‘Racist’ attack in Ronda

LAST UPDATED: 16 Jul, 2009 @ 13:27
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‘Racist’ attack in Ronda

TWO foreigners have been brutally attacked in Ronda by a gang of drunken Spanish youths.

EXCLUSIVE BY PAUL WHITELOCK

In a case similar to the attack on dad Stephen Mallon, who was thrown to his death from a balcony in Competa last month, a 50-year-old German man and a Finn, 56, were bottled from behind and kicked to the ground.

The unprovoked attack happened as the two men entered the Bar El Paso in the San Francisco barrio to buy cigarettes in the early hours of Sunday June 14.

Amid chants of “Foreigners, go home! Leave our country! You are not welcome here!” they hit the two men with bottles and kicked them repeatedly as they lay on the floor.

Local police were called to the scene, but no arrests were made.

“Foreigners go home!”

The assault left the pair in need of emergency hospital treatment. Martin D, originally from Frankfurt but resident in the barrio for 15 years, had damaged teeth and cracked ribs. He almost lost an eye. Jokko R, from Finland, a frequent visitor to Ronda, had to have a large head wound stapled. He has recently lost his wife to cancer.

According to the owner of the bar, Paco Guerrero, who was not there at the time of the incident, the Spaniards were celebrating a stag night, but were very drunk and had behaved like “scum”. “They were not from round here, they come from another part of town,” he said.

His manager, Esteban Jimenez, said the out-of-towners were now banned from the bar for life.

Shocking

According to the partner of Martin D, Carmen Romero, the perpetrators have been officially “denounced” to the National Police. This was confirmed by a spokesman at National Police HQ in Ronda.

Ms Romero told the Olive Press: “It was shocking! Although I wasn’t there, a lot of my friends have told me what happened. They only went into the bar to buy cigarettes from the machine. As they bent over to retrieve them they were hit from behind with bottles and then kicked repeatedly as they lay on the ground.” She was convinced there was an element of racism to the attack.

Eyewitnesses confirmed this, adding that they all knew Martin and were puzzled at this anti-foreigner sentiment, as he was a fluent Spanish speaker who had lived locally for years and was thoroughly integrated and well-liked.

There has been no coverage of this story in the local, national or international press. A local resident, Pablo Marin Carrasco, suggested that the story had been suppressed. “In the wake of Stephen Mallon’s death in Competa, it would have shown Ronda and Spain in a further poor light. The story was censored without doubt.”

The police investigation continues.

35 COMMENTS

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  1. I want to applaud your July 11 story about June 14 ex-pat assault in Ronda. I hope the two guys are on the mend. I hope your next story identifies the thugs, publishes their photos, and details what action gets taken.

    To be fair, I don’t believe that one beat-down in Ronda represents a racial crime wave against ex-pats. But if this incident turns out to be ‘hate crime’ then I believe a higher level of attention is required.

    I was encouraged to read about the response from several Ronda locals, including the Spanish bar owner, the Spanish girlfriend and another local, who agreed to be identified by name in your story. By any measure, it was brave for them to stand up for the two injured ex-pats. To me, this call for action represents the best of Ronda’s values.

  2. This article makes me sick. How stupid those Spaniards have forgot all those other Spaniards that had to migrate to other countries some 40 years ago. My parents are originally from Spain and they migrated as far as Australia. I am absolutely appalled. Thank God for the migration into Spain. I remember growing up in Australia and thinking my God Spain is third world. Thank God for all the Foreigners that invested and influenced Spain to change from the third world it was some 15 years ago. Shut up you fools and count your blessing that Spain had Foreigners will to come to Spain in the first place. LOOK AT MY SURNAME TO PROVE MY SPANISH HERITAGE.

  3. my parents were from sardinia and moved to the uk 12yrs ago i moved to spain and love it here we live inland amongst spanish people and are treated very well by most, i agree with mr munoz, spain will not survive without foreigners, i work and so does my wife, wales where i last lived has a lot of spanish and italians but they are very welcome,i hope this was just a one off experience in ronda sad really it was suppose to be a stag night a celebration well done to the bar owner girlfriend and locals

  4. I just read the local ( Finnish ) newspaper, did a google
    search and found this page, indicating my worst fears….
    It IS my father Jaakko R. ( not Jokko )
    I’m so furious that something like this have/could happened!!!!

