Archive for Political Corruption

A Gibralter Experience – Not To Be Repeated.

Posted in Britain, England, Europe, Government, Insanity, Modern World, News, Relationships, Spain, UK with tags , , , on 06/09/2013 by floroy1942

A trip to Gibraltar yesterday was an exhausting experience to say the least. My first since the trouble with Spain brewed up, and I witnessed first hand what so many people of late had have had to endure when they visit The Rock, and as the Yanks say, “It ain’t purty”.

The Rock

The Rock

Like many Brits living on the Costa I go there regularly to buy the usual UK things you cannot buy in the Spanish shops, like good old English tea, and of course cigarettes which are much cheaper in Gibraltar than in Spain where they are taxed heavily.

I have to admit that going in was not a problem, for although there is almost always a queue and it takes anything from 30 minutes to an hour to get in, I was lucky today and did it in about 40 minutes. I had heard on the news that people had been queuing for three or four hours just to get in, but thankfully today was a good day.

The Square -  Roy's Fish and Chips The Best Place

The Square – Roy’s Fish and Chips The Best Place

I had parked the car in Morrison’s car park at exactly 13.45 and had three hours before the dreaded clamp men came around. After walking into town I had a wonderful English style fish and chips which went down very well, and then proceeded to do my shopping. When that was finished I made to leave, after filling up the car with fuel (that’s much cheaper there too) and had no trouble until I got to Churchill Avenue which runs past the old airport building. From there it’s not more than about four hundred metres to the frontier so I thought I was doing well and looked forward to a normal exit of perhaps 30-40 minutes. The time was 16.45 and that’s when it all went pear-shaped!

Timeframe Of Leaving Gibraltar

Timeframe Of Leaving Gibraltar

I was soon to find out that the Spanish Customs Authority were up to their nasty tricks again. We waited there until 17.20 when we were allowed into the ‘oval’ leading to the exit into Spain. The oval is maybe 200 metres long and all the vehicles travel down one side, turn 180 degrees at the bottom and then go back up the other side to the gate. It is five lanes wide and the lanes are controlled by police who allow so many cars from each lane at a time in a rotation. This means each lane moves forward so much in turn. Now that is a lot of cars in a relatively small space, but the system does work even when the Spanish are not cooperating.

Packed In Like Sardines In A Can

Packed In Like Sardines In A Can

So, I was in lane 4 and fed into the end of the queue like a good soldier. After about 15 minutes I could see no movement at all from any of them and that was odd. It became apparent in no time that the Spanish were on a ‘go slow’ again. It took a very long time before any of the lanes could move forward. Suffice it to say, it took me until 18.25 for my lane to move forward 100 metres and I still had at least another 300 to go.

It was interesting to note that during the period there was a cameraman and his sidekick going around talking to a few drivers, and it was funny that they always seemed to head straight for any car with Gibraltar plates and an attractive female behind the wheel.

It was somewhat amusing many times when Spanish drivers showed their annoyance by blowing their car horns for the benefit of the Customs on the other side. First one would start, and then another until there was a cacophony of sound for a minute or two. This happened on a regular basis throughout the entire session.

Exhibition To Pass The Time

Exhibition To Pass The Time

At one point I saw people getting out of their cars and staring across the oval at something. Curiosity getting the better of me I joined in, and in the distance I saw a pretty young blonde girl without any top posing on the roof of a car for a  man with a camera on the ground. He took several pictures, but sadly I was too far away to see very much even though I took some with my phone. Damn! It was without doubt a frustrating moment. After she got down I saw a couple of Gibraltar ‘bobbies’ (policemen for the uninitiated) wander over and begin talking to the two. I hope they weren’t arrested, but our police can often turn a blind eye to such things in the interests of common sense.

'Nearly' There

‘Nearly’ There

As the sun disappeared from view after more interminable waiting I finally got to within about 25 yards of the head of my lane near the gate, fully expecting to be there for another 30 to 45 minutes at least, when suddenly cars started streaming through the Customs shed and away. It would seem that the Customs men had made their point and finally given up. Thank goodness!

I finally left Gibraltar at 20.50 after an exhausting four hours waiting in the hot sun along with hundreds of others, including young children, babies and pets, and for what? The interesting thing is that the most people hurt by this exhibition of obstinacy were the Spanish, for nine out of every ten cars there had Spanish number plates. Mind you, there may well have been a few English Spain residents like myself there.

Every shop you go to in Gibraltar employs Spaniards and there are literally thousands who cross the border every day to go to work. You walk the streets in the town and all you hear spoken is Spanish. Many from the local area go there to do their shopping, and especially to buy cigarettes.

