Saturday, June 20, 2020

SPAIN'S NEW NORMAL BEGINS: Life After the COVID-19 Lockdown

Mijas-Málaga, by Jose A.
On Sunday June 21, Spain will enter what the government is calling the “new normal.” After three months, the State of Alarm will come to an end, but it will not be a situation completely free of restrictions. Hygiene and safe-distancing measures will remain, e.g., the obligatory use of masks when a safe inter-personal distance of 1.5 meters cannot be maintained, with fines of up to €100 for violators.

Regarding many other matters, the Autonomous Regions will take control of much of the management of the crisis from now on, with each regional government establishing its own measures. For the most part, these will involve regulating capacity in establishments and events of all kinds, whether indoors or outdoors. Madrid, for example, has already announced that nightclubs will remain closed until July 5th. Local fiestas may also be suspended. 

Nationwide, the biggest change is an end to mobility restrictions within Spanish territory and the freedom to once again travel to other regions without need for justification. Travel restrictions with most European Union and Schengen area countries also come to an end on Sunday. The exceptions are: Portugal, whose border will not reopen until July 1st, and the United Kingdom, for which no date has been set for normalizing travel. The Spanish government is considering implementing a  quarantine requirement with the UK, given that people traveling there must self-isolate for two weeks. Meanwhile, the British government is considering revising this measure, but not before June 29.  

Borders with the rest of the world will begin to open on July 1st, on a gradual basis, but there will be some requirements before travel is allowed: an epidemiological situation that is similar to or better than that of EU member states; certain health conditions in the country of origin, the journey and the destination; and reciprocal acceptance of travelers from the EU.

Will there be another lockdown in Spain? If there are localized outbreaks of the coronavirus, specific lockdowns will be possible on an individual basis and in very specific areas, such as in a town or city. Of course, a national lockdown under another State of Alarm could occur, if the need arises.  As Health Minister Salvador Illa said recently, “If we have to use it again, of course, we will use it again.”

Source: El País

Friday, June 12, 2020

Spain to allow German tourists to travel to the Balearic Islands without quarantine: 47 flights already scheduled

Bienvenido de nuevo
The Spanish government made it official today: Germans will be the first tourists allowed to try out Spain's famous sun and sand resorts in what is being called the New Normal—or what I call, “Life after the Coronavirus lockdown but not quite after COVID-19.”

The details: When, where, and how

Next week's partial opening of the country's borders is partial in two ways: 1) only for tourists from Germany and 2) only for travel to the Balearic Islands. In addition, these visitors will be exempt from the 14-day quarantine other travelers to Spain must currently undergo.

Specifically, beginning next Monday, June 15, some 10,900 German travelers are expected to begin alighting on the shores of the islands of Mallorca, Ibiza, and Menorca. (Sorry Formentera fans.) There have been 47 flights scheduled thus far—38 to Palma, 8 to Ibiza and 1 to Menorca. The first two flights are planned for Monday, and will arrive in Palma from Frankfurt and Düsseldorf. The third is scheduled on Wednesday, from Düsseldorf to Ibiza. The premiere flight to Menorca is scheduled to run June 27 from Düsseldorf.

Empty beach in Peguera, Mallorca: Marco Verch
Despite all these plans, these flights are actually provisional, since the official government declaration includes this caveat: “Additionally, by resolution of the official responsible for the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, and in accordance with the Monitoring Committee referred to in article 4, the annex may be expanded, modified, revised or updated.” (Emphasis mine.)

On arrival at the airports, passengers will have to complete health questionnaires and undergo screening by healthcare workers. Anyone with symptoms, e.g., a fever or cough, will be given a test. If the test is negative, they will have to agree to "telematic monitoring of their symptoms." A Monitoring Committee, made up of at least one representative from Spain's airports operator AENA, the Ministry of Health, the Secretary of State for Tourism, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Union and relevant bodies in the areas of health and tourism in the Balearic Islands, will meet every two days.

Tourists will also have to stay a minimum of five nights and provide details about where they will be staying.

Other Special Routes Being Considered

Ibizas's sidewalk cafe's await
Other autonomous regions in Spain may soon be allowed to do something similar. Yesterday, Minister of Health  Salvador Illa said that in the coming days he expected to announce comparable agreements with other regional governments. Indeed, negotiations with the Canary Islands are reportedly in advanced stages, although at least one sticking point remains regarding mandatory requirements, since the government of the Canary Islands wants PCR tests carried out on each tourist arriving on the islands, not only those with symptoms. With the autonomous region of Galicia set to leave the state of alarm this coming Monday, it could be another candidate to open an early travel corridor with an EU country—or countries.

These early travel bubbles are consistent with the government's official declaration, which stated, "It is recommended that pilot programs be launched through the establishment of safe tourist corridors, prior to the end of the state of alarm, in order to verify the operation of the model for lifting temporary controls on internal borders and the recovery of freedom of movement.”

What does Brussels say?

