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Established in Palma of Majorca in 1962

Sunday-Monday 26-27 October, 2014 Edition #4487

Interview: “Ebola has been around since the 70’s, but as long as it didn’t bother the West, no one cared. They do now...”

Jorge Muñoz trained as a pediatrician in the UK where he spent nine years working as a doctor before coming to Majorca.

By Humphrey Carter

When Jorge Muñoz is not caring for children here in Majorca, he  and his charity, Ayuda al Chad, are doing their best to look after children and their parents in Chad, but as Jorge admitted this week, the situation has become very complicated in Africa.
The origins of Ayuda al Chad date back to the year 2010 when Sister Magdalena Ribas, a Majorcan Comboniana  Missionary Sister and  Director at the time of Saint Bebedja Joseph Hospital in Chad, visited Jorge at the  Quirón Palmaplanas hospital.
During their meeting, Sister Ribas,who had spent  40 years working in Chad, requested financial support and staff to help them continue their work at the hospital.
That is  when Jorge and Dr. King Lladó, Pediatrician and Nutritional Expert, personally decided to organise  a first trip to see first-hand the needs and wants of the  hospital.
And, since then, every year at their own expense, they and a team of medics, doctors and nurses from all over Europe  who have volunteered to help Jorge’s cause, travel to Chad to provide new medical equipment, care  and training.
The charity  was formed with a clear commitment to the human and integral development of children and their families in Chad and has grown from strength to strength over recent years.
But, this year is proving one of the most challenging for Jorge and his team.
“We were due to travel to Chad in November but, after a long meeting, the team decided to abort this year’s trip. The first reason is the Ebola outbreak and the second is the rising lack of insecurity in Africa thanks to ISIS and other radical Islamic groups. It was a tough decision to make and it’s extremely frustrating , but we had to think about our own personal safety and that of our families,” Jorge explained.
“That said, we have got a huge shipment of medicines, clothes and footwear etc. which one of the leading international freight companies has offered to ship to Chad for free due to head down there before Christmas, so that’s going to make a big difference and we’re always fund raising and sending much needed materials and equipment down when we can.
“However, the recession has hit us and despite what the politicians are saying, from where I am sitting, we’re not out of the economic crisis yet and we’re having to depend on private donations or, as doctors, winning prizes for projects such as ours in Chad in order to keep topping up the funding. As far as the administrations are concerned, there is no money, so it’s tough right now.
“We’ve had to close the part of the hospital which attends adults, but we’ve kept the children’s’ wing open and we’re now taking in orphans once a week. We give them a proper feed, some lessons and  clothes.
“The renutritional school for parents is still operating and that is very important because that is where we teach the families how to make the most of  the local produce in order to ensure their children, and themselves, have a healthy and nutritional diet.
“But, I am in constant contact with the nuns working at the hospital. They are from all over Europe and they are terrified about the threat of Ebola. They have no means of detecting the virus but never turn sick people away, so they don’t know who they are treating and whether they’ve got the virus or not.
“Governments and aid agencies keep pumping out figures of how many have died and how many are infected but I don’t believe them..
“How can they have any idea of who has the virus and who has died from it in Africa. The country is vast and there are very few registries of births and deaths, how do these people know what’s happening thousands of miles away out in the bush or the jungles?” Jorge questioned.
But, just like he and his charity need official help and funding, so too does the war against Ebola in West Africa, or Africa as whole, he questions whether we really know the true extent of the virus.
“Look, it was first detected in 1970 but until it hit us here in the West, nothing was really done to combat the virus and since then, apart from getting stronger and more aggressive, it has started to travel. Africa is only a few hours away from the West on a plane and now it has hit us here in the West, action is being taken.
“Don’t forget, millions of people are still dying of hunger every day, but we still throw away thousands of tons of food on a daily basis because it does not affect us - if we started dying of hunger then  we would quickly change our attitude...
“So, come up with the vaccine and you can name your price, all the pharmaceutical companies are working round the clock to beat Ebola because now they have a market which has money, unlike the  Third World, so, here, we’ll soon have a vaccine and get Ebola under control.
“But in Africa, they face a massive challenge.
“It’s not just money they need, far from it. They need medical material, doctors need to have special isolation areas where they can treat patients and they just have not got the equipment and, in the conditions in which they live, the virus is spreading like wild fire - it’s highly contagious now and being viral, nearly impossible to control.
“When I think about it, it is soul destroying because this is a serious problem which could take years to solve in Africa, while here in the West, everything is being done to make sure we’re safe and sound as quickly as possible. OK, we initially made some mistakes, especially in Madrid, but we’ve learnt and we’re dealing with Ebola well, we’ve got in under control - it’s all about money and now that Ebola has hit the West, some people stand to make some serious money by tackling it - whether that will benefit Africa, we’ll have to wait and see,” Jorge said.
“It was the same with Aids,” he adds.
Are the parents of the children he cares for worried out Ebola here in Majorca? No, he says.
“Right now, at this time of year with many of the youngsters starting kindergarten for the first time, it’s respiratory problems that people are most concerned about. Now the kids are coming into contact with one another, there’s always one with a virus and that spreads, but that’s all part of building up their immune system and in the long run, it’s healthy.
“That said, I do know a number  of families who have packed up and relocated to Majorca from Madrid, put their kids in new schools  and intend to stay on the island until the Ebola scare dies down. I guess being an island, we’re isolated and safe.” Jorge said.
For more information go to or follow Jorge on Twitter: @jorgemunozrueda

