Thursday, November 07, 2013

Local TV; CAM Bank corruption; Premature acquittals?; Wobbling Wert; Spanish politics; and percebes.

Everyone knows about Spanish 'localism'. (If not, let me know and I'll throw in a few quotes tomorrow). Anyway, many regions of Spain - possibly most - have their own TV channel. Galicia (a region of under 3m souls) has 2 and, at one time, had 3. Think TV Cheshire, TV Cornwall or TV Isle of Man. And we're not talking the equivalent of BBC or ITV North West, which share most of their programs with every other BBC 'regional' channel. No, these stations are dedicated 24 hours to the local region. As with the local daily newspapers - at least 12 in Galicia - I've never understood how these TV stations could finance themselves. Especially when I read than TV Valencia was paying €72m per month on salaries alone. Well, it seems economics have finally started to catch up with them. Said TV Valencia shut down 2 days ago and it looks like TV Madrid could soon follow, for a start. Times are not what they were and I guess there simply isn't as much taxpayer money to throw at these monuments to local vanity as there was before. As for the newspapers, who knows. They seem to have a magic lease on life, defying all standard financial norms.

Talking about better times . . . At the height of the boom, when bank branches were sprouting like weeds (not a bad simile, come to think of it), the Levantine CAM bank opened a branch in Pontevedra's city centre and advertised on a nearby window that a second branch would soon be operating there. Well, it never did and the first place closed down a year or two ago. And then the whole bank failed and was bought out by another - Sabadell, I think. This would look like a paradigm of Spanish boom-banking even without the fact that 5 of CAM's directors are now in the dock, accused of a shocking array of activities designed to defraud everyone else and to line their pockets. And of causing the bank's collapse in the process. Reading about this, I wondered why no British bankers had been arraigned. But then I realised none of them have been accused of fraud, only negligence. And greed. By the way, the CAM bank, like the TV Channel mentioned above, was based in Valencia. Nationally, the city seems to be associated with corruption of all sorts.

Elsewhere, several people accused by an investigating judge have been released, as it were, by a higher tribunal or through the pressure of the, would you believe, Public Prosecutor. The most newsworthy are the 4 current and ex-executives of the national rail infrastructure company, ADIF. The La Coruña Provincial Court has pronounced that they have no case to answer in the case of the train which came off the track near Santiago, killing 80 people. So the driver stands alone in the dock. And no one who works for the government will ever be investigated, never mind tried. I guess it saves the time and expense (hard times) of having them tried, convicted, imprisoned and then quietly pardoned and released.

Spain's Minister of Education is having a torrid time. His flagship reforms have been postponed and now he has been, to say the least, embarrassed by the reversal of a decision within less than 24 hours of its announcement. Apparently having taken leave of his senses, Señor Wert announced that Spanish students studying abroad as part of the Erasmus project would have their grants stopped immediately. Possibly under Brussels pressure, Madrid quickly announced "Oh, no, they won't!" (British pantomime joke). Leaving Sr Wert to crawl away and lick his wounds. For a lot of people it will be a cause for regret if these don't turn out to be fatal.

There was a foto in yesterday's El País of President Rajoy being applauded by his PP party MPs as he took his seat in the parliament. Does this happen anywhere else, apart from China and North Korea? If not, what does it tell us about Spanish politics?

Finally . . . Here's my foto of an ugly percebe, or goose-barnacle.

And here's a lot more.

I have to admit that some people love them. But I side with those Galicians who used them as animal food before the modern marketeers got to work and promoted them as an aphrodisiac.

Which they ain't, of course. Hence the famous complaint of Mae West to the Santiago hotel owner - "I had 20 of your percebes last night and only 10 of them worked."


Anonymous said...


Liked enormously your comments re. local TV - "monuments to local vanity" and "As for the newspapers, who knows. They seem to have a magic lease of life, defying all standard financial norms"

Do you have local radio too? If so IMHO those "monuments to local vanity" should likewise be consigned to the basura.

Delighted that you called the Santiago de Compostela derailment "the case of the train which came off the track" big improvement from your previously stubbornly adhered to "Crash".

Grateful to you for news that the driver is (quite wrongly) taking all the blame. I found this, which provides some extra detail. Oh no, it says "crash" - Despite that, I paste it below.


The A Coruña provincial High Court has quashed the decision of the judge investigating July's fatal rail crash in Santiago to officially name as suspects five employees of state rail infrastructure company Adif.

According to judicial sources, the appeals lodged by the national rail safety chief, the person responsible for safety in the northwest, the chief inspector of lines in the same area and two subordinates of the latter have been upheld. The ruling cannot be appealed by investigating magistrate Luis Aláez. In light of the ruling, it is likely that appeals by Adif's 22 board members against their implication will also be upheld.

The crash on the Santiago-Ourense line left 79 people dead. To date, only the train driver has been formally accused of a crime.

Your faux sympathetic remark "I guess it saves the time and expense (hard times) of having them tried, convicted, imprisoned and then quietly pardoned and released." you are, as always, all heart.

Maybe Luis Aláez will now be joining Sr Wert and half the population of Spain in a fest of mutual wound licking?

I wonder what will now happen to the individual cases brought by relatives of the bereaved?

Regards, Q1-10

Colin Davies said...

Thanks for that. I didn't realise I was choosing 'crash' over anything else. I guess the train derailed and then crashed, into the wall.

Good question about the relatives' cases but one can't be optimistic that they'll proceed. Even if the are civil, and not criminal, cases.

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