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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: 22.6.21
22 June 2021 @ 10:51

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' 

Detailed info on Galicia and Pontevedra city here

Covid 

Given the ridiculously delirious way modern footballers celebrate a goal, can anyone be remotely surprised that some playing in the Euros are going down with the virus?

Spain:  Something on mask-wearing (or not) here.

Cosas de España/Galiza

The Catalan rebels will be pardoned today. Those who want to know more about the political turmoil around this development should click here, and also read the 2 articles below, from Isambard Wilkinson in Madrid. And this article raises a good question about it.

Another step into the 21st century by the Traffic Department, the DGT.

Talking about motorists . . . From a taxation point of view  they're low-hanging fruit, both for direct and indirect hits. There are millions of them, and they're all 'rich' but without protest power. A few years ago, the Portuguese government - in a desperate search for revenue - suddenly made all its main roads toll-bearing. Which is why the country is now festooned with overhead gantries bearing cameras to clock you  every few minutes/seconds. Under pressure from the EU - which might not have been truly necessary - Spain is now heading the same way. Here's Lenox on the subject. 

Madrid and Barcelona are said to be permanently losing residents to the countryside.

Talking of the rural life, specifically in Galicia, this is a review of a book by a friend of mine.

And talking of taxes . . .  It's tax deadline time. For those Brits making a 2020 Renta declaration on line, your Support Number is on your NIE/TIE certificate/card, top right. If you still have a NIE, you might have to add  a zero or 2 at the front of it to get to 9 digits. If you have a TIE, it's number on the top right and it's different from your NIE Support Number of last year.

The UK

Who can be surprised at the report which proves- not for the first time - that it's white working class kids who are the least privileged in the UK?

The UK and the EU post Brexit

I'm not sure there'll be widespread grief but, as Richard North long ago predicted, the movement of racehorses between England, France and Ireland has been severely affected by Brexit. Here's a BBC article on the issue. As elsewhere, folk won know know the depth of the shit they’re in - think sausages - are asking/demanding Brussels to give them an exception not available to anyone else in the world. Which might not be legally possible under global rules. Even if the EU was of a mind to grant it.

If I were still in the UK. I think I'd set up a company employing recently qualified vets dedicated 8 hours a day to (maybe) reading but (certainly) stamping official documents. I'd be a millionaire by this time next year . . .

Quote of the Day

Dominic Cummings on Boris Johnson: He’s a pundit who stumbled into politics and acts like that 99% of the time , but 1% not like this. And that 1% is why pundits misunderstand/underestimate him.

Spanish 

As Spanish lacks a neutral plural, traditionally - to increasing controversy - the  masculine plural has done the job of including [those identifying as] female, as in padres(fathers) for 'parents'. Here's a recent example, referring to the date, later this week. when we can cease wearing masks outdoors. 

The text reads: Ugly people. The party ends 26 June.
 English

Regional accents aren't new on British TV but the number of these in which the G is dropped off words ending in ING is slowly becoming dominant, even among government Ministers.  As - in the absence of a national academy - the people rule, we can reliably assume this will be the norm in less than a century.

Finally  . . .

This is a less rude version of the T-shirt slogan I cited a short while ago:-

THE ARTICLES

1. Catalan leader Jordi Cuixart vows to fight on despite pardons: Isambard Wilkinson, The Times

Within the walls of his prison in Bages county, the Catalan separatist Jordi Cuixart greeted the offer of a pardon by the Spanish government with defiance. Speaking on a phone from behind a glass partition the soon-to-be freed Catalan leader said yesterday: “The pardons wouldn’t solve the political conflict between Catalonia and Spain.” Cuixart, 46, is one of 9 jailed separatists convicted of sedition in 2019 for their role in the region’s failed independence bid of 2017. All nine are to be pardoned by Pedro Sánchez, the prime minister, in an effort to restart a dialogue between Madrid and Barcelona.

The move has divided Spain but left Cuixart unimpressed. He is willing to back unilateral action to achieve independence if a majority of the Catalan parliament decided. “It is not an act of magnanimity granting the pardons. I should not have been in jail for merely exercising my right to freedom of speech and protest,” Cuixart, the president of Òmnium Cultural, a civil association, said. “I was condemned for asking people to go to vote.” He said that the pardons showed the “weakness of the Spanish state” and that it was a recognition that the courts were guilty of a miscarriage of justice.

Sánchez announced the pardons at Barcelona’s Liceu opera house yesterday, hailing their “usefulness for coexistence”. “To get these nine people out of prison who represent millions of Catalans is a resounding message of concord,” he said. The cabinet is expected to rubber stamp the pardons at its meeting today, which should lead to the prisoners’ release in the coming days.