Brussels actually wants to move a bit faster on all this, having recently called for the European Union's internal borders to be reopened next Monday. Some states, like Italy, have opened their borders for all citizens of countries in the Schengen area. Others, like Austria, have only done so for some of their neighbors. And a third group, of which Spain is a part, has not yet lifted barricades for anyone—at least it will not have until this exception of the new Germany-Balearic Isles route comes to pass. The European Commission wants to end this inconsistency and do way with all internal border controls in order to allow free movement from June 15 on, as detailed in a report it presented Thursday.

Source: Contando Estrelas Flickr
It seems that the EU’s call to open internal borders next week has increased pressure on Spain to open up faster. According to El País, “EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, insisted on the recommendation that internal borders must 'reopen as soon as possible.' But she added that the main thing is for everyone to open internal borders completely before opening the EU’s external ones to third-country travelers.”

Despite this, the Spanish government insists that its decisions will be made based on health criteria alone and that, regional exceptions aside, the plan remains waiting until July 1 before completely opening borders to the rest of Europe. In fact, Spain continues to prevent full mobility between its own regions. This situation is due to end by June 22, when the Spanish COVID-19 state of alarm expires.

Meanwhile, Brussels seems to have accepted the fact that the opening of borders within the EU will probably not be completed according to its dictates.

“We understand that reopening on Monday for countries that have not yet decided to do so could be complicated, and that some might take an extra week or two,” Johansson also said.

In other words, the New Normal will not arrive throughout the European Union until July—maybe.



Sources: “Los turistas alemanes vuelven a Baleares y sin cuarentena: ya hay 47 vuelos programados a partir del lunes,” Hugo Gutierrez, El País, 12 June 2020 and “EU’s call to open internal borders by June 15 increases pressure on Spain,” Álvaro Sánchez, El País English Edition, 11 June 2020.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Qualified Immunity

Official White House photo: Shealah Craighead
"Inmunidad cualificada" (Qualified Immunity) is an article written by Lluís Bassets which appeared in the June 2, 2020 edition of El País, Spain's most widely read newspaper. It is an opinion piece on the murder of George Floyd and its connection with police violence in the USA, racism, and the presidency of Donald Trump. Below is my translation of the article.

Qualified Immunity

Donald Trump and police abuse are two sides of the same coin

The police are trigger-happy because they're protected by the justice system. 

It's as simple as that.

Donald Trump isn't to blame for George Floyd's death.  Nor is he the prime mover behind the disturbances.  But it's no coincidence that Trump is in the White House. Neither are his irresponsible provocations, which incite violence rather than intending to calm protesters, coincidental

The country torn by a racial divide that brought Trump to the White House is the same one that over the years has enshrined a system of impunity for its police force.  Racism and abuse of power go hand in hand in both cases.  You can't understand one without the other.

Law enforcement officials, from local police officers to federal agents, are heavily militarized in their formation, training, and deployment tactics.  This is completely logical in a country where the sale, possession and even public display of assault weapons are considered constitutionally protected rights.

Firearms cause as many victims as traffic accidents.  There is a tendency towards disinhibition when using them against defenseless citizens, both by on duty police officers, as well as by the armed civilians who carry out mass killings.  This, too, is a situation where one thing can't be understood without understanding the other.

Everything favors the hair trigger, especially when it comes to shooting at dark-skinned citizens. In this case, it wasn't shooting, but immobilizing a handcuffed citizen to death. Statistics on deaths due to police intervention show that the number of African-Americans killed is five times that of Whites.  Explanations about police force composition, i.e., minorities tending to be proportionally less represented than Whites, are not enough.  It's also important to consider the strong corporate feel of a profession affiliated with powerful unions that has the ability to enforce a special statute called the Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights. Recognized in 16 states, it protects its members when they are accused of a crime, by guaranteeing  extraordinary limits on investigation and interrogation.

If it's difficult to prosecute a police officer, it's even more difficult to convict one.  Organizations that advocate against police violence have documented systematic deferential behavior of judges and juries toward accused police officers, along with a lower proportion of guilty verdicts handed out to them than to others.  Since 2005, 78 police officers have been charged with murder or firearm-related homicide.  Only 27 of these have been convicted and sentenced: 14 by public juries and 13 due to pretrial guilty pleas. Only one of those individuals was convicted of murder, and that officer was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

Screenshot from original El País article
In light of George Floyd's death, it might appear that little has changed since the bloody days of lynchings and other racist murders in the Deep South.  Not so, if we once again look at the statistics.  In the first decade of this century, the average number of police officers prosecuted for such crimes was five per year, but now the figure is close to twenty.  While the number of police officers accused of murder is growing, that does not mean police behavior has worsened or improved, but rather that the means of documenting their crimes (by video, for example) have increased. That's what happened in the death of Floyd, who was suffocated by being held under the knee of a police officer—an immobilization maneuver widely used in U.S. law enforcement.

Police impunity has a legal basis called qualified immunity, which has been enshrined by the Supreme Court.  A doctrine established  through various court decisions, it aims to protect officers from mistakes made while attempting to enforce the law, but which ends up shielding them from their crimes.

Throwing Trump out of office won't be enough to end this particular plague, which is as lethal as covid-19. But one goes with the other.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

No COVID-19 realted deaths reported in Spain

Today, the Health Ministry reported no coronavirus deaths in Spain the last 24 hours. That's the second day in a row! Yesterday, June 1st, was the first day no deaths were reported since the health crisis began. Below are links to articles in the English language version of Spain's El País newspaper.

