Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Indestructible Mr Fabra

It’s time for a little bit of new vocabulary again. Today’s word is cacique, and we’re not referring to the Venezuelan rum either; South of Watford doesn´t do advertising. Instead, I want to focus on the political usage of the term, and the example that comes quickly to hand is called Carlos Fabra. Mr Fabra is the man in charge of the Diputación de Castellon, which is a body whose purpose I don’t understand very well but which is more or less equivalent to a provincial administration. In addition to this, Fabra is the Mr Big for the Partido Popular in Castellon and this is what makes him a cacique as a result of the tight control he exercises as the local party boss. It’s a family business, Castellon, and Fabra is occupying a position held by his father and grandfather before him. This political dynasty seems set to continue as he has already arranged a place in the national Senate for his daughter.

Now everyone likes to have a hobby, whilst some people collect stamps or matchbox labels Fabra collects bank accounts and the collection is coming along very nicely; he’s almost reached 100 either as sole or joint signatory. On the evidence of the the sums of money contained in these accounts it’s quite a profitable pastime too, and Mr Fabra seems to have been so busy with his financial movements that he didn’t quite find time to keep the Spanish tax authorities fully informed about many of the substantial sums of money which have been deposited in these accounts. Just in case anyone imagines that we are talking about the meagre savings of a professional politician, let me help to put the record straight. Fabra is said to have millions of euros distributed amongst his fine collection of bank accounts, yet his annual tax declarations seem to be so low that he often gets money returned to him. All of this has finally led to him facing very serious fraud charges as Hacienda seek to discover the origin of his riches.

The judge responsible for the local court dealing with the case has subsequently been changed no fewer than 8 times since the initial accusation was made, all of which suggests that Fabra could be moving towards that happy state of affairs where the time limits for the crimes concerned expire. In which case he will be able to declare himself innocent on all charges regardless of whether this is the case or not. However, last week there was sudden movement in the case as investigators visited personally many of the banks where Fabra is a customer. Fabra also recently gave a demonstration of just what a class act he is. In a session of the Diputación he was questioned about his legal difficulties by a member of the opposition. Refusing to answer any of the questions put, he was then caught by a stray microphone describing the questioner as an “hijo de puta”. Fabra later claimed in his defence that this is simply a commonly used expression in the area, and I’m sure it is. It’s used quite regularly in Madrid too.

Now in some other cases the PP has moved swiftly to remove representatives accused of serious corruption, but in Fabra’s case it appears that he is an untouchable; and the PP leadership has always defended him. Mariano Rajoy even described him as a model politician and citizen, which gives us some useful insight into his particular ethical baseline. In fact he’s the very model of a modern day cacique who appears to believe that he can do what he likes and who doesn´t need to be accountable to anyone. The question of why he can´t just be dumped by his party is almost as interesting as the origin of all the millions which pass through his bank accounts.


David said...

I suppose the endless Fabra saga has got a great deal to do with the Valencian model of development, such as it's been perpetrated by local PP bigwigs over the last 15 years or so. It's basically a get-rich-quick scam with an immense mid to long-term negative impact, based on the real estate bubble, passing very dodgy legislation allowing for convenient "requalifications", ie, expropriating public or privately-owned property at will with little or no compensation, plus racking in EU subsidies while keeping the electorate anesthesised with bread and circuses, that is, organising big pageants like the America Cup or formula 1 car races. This requires systematically flaunting all kinds of (laughable) enviromental laws when building whole chunks of new settlements (urbanizaciones)and then flogging them to unsuspecting Northern European pensioners without taking the trouble to find out if there was any water at all in those desert-like areas in the first place. Oh, I was leaving out the myriads of golf courses that have cropped up all over the place. They badly need that Ebro water those pesky Catalans won't surrender to the PP, allegedly because a water transfer would put paid to the Ebro delta, but we all know them Cataloonies are really driven by an ethno-nationalist anti-Spanish agenda, don't we, and this is why we vote for the "non-nationalist" likes of Mr Fabra...who's got the last laugh.

Graeme said...

Laughing all the way to the bank David.

David said...

Sorry, I meant 'flouting legislation', of course. There's an interesting note in the http://www.thefreedictionary.com about flaunt/flout:

Usage Note: Flaunt as a transitive verb means "to exhibit ostentatiously": She flaunted her wealth. To flout is "to show contempt for": She flouted the proprieties. For some time now flaunt has been used in the sense "to show contempt for," even by educated users of English. This usage is still widely seen as erroneous and is best avoided.

Tom said...

"educated users of English" as opposed to "users of correct English" - it doesn't matter how good your education is if you don't care about correct usage. As per The Talented Mr. Ripley:

Oh God! Do you always type your letters? [points at the letter] That should be two Ts.

I can't write and I can't spell. That's the privilege of a first-class education.

david said...

Talk of 'public schools'...it's true they often can't spell for love or money, though, and yet they still manage to get into Oxbridge..must impress interviewers with their expensive accents.

I wasn't even a 'day boy'. It was public 'education' all the way for me, hence still struggling with flaunt and flout, as you can see.

David said...

and with slips of the key like 'racking'(pains) as opposed to 'raking in' (profits), see what I mean? It's an uphill struggle for us commoners.

David said...

I don't know if you saw tonights "Caiga Quien Caiga" on La Sexta.... but old Fabra didn't come across too well.

"I am innocent until it is decided otherwise" is his new catchphrase. Not the defense of an innocent man.

Graeme said...

I'm a bit too far away to catch La Sexta at the moment, reception is weak. It'll probably be on Youtube later today. The big question is, of course, whether the case against Fabra will ever come to court.

Tom said...

Anyway, I'm not sure why this would necessitate his expulsion from the party. If he gets away with it, they should make him President of the Valencian Generalitat.

David said...

The argument is that he should step aside until the case is resolved. At the very least he is guilty of not properly informing the PP leadership of the case against him which is sufficient reason for his expulsion.
Still, the supreme court has appointed 2 (!) judges exclusively to investigate his case.
Or as a woman in the street said on CQC: In Spain, anybody is allowed to change their lawyer if they aren't doing a good job. In Castellon, Fabra changes his judge!

Graeme said...

I think it would be a bit cheeky of the PP leadership to ever claim they are not aware of the seriousness of the charges he faces.