Friday, November 23, 2012

Spanish Nightmares

Catalunya is having its parliamentary elections this Sunday, the beginning of what will probably be the road to independence. The Government in Madrid is doing everything it can to derail these elections. So many lies have been told that it’s hard to remember them all.  If I had known how this was going to play out, I would have kept notes.  But one very notable lie was published last Friday by the newspaper El Mundo.  This is a supposed draft of a police report that accused the incumbent President Artur Mas, a supporter of independence who is running for reelection, of having illegal bank accounts in Switzerland.

It turns out that this draft report has never been shown to anyone and no one knows who wrote it. In Spain, police can investigate on a tip or a lead, but if it looks like there is cause to open an investigation, they must bring their evidence and ideas to a judge to authorize an investigation (if you read foreign crime novels, you’ll find the same process in Simenon’s Inspector Maigret books and Camalleri’s Inspector Montalbano).  The judge is also the one who authorizes any information being given to the media.  This alleged report was never approved, much less seen by any judge.  So if there really is such a draft report, it was illegally leaked from the police to the media.

When asked by President Mas to clarify, the Minister of the Interior said that he could find no evidence of this report.

When asked by President Mas to investigate and/or clarify, Cristobal Montoro, the Minister of Hisenda (Internal Revenue Service) said that it not for him to clarify. It was up to Artur Mas to explain about these illegal accounts.

Political campaigns in Spain run for only two weeks (and amazingly, people say they get tired of the campaigning before it’s over!) and this stink bomb was dropped right in the middle of that period.  Artur Mas has denied having any bank accounts in Switzerland, in spite of the fact that he has not been officially accused of anything.  Even so, day after day, the PP party says he must make a statement concerning those accounts.  It seems that in Spain, if you are anonymously accused, it is up to you to prove you are innocent.  This reminds me of Spain during the Inquisition, and yet it’s been 500 years.

This is what democracy is like in Spain. Referendums that allow people to vote on issues important to them are forbidden, and the accused has to explain himself, even if there is no evidence of a legal or official accusation. Spanish-style democracy is the stuff of nightmares.

This week another story hit the news, this one even stranger, although not quite the threat to democracy as the last.  Antonio Tejero is a former Colonel of the Guardia Civil. He’s a former colonel, because he was expelled from that paramilitary unit after his participation in the failed attempt to overthrow the new democratic government in Spain on 23 February 1981, a few years after Franco’s death. 

Two days ago, this same former colonel filed an accusation with the Prosecutor General of Spain against Artur Mas (who he referred to as Arturo Mas, ignoring the President’s actual name – I guess he doesn’t like Catalan names), accusing him of provocation, conspiracy, and proposing sedition.  I was thinking that perhaps Mr. Anthony Tejero might want to supply comedy shows like Saturday Night Live (is that still on the air?) with material for their skits.

The Catalan parliamentary elections will be held this Sunday.  I can only imagine that if Catalans get fed up with campaigns after less than two weeks, they also get fed up with the antics of the Spanish government.  We’ll see.

1 comment:

  1. A good summary of the situation. The political and the grotesc.