By Andrew Ede
Matas in exile
SEGOVIA is a city in Castile and Leon with a long and rich history. In 1474, as an example, Isabel the Catholic was proclaimed queen of Castile in the church of San Miguel, and the rest was thus history. She married Ferdinand, Spain was united, the Muslims were subjugated once and for all, Columbus invented America, Spain ruled the world and the world got a beer named after the church.
Into this cradle of Spanish empire last Monday strode a former president of the Balearics. Jaume Matas had an appointment with the keeper of the keys at Segovia’s prison. He was welcomed in, the door was shut and the key was turned. Segovia’s prison, unlike other buildings in the city, doesn’t have a long and rich history. It is modern, it is under-occupied, it is low risk. Most of its occupants are classified as low risk. Matas will be classified thus. He may be reclassified within a short time as low-low risk, meaning he can go out during the day and only have to sleep at the prison.
His attempt to be pardoned having failed, Matas was, right up to the moment when he entered prison, seeking alternatives, such as community service - coming back to the island he stole from and cleaning the beaches (or something like that). Once these alternatives were exhausted, he opted - as is his right - for the cushiest prison gig going. And why not? He is, after all, head of the Balearic Government in exile. One day he will return and stride victoriously around the site of his greatest achievement and greatest loss of public money, the Palma Arena, arm in arm with Iñaki Urdangarin and be greeted by cheering and admiring citizens of Majorca who understand how wronged he has been. Well, he might think this, because Jaume still really doesn’t seem to get it. What, after all, were 483,186 euros of public funds that were handed over to his tame propagandist, Antonio Alemany, so that the journo could write glowing accounts of his glorious reign? Why does he deserve to be banged up for such a trifling amount, having been pursued by a bunch of bloody ingrates in Majorca who had forgotten just how much good he had done?
There are others who don’t appear to get it, who believe that they, too, are entitled to special consideration. Maria Munar, struggling, so we are told, to adapt to life in prison, a year on from having started her sentence, is seeking third-grade classification, meaning she can have day release. Alemany, he also having had a request for a pardon turned down, has had the date of his entrance into prison put back until September, the same month that Carlos Fabra is due to start a four-year sentence for fraud in Castellon. Friends are gathering signatures to petition for a pardon for him.
You shouldn’t of course only go on appearances, but if you do, then Fabra, the ex-president of Castellon, would have been played by Brando or De Niro. Those friends wanting to get him pardoned insist that he is “an honest person”. Mariano Rajoy once described him as an “exemplary politician”. Yes, but exemplary of what? There is a truly hideous sculpture at the white-elephant Castellon airport which features the face of Fabra. The honest truth is that, like Matas, Fabra succumbed to the vanity which power brings.
And this vanity remains of such an order that it leads both of them to believe that they are above the law or that the law owes them a favour. The law does not, but there are plenty who would argue that it already has shown Matas a favour by reducing his six-year sentence to nine months and who fear that further favours might follow. Matas is facing several other charges. How many pardons can one man ask for?
Carlos and Radio Gaga
CARLOS Delgado, the former tourism minister, has been conspicuous by his silence since resigning as minister. This in itself is nothing unusual. Months used to pass when he was minister when nary a peep was heard out of him. Silent or not, the legacy of Carlos has been hovering over his old manor of Calvia with all the unpleasantness of a couple of deer’s testicles about to be dropped on heads in the town hall. And silence was broken last week, Carlos going on the attack in the latest moves in the Radio Gaga saga. The town hall building was raided last year by agents from the Guardia Civil acting on complaints from opposition politicians that there were irregularities surrounding contracts awarded for the town’s radio station. Carlos was right in the centre of these complaints, though they do also potentially implicate the current holder of Calvia’s mayoral wand. The Guardia announced last week that they had indeed unearthed some irregularities. Carlos responded by saying that the Guardia investigators were paranoid and that their reports were politically motivated.
Carlos doesn’t do much to ingratiate himself with the Guardia. When the radio affair first broke, he compared the investigation to one carried out by José Torrente, a fictional comedy character (first film The Stupid Arm Of The Law), who is variously a fascist, a drunk, a racist, what have you. There have thus far been five Torrente films, and one suspects the Radio Gaga saga will run and run as well. Nevertheless, the timing of the Guardia’s latest announcement no doubt didn’t go unnoticed at Calvia town hall. Manu sprang into further Maga action.
DAS BILGE is a German red-top that specialises in tit-for-tat let’s-not-forget-the-war spats with the likes of The Mail and The Sun. Its latest volley across the trenches of holiday battlefields took aim at your regular Brit abroad. And all very predictable it was. But there was one fairly novel element this time, a reference to Rushkinoff vodka and the now legendary Rushkinoff “Cough”.
For those of you who don’t know, Rushkinoff is a cheap vodka produced by the people who bring you that nice traditional local Tunel hierbas stuff, i.e. the Antonio Nadal distillery. Anyway, The Mail had pre-empted Das Bilge by doing a piece on the “Cough”, and it quoted a Nadal spokesperson, Pilar Alonso.
She insisted that the problem, and The Mail of course dragged the Shameful 24 into all of this, was “the amount the British drink”. The vodka “meets all EU product requirements”, she added. Yes, but which product? By all means have a pop at boozed-up Brits, Sra. Alonso, but you don’t supply an answer as to why there is the “Cough”. So, do us a favour and Rushkin Off.