Cruise industry set for further growth


By Humphrey Carter

Last Saturday, 17,000 cruise passengers sailed into Palma and traffic is tipped to continue growing.With the Balearics, with Palma leading the way,  the second most popular cruise destination inSpain, the  authorities have got to keep ahead of the competition with the cruise industry in Europe destined for further growth.
The cruise industry, once seen as the preserve of elderly Americans, is undergoing a renaissance.
Passenger numbers are soaring as younger Europeans take to the high seas.
They are likely to be joined on deck by newly affluent Chinese holiday makers, as the economy there powers ahead.
Once viewed as the archetypal retirement pastime, families with young children have taken to cruises as a way of visiting several countries in a single holiday period without having continually to pack and unpack.
Europe is the second largest cruise market in the world after North America, with European traveller numbers up 44 per cent to 6.4million in 2013 during the five years from 2008.
In that time, the industry has grown in value by 22 per cent and is now worth more than 39billion euros.
North American cruise passenger numbers have jumped by 44 per cent although the share of the total market has fallen from 70 per cent to 55 per cent in 2013, according to the Cruise Lines International Association.
The industry created work for 165,000 across Europe, in jobs ranging from entertainers to travel agents with  the UK leading the way in terms of passengers on cruise ships in Europe.

Majorca Snaps


Anthony Kinsey sent: A different view of Cala Figuera.

Keep sending in your photographs of Majorca. Email them to or post them on our facebook page.

Forget the UKIP factor – if Labour keeps Red Ed gagged, they can win

Miliband's rallying call at his conference speech fell like a lead balloon.

