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••• The International Writers Magazine: From Our Spanish Correspondent

Mercosur & Spangate - Spain
• James Skinner
A great deal of events, some rather alarming have been taking place around the world over the last month. Endless elections in France with two candidates still battling for the Presidential front seat and then a General Election in June.


Add British Prime Minister, Mrs. Theresa May unexpectedly calling for a General Election in June 8th. Donald Trump threatening, Kim Jon-un, North Korea’s Leader to stop playing with his nuclear toys and finally, in less than 5 minutes consideration the EU in a unanimous agreement warned Britain that citizens’ rights on both sides of the channel had to be maintained before any trade agreements were reached after Brexit.

Back to Spain

I reported in last month’s essay, apart from the Gibraltar issue a series of topics that dealt mainly with internal events that took place in the local scenario. This time round and once again, reverting back to Brexit, or shall we say ‘after’ Brexit, Spain will not only continue as the 4th economic power in the Euro bloc but will take over from Britain as the equivalent in the remaining European Union. Spanish politics aside, the country is also the 14th economic world power and apart from all the long list to substantiate this claim, that is beyond the scope of this note, essential to pinpoint its greatest asset to the remaining group of nations of the EU. It’s long standing and historical ties with Latin America. Barring Brazil, they all speak a common language. The present conservative government under Sr. Mariano Rajoy has wasted no time and has made a state visit to Brazil and Uruguay to open trade and other agreements in the name of the European Union. The important point of this visit was that on the other side of the Atlantic an equivalent of the European Common Market was formed amongst certain member states of the South America.

Enter Mercosur

In 1991, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay signed off and formed the first alliance. In further agreements Venezuela became a member although it has now been suspended due to the internal politics of the country. The statutes include the rest of the nations, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia as associates, although the latter is waiting for ratification for full membership. For all intents and purposes the region enjoys all the privileges that the European Union has. Free movement of citizens, goods, lack of import and export duties within the group and other goodies. They adhere to a Democratic Charter prohibiting any member state to establish relations with non-democratic nations. The official languages are Spanish, Portuguese and Guarani.

What could this mean for Britain after Brexit?

Both the EU and this extremely emerging and important formation ‘South of the border’ may one day cause problems for the UK that may already be seeking individual trade deals around the world. They will have to negotiate with the entire block that already has its eyes set on the European Union as its first priority. All this is way in the future but at least Sr. Rajoy has opened the first door. It will certainly not be the last as we must also remember that the Spanish Monarchy, ever since democracy, attends the yearly meeting of the ‘Ibero-America’ Summit that engulfs all Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries in the world. King Felipe VI is also a regular visitor to the region and has met with every president from Mexico down to Argentina.  

Now back to Spain and the never ending problem of corruption. Where to start?


Remember the Watergate scandal with the final impeachment of President Nixon back in the 70’s of the last century? May not be the same reasons but a similar set of circumstances are pointing in that direction. However, we are looking at a Latin Country with a different set of rules as well as culture and the end result may be unpredictable. Nevertheless, the vultures are out and a new amount of filth has been uncovered that hits at the heart of the President’s government. This time round we will see the President, Sr. Rajoy before the judges, as a witness to the prosecution, although it will be his privilege for it to be carried out through a video-conference from his presidential office. He has to testify as one of hundreds of other politicians of the conservative party that were involved years ago in the famous ‘Gürtel’ case whereby the party’s personal treasurer, Hugo Barcenas - in prison - was syphoning some 50 Million Euro of party funds into his own bank account in Switzerland. This case has been going on for some time and dates back some 20 years.

The second, and more serious scandal hits at the heart of the Regional Madrid’s ex-conservative governors and relates to the massive state water board known as the ‘Isabel II Canal’ that was founded way back in the XIX Century. It reminds me of the theme from the famous film ‘Chinatown’ with Jack Nicholson, all to do with dirty political deals.

To cut a long story short, the Civil Guards broke into the offices of two of the previous governors, Ignacio Gonzalez and Francisco Granados, who had been right hand men for one of the stalwarts of the Party, Sra. Esperanza Aguirre and literally ransacked them for the evidence needed that amounts to millions of fraudulent investments in different parts of the world using the water board as a front. This particular scandal has caused the opposition parties to literally go up the wall with the extreme left wing of ‘Podemos’ requesting the resignation of the whole government. I’ll leave it there as this has just started.

Other events have taken place in the country but none as serious as these two outstanding items of news. One highly positive and the other a real messy business.

But then that is Spain, the land of many contrasts!

See you next month.

© James G. Skinner. May 1st 2017.   

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