Spain can't absorb 'millions of Africans,' new opposition leader tells government

Spain is the new centre of Europe's migrant crisis - and Conservative Popular Party leader Pablo Casado has blamed the socialist government after they accepted migrant rescue boat the Aquarius, which Italy had turned away.

The rescue boat, which carried 630 migrants, has been operated since February 2016 by SOS Méditerranée and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Italy and Malta rejected the rescue boat in June, sparking a bitter row within the European Union with the two countries demanding another member of the bloc take in the migrants on board. The ship ended up docking in Valencia; a move that Casado warned may be seen as a welcome sign for more arrivals.

Now, the freshly minted Conservative Popular Party leader, who replaced Mariano Rajoy only a fortnight ago, has hit out at the current Spanish government who are seen to have brought a soft touch on migration. Casado stated that Spain can't "absorb millions of Africans who want to come to Europe", according to the Times, adding that "it is not possible that there are papers for all" who came to Spain on board the rescue boat.

 
African migrants in this still image from video climb the border from Morocco to Spain's North African enclave of Ceuta, Spain, July 26, 2018

The Spanish Government hit back at Casado's words, with a government a spokeswoman saying that Casado's suggestion that taking in the Aquarius means arrivals will increase is "false". She added: "When Italy closed its ports and the route to Greece was harder, this made more migrants head to Spain. It needs a European response."

Spain's newly in office Socialist prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, has said following the acceptance of the Aquarius and her migrant passengers that it is Spain's "obligation to help avoid a humanitarian disaster by offering a safe harbor to these people."

The Red Cross has confirmed that the influx of migrants is exhausting humanitarian resources in Spain. Red Cross migrant and refugee department head in the southern coastal port city of Málaga David Ortiz told Politico that the charity is "seeing double the numbers arriving compared to the same period last year". While Ortiz said the Red Cross can manage the high number of migrants, when "300 people arrive on the same day, it gets difficult," he admitted.

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Spain Declines Extradition of Ex-Catalan leader from Germany

Spain's Supreme Court said on Thursday it had decided to decline the extradition of former Catalan regional leader Carles Puigdemont from Germany on the charge of misuse of public funds linked to his organization of a banned referendum on independence.

A German court ruled one week ago that Puigdemont could be extradited for alleged misuse of public funds but it rejected a request to send him back to answer a more serious charge of rebellion.

Former Catalan minister Clara Ponsati's lawyer welcomed a Spanish court's decision to withdraw European Arrest Warrants against Catalan politicians, but said it was unclear whether they would be allowed back.

Spain's Supreme Court has also said that it had withdrawn European Arrest Warrants for politicians linked to the organization of a Catalan independence referendum last October.

Former education minister Ponsati, 61, a professor at Scotland's University of St Andrews, is one of several leaders of Catalonia's regional government being sought by Spain. "It's excellent news, with regards to my client Clara Ponsati, and obviously for Puigdemont... but we tread cautiously," Aamer Anwar told Reuters by phone.

"The question that arises is whether the Spanish government are willing to allow Mr Puigdemont to simply return back to Catalonia and declare independence... I suspect not."

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The government takes a turn in its foreign policy in favor of dialogue with Venezuela and Cuba

The Government of Pedro Sánchez has embarked on a new stage in its relationship with Venezuela and Cuba different from that of its predecessor. The hard line, penalties, lack of contacts at highest level and even statements of respective ambassadors as non-grates have been relegated to a new climate of "dialogue". This has been expressed this week by foreigner, Josep Borrell, his Venezuelan counterpart, Jorge Arreaza, and same did a high position of Ministry to Cuban chancellor, Abelardo Moreno.

The second edition of Summit of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of European Union and Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), held on Monday and Tuesday in Brussels, served as perfect scenario to materialize a relevant change of Criterion in international policy of Spanish executive. The meeting was attended by 33 states representing some 600 million people. At margins of meeting, in private offices, Minister Borrell took time to meet for half an hour with Arreaza. And on or hand, so did Secretary of State for Latin America, Juan Pablo de la Iglesia, at request of his Cuban counterpart, in what was first meeting of new executive with an authority of island.

