapled back together along with a precautionary head scan.  5 hours later I was discharged and luckily all was ok.  Funny thing was, I actually did the young Italian a favour, as his ball bounced back onto the fairway, rather than getting stuck among the trees, but the price was having to get my head examined, and ending up looking like Mister Bump.
Nevertheless, I managed to make it back to the course for day two, with producers and crew all being really kind and making a fuss of me, and to see the rest of the tournament, incident free. Though it certainly hurt, I thoroughly enjoyed the amazing experience of getting up close and personal in one of the worlds great golfing tournaments, right here on the island I love most.

On the final day, Migliozzi actually took the time to come and find me, to apologise for trying to kill me with his rogue ball. He even gave me a few little gifts, and a personnel hand written letter, which really meant a lot to me.
There is talk of the European Tour returning again next year.  The coverage the TV gave was of course excellent promotion for the golf course, and the local area as well as our beautiful Island, with a steady stream of complimentary commentaries from the TV presenters, being broadcast across the world to an audience in its millions.   Lets hope they ask me again to volunteer next year, but this time I might just wear a tin helmet.Following the great success on Gran Canaria’s most famous sunny southern coast, the European Tours production headed off to a markedly cloudier week on the Costa Adeje to take on the next two events back-to-back: the Tenerife Open and the Tenerife Championship, added to the calendar at the last minute following the postponement of the Open de France.


The Canary News

What you need to know: Spain’s newly finalised Law of The New Normality is causing confusion about having to wear a mask even when sunbathing

For many, particularly in The Canary Islands, it was a bit of a bombshell to learn that Spain’s finalised Law of The New Normality, announced on Tuesday, will mean having to wear a mask everywhere, even when lying sunbathing on the beach or at the pool. The legislation comes into force throughout Spain this Wednesday, just ahead of the main four-day easter weekend. The latest Official State Gazette (BOE) tightens mandatory regulations for the use of face masks and makes very clear: it must always be worn, regardless of interpersonal distance, both outdoors and indoors, whether in public or private. And so, many are reporting that also includes places like the beach.
The simple fact is that not only have these laws been in the legislative pipeline for many months, and so are not new at all, but the BOE itself does not mention beaches, or swimming pools, nor does it announce any major changes to how these rules are interpreted. There will be further clarifications over the coming hours and days, but in the first instance this law should be seen as an extension to the measures already announced, and not a change of legislation.


Most of the newly published law, however, is really no different from the rules that have been in place since last June, when the so-called lockdown confinement was de-escalated with a decree law to end the first State of Emergency.
Despite the fact that here in the Canary Islands, until now, we have been able to follow our own regional regulation of these spaces, Spanish state standards supersede regional directives. This now means that the only exception to the use of masks, that had been allowed here on the Islands when lying down to sunbathe and so long as a safety distance of two meters was maintain, is now potentially ruled out, at least for the immediate and foreseeable future.

Spain’s central government will study whether it is necessary to “qualify” the newly published rules in a meeting this Wednesday

Spain’s Official State Gazette (BOE) published the new provisions, in a revision and clarification of the previous New Normality rules, in an attempt to further contain the coronavirus, in the face of what some health experts fear could be a European fourth wave of infection. Spain’s central government, however, will study whether it is necessary to “qualify” the newly published rules, at some point, in a meeting that will be held this Wednesday, together with the leaders of all 17 regional autonomous communities.

The Not-So-New Normality

This law has been a long time coming, it was not really a surprise
The New Normality measures announced, however, are not, strictly speaking, new. As far back as last summer most of these stipulations were written into the laws being discussed in the Spanish legislature, however the administrative process to pass these measures into law takes many months, and so during the interim time it was left to regional authorities to implement, as promptly as possible, the basic tenets contemplated. This is, in essence, what has allowed for leeway in how to implement these measures on a regional basis. Now that the measures have passed into Spanish law, all regions are expected to confirm with the wording of that law, and any changes requested, will likely take time to enact.

