By James Skinner

Let’s start with the separatist movement in Cataluña. Although all eyes – Catalans – are on the forthcoming referendum in Scotland to see which way the United Kingdom pendulum will swing as far as a breakup is concerned, Sr. Artur Mas, the region’s president continues to trip over his own shadow. He has tried to gain support from international politicians with various trips abroad to drum up enthusiasm but without success. The European Commission continually advises him that they would lose EU status. On this issue the whole of the Spanish Parliament, other that the Basque and Galician Nationalists are on the government’s side. ‘No, Sr. Mas; you cannot have your referendum!’

Catalan Independence

Despite the fact that corruption of all kinds has hit every sector of society from football clubs (Barcelona is in the hot seat with a tax evasion of Euros 13M during the purchase of Nymar, their latest star), to trade unions (the UGT has been ‘caught’ using tax payers’ money for all kinds of binges), it is at last been tackled seriously. It has reached down to town council level and even in my own home region – Galicia – an anti-corruption project by the name ‘Ducks’ is underway by the Civil Guards investigating every single nook and cranny of every organization in the area. Thousands of files and hard disks are under the microscope. No convictions as yet, but the culprits – mainly politicians – are keeping very quiet. Princess Cristina is still undergoing her own Armageddon saga but then she has some very influential lawyers stalling the process!

 

Melilla Spain On a more serious note is the dramatic move by thousands of Africans making their way to Europe via Morocco and ending up in Ceuta and Melilla; the two Spanish provinces on the other side of the Straits of Gibraltar. Most begin by desperately trying to climb over the barbed wire fences that separate the boundaries. (200 attempted the barrier just this week with 50 breaking through) The Spanish Civil Guards have inadvertently fired rubber bullets at dozens of the ones that make it as they swim ashore on the Spanish side. Because several have died the news has ricocheted throughout the press accusing the Spanish authorities of brutality.

The real problem is the underlying current of human trafficking by thugs in the African countries promising them the ‘Holy Land’ and the sloppy control by the Moroccan authorities that cannot put a stop to the human avalanche.What is even worse is the opposition parties in Spain have used the drama as yet another weapon to lambast the government. They should instead, be shouldering them and denouncing the tragedy as an international dilemma. The sensible sector of the media has correctly labeled the issue as a European Union and United Nation’s one. These poor individuals are seeking asylum in Europe; not just Spain! More on this issue in due course.

On to a farcical note; before a panel of peacemakers and the whole of the international press including the BBC a few hooded ETA criminals offered a new peace deal by ‘surrendering their weapons’ consisting of pistols, rifles, grenades, explosive material and other odds and ends that didn’t even add up to a container load. They signed a declaration and walked away. The Interior Minister, Jorge Fernandez Díaz called the event a typical ETA theatrical act. He said, ‘whilst the group does not give itself completely up the state of law prevails and our fight against terrorism will continue.’

On a final note, it’s voting time and all parties are gearing up for the European Union elections. Each is preparing their particular individual propaganda campaign. It will be a test for the present government to see which way the political ideological wind is blowing and how the majority of Spaniards feel about all the hardship that they are still enduring or whether the opposition offers an alternative that is yet to be defined.

On all counts the country’s welfare state is no longer what it was just a decade ago and many Spaniards are still not realizing that party time is over.