Fraga Leaving as Well
Manuel Fraga, founder of the Partido Popular, announced on September 2nd his intention of quitting politics, after 60 years of political service. It is said his family had urged him to finally take a break.
Fraga, who as Minister of Information and Tourism under dictator Francisco Franco, coined the famous slogan, “Spain is different!” which can still be heard today, is one of those living legends, for all the events he has lived through and witnessed. After giving over his leadership of the PP to José María Áznar, he went on to be president of the Xunta de Galicia for many years. But increasingly delicate health had forced him to slowly abandon his duties one by one until finally, his decision to reign no more.
Fraga, 88 years old, one of the few remaining extant connections with the Franco era, was in the Congress building on February 23rd, 1981, when Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero broke in with some fellow officers and announced a coup d’etat by firing some shots into the ceiling. Fraga, among several others, refused to yield to the fanatic, and shouted at him, “I can’t take anymore of this. Shoot me!” A recent photo on the occasion of the attempted coup’s anniversary, shows Fraga, a right-winger, sat chatting to Santiago Carrillo, a left-winger (ie, Communist), who was also in the Congress at the times. Their example of unity in that dire moment would be a good lesson for our current political elites.
Road Deaths Down
This past summer saw only 321 deaths on Spanish roads, a decrease of 11 percent (or 41 victims) compared to the same period last year.
Ever since the law descended on drivers in 2006, with the introduction of the points system and a serious increase in fines (both number and amount), debate has raged over the efficacy of the stricter controls, but in this case, there is no arguing.
The figure also represents the best result in 50 years; however, one must take into account that in the 60s there were only about 1 million vehicles on Spanish roads compared with today’s number of 31 million. The Minister of the Interior, Antonio Camacho, says that the numbers show how policy is on the right road, but that it has to get better as 321 deaths are still too much.
The recent drop in velocity from 120 km/h to 110 provoked much complaint from drivers, but was put back up amidst fears from authorities that road fatalities would increase, something however that the numbers do not reveal. Speed is not the only factor in accidents, obviously. You, the driver, must also, like Joaquin, be careful and remember you aren’t the only car on the road.
Ruling Treasure to Spain
Readers may recall the story of a US salvage company, Odyssey Marine Exploration, discovering and recovering a huge horde of gold and silver coins found on the bottom of the sea near the Portuguese coast back in May 2007. The coins went down with the Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, a 19th-century Spanish ship, said ship sunk in1804 during a naval engagement. Ever since then the fight has been on to clarify to whom the treasure rightfully belongs.
Now, a new ruling from a US Appeals court, backing a previous Federal court ruling, has decided in favour of Spain, which means that over 500,000 coins should be on their way to Madrid soon. The decision was supported by a 1902 treaty signed between the US and Spain.
Allowing Odyssey to keep the coins would infringe Spanish rights, the court said. Peru got their oar in as well because the coins were actually minted there, but the ruling decided Spain’s right to the coins took precedence.
Odyssey, clearly annoyed, as it was they who did all the work in recovering the treasure, has said it will take their case to the Supreme Court.
Constitutional Deficit Cap
In an unusual move, the Spanish government, in alliance with opposition party, the PP, has pushed through a Constitutional amendment, now approved by the Senate, which will see the deficit capped at nearly 0 per cent by 2020. This is unusual in that it will soon be ‘illegal’ to mismanage spending. Germany already has something similar in place, and France is studying plans to do the same. The only other amendment to the Spanish Constitution, written up in 1978, was in 1992 to adjust to conditions of the Maastricht Treaty.
Tough European Union rules already require a cap at 3 per cent of all participating Euro countries for 2013. The PP had proposed this idea a year ago but then the Government said no, not a good idea.
The other political parties are generally agreed that the amendment is bad for Spain and bad for its economy, charges including that it will curtail growth. The amendment may only be suspended during natural disasters, recession or certain emergencies. Time will tell who was right.
News Control Idea Out
A controversial idea, tabled by the opposition PP, to allow the administrative council of RTVE, Spain’s national broadcast station, access to news stories ahead of broadcast, has been dropped by the PP themselves.
The plan provoked protest from not only RTVE journalists but from many workers and members of the public too. The Catalan CiU had supported the plan while the Socialists abstained. The PP claims there was no plan to control the news, but in the face of such protest decided it was best to forget it. But the RTVE journalists aren’t forgetting it.
They are calling for the resignation of the administrative council; and over at Radio Nacional, the morning news program are mulling over the idea of playing “En días como hoy” as its RTVE introductory tune, the same tune which was used to present the news in Franco’s day.
(News: Spanish national news)