Tuesday, December 28, 2010
THE PIRATE WHO WOULD BE MAYOR
A distinguished historic past – but what of Rafael Gómez, the man who would rule this ancient provincial capital? Well amongst his companies was Arenal 2000, which collapsed leaving many property developments in financial chaos and with it the lives of those who hard purchased homes or were in the process of doing so. He also owned the Tivoli World entertainment park and the Xanit hospital in Benalmádena on the Costa del Sol before being forced to sell them.
Rafael Gómez is more widely known by his nickname, Sandokán. Perhaps appropriately Sandokán was a pirate, Emilio Salgari to be exact, who operated out of Malaysia. Gómez took on the name because of his resemblance to the actor Kabir Bedi who played the part in the popular TV series in the 1970s.
So whilst Gómez’s business empire is a disaster zone that seemingly does not bar him from being the number one citizen in his home city. However one major hurdle he will have to overcome before he becomes mayor - it is not with the voters but the courts. He is one of those implicated in the Malaya corruption case – the largest in Spanish history - currently being tried in Málaga and involves his dealings with Marbella town hall and its then head of town planning Juan Antonio Roca.
It is unlikely that the Malaya trial will be concluded before next May. If Gómez was found guilty the prosecutor is demanding an 18 months jail term plus a 1.2 million euros fine. However as the prison sentence is under 24 months he would not serve it but could he still be mayor?
If he does get to stand then Sandokán will be the candidate for mayor of the Union Córdobesa which aims to win a majority on the city council. Gómez says he has been waiting for this opportunity for 20 years and if elected promises that tackling unemployment and affordable housing will be his two main priorities.
However the three parties on Córdoba council – far left Izquierda Unida, centre right Partido Popular and socialist PSOE – have been scathing over Sandokán announcement. Current mayor, Andrés Ocaña, of the IU says economic crises throw up candidates who through some magic formula say they have a solution to everybody’s problems. He also spoke of the Costa del Sol which had independent candidates such as Gómez who had not found solutions but had only increased the municipality’s problems.
Ocaña went on to liken Gómez with the now deceased mayor of Marbella, Jesús Gil, who brought the one time jet set resort to its knees. Of course it was under Gil’s mandate that the Malaya town planning corruption scam took place for which Sandokán is in the dock.
So will Sandokán become mayor? Only in Spain you might mutter!