At the height of the crisis in 2019 King Felipe VI made a rare political intervention in which he condemned the independence bid and angered many by failing to mention a police crackdown in Catalonia in which 900 people were injured.

Sánchez, 49, has sought to sell the pardons as an attempt to reopen dialogue with the regional government, which is run by separatists. However, the move prompted criticism from the conservative opposition and from members of Sánchez’s own Socialist party, as well as disapproval from the supreme court. Opponents maintain that his main aim is to bolster his fragile coalition government, which is supported by the separatist party that governs the Catalan region. Some 60 per cent of Spaniards oppose the pardons, according to surveys. Pablo Casado, the leader of the conservative main opposition People’s Party, said that the pardons represented a “contempt for the law” and “embezzlement of sovereignty”.

Sánchez said that the pardons were “a message especially for thousands of people who supported and feel solidarity with [those jailed]. And for the thousands of people who disapproved of his conduct, but already consider the punishment enough.” He added: “We don’t expect that those seeking independence will change their ideals, but we expect [they] understand there is no path outside the law.”

Separatists in Catalonia, where 60 to 70% of people polled support the release of the jailed leaders, said the move was insufficient and backed calls for a complete amnesty for all those implicated — an estimated 3,000 people — in the referendum and declaration of independence. Elisenda Paluzie, the head of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), a pro-independence activist group, said that 30 or more senior government officials would face trial, accused of misusing public funds and disobedience, with some risking imprisonment, fines and bans from holding public office. “The pardons are personal solutions that will alleviate the pain of the prisoners but do not recognise that there was no crime and that they shouldn’t have spent a single day in jail,” she said. “We aim for a nullification of the trial [at the European Court of Human Rights] in Strasbourg.”

Separatists also demand an amnesty for other members of Catalonia’s regional government, such as Carles Puigdemont, who was the head of the regional authority in 2017 and fled into exile in Belgium. Others are in exile in Scotland and Switzerland. However, Jordi Sànchez, head of the ANC at time of referendum, who was also jailed for nine years for sedition, said: “The pardons will definitely serve to reduce tensions that exist in a large part of Catalan society that viewed our imprisonment or exile as arbitrary and authoritarian.” Oriol Junqueras, head of the party that runs the Catalan regional government, last week struck a more conciliatory note, conceding that some mistakes had been made by the separatists.

Cuixart is not packing up his few possessions just yet. He did not know exactly when he would be freed or whether a court would block the pardon. “We are the victims of a political judgment so nobody knows if they will again adapt the penal code to their needs,” he said.  

2. The Spanish PM’s bid for calm could inflame tensions in Catalonia: Isambard Wilkinson, The Times

José Ortega y Gasset, an early 20th-century Spanish philosopher, believed that “the Catalan problem is a problem that cannot be solved, it can only be borne”. In the light of such wisdom the granting of pardons to separatist leaders by Pedro Sánchez, the prime minister, is seen as the latest attempt to calm tensions in the 300-year-old dispute.

It is a gamble that most Spaniards oppose — including 60 per cent of Sánchez’s Socialist voters — and one that runs the risk of destabilising his fragile coalition government and refilling the sails of the independence movement.

Although in regional elections in February parties supporting Catalonia’s independence won for the first time more than half the popular vote, the Socialist party, led in the region by Salvador Illa, won the largest share. The ultranationalist Vox party made unprecedented gains.

Government insiders say that their calculation is that although surveys suggest a large proportion of people oppose clemency, their reservations will not be translated into votes. The political agenda will move on quickly, they hope, focusing on hoped-for economic improvements and a successful vaccination campaign.

In Catalonia the pardons have received the blessing of the clergy and prominent business groups.

“The rhetoric of the independentists will not change much. But the Spanish government will be in a position to say that they tried to break the ice,” Lluís Foix, a prominent Catalan commentator, said.

“There will be grounds for normality, lower tensions and dialogue”. Sánchez’s government is reeling from a hefty victory by the conservative main opposition Popular Party in the Madrid region. A poll published yesterday by Sigma Dos suggests that the PP would win more votes in a general election than the Socialists and could govern with Vox. The win by Isabel Díaz Ayuso, the PP’s Madrid leader, significantly boosted support for the conservatives. Her punchy leadership style has threatened to overshadow Pablo Casado, the PP national leader.

She has been at the fore of her party’s reaction to the pardons, dragging King Felipe VI into the melee, saying that Sánchez was making the monarch an “accomplice”, since by law he must sign them.

The pardons “are an act of faith”, said Nacho Torreblanca, of the European Council on Foreign Relations in Madrid.

“It’s a gamble. In the past separatist leaders have used concessions from the central government to push further for independence. This could be the same since so far their reaction has been to say that they are not stopping their push.”



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