Don’t Panic! This pandemic is still far from over.

All in all, the new law has been expected for many months, though most had contemplated the published legislation would try to take account of how the measures were actually working in practice, so for some this is seen as an oversight by central government, for others however, concerned about rising infections, and with one of the main national annual holiday weekends looming, this is being seen as a well timed reminder that this pandemic is far from over, and a necessary control measure to help ensure that healthcare services do not become overwhelmed, just as vaccine rollouts have finally begun to offer hope to millions of citizens eager to eventually overcome the devastating affect of more than a year of public health crisis and the subsequent economic collapse that is being experienced all across the world.
“Law 2/2021, of March 29, on urgent prevention, containment and coordination measures to face the health crisis caused by Covid-19” (“Ley 2/2021, de 29 de marzo, de medidas urgentes de prevención, contención y coordinación para hacer frente a la crisis sanitaria ocasionada por la COVID-19“) is a compendium of de-escalation measures that were already agreed back in June 2020, on the basis that the first decree of the state of alarm that the Government had approved has expired.
The New Normality Law
Spain’s Official State Gazette (BOE) published the Draft Law, known as The Law of The ‘New Normality’, which was approved on March 18 in the Congress of Deputies. Among the measures contemplated in the text, which enters into force this Wednesday will remain “until the pandemic ends”. In any case, masks will not be required for people who can verify that they have some type of illness or respiratory difficulty that may be aggravated using the mask or who, due to disability or dependency, would not be able to remove the mask on their own, or who present behavioural issues that make the use of masks unviable or counterproductive.
With the newly published New Normality law, the requirement to wear a mask in outdoor spaces is now applicable to all communities, which can no longer regulate their own exceptions or graduate how the law is applied.
The New Normality articles published yesterday clearly states: “People of six years of age and older are obliged to use masks (…) on public roads, in outdoor spaces and in any closed space for public use or that is open to the public”. This implies, for example, parks, beaches or swimming pools. Also when using “air, maritime, bus, or rail transport”, as well as in “complementary public and private transport of passengers in vehicles with up to nine seats, including the driver, if the occupants of the tourism vehicles they do not live at the same address”.
When travelling by sea, passengers on ships and boats, it will not have to wear masks when they are in their own cabin.

What else does this New Normality law say?
All in all this law is simply finalising the text of the rules that have already been in place since summer 2020, clarifying some of the points of contention to follow the best advice given to the Government of Spain, and regulates the application of those rules throughout all Spanish territories.
The law now states that sale of single surgical masks, not individually packaged, can only be carried out in pharmacies, guaranteeing adequate hygiene conditions that safeguard the quality of the product.
Sports, exceptions and health issues:
Current exceptions to the use of masks have been preserved in the new wording: individual outdoor sport and people who have disease or respiratory difficulty, aggravated by the use of masks or who, due to their situation of disability or dependency, would not be able to take it off on their own.
Force majeure or situations of necessity are included as an exception or when, due to the very nature of the activities, the use of the mask is not compatible, as already stated in previous legislation.
Going to work
People who present symptoms compatible with COVID-19 or are in home isolation should not go to their workplace. If a worker begins to have COVID-19 compatible symptoms, they must immediately contact the telephone number set up by their autonomous community or health centre, and they must put on a mask and “follow the recommendations indicated, until their situation is assessed by a healthcare professional.”
Business owners, or the directors of the centres and other entities, must guarantee adequate ventilation and disinfection measures, and have water and soap or hydro-alcoholic gels available at all times  for cleaning workers’ hands. Likewise, everyone must adapt working conditions to maintain an interpersonal safety distance of  a minimum 1.5 metres (or adequate protective equipment, if that is not possible) and organise work schedules to avoid overcrowding.
Finally, business owners must “adopt measures for the progressive reincorporation in person to the jobs and the promotion of the use of telework when it is possible due to the nature of the work activity”.
No change for shops, hotels and shows
The competent administrations must ensure compliance by the owners of hotels, shops or cultural shows with the regulations for capacity, disinfection, prevention and conditioning that are determined.
They will have to ensure the necessary measures to guarantee a minimum interpersonal distance of 1.5 meters and avoid crowds.
Schools without crowds
Conditions must be guaranteed so that there is no crowding and that both students and workers can comply with “the indications of distance or limitation of contacts, as well as personal prevention measures.”
Sanitary system
The competent administrations must ensure the sufficient availability of health professionals with the capacity to reorganise them according to priorities at all times. They must guarantee of a sufficient number of professionals for the prevention and control of the disease, its early diagnosis, attention to cases and epidemiological surveillance.

