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Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain

Random thoughts from a Brit in the North West. Sometimes serious, sometimes not. Quite often curmudgeonly.

Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 20 October 2020
20 October 2020 @ 10:16

Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable  

        - Christopher Howse: 'A Pilgrim in Spain'* 

Living La Vida Loca in Spain/Galicia

Sometimes coincidences are very hard to believe . . . Following on from the lawn disaster of last week - when a mini-JCB had to pass through my garden and fence into next door - I last night read this diary entry of mine, from mid 2003: Faye tells me that someone came this morning to say that I would be receiving a letter about something all the 4 families in the next 'block' want/need to do. I suspect that this is connected with some flooding in their basement they had a year or two ago. I seem to recall that there was something said about a pipe which goes under my lawn. I fear that they will want to dig up the lawn to take a look at it. I will be very annoyed if this means either destroying the vines that I have trained on the link fence in the last 2 years or taking up any part of my hand-laid terrace at the bottom of the garden. I won't be too pleased about it even if it doesn't.  So . . . It took 16 years for this to happen. Which makes this comment - from the same year - seem rather premature: The walkways behind the house are still not finished. It's coming up for 3 years now since the Community meeting we had to discuss their repair. 

Life moves at a different pace here . . . 

But good news . . . You’ll all be thrilled to know that the blinds company of July, revisited last week, are coming today. So, I won’t have to go to the 4th company kindly cited by a reader. Yet.

I’ve been a fan of John Carlin ever since I read this marvellous piece 20 years ago. Here’s a commentary of his on the scandal of a politically biased Spanish justice and a nonchalant public. It’s in Spanish but there’s a (tarted up) Google translation below. It reminds me of my comments over the years that Spain doesn’t regard things like promptness, efficiency and meritocracy as things to be pursued at any price. Which can have its positives as well as its negatives.

I’ll never get over the range and turnover of beggars in Pontevedra. These possibly reflect the fact we have a (gypsy) drug-dealing operation on the edge of the city, in my barrio. It brings all sorts of folk who need cash to finance their habit. Two of the latest are 1. A clearly ‘touched’, bizarrely-dressed and loud-mouthed foreigner (who’s threatened to relieve me of my cojones), and 2. A well-dressed, middle aged woman who trawls the old quarter continuously and who, in the last week, must have asked me for money at least 20 times. Without success so far.

María's Fallback chronicle: Day 35. As Maria says: There was a winter at the beginning of this century when it was storm after storm. We would celebrate a day in which we could see blue sky and remember what the sun's warmth was like. Wind and rain was our lot during the worst of the winter months. . . .  My husband remembers winters where the norm was that it would start raining in September, and it would continue until May. Well, that was exactly how my first winter - of 2000/1 - went. Forcing me to spend 3 months in Andalucía during the next winter. And to consider moving South permanently. Read all about it in my forthcoming book, of which the working title: So, you really are thinking of moving to Spain . .

The UK

Thousands of male teachers are leaving secondary school classrooms every year, fuelling fears that a lack of role models is contributing to the under-performance of boys. The exodus over the past decade means that men comprise slightly more than a third of teachers in secondary schools nationally, and only a quarter in some regions. In primary schools only one in seven teachers is male. The figures prompted calls for greater efforts to encourage men into the profession as its leaders warned that a shortage of them was contributing to white working-class boys struggling to keep up with girls.


A national scandal: John Carlin

The scandal of the Rosell case is that there has been no scandal. Or not in proportion to the magnitude of the crime that the Spanish judicial system has committed against him. And the fact that there has been no scandal, that its story has not dominated the headlines and has left the political world indifferent shows how far Spain is from the modern European nation that it claims to be.

The prison newspaper that the former president of FC Barcelona Sandro Rosell has just published, A Big Hug, which serves three purposes: 1. self-therapy after 645 days of kidnapping (or “preventive detention”) for an alleged economic crime in which there was no victim and of which he was finally acquitted; 2. to raise funds for the book's hero, the Soto Real jail chaplain, Father Paulino; and 3. a complaint, an "I accuse", against a State institution that, instead of fulfilling its alleged mission of protecting the citizen, abused him, as it has abused others.

The third point is by far the most important. May Rosell be more at peace after recounting his experience in pleasant, fresh and direct words, good. Better that Father Paulino has money to help those prisoners who do not have the necessary resources to defend their legal interests. But, if the message of the book does not shake the national conscience, if it remains no more than a entertaining read, the conclusion will have to be that the Spanish have resigned themselves to living in a half democracy, in a country where, according to Rosell, Father Paulino says "justice is shit."

In those European countries where they understand that without justice there is no democracy, the noise in the media regarding a case like Rosell's would have been deafening. An Commission of Inquiry would have been required to elucidate why a judge of the National High Court denied Rosell bail 13 times, registering a historical record of preventive detention for an alleged private economic crime whose alleged victim in this case, the Confederación Brazilian Soccer, stated that it had no complaint against him. 

One theory that has spread is that the judge and the prosecution were responding to pressure from the FBI. If true, Spain would be a country that puts its obedience to the United States before the freedom of its own citizens, just like Honduras or Guatemala in the 1960s, when Washington did what it wanted in its Central American "backyard."

A smell of bananas emanates from the upper echelons of Spanish justice. The Rosell case makes it clear that disinfection is necessary. Whoever thinks otherwise, should ask himself the following question: In the absolutely hypothetical case that the president of Real Madrid had been charged with the same crimes, would he have spent a day, an hour, a minute in preventive detention? We all know not. 

Justice in Spain does not pretend to be impartial. The scandal is that almost nobody cares.


* A terrible book, by the way. Don't be tempted to buy it, unless you're a very religious Protestant.

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