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June 20th 2008

The festival rumoured to take the place of Fuertemusica will be going ahead. Fuerteventura en Música-La Caja de Canarias 2008 will take place on the 4th and 6th of July on Concha beach in El Cotillo. It is being funded by La Caja de Canarias, the Cabildo and the Ministry of Culture and organised by Vallebrown, who were responsible for the Blues festivals in Corralejo as well as a number of other musical events. The line up is international with offerings from Brazil, Senegal, Oojami from the UK and local bands. Carlinhos Brown will be topping the bill.

Ryanair are introducing a number of new routes in October, including one from Birmingham to Fuerteventura. This will fly three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The route from Liverpool is also due to restart in October, so be prepared for an influx of Brits!

Fuerteventura is to get some new residents. A pair of flamingoes at the Stella Canaris zoological centre have produced three eggs.  The birds first came to the centre 15 years ago but had never reproduced fruitfully before. One egg has not survived, but the other two are doing well and are expected to hatch in early July.

The Directorate General of coasts for the Canary Islands is prepared to provide funding for camp grounds on Fuerteventura. Municipalities will also be expected to contribute. This is so that campers can still enjoy the coasts of the island without breaking the law by being on public land. It is hoped that this will prevent uncontrolled sites and make it easier for the councils to provide an hygienic environment.

The Cabildo of Fuerteventura and the municipalities are agreed for once - in that coastal tracks should not be closed. Apparently the Canarian Directorate of coasts has plans to restrict vehicular access to many beaches and fishing areas around the island using wooden posts. Work has already started on two tracks, one in El Cotillo and another in Puerto del Rosario. The authorities here are annoyed that this has been done without any consultation and have protested to the government in Madrid. Many of the roads are used by farmers to get to fields and wells as well as to the coasts.

There are plans to improve Cofete village. this hamlet of just a few houses needs to be upgraded to provide better living conditions for its inhabitants. There is general agreement that Cofete is a living heritage site as it demonstrates how people lived in the 19th century here. Experts are considering how to do the work sympathetically,

A ruptured underground sewer pipe is compromising the blue flag status of the beach at Gran Tarajal. The pipe has work done on it in a number of times but these have only served to weaken it in other places.  The public health authorities are demanding that thorough repairs are carried out this time.

Pajara hosted the apanada, a traditional gathering of goatherds this week. More than 1,500 goats were mass herded using dogs, from living semi wild in the mountains, in order that the farmers could mark the kids born this year. This is done by marking their ears. This pre Hispanic tradition has remained virtually unchanged for over 2,000 years. In the past this has been done in Cofete, but this year it was moved to Pesenescal. The greater distance that the goats had to travel meant that jeeps and trucks were used to help nursing mothers and the youngest kids. The event provides an opportunity for ranchers and farmers to meet and exchange ideas about methods and practices.

The Cabildo has rejected the idea proposed by the Chamber of commerce to subsidise tour operators in order to stimulate tourism. Mario Cabrero said that he didn't feel that it would achieve it aim as much of the money would go to other countries and many of the tourists would be all inclusive. He also felt that it was not altogether clear that subsidising private companies is legal in the EU. He feels that the proposal needs further study.

A new structure and leadership is being proposed in La Oliva. It is rumoured that a coalition has been formed between the PP and the PSC-PSOE which will give them power in the municipality. Apparently the mayor's role will be shared between Domingo Gonzalez and Rosa Fernandez, each having different areas of authority. The current mayoress, Claudina Morales has denied the rumour. However a press conference has been called for next Monday.

 

 

June 13th 2008

Gran Tarajal dressed in mourning on Saturday. 3,000 residents took to the streets dressed in black shirts to show their opposition to the installation of power plant that is proposed in the Agando valley.  Thousands of people from Gran Tarajal, Giniguinamar, Tarajalejo and Las Playitas attended the march and presented a petition with over 4,000 signatures on it opposing the plant.  At the end of the march, demonstrators gathered in Avendia Maritima where one of the organisers read out a manifesto in which he stated that the people came into the streets spontaneously " to defend their quality of life and decide on the model of island where we live. We went out to the streets to say no to the power station in Agando or elsewhere that harms the people and not to convert the dock in Gran Tarajal to take fuel tankers. The people want quality of life, "he said. The demonstration caused a division in the government group formed by Canary Coalition (CC) and New Canary (NC) following the intent of the mayor of the municipality, Salvador Delgado, to withdraw the consultation and information campaign. Two other sites Grande Valle and Monteagudo, in the municipality of Anitgua, are being considered as two possible alternative locations both of which are located further away from populated areas. However, Grande Valle is a protected area and Monteagudo is classified as farming land, according to the Insular Plan of Arrangement of Fuerteventura (PIOF).