Source: New York Times

June 1, 2020: No new coronavirus deaths in the last 24 hours, Health Ministry reports

June 2, 2020: Health Ministry reports no daily coronavirus deaths for second day running

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Justice for George Floyd / Justicia para George Floyd

This isn't about Spain, but I think it's important to share everywhere: please consider signing this petition. So many people of color in my home country suffer abuse and murder by the police, who alonst always get away with it. Even if you are not from the USA yourself, your voice can help the family of this viticm see justice done and may help lead to real change on this issue. Thank you, Carlos

No se trata de España, pero creo que es importante compartirlo en todas partes: considere firmar esta petición, por favor. Muchas personas de color en mi país de origen sufren abusos y asesinatos por parte de la policía que casi siempre se sale con la suya. Incluso si usted no es de los Estados Unidos, su voz puede ayudar a la familia de esta víctima a ver que se haga justicia y puede ayudar a lograr un cambio de verdad en este tema. Gracias, Carlos

Justice for George Floyd / Justicia para George Floyd

George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer.
George was handcuffed and restrained and being completely cooperative when this all went down. The officer put his knee on George’s neck choking him for minutes on minutes while George screamed that he could not breathe. Bystanders beg for the police officer to take his knee off George’s neck, but the officer didn’t listen and continued to choke him.
Not that it would matter at all, but George was not even wanted for a violent crime. A grocery store that he was signing a bad check.
We are trying to reach the attention of Mayor Jacob Frey and DA Mike Freeman to beg to have the officers involved in this disgusting situation fired and for charges to be filed immediately.
Please help us get justice for Georg and his family!
#JusticeForGeorgeFloyd     Click here to sign the petition.
George Floyd fue asesinado por un oficial del policía de Minneapolis, Estados Unidos.
George fue esposado y detenido y estaba siendo completamente cooperativo cuando todo se fue abajo. El oficial puso su rodilla en la nuca de George asfixiándolo por varios minutos mientras él gritaba que no podía respirar. Varios espectadores que estaban en el lugar, le rogaron al policía que quitara su rodilla del cuello del hombre, pero el oficial no escuchó y continuó asfixiándolo.
No es que este dato sea de gran relevancia, pero George ni siquiera estaba siendo requerido por un crimen violento. Una tienda de abarrotes lo reportó porque estaba firmando un cheque sin fondos.
Estamos tratando de llamar la atención del Alcalde de Minneapolis Jacob Frey y del Fiscal Mike Freeman para rogar que despidan a los oficiales involucrados en esta desagradable situación y que se presenten cargos de inmediato.
¡Ayúdenos a hacer justicia para George y su familia!
#JusticiaParaGeorgeFloyd    Haga click aqui para firmar la petición

Friday, May 29, 2020

More Romanians, Fewer Brits

That's the title of an article I just read in the Spanish daily, ABC. Basically, it's a review of a Bank of Spain report called, "Foreign Investment in the Spanish Residential Market Between 2007 and 2019." Apparently, foreign buyers of homes and property in Spain rose from  4.2% in 2007 to 10.% in 2019. 

The report highlights that during this period there have also been changes in the habits of these investors, one of them being the decrease in buyers from the UK. It notes that Brexit and the devaluation of the pound contributed to the fact that between 2017 and 2019 the British sold more houses than they bought in Spain. During this period the percentage of foreign purchases by Britons fell by 6 points, and last year represented 8% of transactions by residents of Spain's fellow EU countries. The opposite happened with countries such as Romania and Italy, which increased their participation in the market to 12% and 8% respectively. At the same time, the total of such purchases made by foreigners from countries outside the European Union are also significant (27% in 2019). Among non-EU countries, Morocco and China stand out, with respective percentages of 14% and 6% of purchases by foreigners in 2019.

According to the report, there were other significant changes in property sales to foreigners. Between 2007 and 2010, they barely represented 3.3% of the market, but then grew strongly until reaching the historical maximum of 10.5% in 2014. That year the recovery of the sector began, which caused non-Spaniards to gradually reduce their involvement in the market. In 2019 they represented an average of 7.8% of operations. 

The analysis also reportedly shows that the housing stock held by resident foreigners increased steadily from 2007 on, and then accelerated after 2014. Thus, in 2019, net purchases by foreigners accounted for almost 0.2% of the housing stock, almost three times more than in 2013. 

The report also highlights the interest that these buyers have in Spain's coastal regions, especially the Balearic and Canary Islands. Nineteen percent of housing purchases in Santa Cruz de Tenerife were made by foreigners last year, followed by the Balearic Islands (16%), Alicante (15%) and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (14%). 

Regarding prices, the report indicates that between 2014 and 2019 the prices foreigners paid was 4% higher than those of domestic buyers, although this percentage rises to 10% when considering purchases in cities such as Tenerife and Palma de Mallorca. 

ABC quoted the report as saying, “These differences are probably a reflection of the different investment profile in different provinces. In those on the Mediterranean coast and on the islands, foreign investors with high incomes, who demand higher quality homes located in better areas, surely have a higher significance."

