What is being exposed is that the elite have been evading taxes for years filling offshore banks with loot and the more they hide the richer they become. But instead of being punished they are actually protected by the law. When so many Spanish families face poverty these double standards are becoming intolerable. It seems inconceivable that the Government can remain oblivious to Bárcenas' latest revelations, which implicate so many politicians around the country. Perhaps institutionalised corruption is so endemic they just do not see what they have done wrong.
Finally after weeks of suspense the PP chose its representative for the European Elections. Arias Cañete, the agricultural minister, given his experience, appears to know his way around Brussels. I note that all the Spanish candidates speak at least two languages, which is more than you can say for many of the British candidates. And Berlusconi whom we thought had been put out to grass is still there. I am in Italy at the moment and he is constantly in the news. Of course it helps owning a chunk of the country's media. But that does not stop him making gaffs as he did with regard to the Holocaust. Naturally corruption is also rife in Italy.
Berlusconi'a conviction for tax evasion was widely reported but it seems that the managers of Equitalia, Italy's HMRC tax collection service, were running a private business on the side. In exchange for negotiating favourable tax deals they collected a nice fee from wealthy tax evaders. They admitted it was easier to chase the small people who paid up rather than go after the fat cats with their lawyers and accountants. This month's prize for ingenuity goes to the Napolitan gang who used HIV good vehicles marked milk to ship cheaper petrol from east Europe to sell in Italy at a huge mark up. Unfortunately a road accident near Florence led to the discovery of the fraud and the arrest of gang members.
In London as usual the main topic of conversation, apart from celebrities and chefs is – you guessed it – house prices. Properties in prime areas of the capital are going for unprecedented amounts of money with most of the property believed to be going to dodgy overseas buyers looking for a safe haven for their dodgy cash. London is now one of the world's biggest tax havens. British buyers are finding it increasingly difficult to afford anything and the problem is so acute the Government is looking at ways to curb the frenzy by introducing capital gains tax on non residents, hikes in stamp duty and council tax while the opposition is calling for massive increase in social housing. How long this bubble will last is anyone's guess.
The 1st May falling on a Thursday meant a long weekend for most and brought out the unions everywhere. There were a number of violent demonstrations in many of Europe's cities pointing to a failure by Governments to address the major problems, which confront our nations. There is still a conflict between the 1% and the 99% with the 1% refusing to give up its privileges. The growing inequality coupled with the greed and absence of morality and ethics among the ruling class is what makes this month's Euro Elections so important. They will undoubtedly affect our future. With the economic crisis, austerity measures, the rise of extreme right wing groups, the problem of Ukraine, free movement of people, open borders, greed and corruption, lack of economic and fiscal harmony and separatist movements everywhere, it should be a fascinating election. French economist, Thomas Pickety, has caused a furore with his book on capitalism, which should be on the reading list of our political leaders.
What would the Spanish media do without Artur Mas and Catalunya? With the Crimea crisis fresh in my mind I have fast-forwarded the news fifteen years:
«Just weeks after Barcelona won the Catalunya Liga and Copa for the 13th year in a row, Spain has annexed Catalunya to protect the large Spanish population in the independent state. King Artur I called it a violation of international law, while Emilio Botin II, Duke of Santander and PM of Spain, said that the Iberian Peninsula could not allow any threat to its strategic oil and gas supplies or its international trade and be cut off from France and the rest of Europe.»
I note that sanctions have been imposed on a number of Russian Oligarchs freezing their western assets. Meanwhile spare a thought for the people of Transdniestar and Gagauzia (I admit I had never heard of them before the Ukraine crisis) which seem to be part of Moldavia, which has the unenviable title of Europe's poorest country. I was under the impression that Albania had the honour. With a substantial Russian population the tiny strip of land of Transdniester could be next on Russia's shopping list. Gagauzia, former «Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia», for those who like facts, is a region between Moldavia and Rumania. I don't know whether this is where Lady Gaga comes from, where she resides after buying a home there or even if she is part of the Gagauzia Royal family, hence her name. Its population is made up of Gagauz and Christian Turks. They are not sure where they stand although with half of the population carrying Bulgarian passports many believe they are already part of the EU. Strange that Cameron has not warned about an invasion of Gagauz into the UK. Geopolitics is so fascinating.
What is Gallardon doing with his legal reforms? First his abortion laws upset a large number of women in Spain and now the courts have decided that they cannot arrest international drug dealers caught outside Spanish legal jurisdiction. So now foreign based criminals and drug traffickers can join the corrupt politicians, bankers and wealthy tax evaders who escape justice. If only our countries' legal minds would concentrate on protecting the interests of victims of crime and violence instead of the human rights of the perpetrators the world might be a safer place to live. Immigration is still a major issue and front page news as thousands of people from Africa and Asia keep trying to set foot on Spanish and Italian territory. With the best will in the world I cannot see how Western Europe can cope. It seems Spain wants to spend 800million Euros on border fences, which clearly do not work when the money should be used to improve the living standards in the poor countries.
I promised to keep you advised of the case against Ryan Air for my five hour airport wait through Refund.Me. Incredibly after nearly a year the Irish courts have not yet given their verdict.
I have to admit I was behind Atlético de Madrid and not Chelsea and it is an enormous achievement that three Spanish clubs have reached the finals of the two major European soccer competitions this year. One of my favourite pastimes is watching movies, especially old ones. Have you noticed that on the screen whenever the characters have to drive somewhere in a city centre they always miraculously find a space right outside their destination without having to drive around and around looking for somewhere to park. Maybe Esperanza watches old movies too.