La ley de “nueva normalidad” [The Law of The New Normal] https://t.co/Kq7YZaY7up
— Miki&Duarte (@MikiyDuarte) March 31, 2021

During the New Normality legislative final debate in Congress, the Lower House of the Spanish Parliament, the Cortes, the Health Minister, Carolina Darias, stressed that this law will “allow progress in the control of the pandemic and also in functions of surveillance, inspection and control of cases.”
“This rule will be central to the management of the pandemic until it’s end. It includes a good part of the commitment acquired during the management of this painful crisis. It is called to be a source of knowledge for those who have to make similar decisions in the future”, said the minister in defence of the move.
Guillermo Díaz, from the Ciudadanos party, used the opportunity to highlight the incorporation of an amendment from his party for the suspension of the medical inspection visa for the prescription of triple therapy in the treatment of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), throughout the pandemic. “It will avoid bureaucratic treatments to access the best of treatments,” he celebrated. Keeping in tune with the Minister of Health, Díaz defended the need for this law: “We cannot face a pandemic again with royal decrees, except to qualify a rule that already exists.” In any case, he demanded that the Executive “propose to establish legislation that allows a better response to a situation like this in the future.”
Laura Márquez, from Unidos Podemos, part of Spain’s governing coalition, said she was also satisfied with the incorporation into the legislative text of an extension to research contracts during the pandemic, but insisted that those working to combat the pandemic should have proper work full time contracts saying “it is necessary to address the problem of temporality in scientific research.”
“Even people who are researching vaccines in our country have temporary contracts. We must guarantee the stability of our scientists, really, without cheating or cardboard [cutouts],” she added.
The opposition PP deputy Ana Pastor, herself a former Minister of Health, said that she regretted that the New Normality document does not incorporate any of the 45 amendments presented by her main opposition group. “Never before has the parliament been so ignored as in this legislature.” she said. “Decrees have become the norm, as has happened with this one. They have not accepted any of the 45 amendments from my party. Do you not realise that this decree arrives just as it [was originally suggested], that it has only incorporated five amendments?”, she pointed out by way of example. Pastor criticised that the Government, saying that this law, “has been unable to incorporate what the health system urgently needs.” She demanded to know “Why have they not supported our amendments?”
PSOE’s deputy Carmen Andrés Añón replied that the PP amendments were “very far” from the “nature” of the guidelines, since “they intended an exhaustive regulation of all foreseeable possible and impossible situations, and in this way would handicap the Inter-territorial Council in its decision-making “.
“In addition,” she said “they raised a clear conflict of powers with the autonomous communities. They were very far from the Constitution and the spirit of the law,” she concluded.


The Canary News

Deportation flight to Senegal from Canary Islands cancelled for the second time

The Spanish Ministry of the Interior has for the second time canceled a deportation flight to Senegal, meant to return migrants who arrived by boat to the Canary Islands over recent months. The flight was due to be on Wednesday night, the first such flight since 2018,  confirm sources involved in their supervision.

