Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 1.11.17

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain. 

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here.

Cataluña: So, What Happens Now?

Well, we could all play the guessing game but this take from this morning's Times is as good as any:-

Why is Carles Puigdemont in Brussels?
To try to steal back the political limelight from Madrid. The Catalan Republic lasted just a few hours before Madrid sacked Mr Puigdemont and his entire government, dissolved the parliament and called regional elections. He was left facing a possible 30-year jail term and questions about the survival of the independence movement, which is riven with divisions between hardliners and moderates over whether to fight in elections on December 21. His dramatic dash to Belgium is an attempt to portray himself as the victim of a politically biased justice system and to rally EU support.

How long before he goes home?
He has been summoned to testify to judges in Madrid tomorrow about his declaration of independence
[charged with rebellion and sedition and of illegally using €6.2 million of public funds]. He says he will return when he can be sure of a fair trial, and appears to be remaining in Brussels for the foreseeable future. If he fails to answer the Madrid court’s summons he may apply for political asylum in Belgium to avoid extradition. That may prove to be a long drawn-out process and one that would lead to a potentially serious row between Spain and Belgium, two longstanding EU allies.

Isn’t this all a bit contradictory?
Yes. Mr Puigdemont claimed yesterday to be still running a rebel Catalan administration, albeit from Brussels — yet he agreed to contest the regional elections in December, imposed by Madrid, and to abide by the result. So on the one hand he appears to want to continue to paint himself as the president of Catalonia while on the other he is accepting the mandate of the Spanish government.

Has Madrid gained the upper hand? 
Yes, for now. Madrid’s hardline interpretation of the law has triggered the dramatic spectacle of Mr Puigdemont fleeing the country and potentially running away from Spanish justice. He will find few friends in Brussels. No government will support him and even Belgium’s Flemish separatist party has distanced itself from him, despite senior figures suggesting he may be a candidate for asylum.

What happens next? 
How long Mr Puigdemont remains in exile is anybody’s guess. Already jokes have started about him getting a job serving moules frites. He will be trying to concentrate on the election campaign, on which the future of independence hangs. Separatist parties have said they may stand as a coalition in December, but there are splits between moderate groups who favour negotiating an agreed referendum, like Scotland, and radicals for whom another unilateral declaration is the only answer. Mr Puigdemont may try to pull them together but the far-left Popular Unity Candidacy, which provided crucial support to give him power, has refused to stand and has distanced itself from the other two independence parties.

Meanwhile . . . . Back in the real world of Spain . . . .
  • A poll published by a Catalan government survey office yesterday found that 49% of Catalans now backed secession — the highest figure for three years. This rather highlights the risk Madrid is running in going with the only real option it had of early elections.
  • There is a suggestion that the Catalan and Spanish governments are in secret negotiations under the aegis of the EU in Brussels. I suppose it could be true. But I happened to read this comment on conspiracy theories yesterday:- Conspiracy theories are seductive but they pollute politics by dressing up attacks on fact as striving for the truth. Conspiracy thinking involves a concerted attack on the truth dressed up as concern for the truth. And it hacks at the roots of political democracy, arguing that everything we think we know, we don’t. And that every institution we invest with authority is in fact organised to subvert our interests. The goodies are really the baddies.
  • Speaking of conspiracy thinking . . . An anonymous group of Spaniards has asked whether Spain really is the democracy she appears to be. The fascinating article at the end of this post contains some well-known facts and some lesser-know claims. It might be true but it might also be a farrago of truth, half-truths and lies. Perhaps one or more of my more cynical - but knowledgable - Spanish readers could comment on it. If you can't be bothered to read the whole thing, this is the final para:- What the international community needs to understand, is that Catalonia is a modern developed nation that is prepared to embrace real democracy and yearning for it. The rest of Spain, on the other hand, is not and won’t be for a long while, if it ever gets there. So we need to stop seeing the Catalan sovereignty movements as “nationalists” an understand that for most Catalans it is as much a question of democracy as it is a question of identity. All those who believe and support democracy need to support Catalonia for it is the only way to ensure a peaceful transition towards a prosperous and democratic Catalan Republic. With time, we hope that this will help the Spanish people to reconsider their position and progressively embrace democracy. Otherwise, other regions are bound to follow the Catalan trail as soon as they become mature enough in democratic terms. 
  • Rather interesting is that this conclusion ignores the fact that Catalan governments over the years have been as corrupt as any other in Spain.
Life in (normal) Spain
  • Spanish companies openly advertise jobs at below the minimum wage. Presumably because they can get away with it. Yesterday, I clocked an ad for 'a highly qualified person' to manage the bookings in a holiday rentals business, at €800 a month plus accommodation. I wonder what they'd pay someone who wasn't 'highly qualified'.
  • Five years after it was completed, Spain's 48th airport will soon have someone to operate it. This will be the partly state-owned AENA, which manages 46 of the other airports. The new one will be at Corvera in Murcia, close to 2 other airports. Not everyone is convinced it makes sense. HT to reader Sierrra for this news.
  • Here's somewhere where you might not want to sleep, in Cardona. On the other hand . . .
Public Service Advice
  • If you get a product made in China and the instructions talk about 'loop and hook', this is what we Brits call 'velcro'. I guess the first of these is US law-suit-avoiding usage.
  • If you're an over-50 Brit resident in Spain, this web page will be of interest.
  • The phrase since he/she started his/her journey in 1990 merely means since 1990. 'Journey' has become one of those pointlessly obligatory words of today's journalism.
Finally . . . You don't get many headlines as loaded with irony as this one: Man Charged With Killing Friend After Argument Over Biblical Forgiveness. 

