Spain’s leading newspaper, El Pais, last Saturday: ‘Malta is selling passports’

Published: December 31, 2013 at 5:14pm

El Pais 28 December 2013

Here’s an idiomatic translation (or the closest I can get to it) of this article published in El Pais last Saturday.


The island is granting citizenship for 1.15 million euros, to adjust its budgets without raising taxes

Like the rest of the Maltese, the Gomez (without the ’tilde’/accent, pronounced the English way) Blanco family are foaming at the mouth talking about the country’s new citizenship law, the most contentious issue in the small Mediterranean island since the referendum on divorce in 2011.

Much controversy has been generated by the plans to sell Maltese passports – and therefore free access to the other 27 EU member states – for 650,000 euros to anyone over 18 with no criminal record, to which a requirement to buy property has now been added.

The Maltese government, led by the socialist Joseph Muscat, is doing this to fill in the budget ‘hole’ without raising taxes. The firm Henley and Partners, which has developed the plans, estimates that the deal will attract between 200 and 300 foreigners each year, no more than 1,800 in total, whose names will be made public. It goes without saying that these will be rich foreigners, and that the rest of those who arrive in Malta are just immigrants.

The Gomez Blancos are properly Maltese, descendants of a Spanish fisherman shipwrecked on the island more than a century ago. They run a modest shop in Marsa, the epicenter of the African immigrant community. “It’s a shame! Selling our ​​nationality while blacks and Muslims are still coming in, hundreds and hundreds of immigrants every day. This country cannot keep giving it away like this,” three family members complain in unison, the old father and his eldest sons. “All they want is to get into Europe and convert us.”

It should be borne in mind that Malta is a Catholic country where divorce legislation was introduced only in 2011 and where abortion is still banned. But what if it were a sheikh, or a Saudi with petrodollars? “Neither,” they said after a moment of doubt. “Malta belongs to the Maltese.” Maltese like them, descendants of a foreigner who settled on the island.

The complaints of the Gomez Blanco family have found their echo in the Opposition Nationalist Party’s (conservative) vociferous criticism of the scheme and that of much of the public. The editorials of the country’s leading newspapers have accused the government of tarnishing Malta’s image abroad. But the socialist government thinks it has silenced the criticism with the changes it has since made: Maltese nationality will now cost 1.15 million euros, including the purchase of real estate for a minimum of 350,000 euros without the need to reside on the island, and an investment of 150,000 euros in stocks or bonds for at least five years.

These conditions aim to create between the individuals concerned and their new country “a tangible and lasting bond”, according to the government of Malta. The naturalization process will last between six months and two years.

The initiative, called cash-for-citizenship (citizenship for money), is one of the last few to have been concocted by crisis-ridden EU member states. In 2012, Spain offered a residence permit to foreigners who buy real estate valued at over 160,000 euros, the Russians on the Costa del Sol being the main target. Cyprus, after its rescue by the troika, launched a similar scheme for foreign entrepreneurs who reinvest their profits on the island. In Portugal and Ireland foreigners can acquire residence through buying real estate, albeit with more stringent requirements than Spain.

In downtown Valletta, Israeli businessman Israel Simple says that he is here to ask about the requirements to become Maltese. “I am very interested in doing business in the EU, but would have to go into debt to buy the papers. I will get my money back, certainly … Malta is a good platform. But I would not want to live here – too many people.”

Indeed, with the highest density of population in the EU, the island seems increasingly like the Marx Brothers’ cabin*. According to Eurostat, in 2012 Malta registered the second largest population increase in the EU, after Luxembourg: 9.1%, 7.4% of which is accounted for by immigration.**

* For those who need/want to know more about the reference to the Marx Brothers’ cabin, here it is:

** This is a reference to all people who move in to Malta to live and work, including citizens of other EU member states.

15 Comments Comment

  1. Gahan says:

    George Bernard Shaw was at a party once and he told this woman that everyone would agree to do anything for money, if the price was high enough. `Surely not, she said.’ `Oh yes,’ he said. `Well, I wouldn’t,’ she said. `Oh yes you would,’ he said. `For instance,’ he said, `would you sleep with me for… for a million pounds?’ `Well,’ she said, `maybe for a million I would, yes.’ `Would you do it for ten shillings?’ said Bernard Shaw. `Certainly not!’ said the woman `What do you take me for? A prostitute?’ `We’ve established that already,’ said Bernard Shaw. `We’re just trying to fix your price now.

    I think same applies for our passports:we’re only changing the price.

  2. Gahan says:

    Malta is the place were poor immigrants are left without any citizenship rights, while at the same time the rich are granted citizenship without setting foot on the island.

  3. La Redoute says:

    Malta increasingly looks and sounds like a bad comedy show. Maybe Muscat should sell that instead of citizenship – like Eastenders, but with more savages and tahwid.

  4. Alexander Ball says:

    Harpo is Muscat.

    Chico is JPO.

    Groucho is ?

  5. Kevin Zammit says:

    Again everybody getting it wrong, the minimum that someone can spend will be 650,000+150,000+16,000x5years hence 880,000 not 1.15 million as stated. Proveded that they opt to rent a property not buy one.

  6. Angus Black says:

    The paper should be advised that its story is a tad off.

    “The island is granting citizenship for 1.15 million euros. The island is granting citizenship for 1.15 million euros, to adjust its budgets without raising taxes”. That statement is wrong on two counts. 1) Malta is NOT granting citizenship – it is SELLING citizenship, and 2) Malta is not selling citizenship ‘to adjust its budgets without raising taxes’. 72 million in new taxes will start rolling in as of tomorrow already.

  7. ciccio says:

    So the international media still thinks that Muscat’s Mark II scheme is a SALE of citizenship and passports for cash.

    Time for the marketing team to start working on Mark III.

  8. viva n nort koreja says:

    “Como el resto de los malteses, la familia Gomez (sin tilde, a la inglesa) Blanco echa espuma por la boca hablando de la nueva ley de ciudadanía del país…”

    “Just like the rest of the Maltese, the Gomez (no accent, spelt in English) Blanco family frothing at the mouth talking about the country’s new citizenship law…”

    This Maltese family whose surname is Gomez Blanco really are being painted as emblematic of the typical xenophobic Maltese family:

    “¡Es una vergüenza! Vender la nacionalidad mientras siguen entrando negros y árabes, cientos y cientos de inmigrantes cada día, este país no da más de sí…”

    “Los negros todavía… pero a los musulmanes no deberían dejarles entrar, lo único que quieren es introducirse en Europa y convertirnos”.

    “It is shameful! Selling citizenship whilst the blacks and Arabs just keep coming, hundreds upon hundreds every day, this country just keeps saying yes…”

    “Blacks are ok for now…but they should not let in Muslims; all they want is to come to Europe and convert us”

    El País really is painting a pretty picture of us now aren’t they?

    And finally, an interesting comment:


    ¡ Qué buena oportunidad para los funcionarios del decrépito y corrupto gobierno Kirchner en Argentina para obtener una ciudadanía lejos de los Tribunales !

    ‘What a golden opportunity for the bureaucrats of the decrepit and corrupt Kirchner government of Argentina to obtain citizenship far away from the courts’.

    • Gervazio Degan says:

      Unfortunately this statement does not apply to Argentina only, but to all countries of latin américa (Brazil specifically, that is actually comanded by a terrorist) africa and countries of other continents with extremely corrupt governments.

  9. Gaetano Pace says:

    Have we forgotten that Muscat’s Labour Party are the champions of meritocracy? It simply translates as “rich men can have citizenship while poor men can’t.”

Leave a Comment