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The International Writers Magazine: From our Spanish Correspondent

Open For Fun
James Skinner on Spain
Spain kicks off the summer with a big unwritten sign at all corners of the land that says: ‘Welcome to the land of make believe where the sun always shines, the bars are always open, the air is tinged with musical and magical notes, the young are bright and beautiful and the government is shut down for the time being!’


Whatever crisis has been going on in the past, be it political or financial seems to be placed on the back burner until the autumn, or at least that is the impression given to the outside world. The complete lack of interest in Europe by both the media and the politicians in the real underlying threat that is waiting to blow up in this beautiful but anarchical country confirms the statement.

‘The Greek Affair’, for use of a better phrase has captured the hearts and imagination of all Europeans and even the Spaniards are having a field day with what is going on in Athens. ‘This won’t happen here,’ says our Finance Minister as she hops on yet another jet plane back to Brussels. ‘My problem is to lambast the Germans and ask them to pay up for the damage done to our cucumber growers!’ For weeks the whole country was on edge because Ms. Merkel blamed Spain for the outbreak of the e-Coli virus that killed several German citizens. The average Spaniard forgot about the continuing upheaval going on in all other directions. Nevertheless, there has been a respite as I reported last month in the unemployment figures thanks to the tremendous influx of foreign tourists that are flocking the ‘costas’ and filling up the pubs and restaurants. This has led to the government leaping for joy despite all else being up in arms. The following is a brief as am sure many of you are by now bored stiff at my continuing analysis of what I consider will eventually result in civil unrest unseen in Europe since the 30’s that could cause the break up of the EU let alone the Euro zone.

Just take the politics; once again!

ETA’s political arm, Bildu has taken over in more than a hundred municipalities during the local elections held in May including the city of San Sebastian and have begun to lay down their ‘independence’ rules. They have removed all Spanish flags and photos of King Juan Carlos in the town councils, imposed the Basque language as the main language in all the public sectors and have stated publicly that Spain is a foreign country. An amnesty should be put in place immediately to release all ‘political’, i.e. ETA prisoners and murderers presently serving short and long term sentences. They also have access to public funds that the opposition says will go direct into the terrorist group’s bank accounts. What is even worse is that they are now able to open up all the ‘Tax Files’ of individuals and companies. This alone has created a very dangerous situation as ETA will now have direct information and able to impose even more ‘extortion’ taxes on small businesses as they have been doing over the past decades. The conservative People’s Party is up in arms and screaming blue murder whilst the government does the ostrich trick because it is more interested in sorting out its own internal problem of the Socialist handover of power for the forthcoming general elections in 2012. Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the Prime Minister is officially leaving at the end of his term of office and his new appointee, Alfredo, ‘Freddy’ P. Rubalcaba has taken over as heir to the Socialist throne. I’ll leave my analysis of this character for my next chapter. Suffice to say that he is shrewd, calculating, extremely intelligent, and a born liar (allegedly)! This latter accusation is splashed across all the right wing media from North to South and East to West as well as by the opposition party spokespersons. He does, however hate ETA and any form of terrorism although has not condemned Bildu outright – yet - other than to say that they are ‘constitutionally’ legal to operate as town council elected members. Watch this space!

On the economic side, all the new right wing leaders in the regional and town council elections – the majority of the country - on taking over from the previous Socialist and other miscellaneous party governors have opened up the public ‘coffers’ and found a deep hole full of debts! Not only bank loans and unpaid bills, but an enormous array of unfinished or useless unproductive public works such as over-dimensioned roads, high speed trains and airports, unused sports arenas, auditoriums and museums, unfilled housing estates and many other welfare state type projects, not to mention the huge number of ‘side-kick’ public companies creaming off tax payers – and EU members – money as consultants and other dubious activities related to the administration. I’m not kidding! If you think Greece was hoodwinking Europe, you wait until all this huge bag of Spanish ‘junk’ is put on the table and the real unbiased auditors have a go at what is under the carpet.

On the international scene we have the tragedy of two Spanish soldiers killed in Afghanistan and several others injured on two separate occasions. Hillary Clinton has visited us and although thanking Spain for it’s cooperation both in Libya as well as elsewhere is asking for more commitment. Meanwhile the government continues to refer to the conflict as a ‘Mission of Peace’ instead of calling a spade a spade that translates into admitting that is an outright war. The Chinese are once again sniffing at investments and low and behold Spain’s foreign deficit – imports versus exports – is looking very healthy. Spain’s major companies, examples Telefónica and Zara as well as the large banks are doing good business overseas. A week dollar and strong Euro adds to the balance sheet. For how long is another look into the crystal ball!

Finally we have the continued sit-ins around the country. Although the government has given a blind eye they nevertheless have turned into a nuisance. The so called thousands of ‘Indignados’, otherwise known as the '15-M' movement have now organised themselves into a sort of invisible political party. They’ve lashed out at the politicians by pouncing on the parliaments both central and autonomous, accused the banking system as well as the bankers as culprits of their present woes and are now having a go at the trade unions. It’s all good fun and adds to Spain’s peculiar nature of its citizens going to the streets at the drop of a hat. So far the mangled group of unconformists has been rather peaceful although the local authorities, i.e. town councils are beginning to tire of their antics and it won’t take long before the truncheons come out and arrests are made.

See you next month!

© James G. Skinner. July 8th 2011

Time's Up in Spain
James Skinner
There is mayhem within the Socialist Party (PSOE) whilst the opposition sits back and contemplates its navel.

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