By Dr Trish Watson (Amazon Kindle eBook)
Interested in knowing what’s behind the present crisis in Spain? What is the Gurtel scandal all about and which political party is involved? Who are in the mass graves scattered around Spain and why? Who are the stolen children and when did these crimes start and who was responsible for them? The following book will help solve some of these riddles; read on:
If you are at all interest in knowing the background to the present political and economic crisis in Spain and to understand why the transition to democracy went wrong and Spain got into a terrible political mess, this book will help you understand this complicated and passionate country with all its quirks and eccentricities.
The author sets out to explain the links between the Franco dictatorship and the present political situation by examining past horrors and how they are reflected in present scandals.
A prime example of this is the fact that the uniformed Fascist Falange, after the Civil War (1936-39) had caused hundreds of thousands of Republicans to flee the country into France, made forays into France in order to rob children from the defeated Republicans and bring them back to Spain to be given in adoption to the right-wing Catholic Nationalists.
The present day investigations into the trafficking and robbery of babies, involving the Church and the medical profession and arguably dating from this time and are discussed in the chapter involving the close links between the Catholic church and a scandal in which thousands of adopted children have been robbed of their identity and are now seeking their real parents.
The political scandals involving both major parties, but overwhelmingly concerning the governing Partido Popular in Valencia and the Socialists in Andalucía, largely concern financial scams at all levels of government and a detailed account of the trials, not only of politicians accused of embezzlement, but of the human rights judge who tried to arrest Pinochet in London and ended up being suspended from his own post.
Judge Garzón was in fact the judge who was initially responsible for bringing to trial the corruption case known as Gurtel, involving the Partido Popular and tens of millions of euros stashed in Swiss bank accounts. He was also trying to bring to trial the old-guard Francoists on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, when he was finally forced out of his post and took refuge in the Geneva Court of Human Rights, as a visiting judge.
Unfortunately, for him, Judge Garzon had an appetite for chasing corrupt politicians and had already put a few Socialist politicians in jail for their part in the dirty war against ETA, leaving himself without political support of any description. Of course, this ‘derring do’ cost him dear as he was suspended for eleven years or, in effect, until retirement and, as we can see in the book, this is no country for independent judges! .
The Law of Historical Memory, passed by the Socialists to right some of the wrongs caused by the civil war and dictatorship, managed to disinter a huge controversy, as well as digging up the tens of thousands of secret unmarked graves scattered around the country. The reason why people were afraid or forbidden to access the remains of their loved ones until over sixty years had passed makes interesting reading.
The book also examines the trial, now being organised in Argentina, of a former torturer of the Franco regime and one of his Ministers, who are being summoned under the universal jurisdiction agreement, whereby crimes against humanity have no Statute of Limitations, i.e. no legal ‘sell by’ date and can be tried outside Spain. The Argentinean trial is given relatively little coverage in the Spanish media.
The reason why former treasurer of the PP has Swiss bank accounts worth in excess of 40 million Euros, not counting those in Panama, Canada and Africa and is presently in prison awaiting trial, is discussed. The close confidant of two PP prime ministers, Luis Bárcenas, led a playboy lifestyle, with houses in a prestigious area of Madrid and a fashionable ski resort, before becoming embroiled in the Gurtel affair.
The party now deny that the money is theirs, but Bárcenas petition to unfreeze one of his accounts has been denied by the ruling judge, so he claims he has no means of subsistence for his family. Not many people are crying tears for him, however, as the PP falls in the opinion polls and other smaller parties are rising.
The emerging political alliances are also commented upon and the treatment of European nationals in the public sector job market and the author has some incisive and amusing comments to make on certain Spanish employment practices and the treatment of foreigners in Spain, generally.
It is, overall, well worth reading for those choosing to live in this country as it gives an authentic and valuable insight into a country so many British people live in often with little knowledge of its dramatic and fascinating past. This book is a real eye-opener.
Dr Trish Watson
The author was a senior lecturer in Spanish Studies at the School of Languages and European Studies, Wolverhampton University, England and also head of Modern Languages at the Institute for Applied Language Studies, University of Edinburgh.
She has lived in Spain, working at a number of Universities in Madrid, for 22 years, and is presently dividing her time between Australia and the UK.
Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/42303/
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