The Chamber of Commerce is going to subsidize to tour operators at the rate of 8 Euros per tourist in order to stimulate the economy. This aid will cost around  4.5 million Euros but it is anticipated that it will generate 300 million euros and will result in the creation of 2000 jobs. They are also proposing to work with the airport to turn it into a major centre for low cost flight operators.

Fuerteventura's education system is not meeting the needs of the people. The significant population growth that the island has suffered in recent years has not been compensated by the Government of the Canary Islands in educational investment for infrastructure to alleviate the serious shortfall. The Federation of Insular Majorero AMPA (FIMAP) is working to improve the quality of teaching and wants greater involvement of public institutions to address educational disadvantage.
This Friday will be the first day of protest to denounce the situation in schools and demand the release of land for new schools.The next will be a demonstration on September 10 to the education board. The education community has already held two protest marches but have had little response from the Executive.

Residents of Fuerteventura that have land, are being offered fruit trees of different species at cost price. Around 25,000 fruit trees (only 5,000 come from the peninsula) will be distributed to small land holders, the objective being to extend the production of fruits on the island. The trees can be bought from the Experimental farm in Pozo Negro. A number of different varieties are available including nectarine, peach, plum, apricot, almond and olive trees. The price will be between 3 and 6 euros. The varieties have been chosen based on their compatibility with the climate and soil of the island.

A retired Red Cross Ambulance will travel around all the capitals of the municipalities of the Island, to sell tickets for a fundraising lottery to generate funds for the organisation. It will be in La Oliva on Tuesday  from 11.00 to 14.00 hours The draw will be held on the 17 of July and the prizes will range from 2.210.000 Euros, to 850 euros. 315 prizes will be given.

The taxi drivers united this week with farers, fishermen and transport carriers to demand aid to reduce fuel prices. The taxi driver association has threatened to strike if the Government does not fulfil its promise to subside fuel tax by 30%. This was supposed to have been in operation in April. If no action is taken a convey of around 200 trucks will go the capital to protest.

June 6th 2008

In spite of the prohibition on camping on Fuerteventura's coasts,  campers began last weekend to site their mobile homes and caravans in the beaches in the North of the island, just as they have in other years. The campers drove in their vehicles in full view of the Policia local but the officers did nothing to stop them, nor were they installing any more of the promised wooden posts to prevent access to the sites.
The Association of Campistas and Caravanistas of Fuerteventura are continuing to protest against the ban in favour of a “the free and regulated” camping policy for the four week ends of June. On Saturday a protest convoy will go from Puerto del Rosario to Tarajalejo and on Sunday they will repeat the process between the capital and Corralejo.
La Oliva council confirmed yesterday that it is not going to do anything about the campers since the ban was not imposed by them, but by the Cabildo. However, and as at Easter, it will continue with the task of rubbish collection and of taking care of the chemical toilets and it will enforce the law of not having dogs on the beach.
La Oliva is also taking legal action to prevent the closure of the access road from El Tostón to Majanicho. The Town hall argues that it is a route that has been always used by the property owners, sailors, fishermen and the goat herds, so it should stay open. 

Agueda Montelongo, the tourism councillor for Fuerteventura gave an interview last week with La Province newspaper. In it she said that her department are making great efforts to study in depth the performance of the market, which is rapidly changing to ensure that the island is a preferred tourist destination.
"Changes that are taking place in the global economy may impact on the tourism industry we need to quickly adapt to the new market situation. Ways of booking holidays, the demands of tourists and the concept of vacation are all changing at an accelerating rate, and we need to react accordingly to these changes. It is essential to have the support of public institutions and local businesses and to listen to the concerns, opinions and proposals.  The Cabildo, through the Tourism Council, has created tourism forums which consist of regular meetings between public institutions, tourist related businesses and tour operators of the island. It is an initiative that was launched this week and has had a tremendous acceptance by the industry, showing that the future of tourism in Fuerteventura is being designed from a consensus amongst the Cabildo, the municipalities and business sector. Lastly we must ensure that everything we do is backed up by studies of tourist data, from which we have developed the Strategic Plan for Tourism Marketing, which studies the current picture and establishes objectives and methods to meet the goals.
The use of new technologies is one of the main priorities proposed by the Marketing Plan. Being on the internet is becoming increasingly important because it is the means through which potential tourists looking for information are able to choose among the wide range of destinations. We are improving the website of the Tourist Board so that it becomes the apex for all information about the island as a tourist destination, as well as a powerful tool to facilitate sales. Another objective is to promote innovative marketing joint actions between the Cabildo and entrepreneurs to facilitate direct marketing of its products to final consumers.
Despite the economic crisis, Fuerteventura is maintaining its position as a preferred destination in Europe. Our main markets, the Germans and the British, have almost reached their peak we must work to maintain this position. Moreover we should also focus on emerging markets because they have great potential, for example, Scandinavia. We are already defining actions to position the island as an attractive destination among these countries."

