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LIFE IN SPAIN

FOCUS: How soaring prices are fuelling growing social unrest in Spain

A lorry drivers' strike, mass protests by farmers and fishermen, industrial production stoppages: record inflation levels have fuelled growing anger with Spain's left-wing government as energy prices go through the roof.

FOCUS: How soaring prices are fuelling growing social unrest in Spain
Demonstrators applaud as taxi drivers take part in a demonstration protesting the cost of fuel, in Barcelona on March 23, 2022. - A lorry drivers' strike, mass protests by farmers and fishermen, industrial production stoppages: record inflation levels have fuelled growing anger with Spain's left-wing government as energy prices go through the roof. (Photo by Josep LAGO / AFP)

After a weekend which saw tens of thousands hit the streets, demonstrators were to head out again on Wednesday for further rallies.

Under the slogan: “Rein in prices, protect jobs, stop the deterioration in living conditions”, the action has been called by Spain’s top unions, UGT and the CCOO Workers Committees.

Backed by consumer groups, the unrest comes as Spain saw consumer prices surge to their highest level in almost 35 years, with inflation jumping to 7.6 percent in February, against a backdrop of soaring energy costs, worsened by the war in Ukraine.

“We want the EU to take all the necessary measures, and at least let countries regulate prices… it can’t keep nations shackled with prices that are completely misaligned with the cost of electricity production,” said UGT boss Pepe Alvarez.

Rally organisers warn the consequences for both households and businesses are serious.

“Month-by-month, lighting bills, heating bills, the cost of petrol and diesel, food, housing and transport just keep going up. The whole of society is suffering,” they said in a statement.

The protests were called on the eve of a two-day European Council summit, which is likely to focus on measures to protect consumers from record energy prices that have been exacerbated by the Russian invasion.

Spain has been gripped by unrest since March 14th when lorry drivers launched an open-ended strike over mounting fuel prices, staging roadblocks and picket lines and leaving supermarkets with empty shelves and several sectors struggling to cope.

READ MORE: How the truck drivers’ strike is affecting life in Spain

The government is also facing a strike by fishermen who downed tools on Monday following calls by a federation of nearly 9,000 boats which says diesel prices have left many vessels working at a loss.

And there is anger in the livestock and farming sector, which has been hit by rising animal feed costs, with nearly 150,000 protesters demonstrating in Madrid on Sunday.

Customers pick up milk cartons on the shelves of a supermarket in Madrid on March 23th, 2022. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

‘EU must act as one’

It is the biggest wave of social unrest since Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez came to power in mid-2018 and is firmly backed by the opposition, notably the far-right Vox which organised Saturday’s anti-government protest in several cities.

Vox, Spain’s third largest party which is seeing a boom in support, has successfully tapped into the widespread discontent, especially in rural areas, accusing the government of being “a misery factory ruining the middle classes and the most underprivileged”.

The government is in a tight spot.

Despite taking various measures in recent months to improve low wages and contain energy prices by lowering VAT and tax on electricity production, its efforts have been all but wiped out by spiralling inflation.

In a bid to appease his critics, Sanchez has pledged to unveil “a major response plan”, set to be approved on March 29, that will include significant tax cuts.

His government has also set aside a 500-million-euro ($550-million) budget to compensate truck drivers for diesel price hikes.

However, details remain sketchy, with Sanchez on Tuesday insisting the EU should “defend its citizens… (and) act together to reduce energy prices and limit the economic harm caused by the war in Ukraine”.

Over the past week, Sanchez toured European capitals to push for a common EU response after months of lobbying for Brussels to change the mechanism which couples electricity prices to the gas market.

So far, Madrid’s pleas have fallen on deaf ears, despite support from Paris but there’s hope that could change in the coming days.

If there’s no agreement, the government has said it would push ahead alone, adopting emergency measures on March 29th.

But protesters say it is too little, too late, pointing to similar measures already in force in France and Germany.

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LIFE IN SPAIN

What to do about insects and other pests in your home in Spain?

Bugs and insects can sometimes be a problem in Spanish homes, particularly during the summer months. Here's what to do if you get an infestation and how to prevent them from happening.

What to do about insects and other pests in your home in Spain?

Fruit flies buzzing around the bins, cockroaches in the kitchen and ants invading your food cupboards can be a common sight in your Spanish home, more often than not in summer.

But what can you do when insects invade your home? 

What types of pests are common in Spain?

Bugs and insects that commonly invade homes in Spain include fruit flies, ants, stink bugs, cockroaches, pantry moths, plaster bagworms and mosquitoes.

Those who have pets may also have a problem with your animals bringing fleas and ticks into the home too.

READ ALSO: Ticks are proliferating in Spain: How to avoid them and protect yourself

These can cause a nuisance, not only flying around your home and biting you (in the case of mosquitoes, fleas and ticks), but they can get into your food and lay eggs in your cupboards.

How can I get rid of bugs in my home?

One of the most important ways you can keep insects and other bugs out of your home is to eliminate food sources.

This means always doing the washing up as soon as you’ve finished eating so there are no scraps laying around, sweeping kitchens and dining rooms regularly and putting opened food items in the fridge instead of the cupboards.

You also need to make sure you regularly empty your rubbish bin and that there are no gaps between the lid and the bin that flies can get in through.

Dusting, hoovering and general regular cleaning will also keep other insects at bay such as plaster bagworms and moths that lay larvae on your walls and ceiling.

Those with pets should make sure that animals are treated with flea and tick protection and combed through with special flea combs to make sure bugs are not stuck in their fur.

Summer can of course be very hot in Spain, with temperatures regularly in the high 30°Cs or even low 40°Cs in some parts of Andalusia and other regions, meaning that windows and doors are often left open to ensure a breeze. Unfortunately, this means that your home is more accessible to insects too.

If you can, get a fly screen for your doors and windows, so you can leave them open, but no bugs can get in. These fine mesh screens can be bought from hardware or home stores such as Leroy Merlin and can simply be lifted into place when you need them.

If you can’t get screens installed, then consider planting certain plants on windowsills or balconies. Lavender, basil, lemongrass and mint are all natural insect repellents.

Electric fly swats, ant traps and sticky paper can also all help eliminate pests in your home. 

READ ALSO: What venomous species are there in Spain?

Insecticides

When the situation becomes worse, simple everyday cleaning won’t suffice and you may need to use insecticides to kill the infestation. There are many different brands in Spain. Both Protect Home and Compo have several different products you can use.

If you don’t want to use chemical insecticides, natural ones made from white vinegar, citrus plants, or peppermint oil can also work.

Pest control

If the situation becomes completely out of control and you find that insects are not only entering your home but that they are breeding there too, it’s time to call in the professionals. Pest control services are available across Spain.

The first step is to check your home insurance to see if they will cover this service. If they won’t, they may be able to suggest a company that can help.

Otherwise, a quick Google search for ‘Control de plagas’ (pest control) and then your area should provide you with plenty of options.

According to the home website Habitissimo, pest control services in Spain can range from €80 up to €2,000 depending on the type of infestation you have, how serious the problem is and how big your property is. On average it will cost you around €267.

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