The International Writers Magazine: ESPANA
James Skinner our Spanish Correspondent
December in the Christian world is usually a month of joy and wind down, placing all woes on the back burner, preparing for Christmas and forgetting about everything else that has plagued humanity over the past year. Spain is no different. The government tends to rap-up about mid-month, shops stock up with all the extra goods as citizens take to the streets with that extra pay packet and the restaurants are book solid till the New Year. Despite the present crisis, the unemployed - which incidentally has dropped over the last year - and the desperately poor, are taken care of for a brief moment by all the non-government agencies with food parcels and free dinners to ease the pain. It is one of human nature’s strange phenomena at this time of the year.
So what news about January 2015?
Remember a character back in the 60's called Frank Abagnale Jr.? No; of course not. If it weren’t for Leonardo di Carpio and Tom Hanks bringing him back to life in the film ‘Catch me if you can’ you wouldn’t know. This person clocked up millions of dollars with forged American Express travelers cheques, passed off as a Pan Am pilot, a doctor and a legal prosecutor ( the airline that has since disappeared). And he was only 19!
||Well this country has just ended a mystery saga of a youngster of the same age that has caused all kinds of intriguing adventures involving everyone in high up places, from the Monarchy to the Government and other institutions, posing as non-other than a member of the National Intelligence Centre, the equivalent of the CIA in the USA. His name is Francisco Nicólas Gómez better known as ‘Little Nicolas’. He started off by forging documents including ID cards, collected dossiers on every prominent figure and gate crashed wherever possible to be included in all kinds of institutional meetings including press reports and television appearances.
A mixture of Wikileaks and Disney fantasy stories gave him a level of notoriety that no Spanish media was going to be left out of reporting his daily adventures as a character out of a 'Never-never' land story. No doubt a soap opera or a movie producer will come up with a similar script to his American counterpart. In the meantime, he is up before the judge and faces all kinds of criminal charges. At least he kept the public awed and amused dropping politics from the center stage of the newspapers for a change.
More corruption cases at all levels of public entities continue to surface on practically a daily basis as the judicial system delves deeper into the bowels of the nation’s institutions and other areas where public funds are involved. The lower levels of the public service are being investigated including civil service employees. What has hit the headlines is the indictment of Princess Cristina, King Felipe VI’s elder sister. She could be charged with income tax fraud and could face up to 6 years imprisonment. The main reason is because of her involvement as a co-director in one of her husband’s fraudulent business adventures. This could cause a political problem and a threat to the Spanish Monarchy should the extreme left including the republican parties make a real issue out of the case.
We’re up for town council elections next year and I have reported many times, and has been in the European press, on the surge of ‘Podemos’ (We Can) the new extreme left political party that is more or less catching up with an increase of sympathizers from all other parties in the country. Their leader, Pablo Iglesias is no fool and has stated that they will wait and prepare for the General Elections that should take place within a year’s time. If the trend continues, Spain may be faced with a gigantic change in the geo-political fight for power. What is surprising, though, is that in the Basque country, this party is now neck and neck with the cocktail of Nationalist parties (PNV, Bildu, Sortiu) that have always been a stronghold in this autonomous region that does not suffer from the crisis as much as the rest of Spain. It goes to show how the populous is changing in their voting habits.
Finally we come to the yearly speeches.
Since the abdication of Juan Carlos I, his son, the new king gave his first ‘end of year’ speech on the state of the nation. It was broadcast on all the Spanish television stations and the audience level was the highest in years. Contrary to his father’s non-committal fifteen minute waffle, King Felipe VI came across with a strong message that covered the main topics that are on everyone’s mind; unemployment, corruption and a need to re-unite the nation as one. The usual anti-monarch critics chastised it, but the majority of sensible journalists, as well as politicians praised it. Ever since he has been ‘crowned’ he has shown intelligence, wisdom and above all a sound training and education. He is also appealing to the younger generation.
The other important and powerful speech came from the President, Sr. Mariano Rajoy. For the first time, since being in office he came through with strong words about the economy, the road ahead and that Spain is heading in the right direction. No need for the details as they are obvious. The importance of his words was in their tone. They were defiant with the opposition, firm in the belief that his policies, based on recent positive figures of job creation and the constant crack-down on corruption would bear fruit in the next few years. He failed, however to mention all the other promises that were made during his election campaign.
As mentioned earlier, 2015 is town council and some autonomous regions’ election year. It will be a sort of testing ground for the government to see which way the wind will blow. I quote Pilar Cernuda’s, one of the most influential journalists in Spain, accurate assessment: ‘A passionate year that could decide the future of this country. From them, a more complicated plethora of parliaments and town councils will emerge, more than in all its history.’
See you next month.
© James G. Skinner. January 2015
Corruption in Spain has taken on a new dimension that could threaten the government + Catalonia Result
Today’s new generations definitely believe that they are not part of Spain and should therefore be given the freedom to choose their future