Witness: The Day Troops Held Spain’s MPs Hostage Reply

Antonio Tejero Molina

BBC.com–Six years after the death of Spain’s dictator General Franco, the country remained a fragile democracy. Political tensions continued despite free elections and a new constitution. Moreover the army was not fully behind the new democracy and some in uniform remained loyal to Franco. In February 1981, as parliament sat to swear in a new prime minister, 200 Spanish civil guards burst into the chamber and took all 350 MPs hostage.

Joaquin Almunia – who later became an EU Commissioner – was one of the MPs trapped in parliament as the civil guards, led by Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero, fired into the air. Mr Almunia spoke to Witness about that dramatic day.

Witness is a World Service programme of the stories of our times told by the people who were there.

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Spain Wants to Ban Drunk Walking. What Next for Pedestrians? 1

drunk in Spain

The Spanish proposal to crack down on dangerous walking by reclassifying pedestrians as ‘users of the road’ is the latest salvo in an old turf war between cars and the people they hit

Guardian.com–Drunk tourists staggering down Spanish streets at night might need to pay more attention this summer. In a crackdown on dangerous walking, Spain’s Directorate General of Traffic plans to introduce breathalyser tests for pedestrians. They also suggest introducing an off-road speed limit for joggers. The proposals, buried among other road safety suggestions, would give pedestrians responsibilities akin to drivers – and ought to inspire other new laws in their footsteps.

Might we see other similar laws follow on their heels? Shortsighted people could be charged for leaving the house without their glasses, for instance. Walking and texting (and the associated crime of “moving like a robot”, as one Australian study described the result) might see you fined. You could get a ticket for wearing any clothing that is eye-catching enough to distract drivers – something Rome already gamely tried to introduce in its aborted 2008 miniskirt ban.

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UN Experts Say Planned Spanish Laws May Violate Human Rights Reply

Gag law protest

ABC News.go.com–U.N. human rights experts on Monday urged Spain’s Senate to reject two proposed bills, saying they threaten fundamental rights and freedoms. The five experts issued a statement expressing concern about the Public Security Law and the Penal Code projects and called on Spain to take steps to guarantee fundamental rights and public freedoms. The statement, issued in Geneva, said the Public Security Law, which it referred to as the “gag law,” violates the very essence of the right to assembly. The bill proposes the summary expulsion of migrants caught entering the country’s North African enclaves illegally and hefty fines for protests outside parliament buildings and strategic installations.

The experts echoed criticism by Spanish opposition parties and rights groups that the bill is an attempt by the conservative government to muzzle protests over its handling of the economic crisis. Maina Kiai, U.N. special expert on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, said the reform “unnecessarily and disproportionately restricts basic freedoms such as the collective exercise of the right to freedom of opinion.” In reference to the North African enclaves, the statement said the reform could pave the way for on-the-spot deportation of people at risk of torture, contrary to international human rights.

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Can Podemos Win in Spain? Reply

Pablo Iglesias Podemos

Just a year after its founding, it’s the country’s leading party

The Nation.com–If the current poll numbers hold, Spain’s next prime minister will be Pablo Iglesias, a pony-tailed 36-year-old political scientist who cut his teeth in the Communist Youth and the anti-globalization movement—but whose party, Podemos, wants “to change the rules of the political game,” Iglesias told the journalist Jacobo Rivero. Left and right, he added, are metaphors that are no longer “useful in political terms”: “the fundamental divide now [is] between oligarchy and democracy, between a social majority and a privileged minority.” Or, as Podemos likes to put it, between la gente and la casta, the people and the caste.

Podemos was founded only a year ago and, in May, it stunned Spain’s political establishment by winning five seats in the European Parliament (1.25 million votes, nearly 8 percent). In many respects, the party—whose name translates as “We can”—is the Spanish sibling of Greece’s Syriza. Central to its still-evolving platform is a broad set of economic-stimulus measures that buck the European obsession with austerity as the only way out of the continent’s economic crisis. Among other things, Podemos proposes a restructuring of the national debt, a “deprivatization” of essential services such as healthcare and energy, and a form of universal basic income that would provide a road back into Spain’s anemic economy for the millions of unemployed—officially nearly 24 percent of the workforce, and as high as 54 percent among those 18 to 25.

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Spain’s Podemos Party Recruits Falciani, Source of HSBC Leaks, to Advise It Reply

Falciani_to_Podemos

Reuters.com–Feb 9 (Reuters) – Herve Falciani, the former HSBC employee who supplied information on the bank’s clients and their tax situation, will help upstart Spanish political party Podemos (We Can) with its election programme, party officials said on Monday. HSBC client data obtained by Falciani is at the centre of a storm over the British bank. HSBC has admitted failings by its Swiss private bank, after media reports that it helped wealthy customers dodge taxes and conceal millions of dollars of assets.

