Updated: Nov 3, 2020
A weekend of violence across the country
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has made calls for calm after violent scenes exploded across the country in various cities over the bank holiday weekend. Protests against the State of Alarm and the increasingly fraught economic position of many people erupted into violent clashes and turned over to looting. Arrests were made in multiple locations.
Violence has been seen in Madrid, Barcelona, Logroño, Oviedo, Bilbao, Sevilla, Malaga, Zaragoza, San Sebastián, Burgos, Ibiza, Granada, Murcia and Vittoria. Cries of "libertad" and banners gave way to burning recycling bins and store looting. Logroño saw a a particularly violent night on Saturday but once the sun was up, the city centre was populated by local youngsters assisting local shop owners and council workers in the clear up operation.
Heavy Police deployment across the country on Sunday prevented repeated scenes of the previous nights but León saw hooded youths in clashes in the streets disregarding the 10 pm curfew.
Spanish media and politicians have been quick to point the finger at who is to blame.
Isabel Díaz Ayuso, President of the Madrid regional authority has already clashed with central government for aggressive measures beyond their authority has claimed "the people sowing chaos on the streets are not those most vulnerable to the virus, nor are they the ones fighting for their lives...they are organised groups looking to take advantage of the situation and people's fears." Political blame has been predictable along party lines, with the left throwing accusations at the 'far right' organising the violence and the right claiming otherwise. Vox party leader Santiago Abascal has been quoted as saying "there are more reasons than ever to protest against this government which is ruining us". He called upon police to uphold the right to protest but blamed violence on the 'far left'. Police sources have stated that while protests were led by far left groups but believe some have involved "far right elements".
This political theatre is possibly part of the increasing frustration feeding the tinder box. With the hardest hit economy in the EU and levels of youth unemployment that could almost be considered unviable, it is hardly a surprise that violence is starting to emerge. When combined with an increasingly weary and impoverished population with very little hope of an exit strategy from this spiral of decline, tensions begin to sadly, become an inevitable part of the horror story that has been this year.
Home Confinement rumours rejected by Government Ministers.
Press is reporting that Health Minister Salvador Illa has ruled out a decree on home confinement lockdown, vowing he is confident current emergency measures will be sufficient to control the health situation.
He was asked about the regional authorities of Asturias and Melilla calling for a 15 day home confinement measure. "No we do not forsee it. We are neither working on it or do we forsee it. We think the range of measures available to Autonomous Communities are enough." He flatly denied stories that reported the government was drafting a State of Alarm to allow confinement. He stressed that the measures in place at the moment would need between 10 and 15 days to show results. He was confident such results were starting to show fruit in both Madrid and Barcelona. Illa stated that he did not want to "enter a kind of competition to see who takes the hardest measure." Asturias have announced a measure for non essential businesses to be under obligation to close for 15 days from this Wednesday.
Further denials were issued by José Luis Escrivá, the Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migrations when he was interviewed on Antena 3 Espejo Público. He defended the restriction measures in place and reassured the audience that he was "not aware" of any impending home closure measures. "For now I would be cautious" he stressed and reminded people decisions would be made on the basis of evaluating the effects of measures.
Further to these statements, Vice President Carmen Calvo has confirmed housebound lockdown is not on the table until current measures have been assessed come November 9th
The enthusiastic denials of ministers are in stark contrast to the opinions of former Director of Health Systems at the World Health Organisation Rafael Bengoa who believes another home confinement lockdown in Spain, for about a month, is inevitable. He anticipates that such a decision will need to be made within the next two weeks.
VAT on face masks still stays at 21%
Calls against the government to reduce VAT on face masks as other European countries have done have continued to fall on deaf ears. A desire to see 21% VAT reduced to 4%. The Partido Popular has rejected the Finance Minister's reasoning that the VAT cannot be lowered, claiming an European Commission report in April set out that it was allowed.