Message from DA Spain Chair
The Greek historian Heraclitus is quoted as saying “The only constant in life is change.” That’s as true for Democrats Abroad Spain as it is for anyone else. This last month we reluctantly accepted the resignation of DA Spain Chair Daniel James. Sadly, while we’ll be deprived of his proven and impressive leadership, family health concerns understandably forced him to leave his post and turn his full attention to his loved ones. I know you’ll join the Executive Committee in thanking Daniel for his contributions. We wish him and the James family the very best.
This resignation means that I’ve become Country Committee Chair (heaven help all of us!) and that we needed a new Vice-Chair. The talent in our organization evidenced itself once again by producing a great crop of candidates. I’m happy to announce that Carlos Colao of Madrid has been appointed Vice-Chair, and that the Executive Committee ratified this appointment at its August 12 meeting.
Carlos brings a wealth of talent and experience to our team. He’s a lawyer working for the Spanish equivalent of the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. He’s also active in DA Global, particularly on tax issues affecting Americans abroad. Carlos is married and has four children. Given all of this, I did inquire about whether he ever sleeps. He assures me that he occasionally does.
Since we’re back up to full staffing, it’s time to start focusing on our priorities for the near term:
- Gather information on the number of Americans in Spain and identity where in the country this population is concentrated;
- Reach out to areas where we currently do not have chapters (FYI, the current chapters are in Alicante, Barcelona, Madrid, and Valencia);
- Reach out to American military personnel stationed in Spain and their adult family members; and
- Create more detailed descriptions for DA Spain officer positions and update country committee/chapter bylaws.
DA Spain could really use your help on the first three of these items! The upcoming midterm elections promise to be both crucial and hard-fought. It’s going to be an “all hands on deck” effort to preserve our democracy, and we really could use many more hands.
DA Spain is also gathering information on how to obtain Spain’s digital COVID-19 certificates for vaccinations obtained outside the EU (see more on this below). This affects so many of us, who’ve gotten our vaccinations in the US while visiting family and friends. Please keep an eye on our social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for up-to-date information on this topic.
Calls to Action
If you’re from California—or even if you’re not—you might have heard that a special election is being held on September 14, 2021, in a GOP-led attempt to recall Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom.
If you’re unclear as to why this election is taking place, grab a chair. In 1911, California enacted a law that would allow the state’s voters to pass and repeal laws, as well as recall elected officials, by placing them on the ballot. The idea was to give ordinary Californians more voice and control over their government. This year, enough petition signatures were collected to proceed with a recall election of Gov. Newsom. This year’s recall petition was driven by the state’s conservative contingent, who claimed that the Governor had mishandled the pandemic in addition to preexisting gripes: the ongoing homelessness crisis, high taxes and cost of living, immigration, and rationing of water and energy use. It is important to remember that Gov. Newsom won his 2018 gubernatorial run in a landslide, and that he is up for reelection in 2022. This is a statewide election with nationwide implications - take it from the guys at Pod Save America! If you are a California voter, do not sit this one out! Registration deadline is August 30. Read more...
Gearing Up for General and Special Congressional Elections in NJ, VA and OH!
A few other states have elections coming up later this year: Virginia, New Jersey, and two congressional districts in Ohio. Rally-type online events, with a voter assistance component, are currently being planned with candidates and party leaders for the CA, NJ, VA, and OH congressional races.
Tentative dates are:
CA -- August 29
VA -- September 12
OH-11 / OH-15 -- September 19
NJ -- September 26
Event pages will be posted and distributed soon, so if you vote in these states, keep an eye out. Live voter assistance will be provided via Zoom on select Thursdays and Sundays in September and October. Dates and details will be forthcoming.
Are you a phone-banker? Are you interested in learning how to become one?
In 2020, DA callers made more than 600,000 phone calls to overseas Americans, encouraging them to vote, helping them to register and following up to make sure that every ballot was returned on time. And it made a huge difference! This outreach helped Democrats win the House, the Senate, the Georgia Runoffs, and the Presidency. As we gear up for the 2022 elections, training sessions for this important GOTV activity are scheduled for August 30 & 31 and September 1. See https://www.democratsabroad.org/phonebanking_training for more information and to register. These sessions, which will be recorded for those who can’t attend live, are intended for both new and experienced phonebanking volunteers.
New training features include:
- optional PRACTICE CALLS available 24/7 to friendly practice volunteers, helping trainees feel more comfortable before attempting a first call
- demonstration VIDEOS are now incorporated into the training presentation, showing a call, revising data, adding a new mobile number, etc.
- expanded explanation of the CONFIDENTIALITY agreement you signed
- an open-book QUIZ on the calling essentials, to better prepare new callers
- expanded resources for caller SUPPORT, caller groups, and engagement
- September 6-19 -- Phonebank Virginia (message: request your ballot)
- Call-a-thon and rally-type event scheduled for September 11-12; details forthcoming
- September 20-30 -- Phonebank New Jersey (message: request your ballot)
- Call-a-thon and rally-type event scheduled for September 25-26; details forthcoming
- October 6-12 -- Phonebank Virginia (message: return your ballot)
- October 16-26 -- Phonebank New Jersey (message: return your ballot)
The two infrastructure bills currently progressing through the US Congress—the bipartisan “roads and bridges” bill and the much more ambitious budget reconciliation bill—are enormously important priorities for President Biden and Democratic members of Congress this year. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released just this month has made shockingly clear the need for ambitious climate-centric infrastructure improvements. Overseas voters have proven to be instrumental in past elections, and it is crucially important that we take the time now to contact our Representatives and Senators to tell them why they should vote in support of both pieces of infrastructure legislation.