Today's Cartoon:-



Spain is not a democracy

In its short history as a nation-state, Spain has never been a democracy, it is not a democracy and has no intention whatsoever of becoming one.

Here, we will intend to explain how we have arrived to such conclusion, but, first, a…


Of course, we won’t ask you to take our word for the contents of this article. Instead, we encourage you to do your own research and to draw your own conclusions. We are aware that this is going to sound like a ludicrous conspiracy theory. This has been written in a rush, the English sucks, references are not provided and one shouldn’t expect a hundred percent accuracy, however, we have tried to keep the contents of this article as historically factual as possible. Mere conjectures are explicitly or implicitly highlighted as such. The rest comes straight from several decades of conversations with first-hand witnesses, press-reading and dot-connecting.

This article is anonymous and has been published using the Tor infrastructure. This makes the identities of the authors hard, but not impossible, to trace/guess. We kindly request you to refrain from any speculation regarding such identities. Please, keep in mind that if you point your finger to someone, that person would be facing jail, or worse…

We are Spaniards. Not Catalans, not Basques, plain Spaniards. We are not affiliated with any political party or organization. We have no structured ideology. We are not nationalists and we are not communists/socialists/anarchists. Nothing. We have no agenda. We are just normal citizens who are sick of corruption, lies and totalitarianism. We stand for democracy. That’s all.


Wait a minute, have we said “short history”? Isn’t Spain one of the oldest nations in Europe? No, it isn’t. Spain, as such, exists only since 1833 when the Castilian queen Elisabeth II dictated by royal decree that, thenceforth, all of her kingdoms, colonies and other possessions should be collectively known as Kingdom of Spain.

At that time, the Kingdom of Portugal submitted an official diplomatic complaint because, having been Spain a geographical denomination up to then, Portugal accused the Kingdom of Castile of trying to usurp a name that belonged to all the nations in the Iberian Peninsula. Indeed, this was like if, at some point in history, the king/queen of England had decided to group his/her kingdoms under the collective denomination of Kingdom of Britain.

It was also at about this time, 1833, when the administrative reforms mandated by the Cadiz Constitution of 1812 (a bad copycat of the French Constitution) started to be enforced and the Spanish “nation” to be constructed.

