Wednesday, September 03, 2014

It Just Got Worse: Magalluf

Tired though I am and tired though no doubt you are with the constant flow of the stuff of the gutter that pours out of Magalluf, such weariness cannot allow us to close our eyes and wish for sleep. Too many eyes, one now fears, have been closed for too long. We have been jolted wide awake. We hadn't believed that it could get worse, but it has. The arrest of the chief of police on corruption allegations marks a low that is hard to conceive. If we had believed that Magalluf couldn't get any lower, we now know that it can.

Through the numerous debates, arguments, discussions that have been played out via social media over the past months, there has been one theme which has been a constant but also one that has not dared to speak its name in established media. The cover has been blown. The gloves can come off. Its name can be spoken of. Police corruption.

It is easy, perhaps too easy, for contributors to social media to invoke the C-word, but the regularity with which it has been referred to has suggested that at least some of these observations have been more than just glib or ill-considered rants, some of which may well have been inspired by personal grievances which owe nothing to any hint of corruption. Some of these observations had greater substance, and prosecutors have been provided with evidence of this substance, including, we understand, video of substances being planted. And yes, social media had suggested that such a practice had been occurring.

When news broke at the end of last week that some business owners along the Punta Ballena had been talking to prosecutors, I remarked (on social media) that things could get very interesting. I hadn't anticipated how quickly things would get interesting or quite how damning these things could be. The arrest of the chief of police is the nadir. Or is it?

We learn that the investigation the prosecutors are now embarked upon is "complex", that there is a web of "interests". The arrest marks the start not the end. Investigations by anti-corruption prosecutors can lead into areas that many might prefer that they didn't. What was the starting-point for all that has come out about Matas and Urdangarin? The investigation of Andratx's mayor, Eugenio Hidalgo. The prosecutors are terriers. Horrach may have been compromised over the Infanta, but he has typically been fearless. Such bravery is now demanded. Nothing less will suffice, for there is something rotten, really, really rotten in the state of Magalluf. It is not the sex video or the drunkenness. It is not even the prostitutes. It goes deeper. Many have said it, if only privately, many have thought it. The lawlessness which has been alluded to in Magalluf, we now begin to realise, is not only the lawlessness of bad behaviour and of street crime. It is, if allegations are to be believed, the law itself. When trust in the police evaporates, then what is left? The sadness is that this trust, for many in Magalluf, evaporated some time ago. For this betrayal of trust, there is now potential payback, and it is in the hands of prosecutors to deliver.

And where oh where does this latest development leave Manu Onieva? He once said that he wished that there were ten Punta Ballenas strung across Calvia because the one that does exist generates such richness. Ah yes, the richness, one that has, during the period of his administration, been made poor by the endless negative publicity, by the endless accusations, by the endless claims of improvements, most of them disputed by those with first-hand experience of what goes on around Punta Ballena. And now this. The chief of police locked up. Onieva's chief of police locked up. If there had been any lingering thought that Onieva would stand again as mayor, that thought must surely have now been dispelled. He should consider his position in any event.

And what on earth does Bauzá make of this? Onieva denied in an interview at the weekend that the president had applied pressure on him in light of the original sex video. Bauzá has closely aligned himself with the transformation of Magalluf. A chief of police entering prison was never part of that transformation. And what will the media outside of Mallorca and Spain make of this? Another brickbat with which to beat the resort? 

Some good can come of all this, but the chances are that there will be more pain. Who knows where the prosecutors might go, who knows who might become implicated, who knows what this might mean for the future of Magalluf? What we do know is that it is those riches of Punta Ballena to which Onieva referred that have brought us to where we are today. To three police officers in jail and under investigation. There will be some worried people in Magalluf.

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