TIME Spain

Spanish Town Finally Drops ‘Kill Jews’ Name

Will now be called "Castrillo Mota de Judios, or "Jews' Hill Camp"

A Spanish village with a name that translates to “Camp Kill Jews” has finally officially changed its name to Castrillo Mota de Judios, or “Jews’ Hill Camp.”

Residents of Castrillo Matajudios first voted to change the name last year, with 29 of the village’s 57 inhabitants voting in favor of the change. The name change has now been approved by the regional government of Castilla y Leon, the Associated Press reports.

The town’s former name, which dates back to 1627, was especially puzzling due to the fact that the town was founded by Jews fleeing from pogroms in 1035. Today, the town has no Jewish residents, despite its official shield containing the Star of David.

Spain has a checkered history of treatment towards Jewish residents, including a 1492 edict that ordered Jews to convert to Catholicism or leave the country. In early June, Spain’s lower house of parliament approved a law paving a pathway to citizenship for descendants of Jews who were forced to leave the country during the inquisition.

According to the AP, researchers believe the village actually got its name from Jewish residents who wanted to bolster the believability of their conversion.

[AP]

Read next: The Forgotten Brutality of Female Nazi Concentration Camp Guards

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TIME Spain

Spain’s King Felipe Has Stripped His Sister of Her Duchess Title Following Tax-Evasion Allegations

Princess Cristina
Manu Fernandez — AP Spain's Princess Cristina walks toward her office in Barcelona on April 5, 2013

She is accused of colluding with her husband in a tax-evasion scheme

King Felipe VI of Spain issued an order this week to revoke the title of Duchess of Palma de Mallorca bestowed on his sister Princess Cristina after she was embroiled in an embarrassing tax-evasion scandal last year.

“The official journal of the state [on Friday] will publish a royal decree by which his majesty the King will revoke the use of the title of Duchess of Palma de Mallorca by Her Royal Highness the Infanta Cristina,” read a statement released by the palace, according to Agence France-Presse.

The Princess is accused of colluding with her husband Iñaki Urdangarin, a former Olympic handball player, in a tax-evasion scheme that involved more than $6.6 million in public funds.

She is set to be the first member of the royal family to stand trial since the monarchy was restored in Spain in 1975.

However, Cristina’s attorneys insist that the Princess was innocent and merely duped by her husband, who managed the couple’s financial affairs.

[AFP]

TIME Spain

Boy Smuggled in Suitcase to Spain Reunited With His Mother

Adou Ouattara
Jorge Arbona Lopez — AFP/Getty Images A handout pictured realeased shows Ivorian boy Adou Ouattara, left, hugging his mother Lucie Ouattara after being reunited with her in Ceuta, on June 8, 2015

Adou Ouattara had been living in a youth home for migrants for a month

An eight-year-old boy from the Ivory Coast was reunited with his mother Monday, a month after he was found hidden in a suitcase at a Spanish border crossing.

Adou Ouattara was found curled up inside a suitcase without air vents by police in Ceuta, a Spanish border checkpoint in North Africa, on May 7, reports Agence France-Presse. A 19-year-old woman was carrying the case through a security checkpoint when a scanner detected Adou inside.

Adou’s mother left the Ivory Coast with his grandmother last year when she went to Spain to go meet his father, who was already living legally in the Canary Islands. His father was arrested and charged with human-rights abuse for trying to smuggle his son across the border.

The family is one of thousands that risk their lives trying to enter Spanish territories adjacent to Morocco every year, hoping to travel to Europe for a better life. Many scramble over the 23-foot fences, and others smuggle themselves in cargo or try to swim.

Adou was living in a center for underage migrants in Ceuta when he was finally reunited with his mother on Monday.

“His mother cried,” Maria Antonia Palomo, the Ceuta official in charge of juvenile affairs, told the media. “It’s a very beautiful day.”

