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••• The International Writers Magazine: After Castro

Obituaries - Spain
• James Skinner
Two prominent figures have passed away this month. One, of international fame and the other of local national interest. Both will have, for different reason an impact on this country.


Fidel Castro, one of the longest lasting world dictators passed away on the 24th in Havana, Cuba after over 50 years of rule. Much has already been reported in the international press but few have mentioned the strong relationship this incredible personage, as well as his country has with Spain. Ever since the XIX Century, Spaniards, especially from Galicia in the northwest, have emigrated to the country to seek fortune and despite the war between Spain and USA in 1898 that lasted for 3 months, they continued to flock well into the XX Century maintaining strong ties even after Cuba’s independence. One of those emigrants was Angel Castro Argiz, Fidel’s father, who came from Alcara, a small village in the province of Lugo, around 80 miles from my own home town. In 1892, at the age of 17 he arrived in Habana and like hundreds of thousands of others - worked hard and built a fortune. His son, Fidel visited the village of only 2700 inhabitants in 1992 to pay tribute to his father and was received with honors including the presence of the then President of the Regional government, Don Manuel Fraga who had been a minister in Franco’s government as well as Spanish Ambassador in London. The original house where his father was born is still standing and is today rented out as a guest house during the warm summer months. The Spanish government sent words of condolence to the present Cuban President, Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother and was praised as a superhero by Sr. Pablo Iglesias, the extreme left leader of Podemos.


It all depends on the future relationship between the USA, not only with Cuba but the rest of the Latin American world when the new American President, Mr. Donald Trump assumes responsibility over international affairs. If there is any shift, especially with the present regime, no doubt the Southern neighbors will rally round and Spain could turn into the main link pin of the continent with the European Union as other than Venezuela, Spain has everything to gain if the situation turns sour.

Rita Barbera The other figure that passed away was the ex-Mayor of the city of Valencia, Ms. Rita Barbera, unknown to the outside world except for the expatriate community. She had been in office for over 20 years until she was ousted in the May elections of 2015 by a coalition of left wing parties led by the Podemos’ offshoot ‘Compromis’, that took over.

Ms Barbera was also a member of the Spanish Senate, a conservative (PP) and when she stepped down was immediately accused of corruption, no different to the rest of the witch hunt that has been going on for years. Not by any court mind you, but by the usual conglomerate of political parties on the left, and what is worse by their associate media, always looking for scandals. The attacks were so vicious that even her own party, in the midst of trying to form a government - see previous essays - requested her to hand in her resignation as a party member in order not to upset the applecart. She even requested police protection because she was receiving death threats through various sources. On the night of the 23rd after a session at the Senate - she did not renounce her membership - Rita suffered a severe heart attacked at her hotel and passed away. A minute silence was held during the Spanish Parliament by all parties except Podemos who walked out in protest.

So why all the fuss?

To start with, Ms. Barbera had been an extremely popular mayor who had created a great deal of improvement and wealth for the city of Valencia. She had literally transformed it into a thriving and modern metropolis way beyond those of other parts of Spain. When she passed away the citizens took to the streets to pay their respects and appreciation of what she had achieved over 23 years of governing. The second issue were the accusations of corruption. To start with no official proceedings had even started by the judicial system as most of it was just hype by the opposition and the media. When the dust finally settled the only ‘dirty’ washing they could upturn were a supposed donation of Euros 1000 to her party (PP). 1000 Euros! With all the other enormous shenanigans that have been going on, some amounting to hundreds of millions, her death presented the turning of a new leaf of reflection, especially by her own party who had abandoned her when she most needed their support. The real blow has been to the party itself that has had to swallow its mistake of condemning her without proof, especially after the circumstances of her death which were caused by the extreme stress that she had been subjected to over the previous months. On the other side of the coin. Sr. Pablo Iglesias of Podemos and all his troop were immediately criticized even by other left wing party members of showing a lack of respect.

So what other news is on the cards?

In my previous month’s essay I forecast a series of issues that will possibly take effect over the next few months. They included all the major sectors, economy, European Union, education, Catalonia, social services, the political parties of Podemos and Ciudadanos, the general political scenario and ETA. Most of it continues down the same path except for the Basque Country. The new regional government has been formed - remember they had elections this year - consisting of the nationalists (PNV), the socialists (PSV) and ETA’s branch (Bildu). The main statement has been to pronounce the region as a Nation. The next step is to proceed down the same path as Catalonia - a referendum for independence. We now have two regions that the new government has to handle as rebels defying the Spanish Constitution.  

Now that we have a government, after nearly a year of uncertainties, the trade unions (CCOO and UGT) have suddenly appeared out of the woodwork, and after a fruitless meeting - according to them - with the President, Sr. Rajoy and the President of the Spanish Confederation of Business Entities (CEOE) they immediately announced a program of demonstrations and street upheavals during the month of December. Sr. Rajoy has pleaded with them to allow the government to settle in but, as they are in cahoots with the left wing parties it will be the next phase of trouble awaiting in the wings for the country.

We are moving into the Christmas and New Year festivities. As the economy has improved so has consumerism. Spain has started its version of ‘Black Friday’ and sales are glowing. Hotels and restaurants will be fully booked for New Years’ Eve and travel agents are having a field day with offers of ‘escapes’ to warmer destinations. Spain also celebrates the arrival of the ‘Three Wise Kings’ in January hence party time takes on a double whammy for the kids.

Finally we cannot forget Brexit. The government will be seeking some sort of a compromise with the UK because of the 300,000 Brits who are permanent residents, including yours truly and the 200,000 Spaniards who are, likewise, residents in the UK. What exactly would be the plan is yet to be seen. At least it has come out in the press as a sort of tit for tat. However, let us not forget that Gibraltar comes into the poker game. Another headache for Ms. May?

© James G. Skinner. December 2016.

Spain needs a Nostradamus
James Skinner
So what happens now? Predictions in order of priorities, untouchables and uncertainties in hands of - at least - a constitutional government, one that upholds the Constitution and the State of Law, vital for the future of Spain and the European Union.


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