In recent years, there has been speculation that the presence of foreigners in certain areas of Spain has caused housing prices in those regions to be more expensive. This theory the Bank of Spain now  corroborates, at least in part.

From the report: "The high correlation between population growth and rising property prices suggests that the increase in the foreign resident population in certain provinces (especially island ones) contributed to increasing house prices through their effect on demand for real estate."

Meanwhile, realty website Idealista reports that Standard & Poors recently carried out an analysis of the consequences of the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis on Europe's housing market. Results indicate that house prices are falling by 3-3.5% in Spain, as well as in the UK, Ireland and Italy. 

That sounds better than the forecast of Bankinter, which predicts that prices will drop by 6% (which Idealista pointed out is in line with the estimates of the Swiss investment bank and financial services company, UBS) and a collapse in sales of up to 35%, after having already fallen 3.3% in 2019. That would bring the volume of operations in 2020 to around 326,000, which would be the lowest level since 2014—the year Spain finally began its recovery from the recession. (You may recall that the main cause of  Spain's 2008-2014 economic crisis was the residential real estate bubble, which saw prices rise 200% from 1996 to 2007.)

It will be interesting to see what changes the pandemic will bring to Spain in so many areas, including in terms of house prices, sales, and the number of foreigners who buy property here.




Thursday, May 28, 2020


This guy who has been stuck in his apartment during Spain's coronavirus lockdown, has a great idea: modular balconies that can be assembled, installed in an apartment window and later removed and disassembled. I saw an interview with Aitor Fuente, the building engineer who has come up with the idea. I later found this brief concept video on his YouTube page. 
Este chico que ha quedado en su piso durante el encierro de coronavirus en España, tiene una idea genial: balcones modulares que se puede montarse, instalarse en la ventana del piso y luego retirarse y desmontarse. Vi una entrevista con Aitor Fuente, el arquitecto técnico quien se le ocurrió la idea y encontró este breve video conceptual en su página de YouTube.


Sunday, May 24, 2020


Did you know...?

  • In 1493, Spanish explorers were the first known Europeans to reach what is now the United States of America when Christopher Columbus visited Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. .

  • In 1513, Juan Ponce de León was the first to reach the present-day US mainland, when he disembarked on the northeast coast of a place he named La Florida..

  • From 1528 to 1536, nearly three centuries before Lewis and Clark, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and three other Spaniards were the first known humans to cross what would one day be the United States. After surviving a shipwreck in Florida, they set out on foot for New Spain, and eventually reached California and the Pacific Ocean. They then continued down to Mexico City. Cabeza de Vaca and one of the other men eventually returned to Spain, but the other two remained. One of those, a Black man named Estevanico (Esteban), is believed to have later died in what is now New Mexico. He has been referred to as the first African-American.