The flight, which originated in Madrid, was scheduled to arrive at Tenerife North at 8:35 p.m., to embark a group of Senegalese citizens, who are currently being held at the Hoya Fría CIE (Foreigners Interment Centre), and continue the journey with them to Dakar.
Initially, this particular group of people were to be returned on February 24, but the centre where they are being held suffered an outbreak of COVID-19, with the last case confirmed just one week before the departure of the deportation flight to Senegal. However, sources have not specified the reasons why, once again, this deportation flight has been cancelled.
Spain has not returned migrants who arrived in the Canary Islands by boat to Senegal since 2018, when at least 150 citizens of that country were transferred to Dakar in four planes that departed from Gran Canaria (one, carrying 40 people) and Tenerife (three, with a total of 110), according to the Ombudsman’s report that year.
Last year the Canary Islands received 23,023 migrants in open boats, of which more than 11,998 were Moroccans and 4,539 Senegalese, according to data from the Ministry of the Interior cited by the latest Ombudsman in the report a week ago on the situation on the islands.

Senegal, the westernmost country in Africa, has a population of about 15.4 million people. between a third and half the Senegalese population are living below the poverty line, on less than $2 a day. 75 percent of families suffer from chronic poverty. In rural areas, 66 percent of residents are considered poor, compared to 25 percent of residents in Dakar. 60% of the population are under 25. A large majority are engaged in subsistence farming with 70% of crops being rain fed, meaning that even slight droughts can have extraordinarily negative effects.

The lack of employment and business opportunities in agriculture is a driver of migration, which leads to urbanization and emigration. Those left behind, especially women, children and the elderly, are particularly exposed to food insecurity and other risks.
Gender disparities remain widespread in the country, especially in rural areas where traditional and religious practices like early and forced marriage cause girls to drop out of school, reduce their productivity and perpetuate the cycle of inequality.— World Food Programme

Demonstrations, riots, police brutality and political insecurity have increased in recent weeks, with several protesters having been shot by security forces in the last week alone.
If you would like to know more about what is driving recent senegalese migration, try taking a look at this article from Ricci Shryock over at The New Humanitarian


First group unaccompanied foreign minors transferred to Castilla y León

A group of ten unaccompanied foreign minors were transferred this Wednesday to Spain’s autonomous community of Castilla y León where they will be placed under the care of region’s child protection service. Five of them will head to the province of León and another five to Palencia.

EFE / Elvira Urquijo Á
The Canary Islands Ministry of Social Rights said in a statement, this is the first group of the 25 youths who will be welcomed by Castilla y León, after an agreement reached, led by Noemí Santana (Podemos) and the autonomous community of Castilla y León, through the Minister of Family and Equal Opportunities, María Isabel Blanco Llamas, in which Castilla y León assumes the legal guardianship of these unaccompanied migrant minors who will be transferred from the Canary Islands, to their care and custody.
The agreement specifies that the Government of Castilla y León is sensitive to the situation and shares with the Government of the Canary Islands the need to seek agile and effective formulas that allow compliance with the constitutional principle of inter-territorial solidarity contained in article 2 of the Spanish Constitution, assuming the comprehensive care of 25 of the unaccompanied migrant minors who currently reside in the Canary Islands, assuming administrative guardianship.
Unaccompanied foreign minors who have lived together these months say goodbye EFE / Elvira Urquijo Á
The archipelago is currently hosting 2,634 minors who have reached these shores by means of pateras and open boats over the last year, 29 different accommodation facilities have been opened in order to care for them. The Canary Islands Government has been addressing the continual arrival of unaccompanied children alone, the Regional Government has urgently requested, from both the Spanish State and the European Union, the necessary resources to pay the economic costs to address this social crisis, especially considering that the Canarian Archipelago constitutes the southern-most border of Europe.
Noemí Santana
The Minister for Social Rights, Noemí Santana, points out that she has held various meetings with the State and the Autonomous Communities to negotiate and sign collaboration agreements between the State and the Government of the Canary Islands, for the care of unaccompanied foreign minors, to encourage a sharing of this responsibility between the autonomous communities; and a specific State fund to help in the management of these children.
“The objective is to seek solutions among all, Europe, the State and the rest of the Autonomous Communities, so that the Canary Islands can stop having to face this humanitarian crisis alone,” said Santana, who recalled that the number of unaccompanied foreign minors being cared for on the Islands has increased considerably over the last year, going from 540 in 2019 to almost 2,700 currently hosted.
The numbers of referrals are still pretty low though; the Canary Islands, through the General Directorate for the Protection of Children and the Family, has  concluded agreements for the referral of minors with Navarra (10 places), Cantabria (20 places), Valencia (18 places), Catalonia (43 places), Castilla y León (25 places), Extremadura (25 places), Asturias (16 places) and Galicia (20 places), in total, 177 places, and negotiations with Aragón, Castilla-La Mancha and the Basque Country are still ongoing.


