••• The International Writers Magazine: From Our Spanish Corresponent 29.08.18
A Long Summer in Spanish Politics
A change of guard and many problems wait till September
Not quite siesta time but almost. Happens every year and in most countries in Europe when schools close and those that have some shekels to spare head for the beaches, the mountains or some exotic dangerous place, many that shall be nameless due to the recent natural catastrophes around the world. Spain’s holiday time is no different including the politicians although the new ‘unelected’ Socialist (PSOE) government of Sr. Pedro Sanchez has been up to a few tricks before departing. I’ll start with a short list and end with the most important that was left untouched in last month’s essay and is now a major issue. Catalonia!
In general, there has been a real purge of substitutions in most of the Spanish institutions that are headed by members of a new government right down to secretariats and lower levels of management. As examples, these include strongholds such as TVE, Spanish public television, RENFE, state railway system, AENA, airports and Free Zone areas. Ironically, Spanish ports are under the jurisdiction of the autonomous regions and their presidents depend on the ruling party.
Starting with our new president, Sr. Pedro Sanchez, he has held meetings with both Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron and discussed the delicate issue of the flood of immigrants and refugees mostly from Africa that are now being rejected by the Italians and the Maltese. This is due to the recent avalanche of mainly West Africans crossing over into Ceuta and Melilla, the most Southern provinces of Spain on the Straits of Gibraltar that have literally entered the country with no control whatsoever. The small garrison of Civil Guards were unable to handle the situation and have even been attacked by a great number of violent young men from the continent. This whole affair will be treated next month as the change of ‘route’ by the illegal mafias has now switched completely to Spain.
Meanwhile, Sr. Sanchez has continued with his ‘honeymoon’, inviting the press to an open house at the ‘Moncloa,’ the official residence of the President. He appears relaxed, ‘footing’ about with his dog in the gardens, and smiling constantly as the cameras show us a happy president. His next move has been a swift swan trip to Latin America visiting four different countries with varied political ideologies, Chile, Bolivia, Colombia and Costa Rica. But before leaving he has passed by decree, a law exhuming the remains of Geralissimo Franco that rests in the enormous mausoleum known as ‘The Valley of the Fallen’. He has given the dictator’s family 15 days to sort out where they want his remains to be taken. Before leaving for Latin America, he held a minister’s meeting and gave us a snapshot of his cabinet. 17 ministries made up of 11 women, including the vice-president and 6 men. He stated that his government will be a feminist and ‘progressive,’ one emphasizing the implementation of equality in all sectors of Spanish society.
It is worth mentioning that one of this many political party partners, Podemos (‘We can’ led by Sr. Pablo Iglesias) has been relatively quiet. Not surprising. This extreme left party has been handed the previously mentioned public television media, TVE and hence Spain’s main television stations are now under the control of this party. I’ll leave it there as this transformation of policies has just begun.
Catalonia. The real problem.
A year ago, on the 17th of August, an Islamic terrorist attack took place in Barcelona. A truck driven by Younes Abouyaaqoub, a Moroccan, drove along a busy boulevard mowing down several hundred persons leaving 15 dead and 131 wounded. He later fled and after a chase and another murder was finally gunned down in the town of Subirats. Similar to many massive attacks that have taken place in Europe over the years, a celebration to honor the victims and their families took place lead by the King of Spain, Felipe VI. However, this time round the new president of the autonomous region, Sr. Quim Torra, although at the ceremony, later said publicly that the King was not welcome and that Spain was an enemy of Catalonia. The President, Sr. Pedro Sanchez, also present, looked the other way.
Since taking office, the campaign for independence has mounted twofold and the latest gimmick is to wear a yellow ribbon as a symbol, no different to the swastika pin (shown worn in the film, ‘Schindler’s List’ by Oscar Schindler in his lapel) at the beginning of the Nazi era in Germany. This has grown to the extent that a great deal of towns and cities are filled with hundreds of huge yellow ribbons appearing all over the place. A counter movement is taking place tearing some of them down. Riots are already beginning across the region between the two factions of ‘for’ and ‘against’ the separatism.
Meanwhile, whilst members of Mr. Torra’s governing coalition remain in jail - under reasons that were explained in previous essays - Mr. Puigdemont, the original president who started the movement who is also at charge and is declared fugitives of justice is still in Europe travelling from country to country. He was recently seen in Scotland with Scottish PM, Nicola Sturgeon.
But the real drama that is now unfolding is related to his original extradition order based on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds by a German district attorney whilst Puigdemenot was in Germany. The Spanish lawyer in charge of the case is Sr. Pablo Llarena Conde and the situation has now turned turtle and it is Sr. Puigdemont, in Brussels that has managed to obtain a court order from Brussels to sue Sr. Llarena for certain personal statements he made to the Spanish press that were supposedly not impartial. Remember, the lawyer is the magistrate in charge of the whole case.
It sounds complicated and bizarre and something out of a comic opera but the situation has turned nasty because it is now confronting two nations of the European Union and become a headache for both countries. What is worse; before Sr. Pedro Sanchez’s trip to Latin America, his vice president, Sra. Carmen Calvo, had stated that the problem was a judicial one and not a state problem. This immediately caused a public outcry and just before boarding a Spanish air force jet with his entourage Sr. Sanchez confirmed that his government would back the judge in Brussels. ‘It IS a state problem,’ he said.
One must still remember that Spain is one united country by law, based on the Constitution approved during the transition period after the death of Generalissimo Franco. Catalonia must obey the rules and most demands for independence would have to be approved by the Spanish parliament, that in turn would have to alter the Constitution should an ultimate referendum be allowed. This simple but binding fact is not understood by the majority of European and foreign media that have been brainwashed for years by the continued Catalan movements for independence.
Finally, most politicians that support the rule of law on the state of the nation know that any change to Catalonia’s status would result in similar demands by the Basque Country, Galicia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands. Europe could be faced with yet another Yugoslavia scenario.
See you October when the real fun starts as everyone goes back to the political grindstone.
© James Skinner September 2018.
Promises - Promises
Everyone wants something from Sr. Pedro Sanchez - how will he keep all those promises to regional leaders - how can he afford them?