Freedom is no longer enjoyed

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Rodrigo Rato

HOLY WEEK shows Spain at its most quaintly religious with processions, hooded penitents and outpourings of devotion as statues are hauled through the streets.

The rest of the year churches are sparsely occupied except for births, marriages, first communions or funerals, and Spain’s hierarchy is hitting out.

“Secularism threatens religious freedom,” thundered the Cardinal-Archbishop of Valencia not long ago.

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What he was actually expressing was regret that the Church no longer enjoys the freedom to impose its will on Spanish society.

Beat the clock

CATALAN president Carles Puigdemont recently toured the US, touting for support for independence.

He didn’t get many takers and both the US ambassador and the Jimmy Carter Foundation later hinted that neither thought secession was good for Catalonia or Spain.

Polls show that Catalans want more autonomy, not secession, but although proindependence politicians are still planning a September referendum, five months is hardly long enough to get it off the ground, experts in electoral logistics say.

Brings to mind a bridegroom arriving late at the church in the hope that everyone, and especially the bride, has gone home.

Hangeron

PODEMOS, which shores up Castilla-La Mancha’s PSOE government, refuses to support its Budget.

The Podemos regional leader Jose Gracia Molina – doubtless on the orders of party supremo Pablo Iglesias – is instead flexing his muscles.

“People have regarded us as an appendage to the PSOE,” he complained.

Nearly right, but it might be more accurate to reduce that to ‘appendage’ full stop.

A transgression too many

ENGLISH writer Richard Ford who spent three years here in the 1830s declared that Spain was governed by “corrupt rogues.”

Nearly two centuries later, their descendants would greet this information with a jaded “so what’s new?”

The Barcenas scandal, the Gurtel scandal, the Punica scandal, the little-discussed Acuamed scandal, former Industry minister Jose Manuel Soria’s offshore money scandal – the list prompts shrugs, mutterings and a few obscenities.

But then, overshadowing them all, comes Rodrigo Rato.

Fury and smouldering resentment are reserved for the disgraced ex-vice president, ex-Minister of Hacienda, ex-Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund and ex-president of Bankia.

On current political form, the charges of fraud, embezzlement, money-laundering and undeclared assets are par for the course.

But the latest revelation that Rato salted away €7 million in an offshore account while Hacienda minister will be neither forgiven nor forgotten.

Not because he was a corrupt rogue but because he announced “Hacienda somos todos” in a television and press campaign, exhorting the Spanish to pay their taxes.

A rogue? Pass. Corrupt? Pass. A hypocrite? Wheel out the tumbrils.

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