The symbolic significance of Monday's talk with Borrell remarked subsequent reaction of Arreaza himself, who published on Twitter this optimistic message with several photos of meeting: "held a cordial and productive meeting. Both governments are committed to dialogue with mutual respect and comprehensive cooperation.

the government takes a turn in its foreign policy in favor of dialogue with venezuela and cuba

"Last January, Spain and Venezuela came to withdraw ir respective ambassadors for a new political crisis between two countries. The Caribbean authorities assured that Mariano Rajoy and his foreign minister, Alfonso Dastis, were leading in European Union a tough strategy of sanctions against Venezuelan leaders. At end of May, Dastis still held in public and before EU need for an "increase of pressure" towards Venezuelan government with sanctions to more people, "unilateral and restrictive" to convince regime of Nicolas Maduro that it was to seek "a way out Auntically Democratic "for your country.

Waiting to concrete trip to island

With regard to first meeting of Government with a Cuban authority, exteriors found will to "deepen and broaden valuable and constructive bilateral relationship that unites both countries" after overcoming previous common position of blockade of EU. Spain now trusts that new Cuban Government "can successfully address important challenges before it and undertake pending reforms" and is offered to "help and accompany in its transformation process". Cuban official sources valued "The good sign" of this "gesture" and wait to concretize from September a state trip "to maximum level" to island, but already in 2019.

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Russia 4-3 Spain (pens) - Heroic hosts snatch improbable shootout victory to stun Spain in Moscow

Russia pulled off a spectacular and improbable victory to stun Spain after extra time and penalties at Luzhniki Stadium to keep their home World Cup hopes alive and send one of the pre-tournament favorites packing.

In the end, it was a dramatic 4-3 penalty shootout that decided the game, scoring the winner after a Sergei Ignashevich goal and Artem Dzyuba penalty in normal time meant the two sides could not be separated after 120 minutes of football.

With the result, Russia booked a quarterfinal date in Sochi on July 7 against either Croatia or Denmark in the day’s other last 16 tie.

Much of the talk before the game was about the importance of Russia’s ‘12th man’ in their raucous Luzhniki Stadium supporters. The sound of the national anthem bellowing from the 78,000 supporters in the stands ensured that man was the first to make itself counted.

When the action got underway, Spain showed some of the football they are famous for, although their ‘tiki taka’ passing tactics were receive with boos from the crowd. Spain captain and talisman Sergio Ramos is perhaps the most vilified and sometimes reviled man in football, but every play and attack was built from the Spanish captain in defense.

One of those attacks resulted in Yuri Zhirkov bringing down Nacho on the right flank. The resulting free kick found a dueling Ramos and veteran Russian counterpart Sergei Ignashevich. As the two tussled and tumbled to the floor, the ball came off the heel of Ignashevich and curled into the net past a rooted Akinfeev.

After the goal Russia did have their moments, from a set piece and balls into the area for Dzyuba to nod down, whose 6ft 4in frame is always going to cause panic for opposition defenders.

Golovin went close with 10 minutes of the first half remaining, beginning the attack for Dzyuba to head down. The ball found its way to Zobnin, who brought it forward and laid it off for Golovin to curl a shot on his weaker right foot just past the far post of David De Gea’s goal.

Russia did get their breakthrough when one of their attacks forward resulted in a corner. A Dzyuba header hit the arm of Pique, Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers belatedly pointed to the spot without confronting VAR and booked the Spain defender.

Dzyuba the stepped up to fire the ball into the right hand side and send De Gea the wrong way to net his third in four World Cup games. The 12th man reacted with seismic cheers; the nation was level again and it was now all to play for in the Russian capital.

Golovin battling hard in midfield, Russia still with their tactics of long ball up to Dzyuba.

Diego Costa laid off to Isco, who went desperately close in an effort that was sure to have the collective heart in the mouths of every Russian fan inside the stadium.

Russia’s tactics changed when Fedor Smolov, the forgotten golden boy of Russian football, came on to replace Dzyuba, who stopped and said a few words to Cherchesov, neither of the two men looked too pleased and have a difficult history together.

Russia continued to press, and had a half-hearted penalty appeal when Golovin went down under a challenge of Ramos. Kuipers gave nothing as replays showed Ramos simply got himself in-between the onrushing midfielder and the ball.

For the Spaniards, the introduction of iconic midfielder Andres Iniesta meant that Spain reverted to their more famously fluid football, formulating attacks with a string of passes, but none could find their way through up until the 80th minute. 

In the final 10 minutes, Iniesta uncharacteristically miskicked from a corner but Russia managed to get it away, Koke’s dangerous ball into the area moments later was headed away by Mario Fernandes.

With a little over five minutes of normal time left, Iniesta made his first meaningful contribution to the game when he brought a save low down to Akinfeev’s right from 20 yards, the ball cannoned out to Aspas, but his effort was turned away with cat-like reflexes by the veteran stopper.