By Hugh Ash

Ever rush to judgement was the dictum of Strangler Lewis, an old editor of my acquaintance and verily a legend in his own lunchtime.
   Trouble was Strangler rarely heeded his own advice, too readily succumbing to an incendiary temper, outbursts of which usually saw weighty Underwood typewriters heaved through his third-floor office window.
   Fortunately at 2 am passers-by were few, so whichever plate of glass in the Black Lubyianka – as the art deco building was dubbed by its hacks within – got shattered was hastily repaired and a maintenance crew despatched to sweep the debris off the pavement below, before the gendarmerie took an interest.
   Despite the paper’s Right-leaning sentiments, Strangler’s attitude to politicians was ‘a plague on all their houses’, since he considered the Conservatives a meld of noblesse oblige country squires, stockbrokers on the make and part-time MPs-cum-QCs, Labour up to its gills in hock to union paymasters and the Liberals, as they were then, irrelevant.
   Had they been around in his day, Strangler should have been a natural UKipper. After all, he ran the Union Jack up a 30-foot flagpole on his front lawn each morning, which Mrs. Strangler ceremonially lowered at dusk.
   Except Strangler had fierce disdain for political carpetbaggers and would have cast Nigel Farage one of them, heaping grave misgivings on the UKIP boss’s shark grin and bloke-in-the-boozer Vaudeville act.
   The four-party politics that exists now – if you count the pious Greens, plus regional nationalists as a single, nuisance-value entity – would have posed a huge dilemma 40 years or more ago for the likes of Strangler, just as it does to today’s electorate.
   Because the threat the also-rans wield could be a wrecking ball to the chances of call-me-Dave Cameron’s Tories or Red Ed Miliband’s socialists winning outright victories and not having to schmooze fringe mobs into an uneasy coalition.
   So much, then, for Britain’s first-past-the-post electoral system, which – for the foreseeable future, I’d wager – will see government continue to be run by the strongest single party, propped up by one of the weakest.
   Hence, Britain again looks set fair for a two-party coalition come the general election next May and possibly a reprise of a Con-Lib Dem pact, which has soldiered on longer than I imagined and performed better than I expected.
   Much credit for that goes to Nick Clegg’s lust for power.
   What’s more, in my humble estimation, I think the British electorate would buy into another dose, albeit with Lib-Dem Treasury Secretary, Danny Alexander, replacing the discredited, egotistical Clegg as Deputy Prime Minister.
   This is regardless of the projection the Lib-Dems will be all but decimated next time out, their 56 seats reduced to a rump of about 17. Because even that should be enough for them to be willing coalition bed-mates again, providing the Tories emerge with the largest number of seats.
   UKIP mavericks are tipped to gain about six constituencies, mainly in Thames delta towns, like Clacton, where Tory defector, Douglas Carswell, won nearly 60% of the vote in the October 9 by-election.
   Probably a more eye-popping result, though, was the by-election that same day in Labour’s northern heartland of Heywood and Middleton, where the socialists squeaked home by a humbling 617 majority over UKIP, underlining Farage’s boast that his upstarts pose an equal threat to Miliband as much as Cameron.
   Undoubtedly, the party of dissent – and their ballsy leader – have demonstrated the dangers they pose on all fronts, even if by-elections bring out the worst in a disgruntled electorate, who uses such opportunities to cane the major parties, then revert to type come a general election.
    All the same, Cameron’s political machine is taking no chances in Rochester & Strood on 20 November, where another Tory defector, Mark Reckless, hopes to become UKIP’s second MP.
   Whereas they regarded Carswell winning Clacton as a foregone conclusion, given his local popularity, Rochester & Strood is altogether different territory for Tory strategists.
   More affluent and less malleable to Farage’s blarney, Reckless faces the Conservative’s kitchen sink, plus its star performer – London’s much-admired, if eccentric mayor, Boris Johnson – being chucked at him.
   Nonetheless, the bookies rate Reckless as 2/5 favourite. And if he does carry the day, it will force Cameron back to the drawing-board, hatching fresh plans to out-UKIP Farage.
   Labour’s problems are no less daunting. Apart from UKIP no longer being dismissed as a Tory-only hassle, their problem remains the credibility and popularity – or lack of it – of their leader.
   Miliband’s rallying call at his conference speech last month fell like a lead balloon, leaving many of the party faithful at best bemused, at worst terrified.
  And that was after an ICM-Guardian poll reported Miliband’s ratings had crumbled from -25 to -39 points, with only 22% of voters saying he was ‘doing a good job’. In contrast, Cameron’s slid from +2 to -5, but his leadership qualities still command most voters’ respect.
   Not since Michael Foot has an opposition Labour leader registered such negativity with a general election looming.
   And, at a time when the Milibandits should be a country mile ahead in the polls, a new YouGov/Sunday Times survey gives Labour only a three-point lead over the Tories – 35% to 32 – with UKIP on 16% and the Lib-Dems floundering on 7%, two below the Greens.
   Meanwhile, piling more misery on Labour is the nightmarish prospect that many of their 40 Scottish MPs might be culled by the resurgent Scottish Nationalists, now commanded by Nicola Sturgeon.
   Labour, however, are sticking to the belief that if they can pull 35% of the vote, it should haul them over the finishing line first and they are just about on course to scrape by.
   With every vote counting, a UKIP success in Rochester & Strood will inch them further towards victory. And the more they can keep Miliband gagged – and away from embarrassing bacon-sarnie photo shoots – the better their chances.
   Whatever else, next May’s general election will be laced with intrigue and uncertainty.
   Too close to call, Tories must hope the spectre of the wimpy Miliband occupying 10 Downing Street will be the decisive factor in what comes to pass.