Spanish Customs Shed

Spanish Customs Shed

Every time we have been before there has always been a constant stream of motorbikes and scooters with Spanish plates heading for the border. Every one of them always carries a knapsack on their backs, but today, I only saw one person with a bag. Just one! The Spanish government has given as its excuse for this action their wish to stamp out the smuggling of cigarettes into Spain from Gibraltar, and there is a lot of it I agree. But today’s evidence shows that those who do most of the smuggling are the Spanish themselves for it is a good little earner for them. With the crackdown all the bikers have left their cigarette bags at home.

It is clear that the Spanish Governments action is causing tremendous upset for anyone visiting Gibraltar at this time, and to me the reason for it is also obvious. This action, and the current renewed demands of Spain for the return of Gibraltar to their country is nothing more than a blind, for it has totally taken over from the top press stories of a month ago of the state of the economy, the joblessness, and Rajoy’s suspected corruption. These are no longer the topics of conversation in the press, it’s all about Gibraltar. Most of the Spanish people themselves don’t seem to care one way or another about the current spat with the UK.

It will be some time before I go back that is for sure, but once Rajoy has successfully silenced the criticism against him perhaps things will return to normal. The moral of the story is: Never trust a Spanish politician.

Roy.

An English Residents View of Spain’s Economic Woes

Posted in Britain, Budget Cuts, England, Europe, Government Spending, Spain, UK with tags , , , , on 31/12/2011 by floroy1942

Just about the whole world knows Spain has major economic problems at the moment, which makes it no different from the rest of Europe. Each country has its own reasons for the current state of its economy, Greece because it fiddled the books, Portugal and Italy because they  just spent too much etc etc. the list goes on. As someone who has lived in Spain for four years, I believe Spain’s problems are caused by something other than just spending too much.

Spain's GDP Takes a Nosedive

I freely admit I am no economy expert, but judge things more on what I see from day to day – the nitty-gritty analysis I leave up to the experts. As someone who has observed life in Spain from the sidelines as it were, in my opinion, most of the problems in this country are caused by three main things; 1. An ineffective government, 2. major corruption and 3. massive inefficiency.

Zapatero - What Could I Have Done Better? - Everything!

Under Zapatero’s government it seemed as though they were not interested in governing and solving the countries problems, just sitting in their ivory towers in Madrid and talking, which is something the Spanish are very good at. Ask someone on the street the time, and you end up in a half-hour one-sided conversation. They love the sound of their own voices!

Rajoy - A New Broom - Let's Hope So!

In just about all respects, the Zapatero government were a waste of space. Whether the new guy on the block Rajoy will be any better we must wait and see. But whoever is in charge, Spain needs a governing body that will be seen to actively tackle the root problems, and most important, keep the public informed on how and why!

Marbella Council Members In Court For Corruption

Spain’s second major problem has been around since the seventies, and that is corruption. Here in Marbella practically the entire local council was arrested a few years ago for massive corruption running into hundreds of millions of euro’s since 1991. This went all the way from the mayor down through city hall. Many of the corrupt officials are now in prison but the courts are still trying to track down the massive amounts of money that were siphoned off, and they are not getting very far.

Highly Dangerous A7 Between Marbella and Fuengirola

The results of the fraud can be seen everywhere in Marbella in rundown buildings, broken road surfaces and a generally poor infrastructure. The effects of this have been far reaching, for example, the street lights along a twenty kilometer stretch of the most dangerous motorway in southern Spain (A7 E340) have recently been switched off because two local councils don’t want to be the ones having to pay for the electricity.

The Shrinking Beaches

Every year beach sand is washed out into the Med but has for some time not been replaced because of cost. This means in effect that beaches along some stretches of coast between Marbella and Fuengirola are shrinking to the extent there is not much left when the tide is in. Eventually this will have a major impact on tourism, which lets face it, is Spain’s bread and butter for it doesn’t have any heavy industry apart from the building trade. Its only other real source of income is the agriculture sector.

An Unfinished Dream Home

The building trade, which has flourished ever since it began in the 1960’s suddenly died in 2008 due mainly to the banking crisis and the collapse of the mortgage market. This whole stretch of coast is marked by half-completed buildings that may never be finished.

 

Living on a Hillside

Realising back in the 60’s that tourism was a major winner, they have over the years built on almost every patch of open ground capable of taking a block of apartments or a villa (plus some that are not) and it has proven a major money winner for the country.

Demolishing Someone's 'Illegal' Dream Home

The Marbella council members made much of their illicit money in kickbacks for allowing builders to flout the existing building laws, and so currently, many people who bought their dream villa or apartment and moved lock, stock, and barrel to the Costa have had their home torn down because they were built illegally. This has happened to many over the past three years and even pensioners have been left on the pavement with their furniture. Now things are being handled in a more humane way and many such places will eventually be made legal. The builders guilty of the corrupt practices have of course pocketed the money and are long gone.

