The question was raised recently as to whether I exaggerate in saying/implying that Spain is a pretty corrupt place. As I wrote then, one problem is that we’ve had so many reports of financial skulduggery during the ‘fat-cow’ years it’s really quite hard to avoid this conclusion. In yesterday’s press, for example, we learnt that the chief of police of a Madrid town – and a mere 26 of his men – have been arrested for extorting money from bars and prostitutes. And that six of the numerous ex-Marbella councillors accused of massive urban corruption have accepted a deal under which their jail sentences are reduced. Oh, and that the [under arrest] mayor of a town in the Balearics now infamous for its ‘savage’ urban development claims he had no idea his two palatial house were illegal. My guess is he can’t recall where he got the finance from either.
Two amusing reports about the Catholic Church this week – another constant in Spanish life. Firstly, it’s initiating a campaign to coincide with-tax return time and designed to encourage us to tick the box sending 0.7% of what we pay to the church’s coffers. Apparently, the line to be taken will be Buy from us. Try our product. And, if you’re not happy, go somewhere else. Hell, maybe. Secondly, it’s introduced a search engine as a fund-raising vehicle. I just tried el diablo and aborto, with interesting results.
The Spanish Finance minister has made more admissions about the worse-than-predicted economic situation but has rejected a suggestion from the banks that the government raids its pensions reserve so as to improve liquidity in the construction sector. And quite possibly help the banks as well. The minister says the industry needs to put its own house in order. It will be interesting to see whether he maintains this – doubtless popular – hard-nosed stance. Especially as El País claims his colleague, the minister for Housing, is to offer tax breaks to lessen the effects of the crisis.
The international organisation, Save the Children, ranks Spain as the 12th best country in the world to have a child. If asked, I’m sure the country’s rug rats would say it was easily number one when it comes to being a child.
Ours is one of six Spanish regions in which funds for health services are raised via a one-cent tax on petrol. But not for much longer, as Brussels has declared this illegal. The Xunta is naturally demanding that Madrid makes good the loss. As it will when Spain’s wealth tax [el patrimonio] is abolished from the end of this year. And all this against the backcloth of a massive drop in receipts from the huge 7% tax levied on property transactions. So, not a good time to be a regional minister or a town councillor trying to maintain expenditure and balance the books. So, tax increases to go with the rises in food and fuel prices? Austerity, anyone?
Such is the herd instinct of Pontevedra’s young fashionsistas, there’s now hardly a young female on our streets not wearing a keffiyeh. Or some variant of it. And this includes schoolgirls. I wonder how many of them would know where the West Bank was. Or even Cisjordania, as it’s called here. Is this happening elsewhere, I wonder. Vigo, for example. Or are the women more independent-minded in our ‘overly commercial and too big for its boots’ neighbour?
The Anglo Galician Association – open to all who speak English – now has a Forum on the web. If you have a query about Galicia, why not register and post it.