Spain News Roundup of the Week: Feb. 5 – Feb. 11, 2012

I apologize in advance for the weak-ocity of this news roundup. My television broke right in the middle of Tuesday night’s “Ahora Caigo”, and my landlord came and took it to be repaired. It didn’t come back until Friday and then I was in Sevilla and Gibraltar for the weekend, so I haven’t had my daily morning news briefing this week. I’ll do my best, so here goes . . .


News item number one is something with a bit more international appeal: Alberto Contador has been stripped of his 2010 Tour de France win for doping. I especially wanted to highlight this just because I feel invested in this story. The summer of 2010 was when I was sick, and I watched every single stage of that Tour. I remember the controversy with Contador attacking Andy Schleck when his chain broke, and the commercials they did together. I also remember hearing that Contador had had a positive result on a doping test, and claimed it was because of a steak he had eaten which came from Spain (which kinda makes me think, what have I been eating for 4 months???). So this ruling is a little sad for me because I loved watching that Tour, and I love the fact that Spain has a top-level cycling champion. I don’t know if I believe the steak story, although most Spaniards do, but I would really like to believe that the entire thing was a mistake.


Number 2 is a followup of an item from last week: Baltasar Garzón. I found an article from the Christian Science Monitor explaining a bit about the trial in English, which is a good read, but the point in posting it here is to talk about how Garzón was found guilty in the Gürtel wiretapping case. This is the corruption case that Camps from Valencia was being investigated for, so Garzón’s criminality was found in an investigation of the investigation. Now this issue here is not that there was no corruption: clearly there was, and many government officials and private companies have been implicated. The issue is in the collection of evidence ordered by Garzón during the investigation, which was in the form of taping private conversations without the participants’ knowledge. It’s very interesting that the three cases against Garzón all have, at their heart, the same issue: that of a judge who operates outside of national law. International law as well: remember that Garzón was the judge who ordered the extradition of Pinochet from England. I think if we look at all these issues as moral problems, Garzón’s actions should be upheld: in my opinion, human rights abuses and corruption should be investigated and put to an end, amnesty agreements be damned. But this “get the evidence any way you can, who cares what the laws say” kind of attitude is a very dangerous one for a judicial system to have. Garzón and his supporters claim that having 3 unrelated cases brought against him all at once amounts to persecution, and I can 100% understand that Garzón may have some powerful enemies that want to take him down for personal reasons, but that doesn’t change the fact that this sort of judicial overzealousness shouldn’t become a precedent, even if the goal was to put some bad guys in jail.


Another legal case has come to my attention, although it isn’t getting the kind of news coverage that the Garzón cases are. News item number 3 deals with a case called “el caso Noós” and it involves a man with a very Basque name: Iñaki Urdangarin. It’s another corruption and embezzlement case, but the interesting fact about this one is that Mr. Iñaki is the Duke of Palma (in Mallorca) and the son-in-law of the King of Spain. That’s right, he’s married to to the Princess (Infanta) Cristina, with whom they have 4 children under the age of 15. It’s thought that the Royal Family had nothing to do with the whole mess, but family ties aside, King Juan Carlos has said that Urdangarin will not be participating in official functions with the Royal Family until the case is done. Talk about being uninvited to Christmas dinner . . .


An article that makes me feel better about America and yet still slightly ashamed is item number 4 from our local Cádiz paper about the obesity epidemic. I feel better about America because the news that 90% of Spaniards will be overweight by 2025 seems to combat the stereotype you hear so much about only Americans being fatties. The article points to all the usual culprits: nutrition, less participation in sports and exercise, etc. However, right in the middle of the article, all the optimism about the USA is dashed, when the author points out, “Currently, one in every five children (19%) suffers from obesity, an incidence that is ‘for the first time’ greater than that of the United States (16%).” [Translation mine, original quote: “Actualmente, uno de cada cinco niños (19%) padece obesidad, una incidencia “por primera vez” superior a las de Estados Unidos (16%).] Well, thanks a boatload, Diario de Cádiz! When other countries measure their fattitude against that of the US, and come up shocked when they themselves are fatter, that’s pretty darn bad.


And the final article discusses the controversial Spanish heritage of bullfighting. How you feel about bullfighting is mostly linked to where you live; here in the country many people still enjoy bullfights, and you see posters for bullfights in Algeciras and Jerez all the time around town. But it is also a personal attitude, because I have met many people of all different walks of life here in Alcalá who do not support bullfighting. The article/video is about a former bullfighter who is now in financial ruin and eats at a soup kitchen. The fact that a torero is now impoverished has a lot more to do with the actions of the individual torero than with the state of bullfighting in Spain, but the language of the article is really indicative of the esteem in which bullfighting is still held. Somolinos (the torero) is described as “digno y señorial” (dignified and lordly) in his decline, and there is a lot of talk about tradition and culture for such a short piece. An interesting look at a dying heritage.


One Response to Spain News Roundup of the Week: Feb. 5 – Feb. 11, 2012

  1. NIce roundup of what’s going on. I hadn’t heard about the bullfighter, but I don’t watch much TV!

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