Tag Archives: head

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.

ERC: most evil people in history?

It has come to my attention recently that there has been something of a campaign of misinformation recently concerning the Catalan nationalist political party, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya. I feel that as someone committed to truth over opinion, sophism and rhetoric, it falls to me to refute these claims and redress the balance somewhat.

Myth 1: ERC are a misguided bunch of beardy nationalists who are no more threat to Catalonia’s future than the long dead Gen. Franco.

Response: This is a complete lie. Anyone who knows anything about ERC knows that they are the most dangerous political party in existence today. Worse than the Basque Communist Party, worse than the Galician PP, worse even than CiU. ERC hold as a central party commitment the subjugation of all non Catalan speakers, the construction of a 30M wall all along the region’s border with Spain, a complete boycott of Madrid and that the Olympics should be held in Vic – even though they were only held in Barcelona 14 years ago!

Myth 2: ERC have other policies besides a neo-fascist Catalan superstate.

Response: This is a complete lie. Anyone who knows anything about the leadership of ERC knows not to trust a man with such a well-groomed moustache. Remember when Carod-Rovira snuck off to speak with Basque nazis in France? Well, the whole story wouldn’t have come out if it weren’t for brave officers from Spain’s ‘intelligence’ services taking time out from not monitoring Al Qaeda operatives who instead decided to spy on an elected official. And thank God they did! If he hadn’t been rumbled, it is believed that Rovira’s plan was to sell a field in Manresa to the terrorists so that they could use it as a training camp.

Myth 3: The boycott against Catalan products was organised as a response to Catalonia’s proposed new Estatut by a bunch of neo-fascist pricks with nothing better to do.

Response: This is a complete lie. Anyone who knows anything about Spain knows that the real neo-fascist thugs are the ones proposing to increase Catalonia’s autonomy from Spain via democratic measures. Besides, the boycott had nothing to do with a climate of confrontation during which the head of Spain’s army threatened to invade Catalonia. The reason brave Spanish patriots boycotted Cava is because Carod-Rovira called on Catalans not to support Madrid’s bid to host the Olympics – even though it’s over 14 years since they were held in Barcelona! Suggestions that the boycott was linked to a tiny group of concerted radicals who operated a suave ‘word-of-mouth’ campaign via email, internet forums and text messages are totally unfounded.

Myth 4: It’s disingenous to refer to ERC as ‘nationalist socialist’ at every single opportunity, clearly suggesting that they are the natural successors of the Nazis.

Response: This is a complete lie. Anyone who knows anything about political parties should know that ERC are a left-wing nationalist political party and that when the Nazis called themselves ‘national socialists’ they weren’t lying and trying to trick Germany’s large number of uneducated but left-leaning industrial workers: they were just telling it like it was! So what if it’s CiU who have officially stated that they don’t want any more muslims coming to Catalonia? So long as no one else reports that, we’ll be able to pin it on ERC within a week!

In closing: I hope I’ve done something to assuage some of your doubts about the true nature of Esquerra Republicana. The final piece of information is of key importance though: even the PP are better than them.

Think about that as you watch your neighbours go to the polls on Wednesday.

‘Islamism’ in Swansea University

The Guardian reports today that many universities across the UK house extremist and Islamist groups which ‘pose a threat to national security’. Swansea University is listed as one of the institutions where Islamist groups have been found to operate by professor Anthony Glees, head of Brunel University’s centre for intelligence and security studies.

While I haven’t been a student at Swansea for some time now, it’s true that there was a fair degree of student activism on campus. I took part in campaigns for the abolishment of university tuition fees, to prevent the closure of university departments and on behalf of the Socialist Workers’ Party against the war in Afghanistan.

At around the same time, a motion was put before the student union council to boycott Israeli academics and institutions because of acts being committed by the Israeli state against Palestinians. These were the days of Ramallah and Jenin where crimes against humanity were carried out by the Israeli army.

The main critics of the motion to boycott Israeli academics and institutions were American and Jewish students, understandably fearful that the left wing of the student body were turning to an anti-Semitic position. A synagogue was damaged in an attack in 2002 – and though it was never proven that this was connected with Muslim or socialist students – the suggestion was that the socialists had helped to create a culture of hatred in the town.

Naturally, I think that this was the wrong conclusion. At a time when the BNP were trying to claw their way into local politics, race riots were taking place in Bradford and Leeds, the US had started its racist war against Muslims in Asia, there were a lot of violent and malicious incidents occurring. I believe that the intellectual boycott brought about by the student union was one of the best considered political acts I have witnessed. It was absolutely not anti-Semitic, and I find it personally insulting that whenever there is any discussion of the wrongs that have been committed on either side of the Palestinian conflict, accusations to that effect will be made.

The reason I have brought this up is that I have a sneaking suspicion that Swansea’s ‘extremism’ and ‘Islamic’ will be found to be intrinsically linked with the boycott of Israeli academics and institutions – which just isn’t the truth. As ought to be expected in the climate of fear that the British government is doing its best to create, any free thinking or direct action is automatically challenged as a threat to security.

Anyone familiar with Swansea university, Swansea City Council and the Swansea Police’s attitude towards leftist student activism will already be aware of the attempts made to silence lecturers, terrorise students and prevent demonstrations. It seems that the next attempt might be to refer to Muslim student activists as ‘terrorists’. This is exactly the sort of thing warned about before, throughout and after my brief time in Swansea.

The defamation of any politicised student or worker body has reached such a degree of acceptance in the UK that we may well have gone beyond the point of no return. It’s imperative that anyone who can, speaks out against this attitude.