A sudden influx of migrants swimming into the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in northern Africa is a serious crisis for Europe, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Tuesday, vowing to re-establish order promptly amid heightened diplomatic tensions with Morocco. Spain deployed troops to Ceuta to patrol the border with Morocco after around 8,000 migrants, many from Sub-Saharan Africa and including 1,500 minors, entered the enclave on Monday and Tuesday by swimming in or climbing over the fence.
At least 6,000 migrants have reached Spain’s Ceuta enclave from neighbouring Morocco, a record number over a single day, Spanish officials say. They say the migrants – who include about 1,500 minors – either swam around the border fences that jut out into the sea or walked across at low tide. They are said to be mostly from Morocco. Spain says it has already sent some 2,700 back – but not the minors.
More than two thirds of Spain’s 47 million people will have been vaccinated against COVID-19 by mid-August, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Thursday. “We are on track for herd immunity: 33 million compatriots will be vaccinated by mid-August”, he said, using the term for when most of a population is immune to an infectious disease. A growing number of people over 60-years-old are now getting their second shot.
The European Parliament has voted to waive the immunity of former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and two other Catalan separatist MEPs. The politicians left Spain in 2017 following a failed independence referendum, which Madrid said was illegal. The vote left the country facing its deepest political crisis in decades. The decision could help Spain’s bid to extradite the separatists, who have been charged with sedition.
Riot police have entered a university in the north-eastern Spanish city of Lleida and arrested a rapper who had barricaded himself inside the building to avoid serving a prison sentence. In 2018, Pablo Hasél, was given a two-year jail sentence and a fine €30,000 after Spain’s highest criminal court ruled that his lyrics and comments went beyond the limits of free speech and were instead expressions of “hatred and attacks on honor”.
Separatist parties won enough seats on Sunday in Catalonia’s regional parliament to strengthen their majority, although a strong showing for the local branch of Spain’s ruling Socialists pointed to a dialogue, rather than breakup, with Madrid. With over 99% of ballots counted, separatists won 50.9% of the vote, surpassing the 50% threshold for the first time. The final outcome is unlikely to lead to any repeat of the declaration of independence from Spain that took place in 2017.
Madrid is to go into lockdown in coming days after the region’s leader reluctantly agreed on Thursday to obey a central government order to ban non-essential travel in the Spanish capital that is Europe’s worst COVID-19 hotspot. The Madrid region has 859 cases per 100,000 people, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), during a resurgence of the coronavirus in Spain, which was one of the worst-hit countries during the first wave.
Protesters have taken to the streets of Madrid to demonstrate against strict new lockdown measures which have come into force. Thousands of men, women and children rallied in the southern districts of the Spanish capital. The new COVID-19 measures have been introduced by the Spanish government as infection rates exceed one in 100 people in some of Madrid’s worst-affected areas in the city and its outskirts.
Spain hopes to welcome tourists starting in “late June,” according to the country’s transportation minister. The government last week introduced a 14-day quarantine period for visitors entering the country, saying it was necessary to avoid a second peak of COVID-19 infections. José Luis Ábalos now says the two-week quarantine will be phased out and travel restrictions will be gradually lifted.
Spain’s King Felipe VI has renounced his personal inheritance from his father and stripped the former king Juan Carlos of his annual stipend after it was alleged that Felipe VI was poised to receive millions of euros from a secret offshore fund with ties to Saudi Arabia. The former head of state abdicated in 2014, after a series of scandals sent his popularity plummeting.