News

DA-Spain August 2021 Newsletter

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.

So if any or all of this sounds interesting to you, please contact us at [email protected] or [email protected]. We need your time and your talents! And thank you in advance for your participation.

Democratically yours,

Kathryn Tullos

    


Calls to Action

California Recall

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.

**********

CallHub Training

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

**********

CallHub Events

  • 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)

**********

Infrastructure August

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. 


News

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

 

Barcelona 

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]).


Madrid

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. 


Valencia 

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.


Alicante

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

El Teide

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).


 


In Closing

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.


California Recall

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

Obtaining an EU Digital Covid Certificate: If you were not vaccinated in Spain

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.

Our DA Spain Executive Committee is researching ways to address this issue for our members. We understand that affected DA members may be frustrated and looking for answers, assistance and solutions. DA Spain has just learned that the autonomous communities of Catalunya and Madrid have official protocols in place for individuals vaccinated outside the EU on how to obtain the certificate. The Basque Country seems to be working on a similar fix, and the likelihood is great that other autonomous communities are following close behind. Wading through this issue has been overwhelming and confusing for officials, as doctors, health clinic administrators, healthcare system representatives, special COVID-specific public offices, and citizen service offices are all navigating new waters with ever-changing criteria and information.

We urge DA members who were vaccinated outside the EU to stay up-to-date on the policies of the autonomous community where they live, contact their health care professionals, and above all, be patient! DA Spain will do its part to keep our membership informed, as information rolls in.


SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Change in leadership and call for new Vice-Chair

Democrats Abroad Spain is undergoing a change in leadership. After dedicating substantial time, energy and leadership to our organization, Daniel James has reluctantly made the difficult decision of resigning as Country Committee Chair in order to focus on urgent family health issues. DA Spain thanks Daniel for his extraordinary dedication and immense contributions to our democratic mission. Under our bylaws, former Vice-Chair Kathryn Tullos has succeeded Daniel James as Chair. She is fortunate to be serving alongside an incredibly talented and dedicated Executive Committee.

The search is now on for a new Vice-Chair. Under our bylaws, in order to maintain gender parity, the new Vice-Chair must identify as male, nonbinary, intersex, or some other non-female designation because our Chair identifies as female. Candidates for the position must be members of DA Spain. The Chair appoints the new Vice-Chair, with the advice and consent of the Country Committee, at the upcoming Executive Committee meeting to be held on August 12. The newly-appointed Vice-Chair will serve out the remainder of this term (through early 2023). If you have an interest in this position or would like to nominate a candidate, please email [email protected].


DA-Spain July 2021 Newsletter

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)

 

    

 


Read more

DA-Spain June 2021 Newsletter

   

Message from DA Spain Chair and Vice-Chair 

According to the old song, June is bustin’ out all over, and DA Spain is just as busy.

For starters, several of your Executive Committee members attended the virtual Global DA meeting last month. We voted on changes to the organization’s bylaws and considered several resolutions. But the highlight of the meeting was the election of new DA Global officers, and we’re happy to report that the organizational leadership is experienced and already getting started on preparations for the midterm elections next year. As a bonus, the new Global Chair, Candice Kerestan of Germany, met with the DA Spain Executive Committee just a few days ago to talk about her plans and to solicit feedback on potential projects.

The other current big push in DA Spain is the staffing of our new teams. In May, the Executive Committee authorized the creation of five teams: Strategic Communications, Get Out the Vote, Finance, Bylaws Revision, and Member Onboarding and Training. You’ll hear more from these bodies as they begin their work, but all of them will play essential roles in helping organize and grow DA Spain. And each team is welcoming new members, so lots of opportunities are available if you’d like to get more involved.

Our focus on these two occurrences is in no way intended to downplay the other great work being done in DA Spain. Chapters continue to offer high quality programs, the Women’s Caucus is growing in membership and is hosting interesting events, we’re celebrating Pride Month…. You get the idea. Please take a few minutes to read through the newsletter and find out if there are opportunities you’d like to take advantage of.  And let us know if you have questions or comments.

