Monthly Archives: February 2007

Spain's PP should be more consistent with its ideals

Shame on Spain’s Popular Party for their behaviour in two recent referenda in Spain:

On February 20, 2005, a referendum was held in Spain to ask people “Do you approve of the Treaty by which a Constitution is established for Europe?”. Despite campaigning in favour of the affirmative vote, it was a known secret that the Popular Party (PP) was not in favour of that treaty as a constitution for Europe. The result of the consultation showed the victory of people’s indifference to the question: 58,23% of the population did not participate. Out of the 41,77% of people who voted, 76,96% voted “yes”.

Yesterday, February 18, 2007, another referendum was held in the autonomous region of Andalusia about the modification of the ruling regional legal framework of Andalusia (in Spanish, the “estatuto de autonomía”). Once again the Popular Party asked for the “yes” vote, after supporting a reform initiated by the socialist party (PSOE), and despite the PP’s initial opposition to changing the current estatuto. That is, once again the PP tries to defend in public a text they do not believe in. On this occasion, non-participation was the winner again, with 63,72% of eligible voters not showing up for the poll. Out of the meagre 36,28% of people who did vote, 87,45% voted “yes”.

With such poor participation in both consultations, it is clear that most people ignore them, and they are right to do so.

On both occasions the PP was really against the texts, but failed to show their real intentions. Had they campaigned to vote against the texts (with either a “no” or a blank vote), they would be representing what is really good for the people: i.e., to forget about these stupid texts, which are simply smoke curtains to divert attention, and focus rather from the real issues that matter to people.

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Disproportionate?

It’s quite interesting to observe the campaign of publicity and compassion for a person who has killed more than 20 other people. One would think that such a professional background would produce repulsion rather than compassion. However, this is what’s happening in Spain: The public prosecutor asked for a jail sentence of 90+ years for one of ETA’s assassins, as a result of some articles he wrote and published with death threats targeting some citizens (prison workers and others).

To some in Spain, 90+ years of jail seemed disproportionate. The assassin began a hunger strike, to draw attention to his case. The party in the government (PSOE) and the Government, along with some judges and large media houses in Spain began a campaign to denounce what they considered a disproportionate sentence.

Then ETA killed two people at Madrid airport (and destroyed part of it, too) on December 30, 2006. The Government, despite claims that it would not give in to terrorist attacks, then made sure that the sentence to the hunger striking killer would be a maximum of 12 years. How did it make sure, you might ask? It all began a few years ago, when the Government removed from key positions several people (including politicians from their own party, judges, prosecutors, etc…) who would not collaborate with the Government’s plan to negotiate it all with ETA.

Yesterday, February 12, 2007, the final decision on the sentence to be imposed on this killer was taken: He was sentenced to three years.

An originally planned sentence of 90 years has been watered down to 3 years. How is that for disproportionate and unfair? Just about all political parties in Spain, save the Popular Party, have claimed that the proposed 90 year sentence was unfair.

However, what is truly unfair and out of proportion is the sentence reduction of this person for his previous crimes. He had been sentenced to some 3000 years for 25 killings, but was required to stay in prison for just 18 years. This is what is truly unreasonable: Is this justice, when 25 killings turn out to be as cheap as 18 years in prison? What good is a sentence, if it can be reduced to just about nothing?

Of course such reduction of sentences have taken place in numerous other cases. Politicians and the public should not see a disproportion in a 90 year sentence for death threats, but should realise that the disproportion is rather in the actions of this assassin (25 people murdered), and in the Spanish Justice’s inner workings that allow criminals to get away with softened down sentences in almost all cases.

Yet, rather than protesting the historical lack of justice in Spain, the leftist and nationalist parties in Spain, along with the Government of PM Rodríguez Zapatero, sought to give this murdered a symbolic sentence.

Rightful political motivation

Yesterday, February 3, 2007, a new large public demonstration took to the streets in Madrid to criticize the counter-terrorism strategy and policy that the government of Rodríguez Zapatero is conducting against ETA. I believe this is the fifth such demonstration against this government in less than three years.

This demonstration was organized by “Foro de Ermua”, an organization of citizens created after ETA cowardly kidnapped a Basque politician in 1997 and within 24 hours issued an ultimatum threatening to kill him, which they did. The organization’s president, Mikel Buesa, gave a speech at the end of yesterday’s demonstration. He was very clear and most correct in his arguments. I want to give voice to one of these, which I absolutely share and I believe it is important:

Among other things, he reminded how terrorism victims in Spain are frequently reprehended for being politically motivated in their public demonstrations against government policy. But Mr. Buesa stressed that indeed, they have to be, given that they were politically used by ETA as part of their killing and mutilation activities. It was ETA who forcibly introduced victims (and non-victims) into politics with its political arguments: murder, bombs and destruction.

Therefore, those who criticize victims associations (i.e., the government and multiple communication media houses) must apologize, because any attitude to end with ETA implies and involvement in counter-terrorism policy. Terrorism victims, just as any other citizen, have a right to politically position themselves in this respect, and their positioning cannot be reprehensible.

Government and media critics of terrorism victims display their lack of arguments to defend their policy of dialogue and negotiation with terrorists. The “Foro de Ermua”, the largest victims association (AVT), multiple other communication media houses, (and even this blog), we present with arguments our opposition to their policies. However, the government has never been able to reason out their own policy, but rather they turn to attacking their critics.

The full text read yesterday at the demonstration by “Foro de Ermua” is published on their website (in Spanish). Here’s an automatic English translation performed by Google Translator.