    The Ronda police BETTER to do something about it !!!

    My father has never even hurt a fly, and I can’t imagine a more peaceful, and lenient/liberal man. And what I know about Martin … same thing. a good man !

    Outrageous !! just Outrageous !!!

    Because of this I WILL NEVER set my foot to Ronda,
    because it seems, that u can possibly lose your life there,
    and nothing happens to the perpetrators.

  5. Hello, Mika
    As the journalist who investigated the incident and wrote the story about the attack on your father, I was very interested to read your email.
    Can I say how sorry I am that you found out about it on the internet and how ashamed I am, that it should have happened in the town where I have chosen to live.
    The only consoling thought is that the Spanish youngsters who carried out the attack were not local to this part of town and are not typical of the Ronda people I have got to know over the last nine years. They were also very drunk, although that is no excuse for what they did.
    So we can only hope that it was a one-off.
    The fact that nothing has so far come of the investigation is a serious concern, I agree.
    Would you be able to email me in confidence at paulwhitelock@theolivepress.es and give me any further information you may have, eg a contact telephone number for your father and/or Martin, who I believe is staying with Jaako in Finland at the moment (Sorry I spelt his name wrongly in the article).
    By talking to them I may be able to help to progress the investigation by the police.
    Kind regards
    Paul Whitelock

  6. A terrible and distressing story! But it’s hard to see how this could be called a “racist attack” since the majority of Spaniards, Brits and Finns are all the same race–caucasian. If the people involved in this incident were of another race, that should be made clear in the story. We need to come up with another term to describe this sort of incident–“anti-Anglo” or “xenophobic” perhaps?

  7. Lot of good posts on this thread then along comes Mona.

    Anti-Anglo – one was a German and the other a Finn – how digusting that you feel a need to act as an apologist for this scum.

    They come from another part of town – what the hell difference does this make.

    The fact that this cowardly attack was not reported locally or nationally says it all.

    BTW – xenophobia is another name for narrow minded nationalism

  8. Stuart, you are not reading carefully. I am in no way apologizing for these people or their vile behavior. I am commenting that their acts were not examples of racism but of another dangerous form of insanity–xenophobia. As an American, I can tell you that racism is a powerful word that has a long and specific cultural history. Too many people throw this word around carelessly and ignorantly. This is how the English language becomes degraded and political and social ideas become diluted. We need to try to understand the crimes in Ronda for what they were and keep the word racism for the appropriate uses.

  9. Xenophobia is the more precise term. But it falls within the racism umbrella. Beyond dictionary semantics, it’s worth mentioning that the writer of this story, an expat, was told by authorities to drop any further inquiries. Who are these authorities protecting?

  10. I am surprised that comments have begun again on an article that was written two years ago. However, I have to agree with Mona’s point – the attack was not racist, but xenophobic.
    As the journalist who researched and wrote the original article, I did not use that word, since I understand it’s true meaning, as clarified by Mona. Unfortunately, as I’m sure you are all aware, headlines are usually chosen by a newspaper’s editor in the final stages of putting a paper together and not by the journalist.

  11. Further to Nik’s comment, I’m interested to know how he knows that I was told to drop any further enquiries.
    He is right, however. I was advised – off the record – by a lady officer at National Police HQ in Málaga city, not to stir up trouble with the national police in Ronda by questioning them about the progress of their investigation.
    Making an enemy of the local constabulary is not a good policy for anyone, let alone an immigrant (I prefer that word to expat), so I’m afraid I took her advice and let it drop.

  12. Paul, in reference to the headline on the article–yes, I have worked in the press and well know that reporters don’t get to write their own headlines. I should have made that point in my original comment. Many people aren’t aware of that.

  13. A larger question is why did Olive Press editors let it drop? Papers should stand up for reporters. Also curious why a larger Spanish or English daily didn’t pick it up? I heard about this flap from a Ronda shop keeper.

  14. well said paul …some idiots here actually belive you can upset or accuse the spanish police and continue to live free . are they on this planet?
    Paul you did the right thing you have to live and work here freddie boy can go home and pick up his pension ….

  15. So the police can do what they want, in Spain, the UK wherever – reminds me of how Dr. Goebels intimidated the Press in pre nazi run Germany, later on of course he just had them rounded up and sent to the death camps.