Fuerteventura unveiled two new sculptures in bronze on Canary day in Betancuria. These are dedicated to Ayose Guise, a Maher warlord, who, in the early fifteenth century fought the Norman conquerors led by Jean de Bethencourt. The event took place on the dividing line separating the territories of Guise and Ayose, and is part of a larger project aimed at empowering Betancuria as the historic capital of the Canary Islands. The ceremony was attended by about 200 people, plus representatives of the municipalities, the Cabildo and the Canary Islands Government. The sculptures are a donation from the company OHL and are 4.5 meters high and about 1.5 meters wide. They are the work of Emiliano Hernandez. Initially they were going to be located in the plaza attached to the Palacio de Congresos in the capital, but they finally opted for a more symbolic location and associated with the former warlords of Mahe.

The current Fuerteventura government, formed by the Canarian Coalition (CC) and Popular Party (PP), have been accused of trying to favour their business associates in the proposed Territorial Energy Plan which is currently under public discussion. The secretary general of the Socialists also alleged that the proposal will ruin the island by putting up numerous wind generators. He branded "scandalous" the fact that areas such as the unique environment of Tindaya Mountain "might be filled with windmills in the future". He feels that this is a contradiction as the same Government are trying to convince us that the proposed monument in Tindaya should not go ahead due to its negative impact on the environment.  He announced that his party is considering a proposal to the Energy Plan that is linked to wave generated energy, complimented by solar power.

The shops of Gran Tarajal will be closed next Saturday as a sign of solidarity with the residents of the town who reject the location of the new power plant in the Valley Agando. A protest meeting will be held to which not only the neighbouring town of Tuineje have been asked to support, but also  the entire population of Fuerteventura.  They are asking people to come dressed in black shirts as a visual sign of their opposition to the project. A petition has already been circulated and it already has more than 4,000 signatures.
Residents of Gran Tarajal have not ruled out moving their demands to the streets of Puerto del Rosario to express their opposition to the installation of the controversial industry a few kilometres from their homes. They feel that it poses a risk to the health and quality of life of Gran Tarajal, Giniginamar, Tarajalejo and other settlements near in the Agando area.

The chairman of the central government, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, confirmed yesterday the unequivocal refusal of the State to participate in the proposed autonomous police for the Canaries. He made it clear that the Ministry of the Interior "does not envisage" its inclusion in the national Government's security model. The meeting between Zapatero and the president of the Canaries, Paulino Rivero, was "extensive and intensive", in reference to the unusual length of time it took - over two hours. A wide range of topics was covered. Both sides acknowledged that the creation of the Canarian autonomous police was the only point of total disagreement, although Rivero said that he felt that there was room for dialogue and negotiation as the Balearics and galicia are also proposing the same model. A further meeting between the Interior Minister, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba and the Minister of Presidency, Jose Miguel Ruano is planned for the near future. However, another attendee at the meeting said "The president has made clear that in the Canaries the most important thing is to reinforce the action of the Security Forces and State Bodies (National Police and Civil Guard) and that autonomous police forces are not in the security model designed by the Ministry of Interior."

Daniel Brühl, the handsome young actor who starred with Judi Dench and Maggie Smith in Ladies in Lavender, has been holidaying in Corralejo on Fuerteventura. He had planned to spend a leisurely holiday reading and playing his favourite sport, tennis, but the director of his last film, Wolfang Becker, came with him and apparently much of the time was spent working on a script and attending the short movie festival of the Dunes. They also climbed Tindaya Mountain. Wolfgang admired the landscape of the island and said that it would make a good location as it was reminiscent of the desert areas in Texas and Africa, but was in Europe. Also the sun is so strong that lighting the sets would not be a problem.

The Court Superior of Justice of the Canary Islands (TSJC) has rejected proposal to open a quarry in La Caldereta on the grounds that the area is a protected environmental area. The ruling explained that the zone houses many types of flora and fauna and that it was needed to favor biodiversity. The high court specifically indicated the importance for the conservation of hubara, an endemic steppe bird currently in danger of extinction.
 

Water reserves in the Canary Islands are extremely low. The largest reservoir, Soria, in Gran Canaria, is only at 2% capacity and in Tenerife, the reservoir is only at 28% of its capacity. The situation, according to the experts, is worrisome but not alarming. It is possible that irrigation of agriculture may be curtailed during the summer but drinking water is guaranteed. Fuerteventura and Lanzarote are not affected as they use desalination plants for most of their water. Lack of rain during last winter is the cause of the problem.

Ten dogs have been found dead after being left in two places in Tindaya, according to the Guardia Civil. The animals were all Podencos, a hunting breed. Five were found in a fenced off cave and the others in the ruins of an abandoned house. No food or water had been left for them. All of the dogs had microchips and three of their owners have already been located. These have been denounced by infractions to the Animal Protection Law 8/1991.
 

 

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