[AFP]

TIME Italy

Thousands More Migrants Have Been Rescued From the Mediterranean During the Last Two Days

Italy Migrants
Sascha Jonack— Bundeswehr/AP Soldiers of the German Navy ship Hessen rescue migrants in the Mediterranean Sea on June 6, 2015

More than 1,800 migrants have died or gone missing attempting to cross the Mediterranean this year alone

A new wave of boats is attempting to cross from Libya to Italy, the International Organization for Migration warned Sunday, citing balmy weather and tranquil seas as the reasons behind the surge of migrants risking their lives in the Mediterranean.

Nearly 3,500 migrants were rescued on Saturday alone, with 1,000 more (including at least 10 pregnant women) on board relief vessels by mid-afternoon Sunday, CNN reports.

A team of ships from several European nations cooperated on a rescue effort, including the British, Irish, Spanish, and German navies and the Italian coast guard, which alone received 14 distress calls Sunday, many from wooden fishing boats and rubber dinghies. One of the biggest rescued vessels held 563 migrants.

Rescue ships planned to bring the migrants to various ports in Italy, including Palermo and Trapani in Sicily, Taranto in Italy, and the island of Lampedusa, a spokesman for Germany’s Bundeswehr Joint Forces Operation Command told CNN.

As of the end of May, the United Nations estimated that 90,000 migrants crossed the Mediterranean to Europe so far in 2015; of those, more than 1800 have died or are missing at sea.

[CNN]

TIME Spain

First Case of Diphtheria in Spain Since 1986 After Parents Shun Vaccination

Kwangshin Kim—Photo Researchers/Getty Images

One out of every 10 patients dies from complications of the disease's early symptoms

In Spain’s first recorded case of diphtheria since 1986, a six-year-old boy from the Catalan city of Olot was placed in intensive care Wednesday. Authorities confirm that despite free, widely available immunization services, the boy’s parents had opted not to vaccinate him against the bacterial infection.

The child is currently being treated with an anti-toxin in Barcelona, but the drug was not easy to find, El País reports. The country’s Health Ministry appealed to the World Health Organization and authorities in the U.S. before finally locating a dose in Russia. “The problem is that these days, no one has this illness. Everyone is vaccinated,” general secretary for the health service, Rubén Moreno, told El País. The Russian ambassador to Spain brought the drug by plane from Moscow early Monday.

Caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae, diphtheria most frequently infects adults over 60 and children under five. It is spread both through the air and via direct contact and can cause heart problems, nerve damage and severe respiratory distress.

The so-called “anti-vaxxer” movement has gained widespread attention in the U.S. recently. Although, according to the Spanish Vaccine Society, 90% of the population is covered by systematic vaccination programs, similar campaigns have gained popularity in Europe. Moreno called these campaigns “irresponsible,” saying, “The consequences of not vaccinating a child can be dramatic. The right to vaccination is for children, not for the parents to decide.”

Spain is no stranger to diphtheria: the country survived several epidemics in the 16th and 17th centuries, including a year so deadly that it was nicknamed “The Year of Strangulations,” after the disease’s symptoms.

[El País]

TIME Television

Game of Thrones Will Return to Spain to Film Season 6

Macall B. Polay—HBO Indira Varma as Ellaria Sand and Deobia Opaeri as Areo Hotah.

But George R.R. Martin will not pen an episode for next season

Game of Thrones will return to Spain—but will HBO’s fantasy hit return to Dorne?

The massive Thrones production team will invade the country of Spain for the filming of season six where the show will film in the cities of Girona and Peñíscola, among others. The cast and crew were greeted with extreme enthusiasm by locals during their debut visit to the country last year to shoot the current season. A call for extras received an incredible 86,000 applications, and actors were mobbed by fans.

Spain served as a key location for the Dorne Water Gardens (shot at The Royal Alcazar of Seville) and for an upcoming sequence at the Meereen fighting pit (filmed at the Plaza de Toros in Osuna), though the latter location also resulted in somebody leaking a photo showing the characters Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen together—a plot twist that producers had hoped to keep secret.

