The central Barcelona neighbourhood of Sant Pere is working on a campaign to save and maintain local businesses (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The streets of Sant Pere més Alt and Sant Pere Mitjà are two of the main thoroughfares in the area, but they currently have around a third of the possible shops and businesses closed, some 163 locales. Futhermore, of the nearly 400 which are open, many have found themselves threatened with closure due to falling numbers of clients and people to take over the running of the shops as the current owners or managers grow old. The local council has made a study of the area and is hoping to re-activate local commerce through a series of measures including the opening of passageways and building works to improve the flow of pedestrians, and assistance to help ‘dead businesses’ reopen. The council was initially motivated to study the state of the area due to the proposed construction of a luxury hotel next to the Palau de la Música Catalana, a development that has now been cancelled in light of the recent corruption affair at the Palau. However, it is hoped that the detailed report produced will help bring about a revolution in the area similar to that seen in recent years in other parts of Barcelona’s old town, such as la Ribera and Santa Caterina.
Around 1,300 foreigners living in Catalunya took advantage of the Spanish government’s offer to pay for their journey back to their home country last year (read article in Catalan here, Avui). In total, about 6,000 people left Spain as part of this campaign, according to a report delivered yesterday by the secretary of immigration of the CCOO trade union, Ghassan Saliba. He was giving an analysis of the annual report from the Centre d’Informació per a Treballadors Estrangers (Information Centre for Foreign Workers or CITE); during the presentation, Saliba criticised the National Agreement on Immigration, which has seen a 50 percent cut in its budget for social integration this year. The crisis has had a negative affect on the activity of CITE, which has seen the number of its users fall by 20 percent—additionally, in 2009, 54 percent of its members said that they worked in the ‘unofficial’ economy, a significant increase from the 27 percent who reported such illegal working in 2006.
Spaniards are increasingly deciding for themselves what medication to take when they’re unwell and looking to the internet rather than a doctor for medical advice (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). According to a study by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer about counterfeit medicines in Europe, almost 30 percent of Spaniards (around 11 million people) take medication that they’ve bought ‘over the counter’ that should actually only be taken with a doctor’s prescription. Of these, one in five people buy their medications through the internet, specifically foreign pages that call themselves ‘on-line chemists’. The rest buy the drugs at a local pharmacy, even though it is forbidden by law to buy such medicines without a doctor’s authorisation. The same study found that around half of Spaniards look up information on the internet about ailments and pains that they’re suffering; such moves are causing problems in the doctor-patient relationship, however, as the latter, having checked on the internet, visit the doctor with a list of tests that they want to undergo.
Also in the news: Zapatero positive about possibility of economic growth and creation of new jobs in Spain this year (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia); Mobile World Congress confirms it will return to Barcelona for the next two editions (read full article in Catalan here, Avui); Barcelona mayor visits Vancouver looking for ideas for city’s 2022 Winter Olympics bid (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico); Rafael Nadal stars in Shakira’s latest video (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia)