Spanish History – 2006 to 2008 2006 Spanish smokers faced a wrenching change New Year’s Day as a nationwide ban on tobacco in the workplace came into force in a country known for its smoky bars. Spanish police arrested 20 people, mostly Moroccans, linked to Islamic terrorism and violence in Iraq in raids across Spain. Spanish police detained Omar Nakcha (23), a Moroccan whom they suspect of being the leader of two extremist groups recruiting volunteers to fight in Iraq. Spanish police in Madrid arrested Ricardo Taddei (63), a former Argentine police officer, wanted in connection with kidnappings and torture during his country’s “dirty war” against leftist dissidents. In Spain survivors and relatives of people killed in terrorist attacks worldwide gathered to share stories of their common tragedy, discuss ways to fight the scourge and hear what governments plan to do to make their citizens safer. Spanish PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero expressed reticence about a takeover bid for leading domestic electricity group Endesa by E.ON of Germany, saying national interest was paramount. In July Spain’s energy regulator (CNE) imposed 19 conditions on the bid for Endesa. On Aug 25 EU regulators warned that government restrictions on E.ON’s bid were illegal. Eta declares a ceasefire. In June, Prime Minister Zapatero says the government will hold peace talks with the group. Voters in Catalonia back proposals to give the region greater autonomy as well as the status of a nation within Spain. A Spanish judge indicted 32 people for allegedly plotting to drive a truck packed with explosives into a courthouse that has been the hub for anti-terrorism investigations. Authorities suspected that Mohamed Achraf was planning to ram a truck loaded with 1,100 pounds of explosives into the court in downtown Madrid. The Basque separatist group ETA announced a permanent cease-fire, ending a decades-long campaign of violence and closing the door on one of Western Europe’s last active armed separatist movements. Spain tries to rally international support over illegal immigration from Africa. Canary Islands officials say more than 22,000 immigrants have arrived on the islands since the start of the year and hundreds have died while attempting the sea crossing. Prime Minister Zapatero suspends moves to seek dialogue with Eta after a car bomb attack at a Madrid airport. Tens of thousands of people gathered at a rally in the northern city of Bilbao to call for greater Basque self-determination and negotiations between the Spanish government and separatists. In Spain a judge handed down the first indictments in the Madrid train bombings, charging 29 people with murder, terrorism or other crimes after a two-year investigation. In Spain a bus carrying Boy Scouts overturned on a northern highway, killing at least four people, including three minors. In Madrid, hundreds of thousands of small investors who fell victim to a stamp scam demonstrated to try to recover lost savings potentially amounting to billions of euros. A day earlier police arrested nine directors of two philately organizations, Afinsa and Forum Filatelico. Spain’s Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) agreed to the French bank BNP Paribas’ purchase of its 14.75-percent stake in Italy’s Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL), saying it will reap 567 million euros (731 million dollars) in capital gains from the sale. Spanish police and rescue vessels intercepted six boats carrying over 460 sub-Saharan illegal migrants off the coast of the Canary Island of Tenerife. Officials said as many as 1,000 immigrants may have drowned on this route over just the last 6 months. The armed Basque group ETA stated publicly for the first time since a ceasefire declaration in March that it still demands self-determination for the Basque Country. The Spanish interior ministry said that 67 suspects had been arrested for accessing child porn on the Internet over the past five days. The international police operation arrested 38 in France, 10 in Spain, 9 in Slovakia, 7 in Belgium and 3 in the Netherlands. Britain’s BAA, owners of Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick airports, accepted an $18.8 billion bid from Spain’s Grupo Ferrovial, led by Rafael del Pino. Tens of thousands of Spaniards marched in Madrid to demand the government not hold talks with Basque separatists. Catalans went to the polls in a referendum on giving their region increased autonomy, in a crucial test for Spanish PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero as he seeks to rally support for peace talks with Basque separatists. Catalan voters overwhelmingly approved a blueprint that some fear could leave Spain’s government cash-strapped and powerless. In Spain and France 12 people, including one of the