Democratically yours,

Daniel James, Chair, DA Spain
Kathy Tullos, Vice-Chair, DA Spain

    

 


Read more

DA-Spain May 2021 Newsletter

   

Message from DA Spain Chair and Vice-Chair 

And you thought New Kids on the Block was a boy band

Greetings from your new DA Spain Chair and Vice-Chair! Although we are both relatively new to DA, we are both very happy to be involved in this great organization and committed to making the most of our time in office.

Here’s a bit of background. Daniel worked in public service for 34 years and worked in The US House of Representatives and USDA. Kathy is a retired lawyer and law professor who splits her time between Central Texas and southeastern Spain (specifically, Torrevieja, near Alicante). She’s also a murder mystery aficionado, wife, mom, and relatively recent grandmother. 

Although we are very different people, we share a single, overriding goal for DA Spain: to elect Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections. We both believe that Biden’s victory in 2020 can lead to complacency on the part of Democratic voters. In the meantime, Republican voter suppression measures in several states will make it more difficult to elect Democrats to support and enhance Biden’s agenda. 

Our team is rounded out by our recently elected secretary, Katharine Giery who hails from San Sebastian and Christina Samson of Madrid who is assuming the role of treasurer that she previously held in her home chapter. 

Next week we will be joined by our newly elected Voting Reps Jo-Angela Touza Medina of Vigo, Laura Rostowfske and Chris Reilly of Barcelona and Jim Mercereau of Madrid as we attend the virtual Global Annual Meeting in the Asian time zone. Meeting start time is 3AM our time. We will be voting for the new leadership of Democrats Abroad Global and a series of Resolutions and By-Law changes. We will be drinking a lot of coffee.

So thank you for entrusting these offices to us. We’re hoping to make you proud in the coming months. And please contact us if you have ideas or feedback! Our inboxes are always open. 

Daniel James: [email protected]
Kathy Tullos: [email protected]

 

 


Read more

DA Women's Caucus Lands in Spain

DA Spain Women's Caucus says Hola!

Twenty people attended the preliminary organizational meeting of the Democrats Abroad Spain Women’s Caucus on March 18. 

The meeting opened with participants’ introductions and a presentation by Ann Hesse, Chair of the DA Global Women’s Caucus (GWC). Ann provided a quick history of the GWC and laid out its three pillars: Education; Community Building; and Activism, particularly in the form of get-out-the-vote efforts. Approximately 10,000 women currently belong to the GWC. Over 300 of those members live in Spain.

Next up, moderator Andrea Host-Barth led the discussion, turning the focus to goals and organizational steps for a DA Spain Women’s Caucus. The Caucus intends to focus initially on providing education on environmental issues, and building community with small, local events. Members were encouraged to support the call-to-action initiatives already available on the GWC website. 

The Caucus hopes to play two other roles as well. First, the Caucus can interact with the GWC, helping members in Spain and members of the worldwide group to share ideas and coordinate activities. Second, the DA Spain Women’s Caucus can serve as a template for creating Women’s Caucuses in other countries. 

DA Spain’s Women’s Caucus is moving forward in its organizational process. The Caucus welcomes people of all genders as leaders, members, and volunteers. 

Not already a caucus member? Simply join the GWC caucus and you automatically are a Spain member. To get involved, fill out the Volunteer Information Form

Interested in starting your country women’s caucus? Send email to [email protected]


Voting for new DA Spain excom now underway

Democrats Abroad Spain (DAS) is holding Executive Committee (excom) elections for the 2021-2023 term and we need your vote! 

Our organization depends on the participation of the members as we renew our group for the continuing struggle for a better USA and a better world through democratic political engagement. Please help select the new Democrats Abroad Spain leadership committee of Chairperson, Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, Counsel, and 4 Voting Representatives.

This will be the first time we will organize our DAS chapter elections purely online. Ballot emails (actually an email with a link to an online voting site) were sent out on March 5, 2021. If you think that you did not receive this email, please follow the instructions below.

************************************************************************

Read more

International Women's Day

International Women's Day is a celebrated on March 8th around the world.  It is a special day on the calendar for much of Europe and in countries around the world, but is often unfamiliar to many Americans.  

A huge milestone was achieved for American Women on Inauguration Day when the first woman was sworn is as Vice-President of the United States.    

We will have an online celebration to toast Kamala in her new role.  America will finally have not one, but two women in highest positions of power in the United States.