Message from DA Spain Chair and Vice-Chair
Happy July, friends! It’s summertime, and according to the Gershwins, the livin’ is easy. We’re taking this sentiment to heart here at DA Spain and not filling the schedule with activities and Zoom calls. But we do want to share a few items with you this month.
Even as the calendar remains blissfully empty, lots of work is going on behind the scenes. As always, our focus is on electing Democrats at all levels of government. To that end, the Executive Committee has been working on long-term planning to prepare for next year’s midterm elections. The emphasis this fall will most likely be on increasing membership, registering voters, and recruiting volunteers for the work ahead.
Similarly, DA Spain has a number of national-level committees with work underway. You see it, for example, in the newsletter you’re reading now. The Communications Committee has been hard at it. Likewise, the Bylaws Committee has been working on revising our governing rules to update and strengthen our infrastructure. This latter initiative is being helped along by our new intern, Ryan Eijkholt, a US College student from Texas studying in Spain. So the pot bubbles, even if the stove may look cold.
But as this newsletter demonstrates, the real work - and the real fun - of DA is in the activities where people gather to work and play together. The chapters, the caucuses, and the individuals who are highlighted below show us the myriad ways in which participating in DA Spain benefits us all. So enjoy the summer, bask in the sun and in companionship, and keep an eye out as we gear up again in September.
– Daniel James (chair) and Kathy Tullos (vice-chair)
Calls to Action
Democrats Abroad Demands Tax Reform
American expats are subjected to unique hardships faced by expats of no other country, starting with the seeming impossibility of opening a bank account. Ever notice the deflated look on a Spanish banker’s face when you produce your American passport? A few things are running through his mind as he stares at the words “United States of America.” One of them is: “How much will all of this trouble be worth?” Some banks conclude that it’s not enough, and simply refuse to do business with American citizens. Why? Because FATCA, the US regulation on foreign financial institutions doing business with Americans, is frighteningly exacting and the consequences of violating the law are steep.
And yet, as Benjamin Franklin noted in 1798, “In this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.” [NB: The full quote is “Our new Constitution is now established, everything seems to promise it will be durable; but, in this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.” This unabridged version seems even more relevant to the times].
And in that regard, many overseas Americans find that they need not just one accountant, but two. After dutifully filing his tax paperwork in the host country, an American has to either spend hours researching what to do next, or pay hundreds to a US tax professional to do it for him. And depending on his personal and professional situation, he may have to pay income taxes in the US as well as his country of residence. Again, these challenges are unique to Americans living abroad.
Help us to help you!
This is a crucial year for Americans abroad interested in tax relief (and who isn’t interested in that?). Democrats Abroad’s Taxation Task Force (TTF) is working diligently to persuade Congress that reforms for Americans abroad must be written into legislation being drafted right now.
If you are interested in following or supporting the work, see this post about our tax reform strategy, this handy, step-by-step guide for reaching out to Congress about tax reform, and this information about our Constituents Abroad Zoom initiative for those whose representatives serve on the tax writing committees and subcommittees. The Constituents Abroad initiative is an exciting opportunity for members to share their own experiences with the people who may actually be persuaded to help. For regular updates about DA's Tax Advocacy work, sign up here.
Virginia is for (Democracy) Lovers
Virginia voters, your state and your country need you! On November 2, Virginia will be holding a general election to elect a new Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, House of Delegates, as well as some local offices. If you vote in the Commonwealth of Virginia and have not yet registered in 2021, please do so immediately. All the information you need is at https://www.votefromabroad.org/elections/VA.
Seeking Leaders Wherever You May Be
Become a Democrats Abroad Team Leader. The global apparatus of Democrats Abroad is aiming for greater diversity than ever before. Our organization is seeking volunteers who are willing to dedicate their time and talents to the important work of defending our democracy and protecting our legacy for future generations. All members of Democrats Abroad are encouraged to applyand to share the call for applications with other U.S. citizens who might be interested. Descriptions of all volunteer global leadership positions and details about applying can be found here. Applications will be accepted through 11:59 p.m. EDT on August 1, 2021.
Orlando Vidal, International Counsel, is also looking to fill the following 2-year positions:
- Data Protection Officer: The DPO must have genuine expertise in the interpretation and application of GDPR. Ideally the DPO will be a specialist lawyer licensed to practice in the European Economic Area or a territory that provides GDPR-equivalent protection (e.g., UK, Switzerland, and Israel.) The DPO must be able to advise on compliance policies, manage responses to subject access requests, and deal with regulatory enquiries as necessary.
- Information Security Officer: The ISO should be an experienced, preferably accredited, information security professional who can assist DA map and secure its data and information and work with DA's IT Team.
- Information Officer: The IO should be an experienced, preferably accredited, information professional who can assist DA optimize its hardware and software infrastructure—improving its data flow, storage, reporting, and management, and work with DA's IT Team.
If you have the skills and qualifications to fill these positions or would like to learn more, send an email to [email protected].
Don’t miss this outstanding article, published in the iconic feminist magazine Ms., about Democrats Abroad’s Women’s Caucus and the important work they are doing to raise awareness around pro-choice rights. For more news from the tireless Women’s Caucus, click here.
