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Tarragona Festa Major
This week’s post is about corruption in Spain. It will be short. It will be short not because there isn’t enough corruption currently in the news to fill far more than a blog post, but because there are so many cases and so many people involved that I can’t get it all straight. The last two evening news broadcasts spent over 20 minutes each on the latest happenings. My mind is well and truly boggled. Trying to sift it all out, get all the names and supposed wicked deeds straight, is simply more than I can manage.
Suffice it to say that alleged corruption being talked about on the news recently extends from local arenas such as city halls, to the regional autonomous community governments, all the way up to the nation’s capital and the PP, the political party currently governing Spain (with an absolute majority, so it will be interesting to see if anyone will manage to get a legitimate investigation of the allegations under way). This latest, PP scandal includes many higher-ups, with the President at the top of the heap. Higher-ups are not limited to the national government: the Royal Family is also included (in another case) in this dubious cast of scandalous characters, in the form of the Duke of Palma, who is the husband of one of the princesses. Add to that the man who is secretary to this princess and her princess sister. The Duke of Palma, however, has embarrassed the town of Palma de Majorca to such a degree that they have asked the Royal Family to suppress his title and they have undertaken to rename one of the streets in Palma, changing it from The Rambla of the Duke of Palma, to simply, The Rambla.
One Catalan corruption scandal was just settled recently. It took twelve years for it to come to trial, and then it wasn’t tried because it was settled out of court. But if it takes that long for corruption cases to come to trial, there is a problem.
Another problem is the general assumption of guilt until proven innocent. This is not the official stance, but it is the stance of anyone from political party A looking at any member of political party B who is accused. However, any accused member of political party A is immediately declared innocent by that party and we are all reminded at that point that a person is innocent until proven guilty. This also makes me a little dizzy.
The general public also subscribes to the guilty until proven innocent theory. But in that case, it doesn’t matter what party because everyone assumes that all politicians are crooks. In any case, twelve years can be a long time to be considered guilty with no trial.
This might not be too worrisome if you’re talking about someone who really is guilty. Of course, how do you know? What of a politician, or shall we call him a public servant, who is innocent? Littered as the political field is with crooks, there are still many (dare we say most) who probably are not.
What I find interesting in all this is the tolerance of the public towards corruption. When times were good, people simply didn’t care. After all, most people here pay for many things under-the-table in order to avoid sales tax so they are also a little bit corrupt (although they do not hold public office).
Now that things are bad -- people have lost their jobs, many are losing their homes, education, health care, and all sorts of social welfare programs are being cut -- people may no longer be so tolerant. Some have come to resent their leaders (the same ones who are happy to bail out banks that are badly managed) who make extra money illegally while they face ruin through no fault of their own. So it will be interesting to see how all these corruption scandals conclude. Then again, it may take twelve years to find out.