Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Anarchy of Spain

The anarchy of Spain

I first observed it en route to Barcelona from the US. Passengers waiting to board the plane were not sitting patiently waiting for their zone to be called but all of them crowded around the gate. I smiled remembering so many trips just like this one.

My first taste of the news left me shocked. Media in the US doesn’t really follow what happens in Spain so unless you... read the news online (and even then) you only know the basic fact that Catalonia is fighting for Independence from Spain. The rest of the news falls by the wayside and it can help you understand why this is happening.

Most important of all the news is the corruption on every level of the political world. No party is exempt. One of the so called heros of Catalan nationalism, Jordi Pujol, was found to have taken millions from the government to fill his private coffers in offshore banks while he was head of a foundation specializing in ethics. He’s not the only one. 51 people were arrested in October including many mayors. The ruling party, the PP faced endless corruption scandels including a large scandel involving Rodrigo Rato who was the former head of the IMF and the bank, Bankia which handed out credit cards to all kinds of officials for their free use. Bankia had to be bailed out. The Socialists ran a scam in the south of Spain taking money destined for government funds for companies to pay laid off workers for their own benefit. Bankers went wild and several banks had to be rescued. Even the royal family (which was once respected because Juan Carlos saved democracy) is under investigation. The husband of one of the princesses is facing a prison term for embezzlement. Juan Carlos abdicated in favor of his son and is now divorced from Sofia. Juan Carlos himself was photographed on a safari after having shot an elephant which did nothing to endear him to the public.

Despite all of the poltical mess, the economy seems to be improving. New political parties like Podemos (which the PP is trying hard to discredit), Ciutadans, UPD and others may provide alternatives. Catalan nationalism is growing despite the scandels of the politicians there. It’s hard to imagine a Catalan nation will be any less corrupt than the Spanish one. One surprise is the Basque country which after years of armed conflict has settled down.

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