The sad thing is, the Spanish government did nothing to curb all these excesses, and the massive criminality associated with the building trade. Some people living in England put down vast sums of money to have a Spanish company build them a villa on the Costa, only to find all the ‘progress reports’ were lies when they come across to see their dream home and found it either as foundations only or perhaps a couple of walls. The builder of course was long gone with his ill-gotten gains. My own sister had a villa built and the local building company couldn’t even follow the plans for many rooms were the wrong size! This building fraud much like the Time Share fraud of old has been completely ignored by the government and the police, because let’s face it, it only happens to foreigners! 

Local Police - Car Bound

Another interesting factor is the police are only interested in ‘high profile’ crime. Spain’s traffic and local police are next to useless, preferring to sit on their fat asses in their patrol cars rather than fight  everyday crime like beggars and traffic violations which is one of the reasons Spain has the highest annual mortality rates for road accidents (35,000) in Europe. But gross inefficiency is not limited to  the police, its everywhere.

An Expensive Accident

My wife and I had occasion to go the the Marbella Justice building a couple of years ago, and when we entered the office there where about five people lounging at desks. One eventually came over and asked what we wanted. We gave them the paper we had received and the man tried to find the file relating to our business. Every table, cabinet and available floor space was covered with half-a-metre deep piles of files as if it was a repository for waste paper. After searching for about fifteen minutes the man came back and said the person dealing with our situation was on holiday and could we come back the following week because he could not find the file – no surprise there! The idea of a proper filing system seemed beyond the entire department. When dealing with the local council in some cases you get bounced from one department to another, and these are spread about in buildings all over town instead being together in just one. 

Latin American Call Centre - About as Far Removed From Reality as You Can Get

Dealing with Spanish companies like Vodafone or the electricity company is a nightmare due to inefficiency. You have to call a certain number to get someone to deal with your query or complaint and you end up talking to someone in South America who has no idea what you are talking about. If you start getting frustrated they turn abusive as has happened with my wife when calling Vodafone. When our internet dropped my wife was on the phone for almost two hours!!!

In all good faith, I cannot ‘paint everyone here with the same brush’ for there are many Spaniards who are kind, courteous, and do what they can to help within the rotten system, but generally speaking, Spain needs to inject a huge amount of efficiency into the day to day running of the country from top to bottom. The police need to get off their backsides and do the job they are paid to do by sorting out the corruption and fraud which is endemic here. The government needs to start governing properly and let the people know that it is doing so, otherwise little will change in the forseeable future.  

Happy New Year Everyone

I sincerely hope that the new government can come to grips with all the root problems here and get the economy back on track, for it is a pleasant place to live, and of course the weather is divine. This will be the last entry for 2011  and outside it’s 20*C with wall-to-wall sunshine. Just the way we like it!

Have a wonderful New Year and may your blog audience grow beyond your wildest dreams.

Roy.                           

 

The Rich and Powerful Never Go To Jail!

Posted in Europe, Justice, President, Prison with tags , , , , , on 16/12/2011 by floroy1942

Jacques Chirac the former French President has finally been found guilty of corruption, but guess what, he won’t go to jail. Unlike you or I, rich and powerful men invariably do not spend time behind bars for their crimes but get a ‘suspended sentence’. Now aint’ that just dandy!

Guilty!

His supporters will firstly insist that he is innocent, but if they go so far as to accept the court ruling, they will say he cannot go to jail because of his health. Justice used to be blind and totally impartial, but that idea is obviously ‘old hat’.  These days it seems that if you are rich or powerful enough you can get away with murder in the democratic West.

In 2004 Alain Juppe was convicted in the same case and sentenced to a 14 month suspended sentence and banned from holding office for a year. He is now Foreign Minister and may even become Prime Minister if his Party regains power.

Chirac as Mayor of Paris

The whole thing dates back to the early 90’s when Chirac was Mayor of Paris. He is charged with various crimes of corruption. During the trial it came out that he had embezzled €1.4 million from the Paris Council to pay ‘salaries’ to friends who held a fictitious job within the council. He was given leave by the court not to attend during most of the trial for reasons of ill-health, namely dementia and failing memory. It is because of his ‘ill health’ that he will not be appealing the court decision.

During his time as French President (1995-2007) he had immunity from prosecution as head of state, but all that changed when Sarkozy became President. He now has the distinction of being the first French head of state to be tried since 1945 when France put the Nazi collaborator Marshall Petain on trial.

The outcome of this trial is really a farce, for it proves once again that if you are rich enough, or powerful enough, you will never go to jail in a democracy. Pity us poor minnows in the pond, for while the sharks play, the minnows pay!!!

Roy.

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