The Canary News

Bone age determination tests on hundreds of young migrants have shown that adults were being accommodated in juvenile facilities

Bone age determination tests are being carried out on hundreds of young migrants, and some results, as suspected, have shown that there were adults erroneously being accommodated in juvenile facilities. Upon arrival to the Canary Islands, unaccompanied minors, young people under 18 years of age, are protected under law by the Autonomous Community. The Regional Government has previously estimated that up to 600 of the migrants claiming to be children are in fact older and have chosen to enter the Canarian Executive’s child protection network erroneously, in an effort to evade deportation or other consequences.

This is a problem taken very seriously by the Ministry for Social Rights, who have been all but overwhelmed by the massive increased arrival of minors to the archipelago, having had to organise temporary accommodation for several hundred of them in hotels on the south of Gran Canaria. What’s more, the Canary Islands’ entire Community budget this year, for this work, has already been used up in just the first two months of the year.
The Ministry previously indicated that they currently care for 2,036 presumed minors, without documentation to assist with determination of age, although it is, in their opinion, only necessary to X-ray about 1,000 for whom there are reasonable doubts; as the rest are obvious minors. There are about 300 individuals, thought to be adults, who are according to the Ministry, clearly older and then up to another 300 approximately for whom it cannot be certain, as they are thought to be in the age group of between 17 and 20.  All will be subject to bone age determination tests to assess and record their age, at an accuracy rate of up to 95%.
The Ministry has now demonstrated that there are in fact adults who have to leave the centres accommodating minors. If they are adults, they become the responsibility of the Spanish State. In this context, the Immigration Prosecutor’s Office have determined 54 adults (26 on Tenerife and 28 on Gran Canaria) who were in juvenile centres but are not children, the Ministry of Social Rights reports.
On February 10, at the request of the Ministry, a meeting took place between the Government Delegation, National Police, Guardia Civil, The Immigration Prosecutor’s Office, the various collaborating organisations that have been delegated to take care of minors and the Ministry of Health, as well as the Institute of Legal Medicine to coordinate the bone age determination tests process and speed it up, especially on Gran Canaria due to the number of minors who have reached the island, because there has been no protocol to determine age from when they arrive and so if they declared that they are minors they were simply sent to the centres. The Covid-19 pandemic response and restrictions have also delayed these tests. Since the meeting, the processing of bone samples has been streamlined in a “remarkable way”, explained the Social Rights Ministry.
Nine autonomies will welcome just 177 of last year’s migrant children, of the 2,658 that are currently in the Canary Islands Child Protection system
The President of the Regional Government, Ángel Víctor Torres, made a loud call for help last Monday, in Brussels, making clear that the Canary Islands need solidarity and resources to care for these minors. The Canarian Executive has also asked the Spanish State and other autonomous communities to be jointly responsible for the care of these minors. Nine Spanish Regional Governments have responded but offering only 177 places to assist some of the 2,658 minors currently under Canary Islands guardianship. Referrals begin on March 10. Catalonia has been the most supportive, with the offer of 43 places; Castilla León and Extremadura have offered 25 each; Cantabria and Galicia 20; Valencia 18; Asturias 16; Navarra 10 and Aragón about 15. Meetings have continued with Castilla La Mancha and the Basque Country. Ceuta, Melilla, Murcia, Andalusia, Madrid, La Rioja and the Balearic Islands have not shown predisposition to assist in the matter.