Prior to 1833, however, there was no “Spain”, at least not officially. There was the Kingdom of Castile and other annexed kingdoms and colonies (such as Galicia, Navarre and Aragon). Spain is, therefore, as a nation-state, younger than the United States of America. It is true that, informally, the Iberian kingdoms submitted to the rule of the Castilian monarch were referred to as “Spain” and his subjects as “Spaniards” or “Spanish”, but this is the same as referring to the USA as “America” and to the USA citizens as “Americans”, obviating the fact that the Mexicans or the Brazilians are also American, in the same way that the Portuguese were “Spanish” prior to the usurping of the name by the Castilian crown in 1833.

Needless to say, these historical trifles are neither taught in Spanish schools nor mentioned in the Spanish Wikipedia. Myths are used instead.


All the history of Castile/Spain, from the times of the Spanish Inquisition to our days, is tainted with totalitarian fanaticism. It’s true that the liberal winds coming from France and the United Stated inspired some Spaniards to try and make a democratic republic out of the kingdom. However, both endogenously-driven attempts were so precarious and short-lived (1873-1874 and 1931-1936, some will say 1939, never mind) that they hardly deserve to me mentioned. Except, maybe, for the fact that both were violently ended by military coup d’états. Indeed, the Spanish elites have always been, and still are, absolutely allergic to democracy. And here we are not talking only about the military elites, but, primarily about the economic elites. Just a hint: Franco, like Hitler, was just a puppet. If we are to understand politics, as we’ll see later, we always need to follow the money.

The second Spanish Republic resulted, as we all know, in a “civil” war and a sanguinary fascist dictatorship that lasted 40 years. And here is where things get interesting.


By the end of the 1960s a tsunami of civil rights movements seemed to be swiping the planet, which, needless to say, made people on top a bit nervous. After four decades of NATO-sponsored fascist dictatorships in Portugal and Spain, it was obvious that the party was coming to an end. The dictators were old and a new generation of youngsters and workers inspired by the international civil rights movements was starting to give them grieve. Plus, let’s not forget, the Soviet Union was still strong. It was crucial for NATO to control these countries’ transition into democracies, lest people started to have their own (wrong) ideas…

So the CIA and its client secret services, namely France’s and Germany’s, started to lure key figures of the Spanish regime into the notion of change. We imagine it would be something like: “listen pal, things are going to change that you like it or not, so either you help us and thrive/save your sorry ass or oppose us and sink”. In modern language we would refer to this kind of persuasive rhetoric as “change management” and, as we know, it worked pretty well in Spain (also in Portugal, with some frights).

The problem of this strategy was that, with few people on the leadership willing to get their hands dirty with blood, it left the Spanish regime very vulnerable in extremely sensitive circumstances. Which led to the use of…


State-sponsored far-right organizations like Guerrilleros de Cristo Rey (Christ King Guerrillas) were in charge of doing the dirty job of controlling the streets and, namely, of intimidating worker and student union leaders. There were quite a few of such paramilitary organizations and, combined, they assassinated numerous people.

The reason why we mention the Guerrilleros in particular is because the current director of the Spanish Guardia Civil (the oldest law enforcement order in Spain), Arsenio Fernández de Mesa y Díaz del Río was an active member of that group. There is no evidence that Fernández de Mesa took part in any killing, but, along with other guerrilleros, he participated in the brutal aggression with metal chains against a 16-year-old girl, which happened to be a student union leader at the local female high school.

No wonder this is one of the men who sent law enforcement to steal votes and beat old ladies during the referendum in Catalonia…
Like Fernández de Mesa, several policemen and members of far-right organizations with blood in their hands have been since promoted and occupy nowadays preeminent positions within the Spanish regime.


Juan Carlos I, the former king of Spain is often praised as a savior of the Spanish democracy due to his alleged involvement in Tejero’s attempt of coup d’état of 1981 (23F).

The first thing we need to understand is that  23F was not a real coup d’état. During the Spanish transition there were big tensions between the more extremists elements of the regime, those who supported a real “ruptura democrática” (democratic breakdown) and those willing to compromise (including the foreign secret services that controlled the process). The first were particularly worried about separatists and communists, but, mainly, about the possibility of the former regime leaders and those who engaged in violent repression having to stand trial. 23F was their way of tracing a line on the sand and making everybody willing to compromise and forget. By means of scaring the population to the bone, obviously. It was subsequently used as the axis of a huge marketing campaign aimed at washing Juan Carlos’ image and presenting him as a hero.