  • In 1529, cartographer Esteban Gómez drew the first map of the Eastern coast of North America, and did so almost perfectly. He named the river that empties into New York City the San Antonio River, a name it retained for about 80 years. It was not until Englishman Henry Hudson explored the river in 1609 that it was renamed the Hudson River.
  • In 1533, the name California was first applied to what is now the west coast of North America, during a Spanish expedition led by Diego de Becerra and Fortun Ximenez. The name California comes from a 16th-century novel, Las Sergas de Esplandián (The Exploits of Esplandian) by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo. Set on an island populated by Black female warriors who use gold for tools and weapons, and ruled by Queen Calafia, the book describes it as being east of the Asian mainland and “near the side of Terrestrial Paradise.”
  • In 1540, Hernando de Soto undertook an extensive exploration of what today are Georgia, The Carolinas, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana.
  • In 1540, Francisco Vásquez de Coronado led 2,000 Spaniards and Native Americans across today's Arizona-Mexico border. Coronado traveled as far as central Kansas, close to the exact geographic center of the continental United States. In September of that year, a group dispatched by Coronado, led by García López de Cárdenas and guided by Hopi Indians became the first Europeans to reach the Grand Canyon. The first Europeans to navigate the Colorado River were also on missions of the Coronado expedition, one led by Hernando de Alarcón, the other by Melchior Díaz. Colorado means 'red colored' in Spanish.
  • In 1541, Hernando de Soto became the first European to reach the shores of the Mississippi River. This was near the current city of Memphis, Tennessee, an event that is depicted in a painting on display in the US Capitol building in Washington D.C.
  •  In 1542, Cabeza de Vaca published the first book about what would one day be the United States, specifically the US Southeast and Southwest. The book, originally titled La relación de Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (The Account of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca), details his travels from Florida to California and Mexico.
  • In 1542, the first Europeans explored the California coast as far north as what today is Mendocino County. This sailing expedition was led by Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo.
  • In 1543, Spaniards were the first Europeans to visit what is today the state of Oregon. The earliest evidence of the etymology of the name Oregon points to Spanish origins. The term "orejón" appears in the 1598 historical chronicle La Relación de la Alta y Baja California (The Account of Upper and Lower California), written by Rodrigo Montezuma, who used the word in reference to the area around the Columbia River.
  • In 1565, Pedro de Aviles founded St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest continuously
    inhabited European-founded city in the 50 United States. The city celebrated its 450th anniversary in 2016, with the King and Queen of Spain, Felipe and Leticia, as honored guests. (The oldest continuously inhabited European-founded city anywhere in the US is San Juan, Puerto Rico, while the oldest town of any origin anywhere in the US is Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico, which has been inhabited by Native-Americans since 1144. Hilo, Hawaii is also believed to date back to the 1100s, but there is no firm date for its establishment.)
  • In 1565, the first documented Christian marriage performed in what is now the US took place in San Augustine. The ceremony joined Miguel Rodríguez, a White man born in Segovia, and Luisa de Abrego, a Black woman originally from Seville.
  • Canarian-Americans, also known as Isleños, are Americans with ancestors from the Canary Islands, Spain. Their forbears were among the first settlers of North America. The first of these arrived in Florida in 1569. Over the next 250 years they were followed by thousands of Canarian immigrants, with the biggest wave occurring in the 18th century. Most settled in what today is Louisiana, but Florida and Texas also had significant Canary Island immigration.
  • In 1587, the first known Asians to set foot in North America were Filipino sailors who arrived in Spanish ships at Morro Bay, in what today is San Luis Obispo County, California.
  • The modern rodeo (which means 'round up' in Spanish) grew out of the practices of Spanish ranch hands, called vaqueros ('cowboys'). Originally a mixture of cattle wrangling and bullfighting, it dates back to the 16th century. These events gained popularity throughout the Viceroyalty of New Spain and became even more prevalent after these lands emerged as Mexico and the Western United States.
  • In 1602, Sebastián Vizcaíno was sent to map the California coast. Arriving on his flagship San Diego, he surveyed the harbor at what are now Mission Bay and Point Loma. He named the area for Saint Didacus, a Spaniard more commonly known as
    San Diego de Alcalá. 
  • In 1607, New Mexico's second Spanish governor, Don Pedro de Peralta, founded Santa Fe, originally called La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís ('The Royal Town of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi). In 1610, he designated it as the capital of the province, which it has almost constantly remained, making it the oldest state capital in the United States.
  • In 1610, the oldest church in the continental US was built in Santa Fe. The original adobe walls and altar of San Miguel Chapel were built by members of the Tlaxcalan tribe. Much of the structure was rebuilt in 1710.
  • In 1613, Juan Rodriguez, a native of what today is the Dominican Republic, became the first known immigrant to reach the shores of Manhattan. He was born in the Spanish colony of Santo Domingo to an African mother and a Portuguese father. Rodriguez took it upon himself to gain the friendship of the natives, set up a trading post, and live comfortably on Manhattan Island. He is, therefore, also considered the first person of African heritage, the first person of European heritage, the first Spaniard, the first Latino, the first Dominican, and the first merchant to settle in Manhattan. He arrived there 12 years before the Dutch established the colony of New Amsterdam and 52 years before the British renamed the settlement New York.
  • In 1654, the first group of Spanish and Portuguese Jews arrived in New Amsterdam. After being initially rebuffed by the leader of the colony, these 23 individuals were finally given official permission to settle there in 1655 and that year they founded the Congregation Shearith Israel. Although they were not allowed to worship in a public synagogue throughout the time of Dutch rule, nor during the first years of the British period, the Congregation did establish a cemetery in 1656. In 1730, they were finally able to build a synagogue of their own, which resulted in the first synagogue in Manhattan. Shearith Israel is now the oldest Jewish congregation in the United States, although its present building dates from 1897.
  • In 1706, Albuquerque was founded as La Villa de Albuquerque in the provincial kingdom of Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico. It was originally a farming and shepherding community, and a strategically located trading and military outpost along the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro. The Camino Real was a historic 2,560-kilometer-long (1,590 mile) trade route between Mexico City and Ohkay Owingeh, New Mexico from 1598 to 1882. Long before Europeans arrived, the various indigenous tribes and kingdoms had established the route as a major thoroughfare for hunting and trading.
  • In 1716, Luis Moises Gomez, a Jewish community leader from New York City, purchased 1,200 acres with river access in what is now Marlborough, NY. Gomez, a Sephardic Jew, had come to America to escape his family's persecution in Spain, France and then England. He and his sons built a home on the Hudson Highlands, where several Indian trails converged, and it served as a frontier trading post. Other pioneers, fleeing tyranny and cruelties in Europe for the promise of a new life, followed his lead to settle in the Hudson Valley. His house was continuously inhabited for 280 years before it was bought by the Gomez Foundation, an organization established by his descendants. It is the earliest known surviving Jewish residence in the country, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is now a museum.
  • In 1718, Father Antonio de San Buenaventura founded the mission of San Antonio de Valero in what was then the Spanish Province of Texas. Today this mission is better known as The Alamo.
  • In 1731, sixteen Spanish families (56 people) from the Canary Islands arrived at the Presidio de San Antonio de Bexar fort. Joining a military and religious community that had been in existence since 1718, they established the first regularly organized civil government in Texas, and founded the city of San Antonio. 