This summer, as large swaths of the western US burn at the same time that northern countries of the EU experience unprecedented, destructive flooding, climate change can no longer be regarded as a hypothetical situation. Democrats Abroad recognizes the urgent need for an Environmental & Climate Crisis Caucus. DAS chair Daniel James is involved in this initiative and has put out a call for volunteers. If you are passionate about saving our planet for future generations and can contribute in any way, click here.
In May, the DPCA passed a resolution to support Rep. Mark Takano's "Veteran Deportation Prevention and Reform Act" (HR 1182). This bill tackles a broad array of issues from the deportation of veterans to general ease of access to paths for naturalization for service members and their family members. These issues are more pressing than ever, and we have many members of Congress who are interested in reforming this process. Now is the perfect opportunity to get something done!
I am calling on DA Leadership for members who would be interested in serving on our committee that will be devoted to supporting legislation on this topic. Please contact me at [email protected] if you would like to be involved. You don't have to be a member of the Veterans & Military Families community -- we are looking for anyone who is passionate about this subject!
Democrats Abroad is also forming a Disability Caucus, to provide a voice for individuals with disabilities across its global membership. For more information, to show your support and join, click here. You also won’t want to miss this event: https://www.democratsabroad.org/ada_31st_anniversary
Chapter and Verse
Barcelona chapter members had a wonderful time celebrating the 4th of July at a park on the waterfront, catching up with old friends and welcoming some new faces. It was one of our first chapter-wide in-person events since March 2020, and the excitement at seeing fellow DA members and friends was palpable. Newly elected vice-chair Rachel Mantiñán spoke about the challenges that lie ahead as we work toward the November 2022 midterms, and treasurer Hunter Roberts spoke about the importance of donating to Democrats Abroad in order to help make the magic happen again. If you have questions about donations, where the money goes and how you get more bang for the buck when you donate to DA rather than to candidate campaigns, please reach out ([email protected]). We are happy to provide more information about how your donations can help elect Dems and preserve democracy.
Our next gathering, still in the works, will be a movie screening at an outdoor venue. Date and movie title will be announced soon, but plan loosely on a late September event. We will also be starting a postcard campaign this fall, and will be putting out a call for volunteers to print, color, address and stamp postcards to be mailed in early 2022, reminding DA members that they need to re-register every election year.
Finally, if you are not already a member of the DA Barcelona Signal group, please take a moment to join so you can stay on top of all the latest news and conversations. Click here to join.
The march for Madrid Orgullo was held on July 3rd. Last year’s parade was cancelled, so this year we were happy to bring our “Love trumps hate” banner and Pride signs to join in the festivities. There were no floats, and social-distancing measures and mask mandates were in place, but a good time was still had by all.
The next day, we held our annual Fourth of July picnic. This was our second in-person event this year and the third since last year’s lockdown. We met in a slightly different area of Retiro Park, surrounded by trees and joined by friends we haven’t seen in a while. A few bystanders stopped by to talk to us when they saw the U.S. flag.
Our next event will be held in September. Unless otherwise noted, we’re planning on holding events on the 3rd Thursday of the month, so mark September 16th on your calendars! We’ll send you more information once you get back from vacation.
We’ve also prepared a survey for you to fill out to help us plan future events. If you'd like to fill it out now, here’s the link. No rush, though—we’ll provide the link again in future emails.
As a note, we're still looking for an indoor venue for our events. If you have any suggestions, feel free to send us a message at [email protected].
Hope to see you on September 16th!
DA Valencia enjoyed a great turn-out at both the Pride Parade on June 28th and our July 4th gathering at Tommy Mel’s American Restaurant. We got a chance to mingle with many of you and hear the issues that are most important to you and your families.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be gearing up for our fall events. At the forefront of our minds are the voting rights issues facing us and our fellow Americans worldwide. We’re also heavily involved in demanding common-sense tax laws for Americans living abroad. With our advocacy focus being on hot-button issues this fall, we welcome passionate volunteers who’d like to join the Democratic Party in Valencia. Please make yourselves known to us and keep your eyes out for updates on fall events, as well as future communications.
To volunteer your time with DA Valencia, please complete this volunteer form.
A sunny “hello” and best wishes for a healthy summer from the Alicante chapter of Democrats Abroad. The recently elected executive committee of Alicante, covering Denia to Torrevieja on the Costa Blanca, has been working to establish their roles and responsibilities, as well as collaborating on a vision for the chapter. Our primary goal is for our members to get better acquainted with each other through emails, in-person and online events, and through our content-rich Facebook group. We welcome all DA Spain members to join in on the conversation at Democrats Abroad Alicante.
President Biden recently said that the fight against restrictive voting laws was the “most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War”. This will be a topic of concern for our Alicante chapter in the coming months. Currently, two bills aiming to expand voting rights nationwide are stuck in Congress. The partisan fight over voting rights in Texas made national headlines recently, with a group of Democrats leaving the state to deny Republicans the necessary quorum for enacting new voting restrictions. Suppressing voting will undoubtedly have a major impact on the 2022 midterm elections and DA Alicante is prepared to join the fight in defense of our voters.
Spain Fun Fact
Spain has nearly 8,000 kilometers of beautiful coastline and beaches (source and more information). The country also has the highest number of bars in the entire EU (data from pre-COVID times).
We hope you are having a relaxing summer, enjoying the beaches, bars and festivals while staying safe from COVID-19. Thanks for reading, and in the famous words of Senator John Lewis, who passed away a year ago this month, keep making “good trouble.”