Tuesday, February 5, 2013
In addition to the financial crisis that continues to cripple the Spanish economy, we now have a political crisis. It is really not surprising that there is a connection between the two. It seems that a former treasurer of the Partido Popular somehow managed to park some 22 million Euros in a Swiss bank account. Additionally, his account book has surfaced that records payments made under the table to the high mucky-mucks of the party. The current Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, has supposedly received some 350,000 Euros over a ten-year period. Rajoy appeared on Spanish television on Saturday to give his explanation of “the facts”. He did so in a prepared fifteen-minute address after which no questions were permitted. If that were not enough to undermine his credibility, reporters were not allowed into the room where the speech originated and were obliged to watch the speech on a monitor.
Rajoy has denied everything, which is par for the course for politicians all over the world. He has cast doubt on the written records stating that it is all a plot generated by enemies of the party and enemies of the state. This supposed truth comes from the same politician who has managed to renege on all his campaign promises. In spite of vowing that the IVA would not be raised, that there would be no cuts to health and education and that pensions would not be touched, the opposite happened in 2012. The failing banks have been refunded, but anything that remotely resembles a public service has been slashed. Unemployment ranks continue to swell and the youth unemployment rate stands at 50%. He is not the only member of his party that has been involved in financial misdeeds. All the under the table deals that were made during the boom years have slowly been coming to light and the role of the PP’s involvement in the bad decisions of the local banks and the bribes that were paid by contractors to avoid “problems” are now coming to light.
In the last election the PP achieved an overwhelming majority of the votes and was able to take charge of the political reins with the aid an assistance of any of the other political parties. As a result, the Parliament has consistently vetoed any request for appearances by the various ministers and the prime minister himself. The report regarding the state of the nation has been consistently postponed. Major changes have been made at the TV networks that are publicly funded. Critics of the government have lost their positions and friends of the PP now find themselves in the spotlight. The PP has been unable to control the press and the current crisis has been sparked by investigations carried out by two of Spain’s top newspapers, El Mundo and El País. The latest polls show that if the elections were held today the PP would garner only 23% of the vote with the Socialist Party not far behind. There have been calls for Rajoy to resign and I am sure that there will be a call for early elections. It is doubtful that either will happen.
Valencia continues to struggle as new scandals continue to come to light. Valencia’s problems have been highlighted in the international media and today’s LA Times has a page 3 article about the unchecked spending that went on during the boom years. You can read all about it here http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-spain-valencia-20130204,0,2467482.story
Our lives have not been as exciting. The good news is that there is no hint of scandal in the Kaplan household. We did manage to get to the museum on Sunday. The IVAM, which is the Modern Art Museum, had an exhibit entitled “América” that was truly bizarre and we were not really sure what its intent was nor we were sure about what America they were describing. The good news is that admission was free and worth every penny.
Yesterday we tried out a new place for lunch. It is a bar/tasca called Maipi and it was recommended to us by our upstairs neighbor and it also got a mentioned in a NY Times piece of a few years ago about where to eat in Valencia. We started off with some artichokes and ham. Susan was in the mood for fish so she ordered the cod a la portuguesa and I had the leg of goat, which I found to be a bit bland. I really think that this would be an ideal place to have tapas since their tapa menu is quite extensive. We will definitely go back and give it another try.
Last night there was a CIVAC meeting that featured a lecture by Boris Wild. I enjoyed it because it was heavy on theory with only a limited number of effects being taught. There were several members who were displeased by the lecture for the very same reasons that I liked it. Wild is a very creative thinker and his plots are airtight and will convince any audience that they have witnessed magic happening. The lecture ended at 11:00 and the guys were going to go out in search of some supper, but I was out of energy especially since I needed to do a rush translation for EL MANUSCRITO. Tonight we are going to Jimmy Glass to listen to some jazz.