founders of the Basque separatists ETA, were arrested in pre-dawn raids in a crackdown on illegal financing of the armed group. Spain officially announced the start of peace negotiations with the Basque separatist group ETA after formally informing parliament, and PM Zapatero warned that talks to end decades of bloodshed would be long and difficult. A subway train derailed in the eastern Spanish city of Valencia, killing 43 people. “Initial investigations show it was an accident,” said Vicente Rambla, spokesman for the Valencia regional government. Spain’s Agriculture Ministry said it has recorded its first case of H5N1 bird flu. The deadly strain was found in a water fowl in a marsh area outside the northern city of Vitoria. Bio Fuel Systems, a Spanish company, claimed to have developed a method of breeding plankton and turning the marine plants into oil, providing a potentially inexhaustible source of clean fuel. Police found the bodies of four Africans on a boat packed with 26 other would-be immigrants that was intercepted off Spain’s Canary Islands. The Spanish government approved a divisive bill allowing reparations for victims of the Spanish Civil War and the ensuing dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco. Crews fought more than 20 forest fires in northern Spain and stopped blazes from advancing into two historic towns. The fires killed three people and destroyed thousands of acres of woodland. Authorities said most of the blazes were deliberately set. Hundreds of paratroopers joined the struggle to control scores of forest fires in northwestern Spain. A total of 24 people have been arrested since Aug. 1 on suspicion of deliberately starting many of the fires. In northern Spain at least 6 people died in a train derailment. Spain’s Cabinet approved sending 1,100 troops to the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, calling it a “legitimate” mission to help maintain peace in the region. In Spain self-contained, nonsmoking areas with their own ventilation systems, became requisite for larger restaurants and bars. Alberto Linero (27) and Alberto Sanchez (24) both privates in the Spanish air force, exchanged vows in a reception room at Seville’s town hall, in the first known wedding among same-sex members of the military since Spain legalized gay marriage last year. Britain and Spain reached a historic deal to resolve side issues stemming from their 300-year-old dispute over Gibraltar, but sidestepped the main one, their claims to the Rock’s sovereignty. In northwestern Spain activists freed over 15,000 minks from breeding farms. Swathes of Austria, Belgium, Croatia, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands and went dark for up to an hour in the late evening as cold Germans rushing to switch on heaters sucked up electricity from Europe’s interconnected networks. Spanish farmers led a flock of hundreds of bleating sheep through downtown Madrid in a protest urging the protection of ancient grazing routes threatened by urban sprawl. Residents of Almazan, a small town in rural Spain, won the top prize of 390 million euros in the world’s richest lottery, known as El Gordo or “the fat one”. A new study was published saying traces of cocaine can be found on 94% of banknotes in Spain, a country that has one of the world’s highest rates of users. A car bomb exploded in a parking lot at Madrid’s glittery new airport terminal, and the government blamed the Basque separatist group ETA. 26 were slightly injured. The bodies of two people from Ecuador were later recovered. This signaled the apparent end of a nine-month ceasefire. A 67-year-old Spanish woman became the world’s oldest mother after she gave birth to twins in the northern city of Barcelona. She had previously undergone in vitro fertilization in the United States. Spain prepared to launch production of solar energy from what will be Europe’s largest thermo-electric plant at Sanlucar La Mayor, near the southern city of Seville. 2007 Trial begins of 29 suspects charged with involvement in the 2004 Madrid train bombings. Eta calls off ceasefire. Eta blamed for Basque country car bomb. Leading Eta bomb maker arrested near Toulouse, France. Several people are found guilty and given jail sentences for the Madrid train bombings in 2004. Parliament passes a bill formally denouncing Franco’s rule and ordering the removal of all Franco-era statues and symbols from streets and buildings. King Juan Carlos visits the Spanish-held enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, angering Morocco which demands the return of the territories. 2008 Parliamentary elections. The ruling Socialist Workers’ Party wins re-election with an increased margin, but falls short of an absolute majority. Prime Minister Zapatero unveils new cabinet, which for the first time includes more women than men.