To read more of Hugh Ash’s comments, follow his online blog – Views From The Mallorca Pier – at

Seven Days

Fantastic flights, but the season is over
Majorca was enjoying summer-like weather but the only problem was that the majority of hotels had closed for the winter. Bulletin reports suggested during the week that it was a great shame that the season could not be lengthen to take advantage of the autumn heat wave. But there was a low side to the brilliant weather, a forest fire broke out in Galilea, forcing the fire brigade to evacuate a number of people from their homes.  The good weather failed to change the mind of British airlines, also, with Palma airport announcing that there would only be a handful of flights from Britain during the winter but lots more from Germany and the Spanish mainland.

Mayor of Palma stepping down
The Mayor of Palma, Mateo Isern, announced that he would not be standing for reelection at the next local elections because he failed to get the necessary support from his own party. A Bulletin Viewpoint article, compared him to London Mayor Boris Johnson, because “Isern is the popular face of the Partido Popular.”

Balearic President´s tax cuts
The ruling Partido Popular was on election mode withBalearic President Bauza  announcing tax cuts for the vital election year of 250 million euros. The move was slammed by opposition parties as pure electioneering. Bauza is  behind in the opinion polls at the moment.

Ladies go pink
A group of local ladies had stripped off for a series of beautiful photographs to raise awareness of cancer.

Top bank
The Banca March had been named as the best private bank in Spain by the World Finance magazine.

Bulletin fitness columnist Luke Willis wrote in his Friday column:“you want to live a long, healthy and disease-free life, then avoiding toxins and poisons is one of the most important things you can focus on. This just got a hell of a lot harder! As many of you may know already, the Conselleria de Medio Ambiente (Majorcan Ministry of Agriculture, Environment and Territory) has been spraying the island with 3 planes and 4 helicopters since 9 October and will continue till 17 November. This is part of a campaign to try and kill the Pine Processionary caterpillar (Procesionaria).”

An estimated 60,000 people had signed a petition in Palma calling for an end to bullfighting in the city. A Bulletin report said that the Balearics was becoming increasingly anti-bullfighting.

Snow on Majorca
British television presenter and historian Dan Snow had been on Majorca.  He tweeted; “there is an old expression in Majorca. ‘He who does not control the Castello d’Alaro, does not control Majorca.”

Best of British
The Deputy British ambassador to Spain Daniel Pruce and Consul General, Andrew Gwatkin had attended the British food festival at the El Corte Ingles department store in Palma. Coinciding with the event the Bulletin announced that they would be holding a showcooking event involving top British chef Marc Fosh at the festival this coming Thursday at 6p.m.

And finally
Richie Prior in his weekly column had discovered a petrol station in Majorca which had its own bar and restaurant! Happy driving!