  • In 1738, Francisco Menendez, a slave from a plantation farm in South Carolina, escaped to the Spanish territory of Florida to regain his freedom. He established Fort Mose near St. Augustine, the first settlement for freed African Americans in North America. Today the site is the location of the Fort Mose Historic State Park.
  • In 1750, a Spanish galleon sank off the coast of Virginia and Maryland. Some of the horses onboard managed to swim from the shipwreck to the shores of Assateague Island. Their descendants still roam freely there and are known as the Assateague Wild Horses.
  • In 1752, the rancher who would become known as the first "Cattle Queen" of Texas was born. After Rosa María Hinojosa de Ballí married, her husband and father applied jointly for a large land grant near what is now La Feria, Texas. Both men had died by the time the grant was approved in 1790, and her husband's will specified that she was to inherit his share of the twelve leagues (55,000 acres). When she took over the estate it was heavily encumbered with debts, but she she skillfully managed her property, made extensive improvements to it, and acquired large herds of cattle, sheep, goats and horses. Taking full advantage of opportunities that widows enjoyed in Spanish society, she continued to apply for additional land grants and to purchase property in order to increase her ranch's size. When she died, she owned more than one million acres of land in what is now the Rio Grande Valley and her holdings extended into the territories of present-day Hidalgo, Cameron, Willacy, Starr, and Kenedy counties.
  • In 1759, building commenced on what today is the oldest synagogue in the US: Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island. The congregation was founded in 1658 by the descendants of Jewish families who had fled persecution in Spain and Portugal, and who themselves later left the Caribbean seeking the greater religious tolerance of Rhode Island. Services in the current building began in 1763.
  • In 1762, in order to pay a war debt, France transferred possession of Louisiana to Spain through the Treaty of Fontainebleau. After this, significant Spanish immigration into the territory began. Among many traditions Spain brought to Louisiana, one had to do with commemorating the arrival of the Three Kings in Jerusalem. To this day, Louisianians and Spaniards alike enjoy a festive-looking pastry on the Epiphany: a circular cake with a small gift inside. What Americans call a King Cake is known as a Roscón de Reyes in Spain. (Roscón means 'ring shaped cake' and Reyes means 'kings.')
  • Although early European residents of New Orleans were mostly from France, the architecture of the French Quarter is actually Spanish. During Spain's rule of Louisiana (1762-1801), fires and hurricanes destroyed most of the city's original structures and, therefore, much of the trademark charm of the area can be credited to the Spanish rebuilding effort. The flat-tiled roofs, tropical colors, and ornate ironwork of the French Quarter are all Hispanic. To prevent fires, the new government mandated that stucco replace wood as the major construction material. It also required buildings to be placed closer together and nearer the street. Under French rule there were yards and open spaces around buildings, but the Spanish made the Quarter more intimate, with continuous facades, arched passageways, and patios hidden from passersby.
  • In 1763, Filipino Americans established their first recorded North American settlement in St. Malo, Louisiana after jumping ship to escape the forced labor and enslavement of the Spanish galleon trade. Other settlements appeared throughout the Louisiana bayous, with St Malo on Lake Borgne and Manila Village on Barataria Bay being the largest. In 1870, the Spanish-speaking residents of St. Malo founded the first Filipino social club, called Sociedad de Beneficencia de los Hispano Filipinos. Saint Malo was destroyed by the 1915 New Orleans hurricane, while Manila Village was leveled by Hurricane Betsy in 1965. The Town Hall of Jean Lafitte, Louisiana is located on Manila Plaza, which has historical markers acknowledging the area's Filipino-American history. Part of this community's legacy is the production of dried shrimp. In Louisiana today, dried shrimp are often added to gumbo, to add an intense salty flavor. They can also be eaten as a snack by themselves, and are commonly found in snack-size portions in South Louisiana's stores.
  • In 1768, Eulalia Perez de Guillen was born a Spanish citizen in Loreto, Baja California. A Californio (Hispanics native to California), the Los Angles Times has described her as “an extraordinary woman with stubborn faith who survived a major earthquake and carved out a niche as the mother of California’s soft drink industry.” When her soldier-husband was transferred north in the early 1790s, they moved to Mission San Juan Capistrano where they survived a massive earthquake on Dec. 8, 1812 that killed 40 people. They eventually moved north again, and she ended up working at Mission San Gabriel, initially as a cook and eventually as the manager of the mission, supervising the nursing, soap & candle making, kitchen, winery, and olive oil presses. While there, Eulalia concocted a tasty beverage from the lemons growing in the area. Demand was so great that she began bottling it for the friars to sell. Soon they were shipping it to Spain. It became one of Los Angeles’ first exports, and an enterprise that helped fill the mission’s coffers. The padres deeded her 15,400 acres of what is now Pasadena, California, but the widow's second husband petitioned the governor for the land and was granted it. Objecting to that, Eulalia left him and moved into a small adobe house. She died in 1878 at the age of 110. She is one of only two non-clergy buried with the priests in the San Gabriel Mission courtyard cemetery. In Catholic tradition, burials closest to the most sacred areas of the church are reserved for individuals of stature, usually clergy. A woman being honored in this way was a highly unusual thing at that time. A marble bench inscribed with her name marks the spot. Her numerous descendants married into many other founding families of California.
  • In 1772, Manuel de Lisa was born a Spanish citizen in New Orleans. He later became a US citizen, land owner, merchant, fur trader, Indian Agent, and explorer, who was among the founders of the Missouri Fur Company, an early fur trading company. Lisa gained respect through his trading among Native American tribes of the upper Missouri River region. He established Fort Lisa, in what is now Omaha, becoming the first known United States settler of Nebraska. The outpost became one of the most important in the region, and the basis for the development of the major city of Nebraska. Although already married to a European-American in St. Louis, where he kept a residence, he later married Mitane, a daughter of Big Elk, the chief of the Omaha people. (Bigamy was not outlawed in the US until 1862.) They had two children together, whom Lisa provided for equally in his will with his children by his other marriage.

