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The International Writers Magazine: From our Spanish Correspondent

Bosque for President – Spain
• James Skinner
Some Spanish pundits have suggested that Vicente del Bosque, the coach of the recent European Football Cup champions take over the government and with his team of young, disciplined and coordinated players run the country.


There is some sparkle of reasoning in the idea as despite the political mayhem that has been created in Spain over the past few decades the country‘s sports people have excelled above all expectations. Fernando Alonso, the present world leader in the Formula 1 circuit and Rafa Nadal in tennis are examples of human excellence that is so lacking in the political department. Joking apart, over the past couple of months a great deal of dirty washing is being aired as the pressure mounts from the outside world for this country to get its act together and sort out the economic mess it is in. In order to corroborate my previous essays I felt it wise to reproduce a few articles that have been published recently in the Spanish press that highlight most of my comments and therefore prove that I am not alone in my ruthless assessment of Spain’s deep rooted problems that need urgent solution – despite the present world crisis!

I start with my journalist friend and colleague Manuel Molares do Val (, who puts it, succinctly in his article ‘Let them intervene’, as follows:
‘We’re bankrupt; because of the political skullduggery that has ruined the savings banks (ring a bell?) and bank, by our own extravagance and those of the state and its hundreds of thousands of unnecessary politicians and public servants in central, autonomous and local organizations (another bell?) that have devastated the competitiveness and initiative of the country. The vice-president of the Civil Society Forum and university don, Sr. Juan Antonio Sargadoy has recently reminded us in an article that the autonomies have different norms; for example, because of elevator homologation in one region a multinational was scared away from setting up a factory that could have ruined the investment in their project. If each (autonomy) applied their own law, he adds, in another example one would have to change buses three times when travelling from Badajoz to Barcelona because of different regulations. It is because these autonomous parliamentary representatives, those Ms. Esperanza Aguirre (President of the Madrid region) wishes to reduce by half, even with the cut back there would still be too many. They give the impression that their job is to create legislative tangles, including some linguistic ones turning Spain into an unmanageable state. Referring to the smaller town councils there are mayors that promote cultural centers as ‘a reference for Europe’ and university rectors that create subsidies and faculties to include their friends and relatives as professors or councilors. On a separate subject, Mariano Rajoy (the Prime Minister) has managed to acquire, in six months, international visibility that Zapatero was unable to in eight years. He has met with international leaders and has taken some important decisions. Despite these images, a possible intervention looms above Spain. The country needs sorting itself out, clearing out the immense growth of parasites that have been cultivated over the last few decades that have perverted politicians even within the judiciary, a body that should be neutral and a guarantor against corruption. Rajoy resists intervention and is incapable of starting the radical guillotine process that we need. To save us, even if some will be lost along the way, intervene once and for all. Now!’

In a similar frame of mind and almost on the same day in one of his many letters to the editor of my local daily, Jose Souto writes:
It is no secret that the tortuous road of our education ever since the transition in 78 (referring the end of the Franco dictatorship and return to democracy) and the abduction of the same by the retrograde left with the first line alliance of the nationalists has led to the creation of the present ‘Towers of Babylon’ otherwise known as the autonomous regions that aspire to become nations.’

As a third referral I reproduce a fraction of a magnificent article written by one of the most prominent Spanish journalists, Pilar Cernuda respected by both sides of the fence. I quote:
Zapatero erred in almost everything. His eight years have been the bleakest, by far, in the history of the democracy (once again referring to Spain’s return since the end of the Franco era) yet apart from his wrong economic policies that have led us to disaster, he was careless in ignoring the importance of his relations with other countries.’ Pilar goes on to state that Rajoy has completely changed course and has managed to restore a certain amount of credibility to Spain’s position in the international arena.

This is all good stuff that confirms a great deal of the past mess but what about the present status of the nation? Once again, here it is in a nutshell:

The latest statistics have uncovered an overwhelming surplus of politicians and civil servants. At last these figures have reached the limelight and the citizens of Spain are realizing that the whole government structure is top heavy (see all my previous essays). There are more that half a million of these animals and nearly four million civil servants. Take out teachers and the whole of the medical sector and most of the rest are paper pushing bureaucrats that perpetually create more economic stagnation for the whole country. It may sound crazy but apparently at this moment in time all the money taken from VAT and Income tax is used to pay the civil service machine. In other words, there is none left for public growth. Horrifying!

