Saturday, June 29, 2013

Carlos And The Torrent Of Abuse

My guess would be that few of you will have heard of the film character José Luis Torrente. He is an interesting character in that, other than being a policeman (I think he has moved on to being an ex-policeman), he is also a racist, a Francoist, a fascist, a sexist, a frequenter of prostitutes, a heavy drinker and, as if this wasn't bad enough, a fan of Atlético Madrid.

Torrente was/is a character dreamt up by Santiago Segura, an actor and film producer. In what has since become a series of four Torrente films, he first appeared in the 1998 "Torrente, el brazo tonto de la ley", which translates as "Torrente, the stupid arm of the law".

Segura's Torrente franchise has suddenly been propelled stage centre into a new Mallorcan political drama. Carlos and the Torrente of abuse. Well, Torrente (or torrent) of abuse is rather overstating things, but it sounds good as a title and it does allude to what the master of the foot firmly in it, tourism minister Carlos Delgado, has had to say about the Guardia Civil, and specifically about a report by the Guardia into matters at Radio Calvia when Carlos was mayor. This report forms the basis of a Guardia request to a judge to subpoena Delgado so that he has to make a declaration in respect of the awarding of contracts at the radio station. By implication, the Guardia believes he may have a case to answer.

What is now being referred to as the "caso Radio Calvia" first came to light in March when the Guardia raided Calvia town hall, which was pretty dramatic stuff in itself. The Guardia was acting on a complaint lodged against Delgado by the PSOE party in Calvia. This alleged irregularities in respect of the awarding of contracts, and PSOE said that there could be evidence of "bribery, embezzlement, abuse of public office and the peddling of influence". Also named in PSOE's complaint were the current mayor, Manuel Onieva, and the current and former managers of the station. It went on to suggest that irregularities related to a period from 2005 to 2011.

At the time of the raid, Delgado insisted that the contracts were in accordance with the law governing awards in the public sector. He accused PSOE of "malicious misrepresentation" but said that if he were to be indicted (i.e. subpoenaed), he would abide by the ethical code of the Partido Popular, meaning that he would place himself in the party's hands. It could choose to relieve him of his position as tourism minister or not.

In fact, if the judge does decide to indict him, the PP would face no alternative than to force him to resign. To do anything else would make a mockery of its ethical code. Its spokesperson, Nuria Riera, has said that Delgado has the party's full support, but whether he would still have it, were the judge to accede to the Guardia's petition, must be open to doubt.

Delgado doesn't believe that he will be indicted. And he said so at a press conference, which is where the reference to Torrente comes into the story. Among other things, Carlos reckoned that the Guardia's investigation was "typical of Torrente". In English, we would say that it was like something out of a Torrente movie. At the press conference, Delgado highlighted what he claimed were inconsistencies and contradictions in the Guardia investigation report (getting dates mixed up or wrong, for instance). This might not have been so bad, but it was the terms in which he dissed the report and so therefore the Guardia which has really produced the drama.

Just look back at Torrente's character and at the title of his first film. I rest my case, m´lud might be the words of a prosecutor defending the Guardia's honour. It must be remembered that in Spain there are certain institutions you do not go around disrespecting, and the Guardia is most definitely one of them. It is not above criticism, but disrespect is taken a dim view of, and the Guardia is not happy that its professionalism has been challenged in the way that it has been.

Delgado has had his moments of gaffe, none more so than the photo of him with the deer's testicles on his head. It didn't exactly do him any favours, but that was more a case of him being opened up to potential ridicule rather than it having been a resignation matter. Now, however, and regardless of whether he is indicted or isn't, he may find it hard not to resign. If he had stuck to the inconsistencies line and that alone and left it to the judge to decide if there are indeed inconsistencies in the investigation report, then calls for him to go would not necessarily be being made pre-emptively. But he didn't. And worse still, he has picked an institution of which it makes little sense to make an enemy.

Any comments to please.

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