He wasn’t. In fact, Juan Carlos was literally adopted by Franco as a young boy, when his family was exiled in Portugal. He was the chosen one and was groomed by the dictator himself to be his successor. No wonder Juan Carlos always talks about Franco with love and respect, as it he was his real father.

There are plenty of other things we could mention about this controversial figure like how he “accidentally” killed his brother by shooting him in the head when he was visiting his family for Christmas. And that wasn’t the only member of the family well-positioned for succession who died in mysterious circumstances… Finally, investigating the origin of his and his family fortune would provide enough material for several books.


The classical free-market democracy party structure, one conservative-liberal (UCD) party and one social-democrat party (PSOE) alternating in power, could not work in Spain. There was a reason for that, as well as an anomaly.

The reason was that Catalonia and the Basque Country had their own nationalist bourgeoisies, which made it impossible for the Spanish right-wing to ever become hegemonic in these regions. These made necessary a ménage-à-quatre, which brought two additional parties to the list of systemic organizations. Thus, we should have ended up with UCD, PSOE, CiU and PNV.

However, as we mentioned, there was also an anomaly. A former Franco minister with plenty of blood in his hands had created his own political party, Alianza Popular (AP, nowadays, Partido Popular, PP). Initially, AP was a far-right party which didn’t even vote the constitution and was not accepted in Europe. This stubborn fascist was called Manuel Fraga and he ended up successfully competing with the, also former Franco minister, Adolfo Suarez (UCD) for the same political base and beating him at his own game.

Today, the party he founded, the Popular Party (PP), has the complete hegemony of the Spanish right-wing, from the far-right to the liberal center and it is the main political party in Spain.
In summary,  at the end of the day, we ended up with four systemic parties: PP, PSOE, CiU, PNV. The idea was the rotation of CiU/PSOE in Catalonia, of PNV/PSOE in the Basque Country and of PP/PSOE in the rest of the Spain.

This system worked pretty well (for them) until another former fascist that goes by the name of José María Aznar decided to blow everything up. First by creating far-right media in order to make Spain turn to the to the far right and then by pissing the Catalans off as much as he possibly could, Aznar put into serious risk the “consensus” inherited from the transition. But that’s another story…


These four parties were initially funded by several secret services (including the Spanish one) and were subsequently given carte blanche to find any other sources of funding they could possibly imagine, be them legal or illegal.

The idea was to secure the absolute hegemony for this quartet and make sure that none of the non-systemic parties stood any chance. Needless to say, in a free-market democracy, it’s (almost) all about money.

This absolute impunity gave rise to the most corrupt political system in Europe. One that is intrinsically corrupt and that, logically, attracted every unscrupulous opportunists in the country.
There is corruption and corruption, though. The most fascinating event in Spanish politics is precisely how the PP founder, Manuel Fraga was able to find the money in order to gather around him the bulk of the Spanish right-wing. But, before we go into that, a word about his competitors, the PSOE.


The Socialist Party. One might be tempted to think, well ,they are as corrupt as the Popular Party but at least they are not the direct heirs of a fascist regime…

Think twice. They are exactly the same people, only with, initially, lower profiles. Fraga and Suárez were visible faces of the regime. Felipe González, former leader of the PSOE and First Minister for 16 years, wasn’t. However, like Aznar and numerous others, in his youth González was a very active and radical member of a fascist organization, the Falange Española. And he was far from being the only one within the leadership of the party.

In order to make the Socialist Party palatable for the most extremist elements of the Spanish regime and to purge any real socialist from the leadership, the French/German/American secret services had a brilliant idea. To almost entirely replace the leadership with low-profile young and bright fascist elements like González himself and several others.

In order to accomplish this, they celebrated a party congress in 1974 as far from Spain as they could afford. They chose the French commune of Suresnes, north of Paris.

Who could afford traveling to Paris? Who was allowed to leave the country? The chosen ones… A marvelously orchestrated “coup de partie” which resulted in former falangistas de facto controlling the PSOE (the so called “barones”).