  • In 1775, an expedition led by Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra, a Spanish navigator and naval officer born in Peru, reached Alaska. Going as far as 59° latitude north, near what today is the town of Sitka, he made sure to go ashore to claim the coast for Spain. This journey resulted in the first reasonably accurate map of the North American West Coast.
  • In 1775, the Continental Congress elected to denominate the money of the United States in Spanish dollars, rather than English pounds. The Spanish dollar, also known as the Piece of Eight (in Spanish Pieza de Ocho or Peso), was a silver coin first minted in the 15th century. Widely used by many countries as the first international currency, it was prevalent throughout the Thirteen Colonies at the time of the decision. The symbol for the US dollar is thought to have come from an emblem consisting of two columns draped with an s-shaped banner which appeared on the coin. A similar symbol is used on the modern flag of Spain.
  • In 1775, some of the first settlers of California embarked on a colonization expedition from what is today the Mexican state of Sonora. One of the colonists was Maria Feliciana Arballo. Of “pure” Spanish ancestry, her parents disapproved of her marriage
    to a mestizo soldier. The couple decided to join the expedition, but her husband died before it began. Rather than remain behind, Arballo convinced Captain Juan Bautista de Anza to make an exception to his policy that all women must be accompanied by a male family member. With one of her young daughters riding in front and the other in back, the three traveled on horseback to California. The expedition's priest, Father Pedro Font, was said to have been repeatedly annoyed with her and with Anza, who had ignored his adamant opposition to her participation. After successfully crossing the treacherous Colorado River, Font wrote of her in his diary, “At night, with the joy at the arrival of all the people, they held a fandango here. It was somewhat discordant, and a very bold widow who came with the expedition sang some verses which were not at all nice, applauded and cheered by all the crowd.” She left the group in San Gabriel, California, married another mestizo soldier, and had seven more children. Several of her descendants became important figures in California history, including two governors: Pío Pico, the last governor of California before it became part of the US in 1850, and Romualdo Pacheco, the state of California's 12th governor.
  • In 1776, Juan Bautista de Anza founded the Presidio de San Francisco fort. Later that same year, the Mission San Francisco de Asís was founded by Francisco Palóu. The Mission is the oldest surviving structure in the city of San Francisco. Though most of the complex was either altered or demolished outright, the facade of the chapel has remained largely unchanged since its construction in 1782–1791.
  • In 1776, Spain joined France in funding Roderigue Hortalez and Company, a trading company which provided critical military supplies to the American Revolution's Continental Army. Around this time, Spanish Prime Minister, José Moñino y Redondo wrote, “the fate of the colonies interests us very much, and we shall do for them everything that circumstances permit.”
  • 1776 was also the year that a Spaniard named Jordi 'George' Farragut Mesquida arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, where he joined the American Revolution in service as a sailor. Captured by the British in 1780, Farragut's left arm was permanently injured by a cannonball. Released as part of a prisoner exchange, he joined a US rifle militia and, despite his disability, fought on until the end of the war. Afterwards, he continued to serve the nation he helped create, first as sailing master of a gun boat in New Orleans, and later fighting the British again in the War of 1812. Rejected from further service in the navy after that war, he enlisted as a volunteer companion to Gen. Andrew Jackson’s troops, defending the coast around New Orleans from any possible British incursion. Farragut also started a family in his adopted homeland. He had 5 children, including a son who fought on the side of the Union in the US Civil War: Admiral David Farragut, of 'Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead' fame.
  • Bernardo de Gálvez was another Spaniard who helped the newly-formed United States of America. As Governor of Louisiana from 1777-1783, he allowed shipments 
    of weapons, medicine and other vital goods to the Continental Army via the Mississippi. When Spain declared war on England in 1779, Gálvez was given an additional title: Field Marshal of the Spanish colonial army in North America. He put together an army of Creoles, Acadians (Cajuns), Isleños, free Blacks, German immigrants, Native Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Mexicans and at least one Irish immigrant (Oliver Pollock) to march with his Spanish regulars. In March 1780, this interracial force besieged Mobile and seized it after a four-day battle. Following their next big victory, at the Siege of Pensacola in 1781, the English left Florida, never to return. This not only removed a threat to the US from the south, it deprived Britain of troops that could have been deployed to the war’s final battle at Yorktown later that same year. Instead, Spain was able to permit France to use its waters in the Atlantic to send naval forces to battle the British at Chesapeake and Yorktown. Gálvez, who had been wounded during his service, had his governorship expanded to include Spanish Florida, which at the time reached from the Atlantic to the Mississippi River. He was among those who drafted the Peace of Paris of 1783, which formally ended the Revolutionary War and gave Florida to Spain. His contributions to the American victory have been recognized in the United States: Galveston, Texas, and St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana were both named in his honor, and in 2014 President Barack Obama granted Gálvez honorary US Citizenship—only the eighth person in history to have been given the honor. 