A hat-trick of corners in the final couple of minutes all resulted in nothing, the final of those seeing Ramos head over. Fernandes headed the ball clear from yet another Spain ball into the area with the last real attack of the 90 minutes and with that extra time was needed to separate the two sides.

The first half of extra time saw the action go much the way of the last 20 minutes of normal time, with Russia hemmed in under wave after wave of Spanish attack. Marco Asensio forced a save from Akinfeev from 20 yards, Ignashevich also showed enough defensive nous to keep a livewire Aspas at bay.

Aleksandr Golovin gave away a free-kick, replays showed he won the ball cleanly, but the free-kick only brought a tame goalward header from Gerard Pique that was comfortably caught by Akinfeev, the last action of the first half of extra time.

Tired legs traipsed off the pitch but Spain looked spritely as they began the second half, but they could still find no way past the Russia defense. Hearts reached mouths again when substitute Rodrigo wrong-footed substitute Vladimir Granat and powered into the area with a strong run, his cross-shot was equalled by Akinfeev and Dani Carvajal’s follow-up was blocked, the Russian defense proving water-tight once again.

Ignashevich gave away a silly foul halfway up his own half, the resulting inswinging free kick found its way past every player in the area but when Pique went down under a challenge from Ignashevich, the entire Spanish bench flew up and protested. Although it was enough to bring a VAR consultation no penalty was eventually given as there was no clear foul.

Russia won a corner, Golovin to take it but when the ball broke clear from a wayward header, Smolov could do nothing. The two sides battles out the remaining minutes of the match at Luzhniki as the rain fell on Russia’s sporting epicenter. A Rodrigo shot saved by Akinfeev restored some hope and as the last attack of the 120 minutes. Penalties ensued.

Ramos won the toss and elected to shoot towards the goal behind which Spanish fans had gathered, much to their delight at that end. Iniesta was first to take and score, sending Akinfeev the wrong way. An unsure Smolov alleviated fears by smashing cooly past De Gea. Pique stepped up and rifled in off the post, Ignashevich made a stuttering run-up and showed no nerves as he slotted in to make it 2-2.

Then the real drama came as Koke had his shot blocked by Akinfeev, straight at the keeper diving to his right. Golovin shot home to have Russia take the lead 3-2 on penalties, almost firing through De Gea in the goal.

Ramos, so often the villain, was the hero from the spot, calmly slotting away to level up again. Cheryshev netted his spot kick to make it four from four straight down the center of the goal. Aspas then missed his spot kick to send a rapturous Russia into the next round and keep the home dream alive.

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Spanish Cinema Will Take Havana for Five Days

Havana, Jun 27 (Prensa Latina) A show of the most recent Spanish cinema will be held tomorrow and until July 1, according to the organizers.

A total of eight films make up the program of the cycle that will be hosted by the Acapulco and 23 y 12 cinemas.

In a press conference, the cultural attaché of the Embassy of Spain in Havana, Guillermo Corral, stressed that among the purposes of the exhibition is to provide the public with a selection of the most recent produced by Spanish cinema, marked by diversity and quality of the proposals.

For the first time, Corral said, the cinema event will arrive in the eastern Cuban province of Camagüey (July 3 to 8), which it is expected to be a first step for future appointments in order to reach other cities on the island.

Among the tapes of the poster, which covers genres such as comedy, historical and horror films, include 'Veronica,' 'Holy Camp,' 'The Motive,' and 'Perfect Strangers.'

During these days the actors Eduardo Noriega, protagonist of 'Perfect Strangers,' the actresses Adelfa Calvo, and Sandra Escacena, and the director Paco Plaza, will share with the spectators

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Cuba-Spain Business Committee Meets in Havana

The Cuba-Spain Business Committee meets from today to tomorrow at the National Hotel in Havana, according to the Chamber of Commerce of Cuba

As part of the program, the presentation of sectoral priorities for the economic and social development of the Cuban economy and the legal framework for Foreign Investment in Cuba by executives of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment is foreseen.

Likewise, the program includes the signing of the Work Program for the period 2018-2019, the holding of business meetings, as well as a visit, scheduled for Friday, to the western Mariel Special Development Zone.

The delegation of the Iberian country is chaired by the Secretary of State for Trade of Spain, Marisa Poncela, and the president of the Spanish section of the bilateral committee, Jaime García-Legaz.

It also includes representatives of more than 70 companies from the energy, tourism, and construction sectors, basically.

On the Cuban side, the event is chaired by the Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca and the head of the Chamber of Commerce of Cuba, Orlando Hernández.