We are getting to it now. How was old cunning Fraga able to defeat a younger, more moderate and handsomer Suárez on his quest for the hegemony of the Spanish right-wing?

Well, do you remember the far-right organizations we mentioned above? As the regimen “fell” or, should we say, “evolved”, they had to look for funding elsewhere. Their entrepreneurial spirit led them to focus on three lucrative business models: private security, drug trafficking, and prostitution.

At the same time, the entrepreneurs who had been smuggling tobacco through the southern Galician shores started to think bigger and made of Galicia the main import hub for Colombian cocaine in Europe. A happy marriage then took place and some of that imported white powder started to be distributed to the national market via the brothels and networks managed by the former far-right paramilitary elements, now turned into businessmen. This is what some people call the “narco-Nazi” connection, not very different from Colombia itself…

Seeking political power and respectability, some narcos went into politics and become elected representatives by the Popular Party (PP), including majors of small towns. This all happened in the Galician province of Pontevedra, being the provincial president some Mariano Rajoy, who would later become the First Minister of Spain. Unfortunately, a few of these popular narcos ended up being arrested and sentenced, along with the regional treasurer of the Galician PP, Rosendo Naseiro, accused of finding as creative as illegal ways of funding the party. The connection between the irregular funding the the drug trafficking, however, was never established by the judges. As we explained above, the four systemic parties enjoyed full immunity, they were untouchable (for this was strictly required for the “stability” of the regime), and therefore the investigations were stopped when they had just started to scratch the surface. Impunity, was a state affair.

At that point, the PP realized that having their own narcos in-house was too risky and they decided to use the connections previously established by their friends from the far-wing organizations. If Rajoy was the liaison in Pontevedra, in the capital, Santiago de Compostela, a young bright fellow was appointed to the task. He goes by the name of Alberto Núñez Feijóo and, guess what, he is nowadays the regional president of Galicia and a strong candidate for the succession of Mariano Rajoy as party leader and, potentially, First Minister.  At the time, he was head of the regional health department and the protégé of an Opus Dei man, Romay Beccaría, then “minister” in the regional government. NOTE: The Opus Dei is a catholic organization created by Spanish fascists to mimic the efficient Freemasonry’s traffic of influences networks, even if they hated Freemasons…

The regional government hired a former Guerrillero de Cristo Rey, Manuel Cruz, as chauffeur. Manuel Cruz was also a very good friend and fascist comrade of the previously mentioned Arsenio Fernández de Mesa (now director of the Guardia Civil, as we said) until his tragic dead in a car crash. He was also the middleman between the Spanish far-right movements and the Arousa cartels, chiefly, drug-trafficker Marcial Dorado. Now, when the famous photographs of Feijóo and Dorado in the latter’s yacht were leaked to the press (from confidential court documents, presumably due to an internal war in the regional PP between Feijóo and the Baltar clan), Feijóo stated that he was not aware that Dorado was a narco when they were friends and that it was Cruz who had introduced him to Dorado. When further pictures of the president and the narco were leaked, this time skiing, Feijóo didn’t want to remember where the photos were taken. He said, “maybe Picos de Europa”. It wasn’t Picos de Europa, it was Andorra, a tax haven on the French/Spanish border well known of money launderers… In summary, Manuel Cruz presumably transferred the narco connection from the far-right movements to Feijóo and the Popular Party.

Pictures of Rajoy himself pronouncing a discourse during a political campaign on board of a fishing boat belonging to another famous narco have also appeared in the press. Sometimes non-Spaniards are amazed that such pictures hadn’t seem to have any effect on the political careers of either of these two men. People reason that they are presidents “in spite of” the pictures and their friendships with narcos. The truth is that they are presidents precisely because, by acting as liaisons between the party and the narcos, they enabled the PP to become what it is today. They are powerful because they took the risk and they know too much. They are untouchable.

