Tag Archives: Esperanza Aguirre

Spanish corruption news round-up

I've been off work for a few days due to a wicked cold, which has left me thinking that probably the last thing I need to do is spend more time in front of my computer. But all the same, there are a couple of stories developing in Spain which deserve something of a recap.

Firstly, Gürtel. This case of corruption in the Valencian PP has moved on quite a lot since the courts ruled that it was unlawful to 'archive' the case. The PP itself has moved from dogged support for anyone and everyone connected with the party to a few pre-emptive and yet also belated amputations. Top of the list is Ricardo Costa, general secretary of the Valencian PP. President of the Comunitat Valenciana Fracisco Camps seems to have had his hand forced by PP head office and has announced that Costa will be out in a few days, all the while noting that he trusts and backs him implicitly. This is the first major head to roll in the PP but it likely won't be the last. Esperanza Aguirre, president of the Comunidad de Madrid has also forced the exclusion of three regional PP names, Alberto López Viejo, Alfonso Bosch Tejedor and Benjamín Martín Vasco – all linked with the Gürtel case.

Aguirre, suave political operator that she is, seems to be using this corruption case to make another push for control of the party. It remains to be seen how successful she is in this enterprise… but the idea of her leading the national party is slowly becoming a terrifyingly real possibility.

I wouldn't want to incur the wrath of Trevor by failing to mention the Palau de la Música Catalana case, here in Barcelona. This story, though nowhere near as politically damaging as the Gürtel case, is still serious enough to warrant a proper full-length blog post some time in the future. Essentially, the PMC case is a classic story of misuse of public funds (aka 'stealing a shit load of cash'). Boss of the Orfeó Catalan, Felix Millet, has more-or-less admitted that more than €3m of Palau funds went missing under his stewardship. He seems to have spent the money on himself (and his business partner Jordi Montull). It seems that among other things, the pair used some of the money to buy a building which they then sold on at a €1.5m profit.

The larger crime in the PMC case is that the bill for refurbishing the Palau a few years back was a massive €22m, even though it actually cost less than half that. So Millet seems to be willing to admit the 'smaller' crime in the hope that everyone will just forget about the other €13m that he nicked. Sadly, this could just happen: this case should have been in the courts years ago but for some reason only seems to have made it there now.

The political sides of this story are twofold: firstly, Millet is a big player in Barcelona's political-cultural axis. The position of head of the Orfeó/Palau is extremely prestigious and Millet also served on the board of FC Barcelona and was a recipient of the Generalitat's St Jordi cross. All that, and he seems to have donated about €500,000 to the Fundació Trías Fargas, a politico-cultural organisation which is effectively a part of the CDC, which itself is a constituent party in CiU.

The second controversy (and arguably by far the more important one) is that the courts in Barcelona received notice of presumed corruption, lots of €500 notes and various irregularities in the Palau, five years ago. It seems that they've done very little to prosecute the case since then, until now. Why? I suppose that would be the corruption.

More strife for Madrid PP

We returned from Australia on Sunday and have been busy relaxing and working since then. More on the trip at a later date.

Another heart-warming story about how mental Esperanza Aguirre is. It seems that the deputy mayor of Madrid, Manuel Cobo, and one or two other key PP officials in the Comunidad Autonoma have been spied on by a secret unit set up by Aguirre's security ape, Francisco Granados.

Cobo was allegedly followed for six months by retired Guardia Civil officers who compiled complex dossiers on him and Aguirre's deputy,Ignacio González.

The deputy mayor filed a lawsuit yesterday, seeking to identify who's behind the surveillance. Meanwhile, Aguirre's office is complaining that the allegations are nothing more than a plot to 'attack and demolish' Aguirre herself.

Call me biased but I'd be highly surprised if Aguirre (and possibly Aznar's FAES) weren't 100% behind this latest incident of shady PP politics. Aguirre's campaign to be named the next party leader (even if it means splitting the PP in two) will apparently stop at nothing. Or is this just about Caja Madrid?

Oh, and Graeme has a story about El Mundo tricking another PP official into posing for a series of 'seductive' photos, and thus drawing criticism from within the party. Caution: highly explicit descriptions.

Fuera! Fuera! What you won't see on Telemadrid

What you won't see on Telemadrid is this video (apparently made by Telemadrid themselves). It depicts the Queen of Madrid, you know: that one Graeme has a crush on, visiting the Ramon y Cajal hospital in Madrid. Many of the public health workers (or perhaps that should be: Trotskyite terrorists) were protesting in support of public health care, chanting and shouting slogans. Esperanza lost it a bit and shouts "You're paid to fuck things up" (my translation for "Estáis pagados para meter follón") into the face of one of the protesters, before turning and laughing with one of her henchmen cronies colleagues. The video's interesting because it shows that she has very little that is either presidential or human about her, as she gets personally involved in the argument, but only to exchange insults.

