Girl carrying Zara shopping bag
The Spanish prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, has responded to the announcement by the Basque terrorist group ETA that it is declaring a permanent ceasefire by saying that it is "insufficient" and that the Spanish government won't accept any conditions from the group (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The ceasefire (alto el fuego) was announced in a video message from ETA yesterday when they declared that the end to their violent activities could be verified by international observers, although they did not actually renounce the use of weapons nor, to the anger of some politicians, apologise for their past actions. The declaration, which was also issued in written form in English, made reference to the Brussels Declaration and Guernica Agreement, which call for a "just and democratic" solution to the Basque conflict. Zapatero insisted that neither the Spanish security forces or the government would let their guard down in their attitude towards the organisation, and that the fight against terrorism would continue. "Those who see elements of hope in the announcement," he went on "should be aware that the road ahead is still long because only the definitive end to the group is what matters." Zapatero refused to accept any conditions from ETA that might serve their cause and stated that he won't negotiate with them.
The founder of Inditex, the parent company behind Zara, Bershka and Massimi Dutto, amongst others, is to step down from the presidency of the business (read article in Catalan here, Avui). Amancio Ortega yesterday sent a letter to the 90,000 employees of the company he created in the Seventies, to let them know that at the next shareholders' meeting of the business (planned for July) he would be giving up the role of Inditex president in favour of Pablo Isla, the company's current managing director and vice-president. Ortega, who is about to celebrate his 75th birthday, said that he will remain on the company's board of directors and thanked the staff for their hard work. Ortega is notoriously publicity-shy (there are very few known photos of him in circulation), but the striking success of the textile company he created in Galicia has, paradoxically, made him into a popular subject for business and media analysis. He was born in León in 1936, but has lived and worked for many years in Galicia, and is now one of the 10 richest men in the world. Ortega was inspired to start his own company as a young boy after seeing the hardships that his mother suffered when bringing up her family, and was determined that they shouldn't have to live in debt; he left school and at age 12 went to work as an apprentice in a shirt shop. Today, Inditex has an annual turnover of some €11 billion.
The Catalan Socialist Party (Partit dels Socialistes del Catalunya, PSC) is preparing for a internal debate over who should be its candidate in the upcoming Barcelona city council elections (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The executive group of the party met yesterday for the first time since the Christmas holidays with its eye on the May elections, which will be held in councils throughout Catalunya and Spain, and agreed to open the selection process for the person who will stand for the PSC in Barcelona. Incumbent mayor, Jordi Hereu, has expressed his desire to stand again for the position—however, with opinion polls forecasting a disastrous showing for Hereu if he does run, the party is not convinced that he should automatically be nominated as the candidate and instead is planning to hold primaries for its members to choose the person they want to see stand. So far, the only other person who has shown themselves willing to enter the fray is Montserrat Tura, former Generalitat Interior Minister and later Justice Minister. The process to present candidates for all the council elections will start this Saturday and run for three weeks; the official announcement of who will be standing will be made at the beginning of March. Local federations choose the candidate to run in each municipality, and the leader of the Barcelona Federation, Carles Martí, yesterday confirmed that he wants Hereu to be the group's candidate but for the first time, he said that he would leave the door open for other potential interested parties. Tura has said she is willing to throw her hat into the ring, always provided she is not seen as a candidate imposed by the leadership of the PSC.