Is the money that’s meant to come from outside Spain a loan or a rescue? Is it 40000M or 100000M Euros. The latest meeting between Spain, Italy, Germany and the EU seem to have agreed that money will definitely come. And so the merry go round continues. Who will receive the money; the banks, the government, the small and medium size firms, the people? These are the 65K questions being bounced around by the media and the public. The savings banks are truly in the limelight and the present European inspection that is going on should reveal the mess these entities have created in the financial sector. The setting up and the fiasco of Bankia (check the Spanish stock exchange figures) that absorbed non other than seven savings banks including the huge Madrid one is a real mess. My local Galician one, Novacaixagalicia is also in the headlines for different reasons. Five of the top brass have not only resigned but are up before the judge on criminal charges accused of fraud! More than 40000 families have lost their pension investments worth 900m Euros. It is seeking capital and obviously nobody dares come anywhere near the messy savings bank. I state: watch this space!

The government has embarked on a massive cutback of expenses. For the first time since democracy pensioners will no longer obtain free medication. VAT has not yet been touched but chances are it will be increased causing more pain in the consumer sector. The price of electricity, as well as gas, is also going up. This again is due to the abominable energy policies of the last ZP government that heavily subsidized ‘green’ sources such as wind farms solar power farms that are proving expensive.

Tax fraud is high on the list. Inspectors will be out looking for mainly moonlighters and tax evaders (international bank accounts). Certain figures have been bounced about that at least 36000M Euros have already transferred into other European bank accounts (Swiss, UK, and Germany).

Then we have the independence seeking lot. Catalonia is on a strong path of separatism from the Motherland. They are keeping an eye on the Scottish referendum in 2014. So is the Basque country ready to pull the plug although the situation here is quite different. ETA's political factions (the whole bunch of political parties) are now in power at state, regional and town council level (see my previous essays on this subject). Their aim is set to take over the autonomous region should elections take place within the year. The irony is that this region has the highest per capita income and the lowest unemployment rate. The recent meeting in Northern Ireland between Queen Elizabeth and ex-IRA politician McGuiness adds fuel to the Basque independence.

Finally there is dear Galicia, where I live. A new ‘nasty’ trouble group called ‘Galician Resistance’ is beginning to cause trouble with minor terrorist style attacks on political party offices and bank cash ATMs. Their attacks have increased fivefold over the past year and the Civil Guards have already homed in on their activities and are considering their acts as those of a terrorist group. Again, watch this space.

The Royal Family is still surviving; just! King Juan Carlos has been visiting several countries in Latin America and other parts of the world drumming up business for Spain. Unfortunately, the public don’t see this positive side of the Monarchy. A pity. No further comment on this one.

Unemployment continues to rise and economic growth is at a standstill. The measures taken by the government in easing the labour laws are not taking effect because of the banking freeze and the opposing power of the trade unions.

As a final Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, Spain has once again rattled Gibraltar’s chain thanks to a fishermen’s dispute and the visit of a member of the Royal Family. Or is it the other way round?
Conclusion: Spain is going to have to bite the bullet with whatever the rest of the world decides. This includes Europe and the Euro zone that is in deep trouble and desperate to survive. There is no easy fix. Personally, I have no idea how it is all going to pan out and frankly, I’m ready to throw in the towel.
© James Skinner July 1st 2012

**July 23rd: I feel things are happening too damn fast and this country is about to explode. Riots today for example. I think that the present government will soon be faced with total chaos and that intervention will eventually take place because they won’t be able to handle the situation. I’ve said all along that the root of the problem is the Spanish geo-political system that needs overhauling and that includes reforming the constitution. No one wishes to touch the ‘hot potato’. Poor Europe; what they will be faced with eventually.

No use me telling all of you yet again that my predictions written in over the past 2 to 3 years are coming true. Check out an interview (on the web if you can find it) with the ex-PM Rodriguez Zapataro carried out by Santiago Perez on the 22nd of September, 2010 of the Wall Street Journal to see how the then Socialist government was lying through its teeth (no different to Greece) about their ‘true’ finances and the overwhelming economic mess that was brewing. Things will get very nasty from now on and I hope it doesn’t affect the tourism (just see all the rioting going on in Madrid over the past year) because it is the only source of real income that this country still has.

The Doomed Spanish Savings Banks
James Skinner
The European Economic Meltdown

The previous socialist PM, Jose Rodriguez Zapatero stated some four years ago that Spain had the best banking system in the world and that the country was in the Champion’s League of the world’s economies. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

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