As we also mentioned prostitution, on a more anecdotal note, it is worth remembering the friendship between the party founder, Manuel Fraga, and the famous businesswoman and madam Karina Falagán. Falagán owned numerous establishments (including, of course, brothels) in Vigo and it was inconceivable for Fraga, then President of Galicia, to visit the town without paying a visit to his old friend Karina. This was good for business, for it provided Falagán’s establishments with fame and respectability and doubtlessly increased their cache. We wonder what share of that increased margin of profits ended up funding the party’s campaigns…


Because corruption is intrinsic to the Spanish regime emanated from the Bourbonian restoration or Spanish transition, we could keep talking about it forever. The party-builders connections, the revolving doors, etc. But that is something that happens in most countries so everyone knows how it goes. In recent years, the tip of the iceberg of that corruption has finally reached the courthouses. A number of trials have taken or are taking place and a number of people have been sentenced (including businessmen, politicians, and even the king’s family). No one seems to stay in jail for long, if they go at all, but the trials may be perhaps interpreted as a symptom of the will of putting an end to impunity.

Yes, because, even if that impunity was an essential and intrinsic element of the regime for it assured that the systemic parties, and only the systemic parties, were able to acquire significant power in the institutions of the kingdom, it has also lead to levels of corruption that make the Spanish state not only completely inefficient but, simply, unviable. In a few words, the Spain emanated from the transition is a failed state.

A question arises, though, in a country that is intrinsically and completely corrupt, who would have the power and the will to fight corruption. We suspect that, this “second transition” is being exogenously-induced, as it was the first. We believe it is probably the European Union who is trying to get Spain out of the corruption black hole it is sunk into.

In order to do so however, we need new systemic parties that would be able to capitalize on people’s disenchantment with corruption but that, being new, are still clean from that corruption. So we have Ciudadanos (C’s), which is the new PP and Podemos, which is the new PSOE.

So, is there hope for Spain? We don’t think so, not at least in the short/medium term. On the one hand, the new parties don’t seem to be able to actually replace the old ones. They are in fact becoming political hinges that, by supporting the mayor systemic parties, will end up sunk into corruption and totalitarian practices. On the other hand, as we have seen in the Spanish response to the Catalan referendum, explicit fascism in Spain is still very strong. Each time that there is a risk of Spain becoming a somehow democratic country, they are on the streets provoking violence and exhibiting their fascist symbols and Nazi salutes. In Barcelona, for instance, both major parties, PP and PSOE, enabled these extremist elements to take absolute ownership of the demonstrations and the discourse. 

It’s not that they are back. They have always been there. They are just used when needed. Finally, as all Spanish First Ministers except for Zapatero (all Suárez, González, Aznar and Rajoy), the leader of Ciudadanos, Albert Rivera, has also been a member of far-right organizations. It would seem that the Spanish right-wing only trusts people with a proven fascist pedigree to be their leaders…


Then, there is also the problem in Catalonia. So far the Basque PNV stays loyal to the (first) transition agreements and so the Basque country is expected to remain in Spain via a rotation between the PNV and a coalition of all the Spanish nationalist combined (PP/PSOE/C’s). However, in Catalonia, the major party (the former CiU) was kicked out from the agreement by Aznar (followed by Zapatero), who tried to crush them by exposing the corruption of the Pujol’s era, obviating the fact that that was state-sponsored corruption. There is absolutely no way than there can be any stability in the region without including a legitimate representation of the Catalan middle-classes. Furthermore, the complete lack of respect towards Catalonia shown by the Spanish government, followed by the police brutality and the government-sponsored fascist demonstrations in Barcelona, have very likely pushed the Catalan people definitively away from wishing any kind of involvement the Spanish project.

What the international community needs to understand, is that Catalonia is a modern developed nation that is prepared to embrace real democracy and yearning for it. The rest of Spain, on the other hand, is not and won’t be for a long while, if it ever gets there. So we need to stop seeing the Catalan sovereignty movements as “nationalists” an understand that for most Catalans it is as much a question of democracy as it is a question of identity. All those who believe and support democracy need to support Catalonia for it is the only way to ensure a peaceful transition towards a prosperous and democratic Catalan Republic. With time, we hope that this will help the Spanish people to reconsider their position and progressively embrace democracy. Otherwise, other regions are bound to follow the Catalan trail as soon as they become mature enough in democratic terms.

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