The Cuba-Spain Business Committee is organized under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment of Cuba and the Chamber of Commerce of Spain and in collaboration with the commercial offices of both countries.

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Italy: Diplomatic tensions flare as migrants head to Spain

CATANIA, Sicily — Italy escalated its standoff with France over migration Wednesday, challenging Paris to take in more asylum-seekers and demanding an apology after the French president accused the new populist Italian government of cynical, irresponsible behavior by refusing entry to a rescue ship with 600 people aboard.

Italy summoned the French ambassador for consultations and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini chided French President Emmanuel Macron by name during a speech before Parliament’s upper chamber.

Salvini said France had taken in only a fraction of the 9,816 migrants it had pledged to welcome under a 2015 EU relocation plan to relieve frontline countries Italy and Greece of the burden of caring for newly arrived migrants.

“So I ask President Macron to pass from words to action and tomorrow morning welcome the 9,000 France promised to welcome as a sign of concrete generosity and not just words,” Salvini said to applause in the Senate chamber.

“I speak in the name of a government but I also have the ambition of speaking for a people who have nothing to learn from anyone about generosity, volunteerism, welcome and solidarity,” he said.

Italy has defended its decision to refuse to allow the Aquarius rescue ship to dock, saying it has never abandoned the ship and is escorting it to Spain. Spain stepped up and offered the Aquarius safe harbor in Valencia after Italy and Malta both refused.

The standoff over the Aquarius appeared a clear tactic by Italy’s new government to force Europe’s hand at the upcoming summit of EU leaders in Brussels June 28-29. Italy for years has complained that it has been left largely alone to manage Europe’s migrant crisis, but the new government says its tactics have finally gotten the point across.

Salvini has accused European aid groups of essentially operating taxi services for Libya-based human traffickers, and has said Italy will now refuse their rescue ships entry. Italian maritime vessels, however, are still docking in its ports: on Wednesday, an Italian coast guard vessel docked in Catania, Sicily with 932 migrants aboard.

The Diciotti was greeted in Catania’s port by activists criticizing the new policy, with a banner draped at the port saying “Stop the attack on refugees.”

French President Emmanuel Macron had blasted what he called Italy’s cynicism and irresponsibility in turning away the Aquarius, which is operated by the humanitarian group SOS Mediterranee and the French-founded Doctors Without Borders.

Macron’s office said Tuesday that France doesn’t want to “start a precedent” that would allow some European countries to breach international laws and rely on other EU member states to take in migrants.

In his speech, Salvini shot back and said France had turned back 10,249 migrants at Italy’s northern border since January “including women, children and disabled people.” The border crossing point at Ventimiglia has been the scene of protests and desperation for years as France has refused to let in migrants, many of whom are seeking to reach family in France or Germany.

Under the EU’s asylum laws — currently the subject of revision amid a major political dispute — migrants must apply for asylum in the country where they first enter Europe. In practice, this has placed a heavy burden on Italy and Greece, where hundreds of thousands of people have entered in recent years. Some countries feel justified in stopping migrants from entering when they should have registered elsewhere.

Salvini also demanded that France make good on its pledge to relocate migrants under a 2015 EU scheme that never fully got off the ground.

France was to have accepted a total of 19,714 migrants from Italy and Greece; in all, it accepted 4,677. Across the European Union, only a third of the 98,255 migrants that were supposed to be relocated under the scheme had been relocated by the time it ended last year.

Salvini’s League campaigned during the March 4 national election on a strong anti-migrant agenda that included promises of mass expulsions of migrants already here. According to government figures, Italy has accepted 640,000 migrants since 2014, but the number of arrivals this year is at a five-year low: 14,441 since January.

The number of migrants arriving in Italy began plummeting last year after the Italian government under the center-left Democratic Party negotiated controversial deals with Libya that beefed up its capacity to better patrol its coasts and discouraged land-based smugglers.

Earlier Wednesday, Salvini accused France of having caused the instability in Libya that has allowed smuggling networks to thrive by spearheading the 2011 NATO-led military campaign that led to the downfall of Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi.

The Aquarius and two Italian ships that have taken some of the migrants are now expected to arrive in Valencia on Saturday night, weather conditions permitting, said SOS Mediterranee’s co-founder Sophie Beau. The port is some 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) from where the ship had been on standby since Saturday night.

“It’s a relief for everyone, our teams and of course above all for the survivors to know that they are finally allowed to head to a safe port in Europe,” Beau told reporters in Marseille, France.

