Thursday, February 06, 2014

Spanish democracy; Media suppression; Santiago's vast monument to something; Spanish words; & Yet more rain.


If you dropped into Spain from Mars - or, say, Bulgaria - you'd think it had all the trappings of a thoroughly modern democracy. But this is what they'd be - trappings. For Spain isn't such a democracy; it's a very young democracy that will need a long time to catch up with many of its colleagues in the EU. Incidentally,grasping this, also makes you realise how futile it is trying to lay democracy on, say, Iraq or Afghanistan, however admirable the aspiration. But back to Spain . . . One of the indications of just how shallow-rooted democracy here is the recent sacking of the editor of the leading rightist newspaper, El Mundo. Another is the astonishing (and stupid) introduction of an abortion Bill that attempts to take Spain 30 years backwards, at the dictate of the Catholic Church. And a third is the obvious contempt in which the people are held by the privileged and hyper-corrupt political and business classes - as now chronicled by El Espia en el Congreso.

On the sacking of the El Mundo editor (Pedro Jota), HT to David Jackson for pointing us to an article the former wrote in the New York Times about his dismissal. When you read it, bear in mind that the government, as I mentioned yesterday, has now moved on to a TV commentator who rips into them nightly on La Sexta. An extract from Pedro's piece:- [President Rajoy] exhibited hostility toward uncomfortable truths and indifference to public opinion. . . Mr. Rajoy’s governing party lacks internal democracy. The independence of the judiciary has been weakened. The monarchy has been tarnished by a spending scandal. Add in the attack on the press, and it seems clear to me that democracy might be more fragile now than at any point since Franco died in 1975. See it all here.

I should think everyone in the world knows by now that the noughties decade in Spain saw a rich combination of easy money, vast corruption and personal vanity that resulted in a large number of projects which have been, shall we say, rather less successful than Bilbao's Guggenheim. One such is A Cidade da Cultura on Mount Gaia on the edge of Santiago here in Galicia. This vastly ambitious and costly project has now been officially stopped, after 10 years of construction, huge overspend, several corruption cases and few visitors. Just a couple of facts: The plan included a library for a million books and for an opera house. By the date of its closure, no one had read any of the couple of hundred books there and neither had anyone staged an opera. The architect of this madness - Manuel Fraga - died before this denouement. And before he could be hung up by his heels. The abiding memory of him is that when people told him it couldn't be afforded, he replied "That's none of your business." Anyway, we have most of it finished, even if it is empty and rotting in the rain of Santiago. A couple of years ago, the Voz de Galicia labelled it "A Monument to Incoherence". You might be able to think of a better label.

Spanish, like most (all?) other languages, doesn't have quite as many words as English and this causes problems at times. Witness:-
1. Genio - A genius
2. Ser genio - To be a genius
3. Tener genio - To be temperamental
4. Estar de mal genio - To be bad tempered.
5. Tener mal genio - Ditto
When I complained to a Spanish friend that this was confusing and that I thought genio/genius had a positive connotation, she replied: "It does. Up to a point."

And then there's Buscar - To look for.
Buscar tus llaves - To look for your keys
Buscar tu coche - To pick up your car after a service
Buscar alguien - To pick up somebody in your car
Buscar tu bolsa en tu coche - To go and get your bag from the car

Finally . . . 

The Environment  
January: 31 days. On which it rained: 30 - 97% 
February: 6 days. On which it has rained: 6 - 100%  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Colin,

En Mexico y varios paises de Sud America se utiliza más el verbo "recoger" en vez de "buscar", p. ej. -- "Tengo que recoger la ropa de la tintoreria y buscar la forma de que no se moje con el aguacero."

Saludos!
Jorge
SF Bay Area

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