I haven’t updated this blog since 17th June – 14 days ago. That’s about the same number of days that Iñaki Urdangarin, brother-in-law to the king of Spain, has been locked up in a women’s prison … supposedly in Brieva, in the Avila region. That’s assuming he is locked up in a prison. I mean, as far as I know, no-one has actually seen a photo of him arriving or entering the prison, any prison (although someone managed to film Oriol Junqueras teaching philosophy in his prison, where he’s been locked up for over 7 or 8 months without trial). I think we’ll just have to assume Urdangarin is in prison and not, perhaps, sailing or body-surfing in Mallorca, or in a VIP box at the World Cup, or sunning himself on a gin-palace yacht in the Bahamas, or hiding in the vault of a Swiss bank … but you never know. Stranger things have happened.
Indeed, several strange things have happened in the past 14 days. Talking of prisons, all of a sudden (at least it seemed all of a sudden), the group known as the ‘wolf pack’, the 5 thugs who gang raped (yes, gang raped) an 18 year old woman at the bull running festival in Pamplona back in July 2016, were all granted bail of €6,000 by the Navarra regional court, whilst their appeal is being considered. They’d been found guilty of ‘sexual abuse’ (and not rape, unbelievably – which caused a national outcry) and sentenced to 9 years in prison. On granting them bail, the Navarra court concluded that there was no ‘significant risk of flight’. But then one of them was found trying to get a new passport …
Whilst Urdangarin was (we assume) entering a prison, his brother-in-law was at the White House with Letizia, meeting Donald Trump and Melania. Donald had been busy ordering children to be put in cages on the Mexican border. Melania, bless her, tweeted that “Letizia and I enjoyed tea and time together, focusing on the ways we can positively impact children”. I’m still trying to recover from that.
Talking of the Spanish royals, they were forced to move the Princess of Girona Awards out of Girona last week. Instead, the ceremony was held in Vilablareix. The Girona City Council had announced back in January that they wouldn’t give the awards’ foundation permission to hold this year’s ceremony in the city’s auditorium. In Vilablareix, the Mossos had cut the access road due to protests by local pro-independence CDR groups. No-one from the Catalan government welcomed Felipe VI and Letizia on their arrival – only the Spanish government’s new delegate in Catalonia, Teresa Cunillera. In his speech, Felipe VI ignored the political crisis, and appealed for a ‘Catalonia of everyone and for everyone’.
I’m not sure a ‘Catalonia of everyone and for everyone’ was really reflected during the opening ceremony of the Mediterranean Games in Tarragona, however, which Felipe VI had inaugurated a few days earlier. The Catalan President, Quim Torra, finally decided to attend the ceremony, but also announced that his government would be cutting off all future relations with the Spanish monarchy. Just before the opening of the Games, he was photographed handing the king two reports from the Catalan Ombudsman about the police violence against Catalan voters on 1st October, as well as a book of photographs from that day, by photo-journalist, Jordi Borras.
As you might realise, I’ve been missing writing about M.Rajoy (remember him?). However, with luck, the new leader of the PP might be Pablo Casado, aka ‘Super Pablo’. I’ve always thought that if he can complete 5 or 6 Harvard masters degrees (or however many it was) during a 4 day course in Aravaca (or wherever it was), then he’d be absolutely bloody perfect to lead the PP, even if it was during his lunch break, blindfold and standing on one foot. Super Pablo announced he was going to run for the leadership on the same morning that a judge considered (and I believe still is considering) sending the investigation about his masters degree(s) to the Supreme court. But Super Pablo didn’t care! Super Pablo doesn’t care about anything! Instead, he dashed off on a whirlwind tour of Spain, saying he didn’t care or feel sympathy for the families of anyone in jail, either (not even the king’s sister or nephews, Super Pablo?). He was too busy getting his photograph taken with anyone who’d shake hands with him, as well as standing on a car holding a Spanish flag. He did manage to crop a photo to avoid being seen alongside a poor guy asking for help on the street, however. In the meantime, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría and María Dolores de Cospedal also announced they would run for the leadership … although it now seems that only about 7% of the PP’s affiliates are up to date with their subscriptions and/or can be arsed to vote for a new leader.
It became headline news in some media that Spain’s new Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, spoke good English during his visit and meetings with other EU leaders in Brussels. As if to underline this new, ‘dynamic and modern’ image of a handsome Justin Trudeau-style leader, Moncloa issued photos of Sánchez jogging and playing with his dog, and he was also photographed wearing sunglasses on the government’s jet. Sunglasses! On a jet! I don’t remember M.Rajoy ever wearing sunglasses on a jet, let alone cuddling a dog … so things have definitely improved. M.Rajoy never spoke English, either, of course (‘no, hombre, no vamos hacerlo’), and his ‘jog’ was a little bit like his dancing … it was a sort of mincing fast walk. Yes, things have definitely improved.
The PSOE government led by Sánchez is also preparing for the remains of Franco to be removed from the grotesque mausoleum known as the ‘Valley of the Fallen’, stating that it should be turned into a centre for ‘reconciliation’. His pledge to remove the remains follows a non-binding parliamentary vote last year backing the exhumation from the basilica. It was reported that Franco’s family intend to try and get Pope Francis to stop the exhumation. Meanwhile, Albert Rivera, the leader of Ciudadanos (what’s the point of Ciudadanos?) says he will only support the PSOE plans if they turn it into a national cemetery, like the one at Arlington, Virginia, in the USA.
Quim Torra met with Podemos leader, Pablo Iglesias. He is also due to meet with Pedro Sánchez on 9th July, in Madrid. It seems the Catalan political prisoners can be moved to Catalan jails, but that still doesn’t resolve anything and it won’t resolve anything. I’ve said it before and I repeat: they shouldn’t be in any jails, anywhere.
What else? Oh, yeah. Spain drew 3-3 with Portugal in their opening game of the World Cup. They then beat Iran 1-0 and drew 2-2 with Morocco to make it through to the last 16. I think Spain’s coach, Fernando Hierro, has a really odd way of celebrating a goal. He looks like a kid banging his fists on the table, excitedly waiting for his ice cream dessert. Also … the rumours that some Spanish supporters whistled during the Portuguese national anthem simply can’t be true at all. It must be fake news. I mean, it’s totally disrespectful to whistle during the Spanish national anthem (it’s almost a crime, I believe) so I’m absolutely sure that no-one from Spain would whistle during anyone else’s anthem … it’s just impossible. Anyway, Spain are just about to play Russia, so I’m going to log off. I hope Spain win …