The real story, though, is how Telemadrid executives placed a total embargo on the footage, and issued a memo to staff to warn them that the pictures couldn't be sold to any other stations. This is indicative of the way Esperanza Aguirre understands the word 'public'. 'Public' means: good when it can be of personal utility to an avaricious politician; bad when it means paying people 'to fuck things up' (i.e. provide health care).


Esperanza plays poker, Sirera is a cherry

I saw Esperanza Aguirre, PP leadership hopeful and all round liar, referring to her love for card games the other day. She plays poker, apparently. Despite the fact that my Dad was in the Navy, I've never been someone who could pick up card games. There's a wonderful scene in The League Of Gentlemen where a doctor is forced to join a card game called 'Go Johnny Go Go Go Go', the rules of which are insanely complex. The sketch must have been written by a fellow non-card-player, as it perfectly captures the feeling of trying to play one of those infernal games, always knowing that the next card you put down will be met with sideways glances and the introduction of yet another arcane 'rule' which only serves to prolong the agony of putting down another card.

There's an ancient rehearsal of the sketch at YouTube:

Go Johnny Go Go Go Go, YouTube (but the sound is rubbish, so…)

Meanwhile, Daniel Sirera, the head of the PP in Catalonia was on the morning news show today on TV3. Golly, he's uncharismatic. The interview was shit, as they usually are. The only amusing bit was when Sirera refused to rule out that he'd back Aguirre in her bid for the PP leadership. He hummed and hawed a bit, which was enough to make me think that his vote hasn't yet been bought.

PP: Acebes & Zaplana out, Camps & Aguirre in

The PP has had a change of leadership. As predicted, this has involved the sidelining of Angel Acebes and Eduardo Zaplana. The new members of what Rajoy is calling his 'own team' are to be la niña de Rajoy, Francisco Camps (president of the Comunitat Valenciana) and Esperanza Aguirre (president of the Comunidad de Madrid). Both Camps and Aguirre lead PP strongholds which gained seats in the recent election,

This isn't a shift towards the centre, mind. Aguirre and Camps are both plenty right-wing when they want to be. Check out Graeme's obssesive enlightening series of posts about Aguirre if you want a better idea of how she ticks.

Meanwhile, the final final final (pero que finales, eh?) results are in and CiU lost a seat to the PP. This is apparently due to the postal vote taking ages to arrive (what?! in Spain?! surely not!). This leaves CiU on 10 seats in the parliament. They're still talking about a pact between CiU and the PSOE but I somehow doubt it. That would mean alliance in Madrid but opposition in Barcelona, which would be a pretty unsatisfactory situation for everyone, parlicularly the electorate. By the way, check out this post (in Spanish) about the peculiarities of the Spanish electoral system and how it encourages a sort of bi-partisan situation. This image in particular is interesting, as it shows how many seats the IU might have if a different system were adopted. Give you a clue: it's seven times as many as they have now.

UPDATED: Zapatero wins Spanish election

UPDATED 0001 hrs

PSOE win with  169 seats – the original projection was overly optimistic. PP: 154

CiU: 10

PNV: 6


ERC: 3

To me, this looks like a victory for the right in Spain. The PSOE have maintained their government but IU have practically disappeared, as have ERC.

Information about the political parties contending these elections.

So Zapatero is returned as PM. It's unlikely that they'll have the 176 they're hoping for.

ERC have dropped by half. I was asked the other day what was the cause of this drop and I answered: abstention and dissatisfaction. I'll add that their posters were crap too.
Actually it's looking like a rout for ERC.

PP: A poor result. Rajoy will probably be out. This will bring about the completion of the right-wing's victory in the party. Esperanza Aguirre looks to be the PP's new star in parliament.



Ciudad Real goes from PSOE to PP

Balearic Islands go from PP to PSOE (… or maybe not)

Almería goes from PP to PSOE

Canary Islands  go from PP to PSOE

—  I couldn't really keep up with this bit. Apparently, Andalucia has gone to the PSOE, again.

Zapatero and the PSOE have won the Spanish elections.

Rajoy has given his thank you speech.

Llamazares, leader of Izquierda Unida has resigned. What about Rajoy?

Izquierda Unida down to 2 seats.

Could this finally be the shaming Losantos deserves?

Shock-jock from the Catholic radio network La Cope, Federico Jiménez Losantos, is being sued by Madrid mayor Alberto Ruíz-Gallardón over accusations the radio personality made concerning the mayor's attitude to the victims of the 11-M bombings in Madrid. Apparently (and I have to trust El País on this, as I never listen to El Cope), Losantos repeated various accusations against Gallardón, especially that he "didn't want to know who killed 200 people in his city".