The Canary News

Spain’s Ministry of Migration Cautiously Trumpet “Canary Islands Plan” To Accommodate Migrants In Camps For Processing

Spain’s Ministry for Inclusion, Social Security and Migrations have announced the opening of a warehouse, ceded temporarily by Bankia to the central government, in the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria industrial estate of El Sebadal, next week, offering 500 places to accommodate migrant arrivals, to be managed by the Fundación Cruz Blanca. Several camps were announced in November, within the framework of what is known as the Canary Islands Plan, which is to be able to offer 7,000 bed spaces to accommodate migrant arrivals awaiting processing, on three islands: Gran Canaria (three camps), Tenerife (with two) and Fuerteventura (one), following the arrival of more than 23,000 individuals via the Atlantic Canary Route, throughout 2020.

This Friday a second camp for migrants on Tenerife has begun to operate, at the old Las Canteras military barracks, in La Laguna, providing 1,642 places, and managed by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). The use of the space has been unblocked following months of wrangling with the City Council of La Laguna, which ordered a stoppage of the works because “they did not comply with urban law.” These obstacles have now been overcome.
The Canarias Plan camps and places (*expandable places in Las Raíces). Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration
The Migration Ministry have confirmed that the provision of these places now allows for the freeing up other accommodation facilities, such as hotels, “which temporarily served as an emergency reception resource.” And, “as the schedule is fulfilled, for referrals to all resources already operational within the Canary Islands Plan” so they will proceed “to the definitive closure of these temporary sites.”
In a statement, the Migrations ministry explained that up until February 15, 761 workers (437 direct care workers and 323 basic and auxiliary services employees) have been hired to manage the camps, a figure that will increase with the opening of the new sites. Specifically, they indicate that, on Tenerife, the public company Tragsa has hired 250 people and has required the services of a total of 65 companies to carry out the works at the Las Raices and Las Canteras sites.
On Tenerife, the Las Raíces macrocamp, 1,000m above sea level, began to receive migrants on February 5, when a hundred people were transferred, during a snow alert, when temperatures had dropped to just 8ºC. This led to initial refusals to enter. Since then, however, more than 600 people are now staying at this space with each of the tents sleeping at least a dozen people. There is a general lack of information about their future and the conditions at some of the reception centres have led migrants to organise protests outside this old army barracks.
Demonstrations have also taken place at a camp located in the old León school, in the capital of Gran Canaria, in a neighbourhood known as El Lasso, where migrants at one point held up banners to protest against the de facto blockade, and their fear of deportation. At the old Canarias 50 Regiment’s barracks, in the original neighbourhood of La Isleta, in the capital, heavy rains at one point caused sewage to flow right through accommodations and some of the people inside threatened to start a hunger strike. There have also been transfers to the El Matorral camp, on Fuerteventura, a space located on a plot of the old CIE Foreigners Internment Centre, which has capacity for a further 700 people.
The Ministry say they have ensured that all operations have been overseen by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), “which has supervised strict compliance with international reception standards.” In addition, in November they provided “a unit dedicated exclusively to migration coordination on the islands, in order to carry out continuous monitoring.”
During this last week of February, the General Director for Inclusion and Humanitarian Attention, María Teresa Pacheco, visited Gran Canaria, Tenerife and Fuerteventura, and held meetings with Spain’s Government delegate in the Canary Islands, Anselmo Pestana, with local entities, NGO managers of resources and neighbourhood associations.


The Canary News