    Democracy is created by brave men and women and never without bloodshed – fascism feeds on the fear of the cowardly and grows stronger.

    For those that don’t know – it was the National Police that carried out most of Franco’s executions of more than 500.000 – none of the mass murderers ever faced justice – crime does pay, especially if you are employed by the State – the cold blooded murder of an innocent Brazilian lad comes to mind

  16. Paul, when you were asked by the national police to drop your investigation, what did your editors say in response? Did they offer to back you … or did they say you were on your own?

    If your editors did not stand by you, I am disappointed.

  17. For the record we did cover the story at length and did speak to those involved, who actually did not want us to pursue the case any further, as I recall.
    Also, Paul Whitelock is not a reporter for us… he is actually an independent blogger (and a good one)… I had no idea he was told the back off by the police and perhaps we should have pursued it further if that was the case.
    Finally, of course, if he was staff or we put him onto a story we would have backed him up.
    Paul… do you want to do some more digging on this?

  18. This post is not categorised under “Paul’s view from the mountains”. Editors not knowing what their writers are doing… sounds all too familiar ;-)

    Louie, I am 30+ years away from my pension. We are not all old gits like you. lol.

  19. We need to clear up a few things here for the record.

    At the time I wrote the article – 2 years ago to the day, as it happens – I was indeed employed by the Olive Press, although I left shortly afterwards. I was not invited to start my “View from the Mountains” blog on the OP website until November 2010, over a year later. So Fred is quite right to point this out.

    As for the story, it came from a tip-off from a contact of mine and the editor, Jon, asked me to investigate it further, which I did, resulting in the piece above. When I followed up progress in the investigation a few weeks later, I was indeed advised to “drop it” by the police in Málaga City. As to whether Jon knew this or not, I don’t know. I recall that the feeling in the office was that the story had gone cold. I left the paper shortly afterwards anyway, so it was no longer anything to do with me.

    As for Nik’s questions, they are of course relevant in a sense. However, even if I had had the backing of my editor, that would not have protected me from potential personal bother with the police. As Louie Lou rightly says, it makes no sense to upset the police, if you want to live a quiet life.

    The same applies in the UK too, by the way, and no doubt in other countries. For some reason cops throughout the world can be quite vindictive. Is it because they are paranoid? Or bullies? Or because they think they are untouchable? Probably all three of these.

  20. I don’t know what to say, Paul. You were threatened by police. You dropped the story. I don’t know many reporters who would done that. In the end, I would have found another reporter … or perhaps another paper … to press for some action from Ronda authorities.

    In general, I do believe there is a greater responsibility for working reporters … and newspaper editors … to defend the defenseless. In this case, protecting the rights of English-speaking immigrants and retirees in Southern Spain.

    Periodically, I know the Olive Press has pressed for action … to right certain wrongs … on behalf of English residents living in Southern Spain. For the most part, these crusading efforts have been thorough, appreciated and admirable.

    In this case,I don’t understand why similar efforts weren’t made to press for little justice in Ronda. This is where the Olive Press is based.

  21. Nik, have you ever worked as a reporter, investigative or otherwise? Have you followed what has been going on in the news industry over the last 10 years?

    Investigative journalism requires large amounts of time and money, not to mention highly experienced reporters who sometimes research stories for weeks or months before publishing a single word. Investigative reporters are hard to find these days for the simple reason that few news organizations have the money, staff or interest to support them.

    And supported they must be! Because no investigative journalist should be asked to go out on a limb to risk his or her own safety or livelihood without a news organization to back him or her up. And there are increasingly few news organizations that have the resources to do that these days. The New York Times and The Nation Institute in the USA, The Guardian, The Times and The Independent in the UK. Perhaps El Pais in Spain.

    I can’t speak about The Olive Press, since I don’t know who owns it or how deep their pockets are. But I will say that websites that use the services of bloggers are notorious for NOT supporting their writers to do in-depth research. As a rule, they don’t pay them anywhere near adequately and don’t provide them with legal support or any other kind of support for that matter.

