The International Writers Magazine: Politics in Spain
Murder on a Bridge
I was going to start this month’s review on a violent political murder of Isabel Carrasco that took place in the city of Leon. It shook the nation, resurrecting memories of similar assassinations back in the 30’s of the past century, when suddenly, the European Parliamentary elections took center stage.
We’re talking about over 500 million inhabitants that are considered the second largest democratic group in the world. I’m sure that rivers of ink are now flowing from every possible sector of the media reporting on the outcome of what should have been a normal event in Europe set to carve its future. Instead of a relatively smooth development of left or right wing ideological political changes that were expected from a fresh set of electorate members what has emerged is a loud and clear message from street level that has said: ‘We’ve had enough!’ Trouble is we’re talking about 28 different member states with a plethora of ideologies and different problems that have all come to a head with a big bang of extremism on both sides of the fence. Europe is in for a very rough ride in every sense of the word.
||It would be impossible for me to cover such a complicated subject in this particular forum as am sure many of you readers have already digested most of the initial stages of the results. However, I can elaborate briefly on what has happened in Spain and believe me the outcome is frightening. Overall, the two main parties were badly hit although they did obtain the majority of votes giving them 30 EMPs out of a total of 54. Nevertheless the real story is as follows.
First of all are the separatist lot; the Basque Country and Catalonia.
Back in 2001, and although I am blowing my own trumpet I wrote what I considered an accurate and unbiased essay on the history of the Basque terrorist group ETA that has haunted Spain to the present day. I concluded by stating that one day their political arm would be in power. I never dreamed that it would be extended into the European Parliament. Josu Juaristi from EH-Bildu has won a seat and will fight for the independence of the Basque country. They did enter as a coalition group which also included the ‘independence’ Galician party BNG. All are left wing biased.
The other on the list was a surprise victory of the Catalan Republican Party (ERC) with two EMPs. Not only are they left wing and fighting for Catalan independence but also anti-monarchist. However, an up and coming right wing group Ciudadans that oppose these ideals has also won a couple of seats.
Herewith is the succinct picture.
On the 15th of May, 2011 a group of citizens began a ‘sit-in’ in Madrid, the very heart of the capital that soon spread not only throughout the country but even overseas. It was known as the ‘Movement of the Indignant’ that was protesting about almost everything that was wrong with society; from unemployment to cuts in social services, from education to politics, from banks to neoliberal capitalism. You name it; there was the denouncing banner to flash at the media. It went on for months. Although it eventually petered out the undercurrent movement continued, especially in the mounting and numerous web sites and blogs. Along comes European election time, and just like any other spring flora it burst into flower hitting at the whole political scenario like a tsunami. They called their party ‘We Can’ (Podemos) and despite beginning their campaign by arousing their electorate through Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and other Internet sites only 5 months ago, they have obtained none other that 5 parliamentary seats. They have been joined by all the extreme left parties around the country including the Marxist United Left (IU) as well as the two previously mentioned nationalist groups. It is also important to note that we are talking about the younger sector of society. The leader of ‘We Can’, Pablo Iglesias is a young professor of political science in the public university (Complutense) of Madrid. Suffice to say that he is a sympathizer with the likes of Latin American countries such as Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador and Bolivia.
To summarize, Spain is faced with a real political change especially as municipal elections are due next year followed by regional and then general elections. The mood at the moment is simple. Spaniards have been presented with the uprising of all these anti-everything groups. After seeing the results of this election, the 64K question is how long it will last, whether the present government will take note and change course, or worse will these youngsters take to the streets and create real mayhem. Many of us have woken to yet another uncertain future in this convulsive European country.
Now to the other main issue last month: the murder of a political figure.
Ms. Isabel Carrasco Lorenzo was quite a character. Born in the small town of Campo y Santibañez, Castilla and Leon nearly 60 years ago studied law in the University of Valladolid and from an early age entered politics via the conservative party (PP). She held many important posts including that of a member of the Spanish Senate and eventually President of the Provincial Deputation of Leon. She was known for her straightforward and no nonsense approach to her work and at times abrupt when dealing with her subordinates. At around 5 o’clock on the 12th of May, Isabel was crossing a footbridge near her home, en route to her office when she was gunned down by two women who soon fled along the river bank below the bridge. As luck would have it, a retired policeman witnessed the crime and followed the two assailants to a car park nearby who were soon arrested and taken to the nearest police station.
The alarm bells rang throughout the country as suspicion of a major political assassination could have been perpetrated sparked off by the present unrest that is prevalent in Spain at the present moment. Specter of the 1930’s was on many citizens minds. It was not so.
The centuries old reason of vengeance was at the root of a very well planned murder attempt. It did not take long to unravel the cause as well as the devious minds of those who were behind the plot. María Montserrat Gonzalez and her daughter Montserrat Triana, a telecommunications engineer, had ruthlessly planned the crime for months! It was a personal grudge and turned out to be more like an episode of Revenge. (More in depth background to the killing here)
The young Montserrat had been fired from the Deputation over two years previously by Ms. Carrasco over a labor dispute. So far it seemed like a straightforward plan except that it had the makings of a real mafia story with other devious characters involved.
To start with, the two women, in order to build up an alibi had been going to a nearby baker shop, making sure they were ‘caught’ on the security television camera so that they could prove their innocence. They wore the same clothes and went at the same time, between 5 and 6 o’clock. The day of the crime, the baker shop was closed. The gun, by the way, was not on the assassins when arrested. It was suddenly handed in a couple of days later by a police officer, Ms. Raquel Gago who had, incidentally attended the funeral of the deceased as part of the security guards. Her initial statement was that the gun had somehow been placed in the boot of her car the day after the crime without her knowing it. After 5 hours of interrogation by the court judge, Ms. Gago was arrested pending further investigation as an accomplice to the crime. It turned out that she was a very close friend of the daughter and negotiated the purchase of an illegal unregistered Taurus revolver - effective and relatively safe as the shell remains in the gun chamber - from a drug addict in Asturias who has since died from an overdose of drugs.
The final stage of this tragedy is that young Montserrat’s father was the head of the local police station in Astorga, a town near Leon. He had no idea what his family were up to. He has since been transferred to another part of Spain.
Ms. Montserrat senior has since confessed that she perpetrated the shots and has no regrets. She would gladly do it again!’
Footnote: The previous president of Spain, Sr. Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is from Leon.
© James G. Skinner. June, 2014.
*The Wishing Shelf Silver Medalist Winner for his novel The Goa File 2014
The Constitution and Spain
The founding members made one mistake. The whole document was buried in solid concrete, bound and gagged never to be altered under any circumstances