Thursday, January 16, 2020

Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 16.1.20

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

Note: One or two of the items below have been borrowed from Lenox Napier's Business Over Tapas of today.

Spanish Politic
  • I wrote the other day about the 31 year old Minister for Equality. Here's something - in Spanish - on her rise to political prominence. There's a Google translation below. I've made only a few essential changes, and replaced he and his with she and her. Machines can't yet get this right.
  • It's possible here to appeal to the Supreme Court about government appointments. So it is that the right wing parties say they'll do this in respect of a politician appointed to a senior judicial position, in an alleged breach of the separation of the executive and the judiciary. 
  • The article I cited yesterday on the governability of Spain was from a right wing commentator. This article comes from the other side of the spectrum and is well worth a full read, if you want to understand Spain's political mess. Tasters:-
  1. We are entering a new phase, in which Sánchez’s investiture does not in the least guarantee the governability of a regime which faces a structural crisis — not only at the state level but across the European Union as a whole.
  2. Despite the restraint Sánchez has reaffirmed, the fundamental problem he faces will be the opposition from a Right of mostly Francoist origins. [There's a reference to 'authoritarian enclaves' inherited from the dictatorship but I don't really know what these are.]
  3. The new government aims to mitigate political instability — despite a crisis in Spanish governance that will undoubtedly continue unabated.
  4. Given the polarized framework and the radicalization of the Right, in the short term at least it is hard to see how the PSOE could align its current agreements [with Podemos and regional nationalists] with other possible pacts with the PP or Ciudadanos on the big questions of state. Yet there is no doubt the Socialist leaders will try to do this when the turbulence has calmed.
The Spanish Economy
  • At 33%, the youth - under 25 - unemployment rate in Spain has overtaken Greece and is now the highest in Europe. I doubt many young Spaniards will be rushing back from the UK, whatever their fears for a post-Brexit future there. Maybe to Germany. 
Spanish Life  
  • Something you'll all have been waiting keenly to know.
  • Oh, dear. And I've just advised several Dutch visitors to partake freely of this!
  • I suspect this is not new advice.
  • Thinking of joining the growing hordes on the Camino de Santiago for the first time? This could be useful to you.
Galician Life
  • E-scooter deaths continue to happen here. And no doubt elsewhere. Expect new laws on helmets.
  • The young man who was cut in half on the AP9 last week was able to get onto the autopista with the aid of a large rubbish bin next to the fence. The local press have since identified several holes in the latter. But I don't expect any heads to roll. Or even any suits for civil/criminal negligence.
  • Near my house is a sharp bend at the top of the hill. Given how many drivers take it over the white line, I'm astonished Ive never seen a crash there. But they do happen, it seems:-

This is the second time in a year that the (slow learner?) owner of this car has come out to find this scene. But I've always thought he was pushing his luck parking on the bend.

Brexit and Brits in the EU
  • Per Lenox: One of the unexpected consequences of Brexit will be that UK residents who have bought holiday homes or have invested in Spain will suffer at the hands of the Spanish tax system. This is because of their loss of status as residents of the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA). Click here for details. 
The Way of the World
  • Before Hollywood was ‘woke’: 17 politically incorrect movies that would never be made today:-
Bad Boys 2 (2003)
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
Dumbo (1941)
Soul Man (1986)
White Chicks (2004)
Freebie and the Bean (1974)
Weird Science (1985)
Airplane! (1980)
Any early James Bond film (1962–1973)
The Idiots (1998)
Gigli (2003)
Blazing Saddles (1974)
Song of the South (1946)   signature tune “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”,
The Party (1968)
Any Rob Schneider movie (1990–present)

Having seen only a few of these, I can't really comment on what makes them so incompatible with today's mores.

  • Word of the Day: Sablazo: Blow; Hit
  • Phrase of the Day: La izquierda suave: The soft Left. To be distinguished from la izquierda moderada. And also la izquierda continuista. But don't ask me how.
Finally  . . .
  • I guess (almost) everyone knows not to click on links in emails from people you don't know. Or even from people you do know. But recently I've been receiving emails from 'Lisa', saying. Hello. This is my email and giving it in the text. I suspect clicking on it would have the same virus-related effect as clicking on an attached document.
  • My younger daughter continues to gain subscribers to her vlog - for busy mums - here. I'm quite envious. But also proud.

Irene Montero, Minister of Equality after a meteoric career that began at age 16 in the Communist Youth 

The 'number 2' of Podemos and until now the Parliamentary spokesperson of United Podemos, Irene Montero (Madrid, 1988), will become the next Minister of Equality of the first Coalition Government  formed in Spain since the Second Republic.

With a degree in Psychology from the Autonomous University of Madrid (2011), and a Master's Degree in Educational Psychology (2013), Montero left in 2015 the doctorate on educational inclusion she was doing - with a University Teacher Training grant -, to to be able to devote full time to politics and to her work as a deputy and leader of Podemos. He also waived a scholarship at Harvard that he had already granted.

In addition to her work as a PhD student at the Autonomous University, Montero includes in her presentation sheet of the Podemos website a work between 2010 and 2011 as an employee of an appliance and electronics chain that made her studies compatible with Psychology. He also reports that in 2009 and 2011 he lived in Chile for several months.


This Madrileña  - from a family from Abulanse and is energetic, vehement and a perfectionist, according to her relatives - began as a member of the Communist Youth aged 16. In 2011, the 15-M Movement and the Mortgage Affected Platform (PAH) marked a before and after in her political career.

As an anti-eviction activist, Montero began to take part in the public debate by acting as occasional spokesperson for the PAH, mainly in the Tuerka program presented by the then still university professor and now secretary general of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias.

It was after the European elections of May 2014 when Montero landed in Podemos, and in the autumn of that year, at the founding assembly of Vistalegre, she was elected member of the first State Citizen Council (EEC) - the highest governing body of the training--.

Her entry in the Executive of the purple party and in the hard core of the formation was a matter of months, since in March 2015 she was appointed Secretary of Area Coordination and soon began to act as head of the Cabinet of Churches.


In December 2015, she became a deputy with 27 years, after being elected in the first general elections to which Podemos appeared since her birth as a party. Montero then concurred as number 4 for Madrid and assumed the deputy spokesman of the Confederal group United We can.

At the assembly of Vistalegre II of February 2017, the Madrid deputy was raised as the second most influential leader of the purple party, after Iglesias, and replaced the former 'purple' leader Íñigo Errejón, who already already had banished as the right hand of the secretary general and foreseeable successor when Iglesias retires.

In that second assembly, the first that we could celebrate since her arrival in Congress, Montero wanted to make it clear to members and party positions that her presence in the institutions should not alter her principles or her way of doing politics. "We can't like carpet more than asphalt. We can't like offices more than the rests of houses where people are evicted. We can't like TV more than being side by side with people from this country, " she said then.

Now, with the motto "for a life that is worth living" as a maximum in her political work, Montero arrives at the Government, at 31, the same age as was the Minister of Equality of Spain, the socialist Bibiana Aido, when President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero put her in charge of that new portfolio, and made her the youngest minister in the history of Spain. The leader of Podemos does not beat her record, but matches it.

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