    This is the tragedy of what has happened to journalism since the rise of the internet and the blogosphere. The new economic model for “journalism” that internet sites are using, allows no serious journalism at all. This isn’t Paul’s fault or even the fault of his editor. If you want to see real investigative journalism, you better start writing checks to the few news organizations that are still practicing it… or they will have disappeared too, before you know it.

  22. Keep your knickers on Louielou, I did say lol. I thought you had a bus pass?

    Nik, in fairness Paul did say that he left after the article was written. Truth be known, the police did not want the involvement since they know the OP may get to the bottom of it, and before them. Needs a follow-up perhaps?

    The Competa incident, which resulted in the death of Stephen Mallon, resulted in 17 arrests I read today; that has not been covered by the OP yet. Seems the Spanish authorities are on the case there.

  23. Nik. I can’t understand why you’ve gone off on one. Get your facts straight. I wasn’t threatened by police; I was advised not to press too hard. I don’t think there was anything sinister behind that advice. I think it was simply that the police did not want to be exposed as indolent, slow and perhaps “xenophobic”. I chose, in the interests of myself and my family and because by then I knew I was leaving the OP, to take the advice in the spirit in which it was meant. The lady police officer was very pleasant and I didn’t feel in the least bit intimidated. By then the story had gone cold anyway … although it seems to have hotted up again now, two years later. I occasionally see the German victim of the assault, Martin, and he’s still aggrieved that nothing was done, but has accepted that it’s going nowhere. The problem is that although the Spanish locals in the Barrio San Francisco were outraged at the behaviour of some drunken out-of-towners, they were never going to identify them to the police or testify against them, were they? You have to be realistic. Case closed, I’m afraid. You can’t apply notions of British investigative journalism and fair play to the Spanish environment – it doesn’t work.
    By the way, I still love living here!

  24. Nik and Mona can I just say how correct you are
    As owner of olive press I know more than anyone what it costs to run a good investigation. I worked for many years in the uk media. The legal aspects are fraught and it does often take us weeks if not months to get the info we need… Take our boiler room expose of last month… We were on that since last year..and any good investigative stories mean thorough legatlling which is not cheap either… We use the former night lawyer from the Indy to legal our tricky pieces… And we still sometimes get sued… So far it has cost thousands to defend a story against a dentist here twice struck off in the uk
    If our advertising dried up we would be finished and gone because the last thing I want is to be yet another bland boring rag with no purpose
    Jon
    Publisher

  25. hey Louie Louie, I think LOL Fred loves getting hit with a Lubina estilo a la LouyLouy Knickers …. and I am positive he loves fried Hospital Food.

    And I also think you are lying about your age there Laddie 37 my *** you sound like an immature 17 year old …..

    Interesting – Do you have a dog ?

  26. Paul, you definitely made a “fight-or-flight” choice, when you agreed to drop the story at the suggestion of the national police in Malaga. I believe your first stories may have been about expat attacks in Ronda. But the more interesting story was probably police inaction and a subsequent police cover-up. In hindsight, I would gotten some advice from your editor, before dropping the story. I believe hate crimes against foreign nationals require special attention.

  27. Nik. Once again you are reading too much between the lines or listening too closely to some Ronda shopkeeper. The only person who knows exactly what took place before, during and afterwards is me.

    I didn’t agree to drop it. My editor felt it was a dead story, so he decided not to pursue it at the time.

    By the way I didn’t leave the paper over this matter.

    As a point of record I only wrote this one story about attacks on expats, based on a personal tip-off. Any other stories about attacks on foreigners were written by other journalists.

    Why are you being so dramatic? There is no wave of xenophobic hate crime in Ronda. This was an isolated incident on a night when some out-of-town gamberros got drunk and went too far. Not acceptable, I agree, but at that time of the early morning maybe going into a bar full of drunken men on a stag night was not a good idea.

    I would agree that hate crimes against any section of the community are abhorrent, be they foreigners, gays, blacks, disabled people, Romanians, gypsies or whatever. And they should be tackled. But, in my opinion, not by a local English paper. Very few Spaniards read it, so the impact of a press investigation would be minimal. The newspaper’s staff are also known in the community and life could be made uncomfortable for them.

    As Jon has pointed out above, a local free paper hasn’t got the resources to investigate to the nth degree. As a free sheet dependent on advertising to exist, you unfortunately cannot run the risk of upsetting your potential advertisers either.

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