Falciani — who used to work in IT at the Swiss subsidiary and who has described himself as a whistleblower trying to help governments track down tax evaders — will produce a tax fraud report for the Spanish party, one of its officials, Luis Alegre, told a news conference in Madrid. “Many thanks to Falciani for offering to collaborate with Podemos’ programme,” Podemos’ 36-year-old leader Pablo Iglesias said on Twitter. “He will be an invaluable help.”Anti-establishment Podemos, which is barely a year old, has risen rapidly in opinion polls, some of which show it would win a general election due later this year, ending decades of a two-party system in Spain.

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At Least 100,000 March in Madrid in Show of Strength for Podemos, Spain’s Rising Leftist Party Reply

Podemos demonstration Madrid

US News.com, Harold Heckle and Jorge Sainz write for AP–At least 100,000 people marched through Madrid on Saturday in a show of strength by a fledgling radical leftist party, which hopes to emulate the success of Greece’s Syriza party in the Spanish general election later this year. Podemos supporters from across Spain converged around the Cibeles fountain Saturday before packing the avenue leading to Puerta del Sol square in what was the party’s largest rally to date. Police said at least 100,000 people participated in the march while Podemos put the figure at 300,000.

Podemos (“We Can”) aims to shatter the country’s predominantly two-party system and the “March for Change” gathered crowds in the same place where sit-in protests against political and financial corruption laid the party’s foundations in 2011. The party’s rise is greatly due to the charisma of its pony-tailed leader, Pablo Iglesias, a 36-year-old political science professor. Hailing from the Madrid working class neighborhood of Vallecas, Iglesias prefers jeans and rolled up shirt sleeves to a suit and tie and champions slogans such as Spain is “run by the butlers of the rich” and that the economy must serve the people. “We want change,” Iglesias told the crowd. “This is the year for change and we’re going to win the elections.”

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Spanish Premier Accused of Knowing about Slush Fund Payoffs Reply

Mariano Rajoy Spain

Spanish premier Mariano Rajoy, accused of slush-fund knowledge

Yahoo.com, MADRID (AP) — The former finance chief for Spain’s ruling political party has accused Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of having full knowledge about a slush fund that allegedly financed payoffs for party members. Luis Barcenas made the declarations to reporters who mobbed his every public movement after his release on bail from a prison. He was jailed when the scandal surrounding the scheme erupted in 2013.

Barcenas said Friday that Rajoy knew about the scheme “from the beginning” and that party officials received regular payoffs. Rajoy and his Popular Party have denied the claims. Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria declined comment on the latest declarations by Barcenas, noting he faces fraud and money laundering charges.

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#FreeSpeechStories: The limits of Spanish humour Reply

Facu Diaz Spain

BBC Trending tells the story of a Spanish political satirist who some say crossed the country’s red lines – and who even ended up summoned to a criminal court because of a sketch.

BBC.com, Reporting: Anne-Marie Tomchak, Video journalists: Alvaro A. Ricciardelli and Gabriela Torres–Last week, at the same time as millions rallied online in support of pointed French satire using #JeSuisCharlie, south of the border in Spain #YoconFacu (I am with Facu) was trending last week in support of the satirist Facu Diaz. He has been accused of mocking victims of terrorism in an online video sketch, which uses the iconography of the Basque armed organisation ETA.

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Podemos Targets Goldman Sachs’s Speculation in Social Housing in Spain 2

Podemos vs. Goldman

Estéban Duarte writes for Bloomberg.com–The anti-austerity party Podemos, leading Spanish polls less than a year before the next election, is targeting Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS)’s purchase of social housing in Madrid, saying it’s a predatory type of investment that should be stamped out. Podemos is highlighting transactions such as Goldman’s 201 million-euro ($234 million) acquisition of rent-protected apartments as it works out policies to reduce inequality in Spain and draw millions of unemployed workers back into the labor force after a seven-year slump.

“They know that at a certain point the protected rents will expire, and when that happens, they will throw the tenants out,” Juan Carlos Monedero, a member of Podemos’s executive committee, said in an interview. “They are enriching people who already have more money than they know what to do with, and in turn they are forcing people to live on the streets.”

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Former Spanish King Faces Paternity Suit Reply

Royal paternity suits

Ingrid Jeanne Sartiau and Alberto Solá Jiménez, alleged illegitimate offspring of ex-Spanish king

A court will study a paternity lawsuit brought against the former King of Spain

CNN.com–Spain’s former King Juan Carlos, 77, will face a paternity lawsuit — by a Belgian woman alleging that he’s her father — before the nation’s Supreme Court, a 12-judge panel ruled Wednesday. The court accepted the case for study, two court spokeswomen told CNN. The royal household affirmed its “respect” for judicial decisions but declined further comment.

The plaintiff is Ingrid Sartiau, 48, who lives near Brussels. Sartiau alleges that her mother and the married Juan Carlos had a relationship in late 1965, and she was born, as a result, in August 1966, said her attorney, Jaume Pararols. He became Spain’s King and head of state in 1975 after the death of the dictator Francisco Franco. Juan Carlos abdicated in June in favor of his son, King Felipe VI, who was born in 1968. While the court agreed to take Sartiau’s claim for study, it rejected a separate paternity suit against the former King brought by a Spanish man.

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