What is not clear yet is whether the show’s return to Spain means a continuation of the current season’s Dorne storyline, which has Jaime and Bronn imprisoned while trying to rescue/kidnap Cersei’s daugther Myrcella. The most prominent Dorne location so far is the Water Gardens, which is filmed in Seville—a city not listed among the two Spain cities confirmed by HBO.

The only other country confirmed for season six so far is Northern Ireland, where the show’s production is based. Shooting begins in July.

In other season six news, EW recently reported that author George R.R. Martin will not pen an episode for next season, preferring instead to focus on finishing his eagerly awaited next book, The Winds of Winter.

This article originally appeared on EW.com.

TIME Spain

Welcome to Twitter Town Where All Local Services Are Provided via Twitter

In the Spanish town of Jun you can call the street cleaner or the police with a tweet

In Jun, a small town in southern Spain, if you have a complaint about local services, a suggestion for the authorities or a need to know when the trash is collected you had better do it in 140 characters, or less.

That is because in Jun the local council’s communications have been shifted to Twitter, which the town’s mayor says has greatly benefitted its 3,500 residents.

“It has meant a radical change,” says José Antonio Rodriguez Salas, or @JoseantonioJun as he’s known on the social networking site, the town’s mayor. “The fact that citizens in general and all employees at the town hall in particular have Twitter has meant that the civil servant’s work is visualised and this has contributed to empower them and make them a direct part of the government of the town.

“Who valued the street sweeper’s work before? Now, the street sweeper is able to interact with citizens, solve the problems brought forth on Twitter and, very importantly, his work for the community is made visible, ” says Rodriguez Salas. “This has led to great efficiency among the employees’ and citizens’ recognition. Before, citizens only came across politicians or employees who were chronically deaf, who never listened.”

Despite the size of Jun, the mayor has some 339,000 followers, and tracks another 182,000 people. In this tweet, the mayor warns of heavy rain close to Jun:

The move has redefined what is meant by direct democracy. Anyone with a Twitter account in Jun can contact any number of people who provide services. If you have a question about crime, or indeed, if you have just witnessed one, rather than calling the police, in Jun you could as easily take to Twitter and contact @PoliciaJun, even if the town only has one servicing police officer. Here, the police warn that barbecues are prohibited from June 1 because of the high risk of fire.

Twitter has become almost as well known for its trolling as its usefulness as a means of communication, but Rodriguez Salas denies that by using Twitter, his time is taken up answering pointless complaints and frivolous remarks.

“Before the mobile phone was ringing non-stop,” he says. “Now, I have managed to have access to Twitter whenever I can and I deal with and solve all issues personally. In the last four years of government in Jun I have dealt with 118,266 issues via Twitter, that is, 81 a day.”

That seems like a lot for a mayor who as well as answering his public’s complaints is also responsible for maintaining services and the local government.

Spain, and especially Andalusia, has faired badly since the start of the financial crisis in 2008, and across the country people are angry about cuts and corruption perpetrated by politicians. But Rodriguez Salas argues that Twitter has helped his local administration appear more transparent, something, he says, has led to the public in Jun having a healthier respect for politicians.

“Of course, if I do not reply within an hour, they get worried. The idea is that Twitter should not be used as a 140-character advert for you political party or institution. When you are as natural as a freshly squeezed orange juice citizens trust you and write to you and wait for an honest reply [which is publicly available to everyone].”

Like elsewhere in Andalusia, Jun has its fair share of elderly residents, and those for whom social networks, possibly the internet, and even mobile phones are an anathema. Phone numbers for council services still exist in Jun but the local authority has also tried to ensure that the new technology is embraced by all so everyone has access to the same level of service. “Since 1999, we [the Jun authorities] have taught the elderly to use the internet in access centres,” says Rodriguez Salas.

