Spanish Socialist Party Might Win Upcoming Elections, Polls Show

Madrid, Apr 4 (Prensa Latina) The Spanish Socialist Workers'' Party (PSOE) might win the general elections on April 28, although without the necessary majority to establish a government by itself, the newspaper El Pais predicted on Thursday.

According to an average of the latest polls conducted by the Madrid-based newspaper, the PSOE, led by President Pedro Sanchez, is consolidating as the first option in the upcoming elections.

The PSOE would win the legislative elections with 28.6 percent of votes and would get some 126 seats, but it would be very hard for the party to rule in a coalition with Unidas Podemos, an alliance between Izquierda Unida and Podemos.

That parliamentary group, which supported Sanchez in the latest initiatives by his administration, would be less represented in the Congress of Deputies, according to a summary published in the influential newspaper.

Unidas Podemos will see its representation reduced from 71 seats in the June 2016 elections to 30 lawmakers (12.1 percent), in a Lower House made up of 350 members and an absolute majority established in 176 seats.

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Spain launches disobedience probe into Catalan leader over pro-independence symbols

Prosecutors in north-eastern Spain have launched an investigation into Catalan leader, Quim Torra, for his apparent failure to remove pro-independence symbols from government buildings in the region.

If found guilty, Torra could be removed from office for up to two years, for failing to adhere to a request by Spain’s electoral committee to remove the symbols, which it deemed political propaganda, ahead of elections on April 28.

Yellow ribbons have been hung from apartments, benches and other spaces across Catalonia in solidarity with twelve political and civic leaders currently on trial for sedition after a failed independence drive in 2017.

Also on rt.com 'Test of democracy': Catalan leaders on trial amid political turmoil for Spanish government...

The Catalan government had also joined in hanging yellow ribbons from government buildings, as well as flying the estelada, the flag of Catalan independence. A banner written in both Catalan and English was also hung from the government’s headquarters in Barcelona bearing the demand: “Free political prisoners and exiles.”

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Strike, Protests Mark International Women's Day In Spain

Madrid: For the second year running, Spanish women went on strike today for International Women's Day, with several protests kicking off over what has become a hot topic in the country's election campaign.

"If we stop, the world stops." Armed with this slogan, Spain's largest unions CCOO and UGT organised a two-hour work stoppage -- the first starting at midday -- while smaller unions have called for a 24-hour strike.

Madrid Mayor Manuela Carmena, prominent journalists, nuns and company employees are among hundreds of women who have pledged to take part in a strike that seeks to recreate an unprecedented two-hour work stoppage that took place on the same day in 2018.

It was as yet unclear how many women were participating.

International Women's Day is being celebrated around the world today, with marches and other actions expected.

Hundreds of protests and gatherings are planned across Spain. In Barcelona, demonstrators blocked a major thoroughfare, some wearing purple wigs -- the colour long associated with gender equality.

Unions, feminist associations and left-wing parties are hoping to draw hundreds of thousands of people in big marches later in the day in Madrid and Barcelona.

As snap general elections near on April 28, women's rights has become a crux theme of left and right-wing parties' election campaigns, with all pledging to do their bit for inequalities.

hutpl1doProtesters shout slogans while holding signs during a demonstration in Madrid. (AFP)

The gender pay gap stands at 14.2 percent according to the latest EU statistics, two points below the EU average.

And gender violence continues to take its toll on women, with 47 killed by their partners or ex-partners last year and at least 975 dead since 2003, according to government figures.

"Us women need to be seen, because there is still a lot of work to do," Ana Pastor, the conservative parliament speaker, told Spanish television.

"Women don't have real power."

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who has made women's rights one of the central themes of his campaign, tweeted that he wanted "a feminist Spain."

"Only with feminism will we end violence against women and achieve real equality," he said.

Spanish media is awash with stories about women's rights and gender inequality.

On Thursday, the national police force announced it was working on a "non-sexist language guide for its agents."

Dissenting Voices

But there are increasing dissenting voices against what some conservative groups believe has gone too far.

The conservative Popular Party won't take part in the Madrid protest, considering the manifesto that called the demonstration "unacceptable."

This calls on people to mobilise "in the face of the right and far-right that have placed us women and migrants as a priority target of their ultra-liberal, racist and patriarchal offensive."

Centre-right party Ciudadanos, meanwhile, has lashed out at what it considers an attempt by the left to appropriate feminism to get more votes on April 28 general elections.

q41dm7jgStudent protesters shout slogans during a demonstration in Barcelona. (AFP)

The "Women of the World Global Platform," a Spanish initiative that groups together conservative associations from around the world, has also called for a counter-protest in central Madrid on March 10.

