Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Although some readers might beg to differ on this, I’m a little chary about stepping into an area I know little about. But I have to say reports about the ETA hunger striker – de Juana Chaos - are throwing up some bizarre numbers. Between 1989 and 1995, he was sentenced three times for various killings, receiving sentences of 2,232, 378 and 55 years respectively. This was during a time when the actual maximum sentence servable in Spain was 20 years, though this has since been increased to 30 or 40, depending on who you read. More recently, de Juana Chaos was given another 12 years for sending threatening letters to judges from his cell. If implemented, this would have kept him in gaol beyond the 18-20 years his ‘good behaviour’ had entitled him to. And it was this sentence which was reduced to 3 years, by a majority of 10 judges to 3. However, it’s emerged that at least one judge wanted the sentence reduced to zero and at least one preferred an increase to 96 years. Quite a spectrum of interpretation of the relevant law. Separately, another ETA member was this week given 467 years for attacking a police convoy. Stepping back from the detail, I can’t help wondering whether there isn’t a case for tidying up the provisions about judicial sentencing. Or perhaps I’m missing something about the handing down of sentences ludicrously higher than anything that will ever be served. Apart from tradition, I mean.

In another anomalous judicial situation, we’re told one of Galicia’s biggest drug barons is about to leave prison even though he owes the state a mere 100 million euros in fines. However, the good news in this case is that there are plans to close the legal loophole that allows this to happen. Though not retrospectively for him, of course.

When it comes to global warming, Spanish experts go even further than the international Jeremiahs. They predict the rainfall of the south will fall by 40% in the second half of the century and the rise in temperature will be double that normally quoted. Thank God I won't live to see the barbarian British hordes rampaging northwards.

A recent post to this blog offered the brief comment “Carrascos ruivos de Tamisa”. I eventually realised this was Portuguese, not Gallego, but was surprised none of my Galician friends could translate it. Anyway, rightly or wrongly I worked out that carrasco is an executioner/hitman, that ruivo is blond and Tamisa is the Thames. But then, having plunged into Book 2 of Don Quixote, I immediately came across the character Bachelor Sansón Carrasco. What were the odds on this, I wonder. As if anyone cares.

Galicia Facts

It had to happen. A truck carrying one of the vast granite blocks used in Galician house construction shed its 19 ton load as it turned a corner, crushing a passing car. Astonishingly, the car driver survived, suffering nothing worse than a broken ankle. So, happily, there was no question of taking him home and slipping him under the front door.

Spain’s crime rate is well still below the EU average and, within that, Galicia’s ranks as the second lowest in the country. So the risk of violence is correspondingly low. Unless you upset the Nationalists, of course.

Finally, for all those Irish citizens who wish to expand their carbon footprints - as of March, Aer Lingus will be flying from Dublin to Santiago.

House for Sale

Some friends of mine are selling a property in a lovely rural spot 10km outside Pontevedra. Here’s a brief description. Anyone interested can email me for photos at
Plot of 4,700 m2. House of 323 m2, with 7 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms.
Perfect for a B&B business.
Price: around 460,000 euros.


Xoan-Carlos said...

"ruivo" in Portugal normally means redhaired or "red/ruddy-faced", maybe suggesting that you have a drink problem!


Colin said...

Yes, that's what I took it to mean, with refererence to my pevious photo and the glass of Abarinho. But my Gallego friends insisted it was an insult based on my silver tresses. Either way, no me importa nada . . . .

Anonymous said...

If your friends house is to be used as a b&b they have to have it registered at the Xunta. The rules for such accommodations are rigorous. Better check that the house comes up to standards before you advertise it as such or it could be misleading.

Carlos said...

"Carrasco quer dizer: “Executor da pena de morte; Aquele que aflige alguém; Homem cruel, tirano, verdugo”. O carrasco dispõe mal as pessoas"

"Carrasco" in Spanish refers to a small variety of ever-green oak (encina). Hence the surname in El Quixote, I suppose.