The storm that has killed 50 people in France was also responsible for three deaths in northern Spain over the weekend (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The cyclon, which reached speeds of more than 200 kilometres per hour as it crossed the Bay of Biscay yesterday, was baptised as a 'perfect storm’ and affected not only France and Spain, but also Germany, Belgium and Portugal. Here, as well as the three people killed (one elderly lady who died when a wall fell on top of her and two people in a car on which a tree fell), eight more were injured, power was lost in many homes and transport was affected, with the cancellation of more than 100 flights. However, Spanish interior minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, praised the prudence and responsibility shown by many citizens in the face of Cyclone Xynthia, which meant that that the number of lives lost and injuries caused was much less than it might otherwise have been.
Popular votes on Catalan independence took place yesterday with a lower turnout than in the last round of votes, which happened in December (read article in Catalan here, Avui). Participation was just 21.6 percent (around 290,000 citizens), and of those who voted, 93.5 percent said they were in favour of independence. In December, around 27.5 percent of those eligible placed a vote about whether they would like Catalunya to be an independent country; while these ‘popular referendums’ are non-binding, organisers hope that they will demonstrate a notable level of interest here in the issue and encourage future debate on the matter.
Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has said that the financial situations in Greece and Spain cannot be compared (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Speaking in Germany, where he is meeting the Chancellor Angela Merkel today, Zapatero said that, in his opinion, it was appropriate for the European Union (EU) to provide assistance to Greece in the event it needs it, but that the situation in Spain was quite different. “Spain has a great point in its favour: as a state, it is very solvent,” commented Zapatero during an interview published yesterday in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine. “In terms of state debt, we are 20 percent below the European average,” he added. With regards the topic of providing financial support to Greece, Zapatero said “If it is necessary to intervene to save a country, I believe that it should be done in common, within the institutions of the EU.” However, he also stated that the most important issue was to have confidence in the Greek government and in the demands that the EU had put in place.
Also in the news: Spanish interior minister convinced that ETA was planning an imminent attack (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia); Asian restaurants and cut-price shops fill up Barcelona’s empty locales (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico); Spanish police disband gang of weapons’ traffickers working out of Catalunya (read full article in Catalan here, Avui)