International Women's Day "has converted into a day for those who reject femininity as well as masculinity, complementarity, maternity and dedication to the family," spokeswoman Leonor Tamayo said in a statement.

Small far-right party Vox, which opposes a law against gender violence that it feels is "ideological" and "discriminatory" towards men, has also been gaining ground.

Pastor, though, retorted that "this is not about parties."

"There are thousands of women in Spain who don't vote, who don't identify with parties... A day like today is more about speaking as people, above all as women."

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Burnt tires & clashes with police as pro-independence protests grip Catalonia (PHOTO, VIDEO)

Pro-independence activists in Catalonia are venting their anger at Madrid’s trial of the region’s provincial leaders. Baton-wielding police scuffled with some of the demonstrators as people also blocked roads and set tires ablaze.

The group behind the protest is called the Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDRs) and has been involved in demonstrations against Spain’s central government for months. The goal of Thursday’s action is to ‘paralyze everything,’ as the group put it.

One of the columns in front of the Barcelona’s University. The strike against the trial is a Huge Success all over Catalonia

The protesters managed to disrupt traffic on several major roads with barricades of burning tires. They also interfered with the work of local railroads and occupied an office building in Girona, a city some 100km (62 miles) northeast of Barcelona.

Catalonia’s president Torra said to his supporters: “Push!”, and calls them to strike today Watch them acting accordingly Peaceful people indeed

Blockade of burning tires: Pro-independence Catalonian activists disrupt...

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Cuba To Welcome 5 Million Visitors In 2019

This year could be a banner year for Cuban tourism.

As the Caribbean island continues to court foreign vacationers, the tourism ministry announced that they expect over five million visitors in 2019.

If the island hits their goal, it will be the 12th consecutive year of growth in tourism numbers for the Pearl of the Antilles, with 7.4% growth between 2018 and 2019, said the ministry. Tourism incomes are estimated to exceed 3 billion dollars in Cuba in 2019 , according to the ministry.

Experts say that the expansion of accommodation choices – including five-star hotels in Havana – as well as the increase in competitively priced hotels and casa particulares has resulted in more interest for vacationers. Additionally, in November, Havana will celebrate its 500th year anniversary.

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“Five million is realistic,” said John McAuliff, executive director of Fund for Reconciliation and Development, in an email. “Americans are slowly waking up to the reality that they are still free to travel independently under the Support for the Cuban People license.”

Continuing, he said that “the number could go even higher if Congress ends all restrictions on travel by Americans. Under Democratic control, the House could match bipartisan support in the Senate to allow normal travel and agricultural sales.”

The top two tourism markets remain Canada and the United States, although Americans are still prohibited from visiting Cuba for tourism explicitly. (Americans can still travel to Cuba legally under one of these 12 permitted categories.)

Cuba has also launched promotional campaigns recently to attract more travelers from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain as well as emerging markets like China, Vietnam and South Africa.

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Although regulations dictate that Americans are not allowed to go on a ‘typical’ beach vacation while exploring the country, Steve Powers, owner of Hidden Treasure Tours in Long Beach, New York, said during last month's New York Times Travel Show that traveling to Cuba legally remains a great deal as compared to the rest of the Caribbean, thanks to cheap, commercial flights from the US.

In 2018, the island welcomed 4.78 million visitors with less than one million of those travelers arriving by cruise ship.

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Spanish Union Rejects Government Support for Guaido in Venezuela

Madrid, Feb 5 (Prensa Latina) Spain's General Workers Union (UGT) considered the decision of Pedro Sanchez's social democratic government to recognize Juan Guaido as interim president of Venezuela to be wrong.

In a statement released Tuesday by several media outlets, the trade union organization - one of the two largest in this European country - said that Spanish executive support for Guaido only benefits one side of the Venezuelan conflict.

This type of actions violate international law, do not favor the necessary harmony in the South American nation and represent an obstacle to find a real commitment to a political solution, it said.

Sanchez's announcement is insufficient to 'defend a position away from the interventionism of Donald Trump and his satellite governments of the Latin American right (Bolsonaro, Macri, Duque, etc.).

The Spanish head of government's support for this political meddling is a new mistake, 'starting with the absurd ultimatum given to the government of (Nicolas) Maduro eight days ago', the note added.

