January 30, 2013

Spain is another country

This reminds you how nasty and ruthless the Franco régime was, and how recent.
Relatives and parents of what are known as Spain’s “stolen babies” gathered in Madrid to press once more for their cases to be reopened.

Campaigners believe hundreds of thousands of newborn babies were taken from parents with leftwing political views by the Franco regime.
More recently, here is a round-up of a few of the Spanish corruption scandals that have surfaced. There are many more. For instance, one of the political partners in the ruling Catalonia bloc has been found guilty of diverting money from a fund set up to train the unemployed in the region.
The Barcelona regional high court ordered the UDC to pay back 388,483 euros as part of a civil forfeiture after convictions were handed down against four defendants, including the former party secretary Vicenç Gavadà, who a judge said was “the direct receiver of important quantities of cash.”

Gavadà ... and his co-defendants were found guilty of fraud-related charges, which carry terms of eight to 18 months in prison.

Prosecutors and UDC lawyers had reached a plea deal to keep current party leader Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida from testifying in the case. From Chile, where he is attending a summit, Duran asked for “forgiveness” but insisted that he won’t step down.
Spain is indeed another country. It's going to have an internal single market! The government is only now drafting a bill under which it will be sufficient for a company that has obtained a licence from one of the regional governments to sell goods that comply with technical specifications to do so in the rest of the country. You need a licence to sell goods?

Spain's dire economic plight is being reflected in other measures. Madrid wants the regions to run any overseas missions out of the local Spanish embassy, so as to cut the cost of foreign representation. Unsurprisingly, Catalonia wants none of this, and says it's going to step up its own overseas activity.

Imagine if England hadn't experienced dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII. What a huge landowner the church would be, how wealthy.

In Spain the Catholic Church is the country's largest and richest landowner, though its non-profit status means it is exempt from paying most taxes. But bankrupt administrations - for instance, the city of Alcala de Henares is $400 million in debt - are starting to question these exemptions: if the Catholic Church had to pay tax on all its property in Spain, it could owe up to $4 billion a year. But:
The church may be Spain's biggest landowner, but it's also the biggest charity here — at a time when public welfare programs are being cut and unemployment tops 26 percent.
52% of 16-24 year olds are unemployed. Some "are seeking pastures new in the United Kingdom, where the Spanish population has increased by a third in the last five years, and the volume of National Insurance Number applications received by the Department for Work and Pensions by Spaniards over the last 12 months was second only to those made by Pakistanis as the highest number of foreign national requests".

If the Spain's economic plight is driving emigration to the UK, will Romanians hold back?


A K Haart said...

"will Romanians hold back?"


Edward Spalton said...

You should also remember that we have our own "stolen babies" , children who were sent to a new life in Canada or Australia without much sensitivity. Many of them did very well and doubtless had greater opportunities than they would have done in the often grim children's homes and slums of the time here. Some did not and some were treated badly. Both Catholic and Protestant societies were involved with the business and from generally good intentions. So I don't think there is anything uniquely "Spanish" or "Catholic" about this episode. Of course, we had not experienced the violence of the Civil War where the Companeros were no slouches at massacre of "enemies of the people" - particularly priests and nuns. In Soviet Russia, parents who were "former people" often tried to disguise their children's parentage by adoption - so they would not be victimised for "the sins of the fathers"

John Page said...

So recently in such numbers by a defined group acting against another defined group?

I do think the history is different.

Edward Spalton said...

Of course, the history is different. Different countries have different histories but I don't think that we should regard ourselves as uniquely superior, "modern" or compassionate.

Our authorities were acting against (or for) children of the indigent poor.

And, of course, transportation of criminals to the colonies preceded this charitably intentioned, forced migration of children. It goes back to things like General Booth's Salvation Army. He advocated colonial migration in "Darkest England and the way out" and the process of enforced child migration went on well into the Sixties. So we are not at such a long distance from a programme not so different in its effects but different in its original motives.

John Page said...

I don't think that we should regard ourselves as uniquely superior, "modern" or compassionate.

Nor is that what I was saying.