This is my second or third attempt to write about the Spanish approach to corruption as exemplified by the trial (inter alia) of the Infanta and her husband. You will be able to detect the bitterness in this piece, so you can imagine what the first versions were like. In certain places my vitriol was eating through the screen
To the immense surprise of absolutely nobody in Spain, the Infanta (the sister of the present king) was found flamboyantly innocent of any wrong doing connected to her criminal husband’s machinations in the corrupt use of his royal name and connections to produce overinflated payments for the ‘services’ he provided, with illicit money gained being funneled into a ‘front’ company run by himself and his wife. When questioned in court about her knowledge of the front company that she helped run she answered “I don’t know” and “I can remember” over 200 times. One is tempted to wonder if this woman with an MA from NY and her working life being in a bank might possibly have been expected to have at least a faint glimmer of understanding about what was going on, but her avowals of ignorance were obviously very convincing, and so she was only fined a quarter of a million euros for ‘ignorantly’ (or ‘innocently’ if you prefer) benefiting from the gross luxuries of life that came via the ‘front’ company. That she helped run. In ignorant innocence, of course. Naturally.
Her hapless, scheming husband has been sentenced to a period of years in prison. The right wing, including the systemically corrupt Peoples Party that is presently governing thanks to the support of the political sluts of Spanish political life, the Cs, have lauded this innocence as being a shining example of egalitarian democracy in action! Look, they seem to say, the actual sister of the king went to court, confessed to astonishing otherworldliness in an inability to answer questions that would have been considered a gross contempt of court by any witness other than a member of the royal family, was found innocent and has to pay a hefty fine! Gosh, they say, that is just a totally clear example of what the so-called King-emeritus called justice being the same for everyone. Except for him, of course, as he was given a legal indemnity which followed him into the retirement that took some of the pressure off the family as the full extent of his, um, actions was becoming clear. Haven’t we, these right-wing idiots say, done well!
To which the answer is of course, no. Resoundingly no. The distance between the poor and the privileged and between the privileged and the privileged politicos is as wide or even wider than it was a generation or two ago. Not only in Spain, but also throughout the so-called developed world. During the height of the economic crisis in Spain, the then king, after mouthing banalities about equality, whisked himself off on a vastly expensive (paid for) elephant killing safari – and the only reason that we in Spain found out about it was that he was injured and had to explain how he came by the disability when he came home from the jolly. Politicians are protected left, right and centre in a way where the elite’s contempt for ordinary people in shown in the way where they don’t even bother to hide their preferences.
We need a root-and-branch clear out of the political class that has been in place for years. It is tainted by corruption, a corruption which goes from top to bottom and is astonishing in its exhaustiveness and also by its blatancy. There is a perception in Spain that the political class feels itself beyond the ordinary restraints of everyone else in the country. The machinations of PP with the supplanted leader of Valencia and their cold logic in translating her from her failed dictatorship in Valencia to a new seat in the Senate so that she could not be indicted by the lower courts which were gearing up to try and deal with the accumulated filth of corruption that she left behind. Since her death, PP, with the breathtakingly insulting bare faced audacity which we have come to expect from a party which feels itself ultimately entitled, actually gave her a posthumous honor! Presumably they assume that her death means that she is inviolable from any back-dated enquiry into her activities and that of her corrupt government – many of whom are awaiting sentencing or have already been sentenced.
Of course, that fact that a person connected to PP has been given a sentence, does not necessarily mean that the criminal has actually gone to prison. The latest continuing comedy show is watching the acrobatics, both verbal for the watching public and metaphorical behind the scenes, as the husband of the Infanta escapes the perusing press on his Swiss bike in the shadowland of the period of his conviction and the start of his sentence. How are the complicit powers that be going to try and keep him out of prison? Most of Spain expects some sort of underhand deal to be worked out. We will wait and see.