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Cuba’s Soccer Fans Ready for the World Cup

Cuba will be one of the more than a hundred countries that won’t have its national soccer team playing in the World Cup in Russia, but that won’t stop soccer fever from taking over the island’s sports enthusiasts.

Traditionally, Cuban fans mostly choose to support Argentina and Brazil, because of the Latin blood they share apparently, but over time support grows for the teams of Germany and Spain, who have done well in previous events, as well as France and Holland, although Holland didn’t qualify for the Russian competition.

Fans of the different teams form groups to come together and cheer their squad as already happens with the different teams in the other national and continental soccer leagues. When the World Cup comes along you can see special initiatives to enjoy the matches.

This weekend, official Real Madrid and Barcelona clubs in Havana played a friendly game at the Eduardo Saborit sports center, to make it clear that even though they support different teams, there’s no bitterness between them. It was also a mixed affair as each team had to sign up one woman to their team.

Anyway, getting back to the World Cup… some places in Havana have already advertised to fans to come and enjoy their favorite team’s matches there; for example, restaurants 1830 and La Chorrera, whose managers are fans of the German team are planning to gather all their fans together there. Restaurant 1830 also has the German Embassy in Havana for support and will be the kind of “official” for their fans.

Tony, a Bayern Munich and German football fan, told us that he won’t miss one of the matches. “I go to 1830 a lot to watch Bayern matches throughout the year, especially on the weekend because of work. Now, I’ll also try to go every time Germany plays, if work allows me to. A group of people that we’ve all known for some time meet up there and we really enjoy the games.”

Meanwhile, another Bavarian supporter, Alfredo, told us a little bit about his expectations. “Germany hasn’t been playing very well in the lead up friendly matches up until now, but that’s because they’ve been up against big teams and they’ve played with a lot of different line-ups. When the World Cup starts, things will be different and I predict that they’ll finish first in their group. Afterwards, in the knockout stage, everyone knows that it’s very hard to beat them, so I think they can be the champions again.”

Raulito, an Argentina fan, has a very different opinion: “This World Cup belongs to (Lionel) Messi. It’s about time that Argentina won a tournament. It was really close to winning in another World Cup and in the Copa Americas, so I think it’s time has come. Messi needs the team to keep up with him more because he can’t do it all on his own.”

“This is a never-ending story, my brother,” Alfredo tells him. “It’s time you look for another team. Those Argentinians don’t have what it takes to win. When it counts, their legs get soft and nobody scores. That (Gonzalo) Higuain needs his head checked: he misses the easiest goals when it’s the final, and the same thing happens in the Champions League, both when he was at Real Madrid and now at Juventus.”

“I believe that Argentina is considered a favorite just because of Messi,” Alejandro says. “Because the truth is that as a team they aren’t that extraordinary. They at least need to put (Paulo) Dybala on the field and put aside that foolishness that he can’t play alongside Messi, because if they don’t, Argentina won’t go anywhere.”

“Forget about Argentina,” Ulises interrupts. “This World Cup is Brazil’s and the Golden Boot award is Neymar’s (da Silva). No other team has the Brazilians’ skill and they have been unbeatable for a while now, ever since Dunga was let go as trainer because they weren’t going to go anywhere with him. Neymar definitely doesn’t get rattled when the time comes and I’m sure he’ll be a champion with this team. Plus, they’re coming back with a vengeance after they lost in 2014, so I don’t think they will lose.”

“It’s true, Brazil is good,” Julita says, “but don’t forget Spain, who are also making their mark in the friendlies and kicked Italy out in the qualifiers. This team is also very good, with star players playing nearly every position. What they need is for Diego Costa to score goals with Spain like he does when he plays for Atletico, because if he did there’s no one who could beat the Spanish.”

“Guys,” Abelito says, “don’t forget about France. If we take a look at each and every player, I think they are one of the best bets and they have also really stood out in the exhibition matches, in spite of the line-up having been changed quite a lot.”

“But, it’s the same with France like it is with Argentina,” Alejandro cuts back. “If they weren’t able to win the UEFA European Championship at home, against Portugal which isn’t a particularly great team, and they didn’t even have Cristiano Ronaldo playing that day, then do you really think they can win the World Cup?

In my opinion, that (Antoine) Griezmann is a lot like Higuain, when the game gets critical, he gets nervous and they can’t win the World Cup like that.”

This improvised group didn’t end up agreeing, like what normally happens, and they each passionately bet on their own teams, just like they used to when they discussed baseball in the old days. We will see who’s right as time goes on, or there might even be a surprise and an unexpected team makes it all the way. In this sport, you never know…

  • Published in Sports
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