Friday, March 03, 2017

Saluting The Brave: The Cursach Affair

Over two weeks ago there was an article in El Mundo the headline for which was "Rodríguez, the brave". This was not a certain Partido Popular Rodríguez (José María), who is implicated in the Palma police corruption investigations, but a PSOE Rodríguez - Alfonso, the mayor of Calvia.

To get to the essence of that article, the reason for praising Rodríguez for his bravery was because he had shown his willingness to remove a town hall official who was obstructing an investigation by a lower-ranking official. Moreover, Rodríguez was making it clear that Calvia will be ensuring that this investigation proceeds. It is to do with alleged "irregularities", ones that supposedly have existed for years and which Rodríguez's predecessors have preferred to overlook. It was no coincidence, therefore, that on Tuesday the National Police should raid not just Megapark and other establishments but also Calvia town hall. Rodríguez wouldn't have been told of the raid, but had he been, he would have been at the doors waving the police in.

Reaction to the arrest of Tolo Cursach was entirely predictable. I shall not repeat any of it. Whatever my view or the views of others, innocence must nevertheless be presumed. Let's just say that there was a fair amount of schadenfreude being expressed.

That same article concluded that Rodríguez has the means at his disposal to see through what he has said he will do. Despite experience that suggests otherwise (politicians who have lacked bravery), things in Mallorca could now change because of honest politicians. Rodríguez would be one.

There are other honest and brave men and women. Numbered among them are Judge Manuel Penalva, anti-corruption prosecutor Miguel Ángel Subirán, and Palma's councillor for public safety, Angelica Pastor, who has been subjected to threats and been the subject of some derision, which now appears to have been carefully orchestrated. Other honest and brave people are not publicly known, but they include witnesses and local police whistleblowers, the latter who must have endured periods of Kafka-esque purgatory, not knowing who to trust. There will be others who have felt likewise, including politicians and members of the state police forces.

From the legal ranks, we are more familiar with Judge Castro and prosecutor Pedro Horrach because of their pursuit of Matas and Urdangarin. Regardless of what one might think about the outcome of the Nóos trial, the integrity of Castro and Horrach should not be questioned. They disagreed where Princess Cristina was concerned. Legal opinion is entitled to differ. But the circumstances of their investigations were far from being the same to the ones confronting Penalva and Subirán. Neither Castro nor Horrach had any need to request the carrying of a gun. Penalva and Subirán have felt the need.

What was it Pedro Horrach said about intimidation, about being followed and about insults directed at his family? His investigations, however, were not in the same league as those of Penalva and Subirán. What started out as a relatively innocuous investigation into allegations of the fixing of police exam results in Palma has acquired a life of extraordinary significance. Matas, Urdangarin, Munar and their ilk are as nothing compared to what has being unfolding and will continue to unfold. Thieving public funds seems almost amateurish when put up against a web that embraces politicians, businesspeople and police and against what that web was allegedly conspiring to do. It was a web in which trust was impossible to ascertain except for the trust between perpetrators. Until, that is, Penalva and Subirán allowed trust to breathe.

What are we witnessing? The destruction once and for all of self-interested webs of deceit, threats and criminality? That's doubtful. But we are witnessing significant steps being taken in a positive direction. Judges and others are no longer cowed and deterred from investigating and for doing so with determination.

Horrach also spoke about pressures being intensified in small regions such as the Balearics. It was an understandable observation. Small regions, small populations create small pockets of power, mutually dependent and mutually corrupt or potentially corrupt. Small regions do not take kindly to those who snoop into affairs which have been crafted over decades. What does one make of the revelation that certain establishments have not been inspected for forty years? It's easy to make something of it. That's how things are.

Increasingly, though, they are not. There are not just the investigations into Palma police and connections to politicians and business. There are also those involving Calvia, about which little has been heard recently. But one senses that there will come a moment when a tidal wave will be unleashed, the culmination of the various investigations. When it is, Mallorca won't have witnessed anything like it.

We wait for it to happen, confident in the honest and the brave.

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