The week that was

By Andrew Ede

A towel and a novice: Palma political folk

You might be interested to know, if you don’t already, that the Spanish language throws in the towel in the same way that the English language does. Had you been unaware of this idiomatic coincidence then you would have become aware when presented with news of the culmination of the Months of the Long Knives - Matty Isern finally threw the towel in. He will not stand again as PP mayor for Palma. Bauzá’s purge of someone whose main crime was that he wasn’t Bauzá was bloodless, but plenty of blood has been spilled on the fraying shag pile of the fanatical Bauzáist wing of the Partido Popular. And who’s to say there won’t be more?
Over the months of the plot to oust Matty, many a name has been advanced to fill his void. Anyone not on the bookies’ list was clearly not cast from the malleable and compliant mould of Bauzáism, but finally, and to sounds of almost total silence and mutters of disbelief, Joserra unveiled she who would be queen of Palma - Margalida Duran, of whom it can be said that she is no Roberto, more a Simon Le Bon of one of Duran Duran’s wimpier ditties. Margalida’s stellar political career lacks only one thing - star quality. Her appearance from nowhere (having run the family restaurant) to firstly PP deputy in the current parliament, then to the presidency of the Balearic Parliament and now a shot at the Palma mayoral gig owes everything to Joserra. When, to a background of total astonishment, she was made parliamentary president at the end of 2012, it was said of her that she was a “neophyte”, as in a total novice. Prior to this, she had managed to ask all of six questions in her capacity as a parliamentary deputy, each of them designed to reveal the greater glory of the master. She was and is a Bauzá Babe, symbolic of a regime that has rewarded the subservient, non-boat-rockers and sometimes less than good. You wouldn’t think she has a cat in hell’s chance of becoming mayor, and if she does there will be many who will eat their hats, followed by a dessert of the hatstands and the cheese and biscuits of an entire wardrobe.
Matty, meantime, has been revelling in the glow of tributes to his reign. At a charity car-boot sale, he was greeted with cheers of “mayor, mayor”, while the mayor killer was forced to watch on as old women grabbed Matty’s hand and wept bitter tears of mayoral bereavement. He and Bauzá were photographed with smiles on their faces, but the camera does of course lie, as it has been with the various stage-managed photo ops that have been arranged for Joserra just recently. Here he is, beaming with the excommunicated Toni Pastor, there he is grinning insanely at the announcement of a mayoral candidate for Much Binding In The Majorcan Marsh or whatever minor municipality in the sticks he has been allowed to visit. At least he has had his haircut, having foregone the look which had suggested he was auditioning for a remake as the Richard E. Grant character in “Withnail And I”.
But for Matty, the party is over, and there are suggestions he might join the El Pi party. Were he to and to run for mayor of Palma, then those hats will be even more unlikely to be turned into lunch.
The PP towel has been thrown in, the one of a set with PP embroidered initials. Oh well, he could always flog them at a car-boot sale. He might get a euro for them.

Insults are not what they were

Another of the Bauzá Babes, PP parliamentary spokesperson Mabel Cabrer, admitted last week that the party might lose its majority at the next regional elections, an observation that the electorate, with even a cursory glance at the latest opinion polls, would itself already have made. High on the parliamentary hill, Cabrer, the lonely goatherd, yodelled a lament which demonstrated that she and the party are genuinely rattled, and the ones who have been doing the rattling are Podemos. Mabel from her table warned of the dire consequences of Podemosism. “It represents a very dangerous alternative.” “It would cause a total break with the model .. of Spanish democracy.” Which, Mabel may not have noticed, is what Podemos are all about: a new model, one that would prefer to see the back of the discredited two-party model of which she is a member.
Alarmed by the prospect that she will almost certainly be out of a job after May, Mabel called for the election debate to be “high”, which would make for something of a change for most current political debate in Majorca. She also demanded that this debate was not sullied by insults and defamations. Ah yes, insults, something Mabel knows all about, as in when she called opponents of the Partido Popular’s discount card Nazis and was later forced to apologise. Insults, however, aren’t what they used to be, as Bauzá discovered when he took Lorenzo Bravo, the general secretary of the UGT union, to court for having called him a fascist, among other things. The courts found in Bravo’s favour, and these were courts. Bauzá took the matter to the Balearics High Court, having not got satisfaction from lower courts, but the decision remained the same: freedom of expression outweighed apparent impugning of honour. And now, a court in Palma has concluded that the “hijo de puta” insult has lost its meaning and is not injurious. The court reached its decision in a case involving two workers at an unnamed organisation who got into an argument. One called the other a “hijo de puta”, so he was denounced. With all this in mind, therefore, let the election campaign be full of insults. Nazis, anyone?

The little train now standing in Sant Llorenç

Back in August, I wrote about the strange case of the Sant Llorenç mini tourist train. It was the middle of August and the little train was in the sidings, where it had been all summer long. The problem lay with the awarding of the contract and the ability of the contract winner to meet the terms and conditions, for example having a proper garage to store the train. Well now, and for the last couple of weeks, the little train has been operating. Better late than never, one guesses, but starting the service in October is not quite how little tourist trains are supposed to operate. And in fact, the contractors still haven’t complied with all the documentary necessities required by Sant Llorenç town hall, so they have been running the little train without a proper licence. The mayor, Mateu Puigròs, who has been denounced for irregularities surrounding the contract by the company which lost out, has admitted that the contract may have to be cancelled. Never mind eh, there’s always next summer.

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