RSHP/Alonso Balaguer y Arquitectos Asociados
A plane chartered by the Spanish petrol company Repsol YPF has landed at Madrid airport carrying 131 passengeres from Libya, including 66 Spaniards (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The plane, belonging to the company Calima Aviación and which took off from Tripoli, arrived yesterday evening at Barajas, bringing various employees both of Repsol and the company Sacyr. Also among the passengers were staff and their families from the Spanish embassy and the organisation Instituto de Comercio Exterior, as well as three nuns from the St Vincent de Paul order. Apart from the Spanish passengers, there were nationals from Indonesia, Argentina and two Britons, among others. Earlier in the day, another plane landed at Madrid from Libya with six passengers on board. There are still 50 Spaniards remaining in Libya who are due to be expatriated on a plane sent last night by the Spanish government.
Former president of the Generalitat, Jordi Pujol, has put forward the idea of a referendum for Catalans to vote on the financing system they want in place with Spain (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Pujol has proposed the vote as a way of pressuring the Spanish central government to reach agreement with current president Artur Mas (who is from the same political party as Pujol, CiU) regarding his election pledge to achieve 'concierto económico' for Catalunya [the concierto económico is the current financing system in place between the Spanish government and Navarra, which is viewed as a fairer system for the region to contribute and receive money to the central coffers than the one that Catalunya has at present]. Pujol reckons a referendum on this issue is more pressing than one on Catalan independence, although he did say that the day would come for the Generalitat to authorise and support such a vote. Speaking to the Spanish public broadcaster, Pujol said he was aware that gaining independence would be difficult, but said that the new financing deal was an acceptable challenge about which Catalan society has to have its say in the face of the very serious situation of the Generalitat's finances.
The transformation of the Las Arenas bullring into a shopping and entertainment centre seems finally to be approaching its end, with the inauguration now due to take place on March 25th (read article in Catalan here, Avui). Thirty-four years after it closed down as a bullring (and following several years of construction and delays; it was originally due to be opened in 2006), in one month's time, Las Arenas, located in Plaça Espanya, will open its doors as a commercial centre including shops, cinema, sports facilities and restaurants. It will be inaugurated by mayor Jordi Hereu on the evening of Thursday 24th March and open to the public on Friday 25th. The project to renovate the bullring has cost €200 million, of which only €70 million have been paid by the current promoter, the real estate group Metrovacesa, which took over the project from its original instigator, Sacresa, which had to withdraw due to problems with bank debt. According to Metrovacesa, 96 percent of the commercial space in the centre has already been rented. As well as three floors of shops and three more for eating and drinking, there will also be a branch of the high-end gym Metropolitan (no relation), a museum of rock music and four levels of parking.