Mutt, Gerry and the cops of Palma
Normality was restored last week. The extended season of festivity had been punctuated only by the unpleasant present that Santa, Judge Castro, had left in the Urdangarins’ Christmas stocking. Silent days and nights there had mostly been, but with the memory of the Three Kings already fading, a former king discovered that the paternity suits were finally being filed, while in Majorca it was very much business as usual: local police were being arrested on corruption allegations; a parliamentary commission was looking into apparently dodgy land dealings (related to Son Espases); Calvia Town Hall was defending itself against a charge of “amiguismo”. Nothing changes. Another year, same procedure every year.
It is regrettable that the councillor for citizen security at Palma Town Hall isn’t called Jeff. Were he to be, then a whole new meaning to the Mutt and Jeff double act would have been made last week. Joan Mut, the head of the police, and Guillem Navarro (said councillor) were invited to have a little chat with a judge. Still, as Guillem has a political facial hirsuteness thing going on that is not so different from a near name-a-like, the blast from the past Gerald Nabarro, perhaps we can settle instead for Mutt and Gerry. Not that the judge was falling for any of the good cop-bad cop routine. Oh no, she was finding too many bad cops (allegedly) for that to be the case. And she, the judge, has recent experience with having little chats with local cops who have been accused of being less than honest citizens. She is Carmen González, the judge in front of whom Calvia’s head of police, was paraded. As I say, nothing changes, other than the names of those involved.
Judge González, faced with evidence which alleges, among other things, that warnings were given to favoured establishments in advance of raids, that drug trafficking offences were overlooked, that police enjoyed the free services of prostitutes and that cops who weren’t minded to act corruptly were threatened, stated that senior police officers and senior politicians have been protecting less-than-honest cops in Palma. Well, whoever might have thought that? And speaking of prostitutes (sorry, one should say escorts), the arrest on money-laundering allegations of the owner of Globo Rojo, “Majorca’s leading club and escort service for adults”, is no doubt a coincidence.
At least Palma’s Mayor, Mateo Isern, has moved swiftly in suspending without pay six of the eight policemen arrested (three of whom will remain in custody for now), of whom the head of police isn’t one (he was not arrested, only implicated). Meanwhile, the PSOE opposition at the town hall has called on Isern to remove Gerry, who was also only implicated. “A matter of dignity,“ they say. At present, Gerry is still exercising his responsibility for guaranteeing the security of the citizens of Palma. Isern is also going to set in motion a “remodelling” of the local police, in particular the Grupo de Acción Preventiva, but there are many who believe that more, much more needs to be done. The arrests in Palma last week were the latest development of a process that has caught three police services in its net - Palma’s, Calvia’s and Marratxi’s - and it has its origins in the round-up of Hell’s Angels organised criminals in 2013 and the raid on the Palma Police HQ by the Guardia Civil in September of that year. The Guardia were acting with the anti-corruption prosecutor Miguel Subirán and looking into an alleged police network of extortion and favours. The arrests in Palma may be the final part of that process. But can we be sure it is?
De Guindos, the also-ran
Luis de Guindos, Spain’s minister for the economy and competitiveness, was, as I wrote in an article on Thursday, in Palma for a conference that looked at the keys to recovery in Spain. His economic message was well enough received, but at the same time as Sr. de Guindos was wowing the business and political community with his growth expectations, the Financial Times was dealing his reputation a bit of a blow. Each year the paper ranks finance ministers from European countries. Of the nineteen in this year’s list, Sr. de Guindos was nineteenth. He has yet to convince markets that he can fix the Spanish economy. This was in essence the message that the FT was making in putting him at the bottom of the class and two places below the Greek minister. (George Osborne, it might be noted, wasn’t that much better - he was fifteenth.)
There again, the FT list doesn’t necessarily compare like with like. De Guindos looks after the big-picture macroeconomy of Spain. It is Cristobal Montoro who actually has the title of finance minister, his brief being at the nitty-gritty micro level of deciding how much tax we pay (or don’t). This division in responsibility might be said, however, to contribute to the markets not being convinced, as de Guindos and Montoro have on occasion appeared to be speaking from different hymn sheets.
A waste of employment
Ireland’s finance minister, Michael Noonan, does pretty well in the FT league table. He is in at number five (Germany’s Wolfgang Schäuble is the European champion), but Irish employment, in a roundabout way, was making news in Majorca last week.
There was a good deal of attention given to a front page of The Irish News which carried the headline “Rubbish shipped to Majorca”. The article was taking issue with this export not because it was bothered about objections in Majorca but because it argued that the waste should be treated in Ireland and so create jobs. This aspect, i.e. the main one, was not what caught the eye of the likes of GOB, the environmental watchdogs. On the “holiday island” is the “largest incinerator in Europe” (Son Reus). It was this which was of interest locally, as was the BBC’s observation on its website that rubbish was being sent “to the sun”.
The headline in The Irish News was neatly but inadvertently timed, as it appeared three days after there had been a demonstration against the shipping of waste in Puerto Alcudia, which is the port used for its import. Three hundred people had taken part in the protest. Do three hundred people represent a massive outcry? I’m rather inclined to think that they don’t. It is a nonsense that the waste is shipped to Majorca and that it is done so primarily to help pay for the incinerator and to supposedly keep waste-management charges on the island down, but do people really care that it is imported? Maybe there should be some huge incinerators in Ireland, then Majorca’s waste could be shipped there, which would probably result in larger protests at the loss of jobs locally.