In a slightly odd move, Losantos is trying to call some top PP officials including Comunidad de Madrid premier, Esperanza Aguirre, Eduardo Zaplana and Ángel Acebes to his defence, I assume as character witnesses. These people represent the right-wing of the PP and they recently won something of a power-struggle in the party against Gallardón's slightly less extreme wing. They're also well known for strongly disliking Gallardón, despite (or because of?) his popularity among voters in the capital.

So either these people will stand up and defend their mate, Losantos (the same guy who openly claimed that "Zapatero has an enormous, and growing, responsibility for 11-M"), or they will leave him in the lurch and risk his ire on the airwaves. For the PP, one would think that their obvious choice would be to call Losantos and say something along the lines of "Sorry old chap, election's coming up dontchaknow, can't have this nonsense… firm friend… you're best off on your own…" (at least that's what the Tories would do). But might this not be difficult for the PP leadership? Could it be risky for them to alienate the far-right sector of Spanish society so close to an election? Or… could they use this as an opportunity to finally twist the knife they stuck in Gallardón and show their strength?

Actually, the court proceedings start after the election, but I suspect that journalists will be keen to know just what the PP's leadership plan to do with Losantos (and if they're not, they bloody well should be). If they can avoid this serious question in the run-up to the election (and they certainly shouldn't), what does it say about a party which desperately wants to wrest power from the Socialists? Either they're with Losantos or they drop him: time to decide.

Telemadrid, immigration and the Police Confederation

You may recall that last year, on the anniversary of the 11M bombings, Telemadrid, a TV station controlled by the PP's Esperanza Aguirre and her regional government, chose to mark the day and honour the victims by broadcasting a 'documentary' which gave credence to the most absurd conspiracy theory I've ever read. Basically, it supported the idea that the Socialist party had pacted with ETA to carry out the Madrid bombings so that they could win the elections a few days later and continue with their plan to 'destroy Spain'.

The other day, Telemadrid's magic realism department broadcast another 'documentary' which was designed to incite anger (and votes) against the PSOE. Investigating a plot to smuggle immigrants into Spain via a service corridor in Madrid's Barajas airport,the Telemadrid programme claimed that 'countless' immigrants are still flowing into Spain via this secret door. All this despite the journalists who made the film knowing full well that the Colombian gang who had been running people through this access route was liquidated by the police in July, and that security has been increased since the smuggling technique was discovered. [Video from El País, in Spanish]

More worryingly, journalist Laura Gómez used a hidden camera to film her 'secret arrival' in Spain using the door in question. "We're now in Spain!" she declared as she strolled through the security door. But she neglected to mention that the door's security measures had already been disabled for her by none other than Rodrigo Gavilán, spokesman for the 'Spanish Police Confederation' and fierce critic of the Socialist government. CCTV from the airport shows Gavilán and a uniformed police officer (now suspended) interfering with security measures before Gómez swanned through, but this footage never made it to the final cut of the 'documentary'. Shame.

In a nutshell then, Telemadrid has yet again used subterfuge, misinformation, lies and misleading footage in an attempt to smear the Socialist government. And they chose their target very carefully. Because there are illegal immigrants who arrive in Spain, but a lot of them come via routes which don't need them to pass through some secret corridor in Barajas. The PP and their TV station  know full well that Spain's enormous coastline, proximity to Africa and custodianship of the Canary islands are all major factors affecting the level of immigration to Spain, for which it is still difficult to blame the Socialists (I'm sure they'll give it a go soon though). So to make immigration a real election issue, they had to partially fabricate a documentary, again, in their pursuit of mistruth.

The sad thing is that they broadcast it just too late to be nominated for an Oscar. Can we hope for a Best Supporting Actress gong for Laura Gómez in next year's ceremony?

By the way, this Gavilán is an interesting fellow. He's spokesman for the 'Spanish Police Confederation', outspoken in his attacks on the government's immigration policy and something of a talk-show regular, where he likes to make political remarks and complain about the politicisation of the police service. He has also publicly alleged that left-wing groups and the students' union are 'friends' of Batasuna and ETA, though he presented no evidence to support this claim. Incidentally, this 'Confederation' is little more than a far-right wing pressure group with links to the Spanish Legion and Los Peones Negros,  and it was also at least partly responsible for disseminating the 11M conspiracy theory… and so, it all comes full circle.

Of course, police officers should have the right to form professional and labour organisations. But when these are used to promote anti-democratic propaganda, with the direct collusion of the so-called 'centrist' PP, well… these creeping tentacles of right-wing activism worry me.