••• The International Writers Magazine: From our Spanish Correspondent
Curriculums - Spain in Turmoil
A great deal of political activity has taken place in the past month since the end of the summer wine and both government and opposition parties have returned to face each other in parliament.
Socialist (PSOE) President, Sr. Pedro Sanchez, however was too busy continuing his international travels starting with the European leaders meeting in Salzburg, Austria followed by another trip across the pond to meet with President Justin Trudeau of Canada and hence on to the General Assembly of the United Nations. This included a photograph taken with his wife, President Donald Trump and first lady Melania. He is still in the United States visiting Silicon Valley presumably to brush up on his IT knowledge. Meanwhile, the country has been run by his female cabinet and turmoil has occurred in almost all sectors of his government.
The first hiccup that occurred had to do with politicians’ curriculums. It is against the law to ‘lie’ in one’s curriculum, especially if one occupies a government position, be it national, regional or local.
Herewith the beginning of the saga.
Back in April of this year, the President of the Madrid autonomous region, Ms. Cristina Cifuentes resigned because it came to light that her Master’s degree in ‘Business Administration’ was flawed. The case took months of judicial wrangling as document after document was produced before the judges until the final outcome was the inevitable. Resignation and the end of her career as a political limelight. Months went by and no further case surfaced until the opposition presented a case against conservative (PP) leader Sr. Pablo Casado for his own Master’s degree from the same university in Madrid. It was also brought before the judges and has since been ruled legitimate. It was now the turn of none other than one of the government ministers! Sra. Carmen Montón, Health Minister also lied about her own Master’s degree and was forced to resign. There are several more cases that have come to light, but the latest and possibly most serious is, and without going into details, a counterattack by the opposition regarding the actual President, Sr. Pedro Sanchez. He has been challenged to produce evidence of his Doctorate degree in business administration.
Sra. Manton was not the only minister to resign. Only six days into the job, Sra. Maxim Huerta, Minister of Culture was forced to leave her post after it was discovered that she was accused of tax evasion of 200,000 Euro. Next on the list being investigated is none other than Sra. Dolores Delgado, Minister of Justice. Secret tape recordings have been released to the press of a meeting some years ago during lunch with the infamous Judge Balthasar Garson (famous for his extradition request of General Pinochet whilst in London when Margaret Thatcher was in office) and an ex Police Commissioner, Sr, Jose Manuel Villarejo who was later jailed in February 2017 for releasing secret documents regarding the previous King of Spain and the National Intelligence Service (equivalent to the CIA). At first, Sra. Delgado denied she even knew Sr. Villarejo. When further evidence was exposed by none other than Sr. Villarejo the opposition is on the war path demanding her resignation. But we now have yet another minister that is in the ‘dock’. Hot off the press!
Sr. Pedro Duque, the minister of Science, Innovation and Universities is an ex-astronaut who worked for the European Space Agency and completed more than one mission including access to the space station Discovery. In the past few days it was revealed that Sr. Duque had several undisclosed companies in his name with unknown quantities of capital in offshore tax havens.
Apart from the above scandals that have more or less dubbed the government as one of total improvisation with pundits describing it as ‘Pedro’s Angels’ – as per the television series of ‘Charlie’s Angels’ - the plan to introduce tax hikes and annul many of the previous government’s labor and education plans continue. The Historic Memory Law introduced by the previous socialist government of Sr. Rodriguez Zapatero has been given a boost. Not only the remains of the dictator Generalissimo Franco are to be removed but the ultra-left wing party Podemos (We Can) - that support the Socialist government - now propose to destroy the whole Sanctuary of the ‘Valley of the Fallen’ and turn it into a new monument of the victims of the dictatorship.
A recap is necessary at this stage to remind us that the present government is in power because of a vote of ‘no confidence’ that was approved in parliament that ousted the conservatives (PP) of Sr. Mariano Rajoy. Since then, all the parties involved, from left wing nationals to Catalan republicans, Basque nationalists to anti-monarchist movements are now asking for their piece of the cake. So far, as examples, the government has given in on many issues such as transfer of political prisoners, especially ETA to their home regions and a review of the whole Catalan situation, the following major unresolved problem.
The regional government has not changed its objective of fighting for total independence from Spain. The president, Sr. Quim Torra has reminded the government of their intention. The 1st of October will mark the anniversary of their ‘illegal’ referendum. So far, Sr. Pedro Sanchez (must remember he is abroad) has tried to soften the Catalan movement by trying, yet again to hold further meetings and has even transferred more state funding for the region to soften their approach. There are hints that those members of the regional government that are under arrest – a sore point – could be released on bail although the cases are still being dealt with by the courts. Meanwhile, Sr. Carles Puigdemont, the ex-president that is still at large in Brussels has published a book, in French, ‘The Catalan crisis, an opportunity for Europe’ that more or less condemns Spain and its democratic system.
What is now emerging are refreshed nationalistic movements by other regions that are beginning to feel the ‘urge’ to review their own relationship with Spain. It’s as if Catalonia has set the seeds for further breakup of the nation. The key to their vindication is based on a separate language, hence a different cultural identity. The Basque’s have always had this in mind as well as Galicia, but we now must add Valencia and the Balearic Islands. Could this be the end of the beginning?
Finally, we come back to the economy. Spain is still growing at between 2 and 3 percent per annum and so far the unemployment rate and the creation of jobs continues. However, a great deal has to do with the summer tourist season as Spain is one of the few countries that still offer quality and safety. Although the government intends to introduce massive tax hikes, next year’s budget has yet to be agreed on and the majority of the Senate, that must ratify the same before it is passed to the Parliament is in the hands of the conservatives (PP).
Latest violent events in Barcelona suggest a civil uprising. What the outside world should realise is that not all Catalans are for independence as the populist movement started by Pujol 40 years ago and enhanced by the nutcase Puigdemont in Brussels is false. The Spanish government has the authority under article 155 to send in the army if necessary. Very dangerous situation brewing.
Pretty hectic 100+ days for a new government and autumn promises to be even more exiting. Oh! We mustn’t forget ongoing negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union regarding Brexit. At the moment, Spanish society in general has placed it on the back burner.
See you December
© James Skinner - October - 2019
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