“There are very curious anecdotes. In an interview [with a Spanish magazine] an 80-year old resident of Jun was found to be flirting with a 33-year old Iberia pilot by passing herself off as a 25-year old girl. Only one year before, that woman could barely write or read and did not know what a computer was. This is the proof that where there is a will there is a way.”

If Twitter is the future, then Jun is at the cutting edge of how can be used by public services. And if Jun’s example is followed by other towns maybe in time a directory hashtags will replace the Yellow Pages in peoples’ homes.

TIME Spain

Boy Who Was Smuggled to Spain in Suitcase Is Granted a Temporary Residence Permit

In this photo released by the Spanish Guardia Civil on Friday, May 8, 2015, a boy curled up inside a suitcase is seen on the display of a scanner at the border crossing in Ceuta, a Spanish city enclave in North Africa.
Spanish Interior Ministry via Associated Press In this photo released by the Spanish Guardia Civil on Friday, May 8, 2015, a boy curled up inside a suitcase is seen on the display of a scanner at the border crossing in Ceuta, a Spanish city enclave in North Africa.

The Ivorian was discovered curled up in the case as it passed through a security scanner

An 8-year-old boy who was found hidden in a suitcase as he was being smuggled from Morocco into Spain was granted a temporary residence permit from the local government Thursday.

Adou Ouattara from the Ivory Coast was discovered when police scanned the suitcase at a checkpoint in Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in North Africa, on May 7, reports the Associated Press.

The city’s Interior Ministry office said Ouattara’s temporary visa is good for one year.

The boy’s father, Ali Ouattara, was arrested on charges of human-rights abuse for trying to have the boy smuggled across the frontier, but his legal representative insists the man knew nothing of the plan.

Lawyer Francesco Luca Caronna told AP that Ouattara, who lives legally with his wife in Spain, believed his son was traveling in a car with a visa that had been paid for abroad.

A Moroccan woman who was carrying the suitcase was also detained. She is apparently not a family relative.

[AP]

TIME Spain

Father of Boy Found in Suitcase at Spanish Border Speaks Out

An X-ray image showing an 8-year-old sub-Saharan boy hidden in a suitcase. on May 8, 2015. The suitcase was carried by a young woman of 19, which was controlled around noon on May 7, 2105 when she was entering in Ceuta, the Spanish enclave in the north of Morocco.
Spanish Guardia Civil/AFP/Getty Images An X-ray image showing an 8-year-old sub-Saharan boy hidden in a suitcase on May 8, 2015, in Ceuta the Spanish enclave north of Morocco.

“Do you think any father would really allow his son to travel in a suitcase?”

A lawyer for the father of an African boy caught being smuggled in a suitcase into a Spanish enclave said Tuesday his client wouldn’t have allowed his son to illegally cross the border had he known.

Ali Ouattara has been held in police custody since 8-year-old Abou was discovered on May 7 in a wheeled suitcase at the checkpoint in Ceuta, the New York Times reports. The lawyer, Juan Isidro Fernández Díaz, said Ouattara, who lives legally on the Spanish island of Fuerteventura, believed his son would enter using an Ivory Coast passport and visa for which he paid. But after learning that his application was denied because his salary fell short of the minimum mandated by Spanish law, he went to Casablanca to find an alternative.

“Do you think any father would really allow his son to travel in a suitcase?” Díaz said. He added that the boy was “just another victim of the mafias” running Africa’s human-trafficking networks.

The incident came as European nations struggle to deal with the influx of migrants and refugees attempting to reach its shores via the Mediterranean as warmer weather sets in. A new report revealed that the militant group ISIS makes a fortune in the smuggling business.

Read more at the New York Times.

TIME Spain

This Country Is About to Offer Citizenship to 2.2 Million Jews

ISRAEL-SPAIN-DIPLOMACY
Gali Tibbon—AFP/Getty Images Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo (L) lays a wreath at the Hall of Remembrance on Jan. 14, 2015, during his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem that commemorates the six million Jews killed by the Nazis during World War II.