If you don’t know what to tell your legislators or whom to contact, see https://www.democratsabroad.org/congressional_call_storm for ideas.
COVID Vaccine Certificates
As overseas Americans, some of us have received COVID-19 vaccines while visiting friends and family stateside. Recently, the EU launched a Digital COVID Certificate program, both for cross-border travel between EU member states and -- as in the case of France and increasingly elsewhere -- for entry into public spaces like theaters, restaurants, and shops. Certificates come in differing types, depending on whether a person (1) has received an approved vaccine, (2) has proof of recovery from contracting COVID-19, or (3) has a recent negative PCR test result.
In Spain, public access to these certificates is managed by each autonomous community and many have no protocol in place for verifying the administration of vaccines obtained outside of Spain. In parts of the country, only those vaccinated in Spain have succeeded in soliciting digital certificates, while US-vaccinated folks are left in the lurch. Similarly, Spanish citizens who study or work outside the EU, where they were vaccinated, are facing this difficulty upon returning home. Read more...
Chapter and Verse
The Barcelona chapter of Democrats Abroad has mostly been in vacation mode during the month of August, but we are very aware of the importance of the upcoming special elections, and we are here to provide assistance to members who will be casting absentee ballots in the coming months (Hola, California?).
Plans are also underway for an exciting slate of events in the fall and through the end of the year. We hope to hold various in-person events (movie nights, postcard campaigns, etc.), as well as renewing our popular Tuesday evening La Lucha Continúa series on Zoom. Be sure to join our Signal group now, so that you don’t miss any updates when the pace picks up in September, and let us know if you are available to help with organizing upcoming events ([email protected]).
In between vacations, work, and trips to the pool, the DA Madrid ExCom got together to start planning for the next few months. We have a lot of great ideas for events, volunteer opportunities, and other ways for you to get involved with Democrats Abroad!
To help us plan for events and other initiatives, we've prepared the following member survey. While we plan on sending this out again once everyone's back from vacation, feel free to fill it out now if you have the time.
As we all know, COVID-19 is an ongoing issue, with restrictions, regulations, and measures that change from region to region. If you were vaccinated in the US or are still in need of your first vaccine, here is some information from the Comunidad de Madrid: Getting a digital COVID certificate with overseas vaccinations and Walk-in vaccinations at the Isabel Zendal Hospital and Wizink Center.
Barring any future changes, our next event will be on Thursday, September 16th. Unless otherwise noted, we plan on holding events on the 3rd Thursday of the month. We're still researching possible indoor venues, so if you have any suggestions, send us an email at [email protected] or fill out the above survey.
We're looking forward to seeing you soon! Hope you're having a great summer.
In sunny Valencia, we’ve taken the month of August off, but are preparing for exciting Fall events and get-togethers. In the meantime, our main priorities are (1) making sure that Democrats win upcoming state and special elections, (2) providing voter support and guidance to overseas Americans, and (3) advocating for the improved standing of overseas Americans under US law. We’ve been working behind the scenes to make sure your interests are represented stateside and abroad.
Check back to this exact spot in the September issue of this newsletter for September events. We look forward to visiting with old friends and making new ones in the months ahead. If you’d like us to focus on specific political issues that are near and dear to your heart, please drop us a line at [email protected]. We’re eager to give voice to your concerns and advocate on your behalf.
To volunteer your time with DA Valencia, please complete this volunteer form.
Hello to our DA Alicante chapter members from Denia to Torrevieja along the Costa Blanca! We all love summer. Spending more time with friends, soaking up the sun on the beach, and enjoying the good food, drink, and entertainment all around our communities.
Our Alicante team is taking some time off this summer to travel and visit family, but on behalf of the team we welcome your thoughts, opinions, and passions with our members through our DEMOCRATS ABROAD ALICANTE Facebook group. And be sure to check out the Facebook pages for DA Spain and DA Valencia for different points of view and local activities in their regions.
Our goal is to reach more Americans living in our chapter’s Costa Blanca region and we ask you to share any ideas you may have to broaden our community and help to provide valuable voting information to our members. Your diverse set of abilities and experiences will allow us to continue to be an effective organization engaging and representing US citizens abroad. We look forward to hearing from you.
Enjoy yourselves, and stay safe!
Spain Fun Fact
Spain is, after Switzerland, the most mountainous country in Europe. Almost a quarter of the country is above a thousand meters and the average altitude is 660 meters above sea level (source). Other sources debate this ranking, but all agree that Spain is near the top of any list (see https://www.quora.com/Which-European-country-is-the-most-mountainous).
The country’s highest mountain is El Teide on Tenerife (Canary Islands), with a height of 3,715 m. El Teide is the world’s fourth tallest volcano and remains active, having erupted most recently in 1909. El Teide was a sacred mountain for the aboriginal Guanches, who believed it held up the sky (source: Wikipedia).
We hope you are having a relaxing summer, enjoying the beaches, bars and festivals while staying safe from COVID-19. Thanks for reading, and pass it along.