  • In 1779, the first long-range Texas cattle drive occurred when Juan María Vicencio de Ripperdá, provincial governor of Texas, had a group of vaqueros herd 2,000 Texas longhorns to Louisiana in order to supply Bernardo de Gálvez’ troops.
  • Between November 1778 and July 1779, around 1600 Canary Islander colonists sailed into New Orleans. By 1780, four different Isleño communities had been founded in different parts of Southwestern Louisiana. Many of these immigrants participated in the three major military campaigns of Baton Rouge, Mobile, and Pensacola, which expelled the British from the Gulf Coast. In 1783, another 300 Canary Islanders arrived to settle in Louisiana.
  • In August 1781, the fleet of French Admiral François Joseph Paul de Grasse arrived in Chesapeake Bay carrying 500,000 Spanish dollars (or silver pesos) collected from the citizens of Havana, Cuba, to fund supplies for the Siege of Yorktown and to pay the Continental Army. The culmination of the Yorktown campaign, the siege proved to be the last major battle of the American Revolutionary War.
  • In September 1781, a group of forty-eight people founded a colony on the coast of California. The settlement was originally named El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles, or 'The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels.' Two-thirds of these original settlers of Los Angeles were mixed-race individuals, of African, European and Native ancestry. Today, the site is the El Pueblo de Los Ángeles Historical Monument, a 44-acre park.
  • On March 17, 1783, Spain formally recognized the United States of America. Diego de Gardoqui was appointed as Spain's first ambassador to the new country in 1784. He became well acquainted with George Washington, and marched in the newly elected President's inaugural parade.
  • In 1785, King Carlos III of Spain sent a donkey named Royal Gift to President Washington, at his request. The President crossed the donkey with mares to raise mules which became very popular in the new nation.
  • In 1791, Spanish naval officer Francisco de Eliza named a group of islands in the Pacific Northwest Isla y Archipiélago de San Juan. Today the San Juan Islands are part of the state of Washington. In 1841, British explorer Charles Wilkes renamed San Juan Island as Rodgers Island, but the Anglo name never took.
  • On October 12, 1792, the 300th anniversary of Christopher Columbus landing in the Americas, Pedro Pablo Casanave laid the cornerstone to the White House. Having emigrated from Spain in 1785, Casanave arrived in the Port of Georgetown, Maryland barely able to speak English and with only 200 pounds to his name. He later managed to open a store, followed by several other successful businesses. (It probably helped that he was the nephew of Juan de Miralles, a Spanish trader, supporter of the American Revolution, Spanish agent to the Continental Congress, and personal friend of George Washington.) Casanave rose to become the fifth mayor of Georgetown, which today is a neighborhood in Washington, D.C.
  • In 1795, Pinckney's Treaty, also known as the Treaty of San Lorenzo or the Treaty of 
    Madrid, was signed in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain. It established intentions of friendship between the United States and Spain. It also defined boundaries between the US and Spain's territories, while guaranteeing the new nation navigation rights on the Mississippi River.
  • Today, 25 of the 50 states that make up the United States of America were at one time completely or partially Spanish territory, i.e., Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, California, Iowa, Kansas, Florida, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. The same is true of three of the four US Territories, i.e., the US Virgin Islands, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico—which, by the way, also has an official Spanish name: Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, meaning Freely Associated State of Puerto Rico.
And that's only a portion of US Spanish/Hispanic/Latino heritage.


America’s Spanish Savior: Bernardo de Gálvez,, Barbara A. Mitchell

Assateague's Wild Horses, National Park Service

Isabel la Católica a través de los tesoros de la Biblioteca Capitular Colombina, ABC de Sevilla, Andrés González-Barba, Dec. 23, 2013 Fort Mose Historical Society

The Handbook of Texas, Texas State Historical Association

Filipino American Immigration History, Stanford School of Medicine, Ethnogeriatrics

Journal of the American Revolution

Latinas in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia, edited by Vicki L. Ruiz, Virginia Sánchez Korrol, 2006

A Long, Rich Life and a Tasty Claim to Fame, Los Angeles Times, Cecilia Rasmussen, Sept. 6, 1998

The Power of a Dream: Maria Feliciana Arballo: Latina Pioneer, Linda Covella, 2019

La relación de Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, 1542

The Mexican Contribution to American Independence, Raoul Lowery Contreras and Frank D. Gomez, Times of San Diego, July 3, 2018

The Migration of Canary Islanders to the Americas: An Unbroken Current Since Columbus by James J. Parsons, 1983

The Red Indian: A Study in the Perpetuation of Error by Douglas Leachman, 1941

Smithsonian Magazine

Touro Synagogue, National Park Service

United Empire Loyalist's Association of Canada


Women On The Move: Overland Journeys to California, Library of Congress American Women Series, Patricia Molen van Ee, 2001