Thursday, October 20, 2016

Pontevedra Pensées: 20.10.16

SPANISH LIFE/CULTURE

Guasapes: It took me a few seconds but I finally figured out this was the Spanish for Whatsapps. Or, as I prefer to write it, Wotsaps.

Ethics: Bankia is, as you'll recall, the rubbish bank forged out of several small rubbish banks. It's emerged that those on on the inside of this politcal development admitted in advance that anyone investing in it would 'inevitably' lose at least some of their investment. Nice.

New Businesses: It's reported this week that more than 50% of these in Spain fail within the first 3 years. This doesn't surprise me, if only because I've heard similar statistics in the past in respect of the UK. What does surprise me is that anyone here risks starting up as a sole-trader, or autonomo/a as this is called here. Until recently, the government whacked you with c. €300 a month in social security taxes from day one. A year or so ago, this was reduced to around €80 for the first year. Small mercies if you're betting your savings on success.

SPANISH POLITICS

The PP Party: Is promising to create 400,000 new jobs next year. Putting aside the question of how precarious these will be, I guess much depends on tourism. Right now the sails are billowing like never before but if, god forbid, there were a terrorist attack on one of our coasts . . . 

THE EU

Anyone want to quarrel with this simple overview?:-
  • World War 1: Fought to prevent German hegemony under the Kaiser
  • World War 2: Fought to prevent German hegemony under Hitler
  • The EU: Initiated to ensure that European nation states wouldn't ever go to war again to prevent one of them – especially Germany – seeking hegemony.
  • 2016: Germany has de facto hegemony, both political and economic, if not military. And all this despite Germany not wanting it and the clever French doing their utmost to set things up so it wouldn't happen. Largely done by giving the Germans, through the misconceived euro, a permanent economic advantage through its low exchange rate relative to all other EU members. So, not so clever really.
I'm reminded of 2 quotes: Might is right. I associate this - perhaps wrongly - with the (German) philosopher Hegel. And 2. That old cynic's comment that The outcome of every major reform is the exact opposite of that which it was designed to bring about.

Strangely, I'm also reminded of the insouciant quote of the British politician Lord Balfour: Nothing matters very much and few things matter at all.

Oh, yes. Also Robbie Burns': The best laid schemes of mice and men oft go awry. English translation.

GALICIAN STUFF

Caminos de Santiago: If you're contemplating doing one of these and passing through Pontevedra, you're now spoilt for choice. As of now, you have 4 options and by next year – the camino being all about money – you might well have a couple more:-
  1. The traditional Portuguese Way. Coming up from Tui on the border, via Porriño, and going on to Padrón and Santiago.
  2. The new Spiritual Variant. This departs from the traditional route 2km north of Pontevedra and then crosses some steep countryside, passing 2 monasteries, on its way to Vilanova de Arousa on the coast. There you can take a boat trip or walk to Catoira and then on the Padrón. Where you'll rejoin the traditional route.
  3. The Coastal Camino: You cross into La Guardia in Spain from Caminha in the NW corner of Portugal and then walk along the coast, via Bayona, to Vigo and then Redondela, where you join the traditional route, walking via Arcade to Pontevedra.
  4. The Camino de Padre Sarmiento: This is an entirely new route which, I think, has yet to be blessed by the Santiago Camino authorities. This leaves Pontevedra to wend westwards along the coast via Combarro, San Xenxo, Vilanova de Arousa, Vilagarcia, Catoira and Pontecesures, where it links up with the traditional route just south of Padrón. This amounts to 190km and my advice would be not to do it in July or August. For one thing, it gets quite hot at times and, for another, you'll be walking through Galicia's crammed-with-Spanish-tourists seaside resorts.
If No. 4 is too much for you, there's the so-called Route of the Sea. This seems to start with a boat trip up the Ria de Arousa, a disembarkation in Pontecesures and then the remaining bit of the traditional route to Santiago. This one, though, doesn't pass through Pontevedra.

LOCAL STUFF

The Pontevedra Market: I mentioned yesterday that commerce here doesn't operate as it does elsewhere. I thought again of this when reading that, as our market is (sadly) going downhill, the local council is thinking about liberalising things and giving licences to traders of things other than fish, meat and flowers. Assisted, of course, by EU funds. One wonders whether the criteria will have much to do with customer needs/desires.

The Pink Umbrellas: These were to draw attention to breast cancer. Apologies for my ignorance.

THE GALLERY

Cats: Now I'm attending to the needs of the kitten who adopted me, I can vouch for the accuracy of this.


Which is why I installed a cat flap.

THE CORRUPTION CAVALCADE


The most recent first:

The Case
     Who
   Position
 Allegation
  Status


Francisco Briones
Promotor of the investment

Massive fraud on the public
Investigation began in 2006 and things have finally reached the courts. The Public Prosecutor is seeking a 27 year gaol sentence.

Corporate

The Zetta company

The Board
Passing off a Chinese phone as its own.

See here.

Cheating banker

“F.J.O.G”
Director
Stole €1.9m from 14 clients
After 5 years(sic) of investigation, the trial has now begun


The Royal Family 2

Princess Cristina
Sister of the king
Corrupt business practices 
Trial proceeding. With the usual attempts at delays

The Royal Family 1
Juan Carlos de Borbón y Borbón dos Sicilias

Ex-king
Tried to bribe the authorities not to proceed with the corruption case against his daughter.

No prospect of a trial.
Gürtel/Correa
37 politicians and businessmen
Senior position holders
Illegal party financing
Trial just begun after many years of investigation.

Bankía/Black Cards

Numerous ex-politicos and businessmen

Senior position holders
Use of 'black credit cards' to avoid taxation on income of more that €12m.
Trial just started
Bog standard case
Ventura Sierra Vázquez
The mayor of Vilareño de Conso, Galicia.
Falsification of docs and corrupt practices.

Trial just started
Bog standard case
José Ramón [Nené] Barral
The ex-mayor of Ribadumia, Galicia
Money laundering and drug smuggling

Under investigation
Bog standard case
María Antonia Munar
Ex-president of the Balearics parliament
€4m bribes for changing property 
classifications
Awaiting sentence. 4 years demanded.


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