Spain wants to make amends for expelling Jews from the country in 1492

Exactly 523 years ago on Tuesday, the Edict of Expulsion, which forced Spain’s Jewish community to convert to Catholicism or leave the country, was issued by monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella. It may have taken more than half a millennia, but Madrid is finally about to make amends for kicking out the Jews by offering citizenship to the estimated 2.2 million descendants of those expelled.

The Sephardic Ancestry Bill is expected to be approved in May by Spain’s upper house of parliament, the Senate. The bill is not expected to become law until the end of the year, but already, the Spanish embassy in Tel Aviv has been inundated by requests from those who are eager to get Spanish citizenship and the access to European Union countries it entails.

The Spanish government estimates that up to 90,000 people may apply, but it does not really know how many people may be able to prove that they have a blood relative who was forced to flee in 1492.

Spain had a Jewish population of 300,000 at the time of expulsion. It is not clear how many left but the migrants settled across the globe. As well as modern-day Israelis, Jews living in South America, North Africa and Turkey are expected to apply. Descendants of Spanish Jews include the 19th Century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and a host of artists, writers and scientists.

As people across the European continent grow more concerned about immigration, the move has not been universally popular in Spain and with about one in four Spaniards registered as unemployed, there is a fear that a new influx of immigrants may put more pressure on the job market.

Many Israeli Jews have already have second passports, mostly from European Union countries or the U.S. — an estimated 500,000 Israelis have German passports — allowing them to enter and work abroad more easily.

Spain’s justice minister, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, said that that bill was about addressing a historic aberration and that the expulsion was one of Spain’s, “most important historical errors. Now they [Jewish people] have an open door to become once again what they should have never stopped being — citizens of Spain.”

The Spanish government recently set out the conditions for those applying, which it hopes may limit the numbers. First applicants must prove they are Sephardic Jews — whose ancestors originated in Spain — by way of a certificate from a rabbi, and, more taxingly, prove some link to Spain, including what the opposition Socialists have described as an “integration” test. The government says the requirement includes a knowledge of Spanish or, vaguely, some sort of other connection to Spain.

The move by the Spanish government is not likely to prove universally popular in Israel either, which was established to provide a state for Jews. Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was criticised in aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in January when he encouraged French and other European Jews to emigrate to Israel.

“Israel sees the bill as a piece of internal legislation in Spain; as Spain dealing with its dark past in terms of the tragedy of what happened when it kicked out the Jewish people, just because they were Jews,” says Hamutal Rogel Fuchs, a spokesman for the Israeli embassy in Madrid.

“But today, the Jewish people have a home — Israel. So we congratulate Spain for acting, but it is not a question of whether we are comfortable or uncomfortable. Israel sees the bill as a symbolic gesture that reinforces out relationship.”

Avi Mayer of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem, which encourages Jews to move to Israel, says that he doubts many Sephardic Jews will swap Israel for Spain. “According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, emigration rates are at an all-time low and have been steadily declining for the past twenty years.

“At the same time, Aliyah [immigration to Israel] is at a 10-year high, and immigration from Western countries has overtaken immigration from the rest of the world for the first time in Israel’s history.”

Rather than flee, large numbers of Jews converted to Catholicism rather than migrate. Last year, Natan Sharansky, the chairman of the Jewish Agency said that Israel must find away to find the descendants of Jews who converted and offer them citizenship of Israel.

Given that Israeli Gross Domestic Product is ahead of that in Spain, it is not likely to that hundreds of thousands of Jews will suddenly appear at Barajas airport in Madrid once the legislation is passed. And, as number of Muslim groups and academics have pointed out, both the Jews and Muslims were victims of Isabella and Ferdinand’s Spanish Inquisition, and so why are only the descendants of the Jewish victims now being offered reparation?

Read next: Iran’s Anti-Semitism Can’t Be Reasoned With

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