For the group, it is striking that Spanish president made no mention of the role of the United States in the conflict, being the self-proclamation of the opponent Guaido 'the result of a plan drawn up with the active support of the Donald Trump government.

'Dialogue, calm and scrupulous respect for human rights and international law are the only tools to guarantee a peaceful and lasting solution' in Venezuela, concluded the UGT.

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Trump Admin. Pressured Spain Gov't to Support US-Backed Coup in Venezuela: Report

“The US diplomat made two demands: for Spain to immediately recognize Guaidó as the legitimate president, and to cut off all dialogue with Maduro,” El Pais reported.

The United States has exerted considerable pressure on the left-leaning government in Spain, led by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, in order to come out against the Venezuela president Nicolas Maduro, recognize the opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido as the country “interim president,” and not to endorse or participate in any talks or dialogue between the opposition and the government,  the Spanish newspaper El Pais reported Friday.

RELATED: John Bolton Admits US-backed Coup in Venezuela Is About Oil, Not Democracy

“We are under a lot of pressure – I won’t tell you from whom but you can figure it out – to vote against the creation of this group,” Foreign Minister José Borrell told El Pais, alluding to an EU-sponsored international contact group meant to foster dialogue in Venezuela.

The newspaper reported that in several meetings ahead of Jan 23, the day Guaido proclaimed himself the interim president, and since, that U.S. diplomats and senior officials placed pressure on counterparts in the Spanish government and other in the European Union to follow the same position as that of the United States and its right-wing allies in Latin America.

In a meeting on Jan. 22, Washington began lobbying Spain in favor of its plans in Venezuela, without specifically revealing Guaido’s plans the next day or Washington's plan to recognize him immediately

Spain’s secretary of state for Cooperation and Ibero-America Juan Pablo de Laiglesia was in Washington to meet with the assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Kimberly Breier where the U.S. officials told the Spanish official that “important events” were expected in Venezuela in the coming days.

A day later and just hours before the Guaido unconstitutional declaration, a call was placed from the U.S. embassy in Madrid, according to El Pais, stating, “It is likely that Guaido will declare himself president today, and we are going to recognize him.”

On Jan. 24, the Spanish foreign minister met with U.S. Ambassador Duke Buchan III, and urged Spain and Portugal to take Guaido’s side because of their ability to shape the position of the rest of the EU on this matter, several sources familiar with the conversation told EL Pais.

RELATED: For Trump, Venezuela Intervention Serves 2020 Re-election Bid

“The US diplomat made two demands: for Spain to immediately recognize Guaidó as the legitimate president, and to cut off all dialogue with Maduro,” the newspaper reported.

The United States was quick to recognize Guaido as “interim president” after he proclaimed himself as such on Jan 23, in violation of the country's constitution, and Washington’s right-wing allies in the region followed suit in what the elected Venezuelan government of Maduro calls a parliamentary coup.

Since then, the U.S. has approved fresh sanctions against Caracas including economic sanctions against the country’s national oil company. Several senior U.S. officials called on the country’s military to intervene in support of Guaido. However, the country’s military has asserted its support for the constitutional government and rejected calls for a coup.

Under mounting pressure from the Trump administration, Spain and other major countries in the EU have failed to maintain an independent stance on the Venezuelan situation and have said they would be recognizing Guaido as the interim head of state within days but while calling for elections and asking for a peaceful transition. 

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New modern baseball softball stadium to be built in Spain

A brand new baseball softball stadium will be built in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, marking a huge step forward for the sport in Spain. It will be the first exclusive baseball softball facility in Gran Canaria island, since the team Capitalinos actually plays at Martinon, a venue shared with other sports.

The City Council of Las Palmas has ceded a 36,500 squared meters land next to Santa Caralina-Lomo Blanco higway, where the stadium will be placed; and the Cabildo de Gran Canaria will invest 1.5 million euros in the construction of the stadium. The construction will start in the early 2019, and the works are estimated to last between 8 months and a year.

The project includes a 400 seat stadium and two parking lots (one for the stadium itself, and the other for public use). Behind the stands will be located the locker rooms for the teams, offices, a meeting room, a warehouse, the scorers room and a batting cage.

Baseball in Spain is growing fast and strong, highlighted by the historic qualification of the U-18 National Team to the WBSC Baseball World Cup, to be held in 2019 in Gijang, Korea, coming back to the global tournament after 13 years of absence. Actually Spain is the 25th nation in the WBSC Baseball World Ranking, and is placed No. 7 in Europe.

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