Wednesday, April 27, 2011


As I recently scanned the Spanish ‘Voto en Blanco’ blog I was curious to find that “Mr Gordon Brown” was one of its subjects. British voters have their own views of the man who was their premier till just a year ago. So I was interested to see how, ‘Ligur’, who penned this piece viewed him from afar.

In an article entitled “Large armchairs for great failures” ‘Ligur’described Gordon thus – “the ex English premier, has passed into history as a true disaster, with actions and omissions of the colour blind or an individual with crossed laterality. Consequences: slowness and stubbornness amongst others.

“He neither saw the crisis nor were his measures immediate, which caused a meltdown of English banking, which hastily passed into the hands of the State in frightening proportions. The State remains the owner of much of the English major banks, who were not purchased by nor have the participation of Spain’s Santander. In the first elections they gave him his settlement. He went correctly but politicians rarely assume their failures and they go home to hope that an editor will commission their memoirs.”

After dwelling on the future for the next 100 years being in Africa ‘Ligur’ goes on to address the IMF where Brown has been touted as a possible president causing much heated debate in the UK.

‘Ligur’ is of the view that the political class in general and especially in Brussels receive “the surreal and corrupt” because its politicians and senior officials are supported including placing “the surplus failed and burned out” in well-paid jobs at international level.

He continues: “Mr. David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, has spoken clearly about his predecessor stating “he is not the appropriate person to lead the IMF since he never admitted the UK had a debt problem”. Fortunately, for Mr Brown to receive that post, which reported has a salary of 270,000 pounds (350,000 Euros) a year, the British Government would have to nominate him which clearly the coalition has no intention of doing.

‘Ligur’ then addresses his fellow Spaniards: “It is not that the antics and intrigues of the House of Commons that waken me from this dream but it is the similarities… Because his (Brown’s) Spanish counterpart Zapatero has more or less the same merits.” He believes a retired Zapatero, who leaves office next March, could be bound for the World Bank. So, asks ‘Ligur’, if the opposition Partido Popular leader, Mariano Rajoy, replaces him after the 2012 elections will he back Zapatero’s appointment?

Brown and Zapatero are both failed premiers. Their respective socialist parties are more popular than they. Some might argue the IMF and World Bank deserves them. The question is, do we?

Monday, April 25, 2011


Kyrgyzstan’s parliament wanted to exorcise evil spirits from the chamber after a string of violent incidents.

Earlier this month politicians arranged an armed show down in a row over corruption. Ten handguns and an AK47 were seized by police in the building.

So what did they do to stop the bloody violence that included the ousting of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev last year?

They ritually slaughtered seven sheep in the parliament building.

Bloody hell!

(It is the bloody business that informs – Shakespeare’s Macbeth)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Being Easter week perhaps it is appropriate that I turn for a while to the words of God. Well actually the words are those of my esteemed colleague Francisco Rubiales Moreno – who is certainly closer to God than me.

Regular readers of my blog will know that from time to time I have featured threads of thoughts from his excellent Voto En Blanco website – see banner at side for the link – and very recently he laid the basis for a trilogy of articles I wrote on political corruption in Spain compared with Gibraltar.

Apart from having spent many years as an international correspondent for the Efe news agency, advised the UN and held the post in charge of communications for Expo 92 in Sevilla Francisco has also previously published three books Democracia Secuestrada; Políticos, los Nuevos Amos y Periodistas Sometidos, los perros del poder.

His new book – Las Revelaciones de Onakra, el escriba de Dios – is a marked change for this previous volumes which were essays on political thought.

I am told because I am yet to read it that this book is an original narrative, inspired by an ancient Italian manuscript, containing mysterious revelations about the arrival of the first angels on earth, their relationships with living species on the planet, the origins of human intelligence and the beginning of the death struggle between good and evil that will dominate the human existence, from the beginning until the end of time.

Within the pages you will find the secret of human history is the fight against evil and man is not anything other than an ally of God in this crucial battle. Although the book is not a political essay, it contains convincing and evocative impetus on the fight against the unjust, a shocking condemnation of oppression and an epic hymn to freedom, which, together with life, is the great gift of God to man, the only created species possessing freedom fully.

After its launch the book was the most sold on Bubok. If I have wetted your appetite then read it for yourself – you can order signed copies on the Voto en Blanco website.


It is well over a month since the UN passed the resolution freezing all the assets of Gaddafi and the Libyan regime around the world. Spain initially backed the NATO action but last week made it clear it would not increase its military activity regarding the no-fly zone. Now it has also emerged that apart from putting administrators in to Aresbank the financial interests of Gaddafi and his family remain untouched in Spain.

It was on February 26 that the UN Security Council passed resolution 1970 under which all the assets of Gaddafi, his wife and four sons were to be frozen wherever in the world they may be. On March 17 there was a further resolution which extended the freeze to seven senior military officers and members of the secret service. The only exception was they could access money for their legal defence should they be brought to trial.

Amongst the entities named by the UN was the Libyan Foreign Bank which was founded in 1972 and is deemed to be under the control of Gaddafi, his family and was a potential major source of funds for the regime. This bank came under the Central Bank of Libya, also named by the UN. It is in the name of the Libyan Foreign Bank that in 1995 the four parcels of land known as La Resinera in Benahavís were registered. On these lands Gaddafi intends to construct 2,000 homes. The finca covers 70 million square metres between Benahavís, Júcar and Pujera and should have been embargoed if the UN’s orders had been followed.

Both the UN and EU have issued directives that Gaddafi’s assets should be blocked. However the lands of La Resinera have no charges or other matters registered against them. The Spanish Government insists that therefore only a court can embargo them hence the Fiscalía General del Estado would have to apply to the Audiencia Nacional to freeze the lands to comply with the UN resolution.

Clearly, for whatever reason, Spain has no wish to do this and a game of buck passing is in progress with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs instating it is a matter for Hacienda, the Interior Ministry and the Bank of Spain. The Bank of Spain says it is not its responsibility to block or investigate Gaddafi’s funds and the Ministry of Justice points the finger back to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The sole action taken was on March 16 when the Ministry of the Economy appointed three judicial administrators to Aresbank – the only Spanish bank controlled by the Libyan regime. Indeed the Libyan Foreign Bank has a 99.86 controlling interest and with the administrators Aresbank can function normally within the restrictions imposed by the EU. Apart from the land in Benahavís the Libyan banks through Spain also control other interests including a hotel in Panama.

Another familiar name to those on the roads of Andalucía, Cataluña and the Comunidad Valenciana is Tamoil. This network of 35 petrol stations was formed in 1991 and employs around 100 people in Spain. Its HQ is in Barcelona; it turns over around 200 million euros a year and is a subsidiary of Tamoil in Italy where it has 2,000 service stations and a refinery. It in turn is the commercial arm of Oilinvest based in Holland which was created in the 1980s with 450 million euros of capital. It appears the National Oil Corporation, Libya’s main petroleum company, controls 35 per cent of this group. The UN says these businesses are under the control of Gaddafi but no action has been taken against them.

However the financial fingers of Gaddafi spread right around the world. Libyan funds make up 26 per cent of the British Arab Commercial Bank which amongst its other interests is involved with the Financial Times and Juventus football club in Turin in Italy. Over 500 million US dollars are said to be tied up in US banks, Gaddafi controls Canadian Verenix Oil, has interests in the Belgian-German bank Fortis, in Italy has 2.6 per cent of Unicredit and 2 per cent of Finmeccanica – that country’s major arms manufacturer.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


I am not a great cinema goer but I have been to see a few recent 3D movies.

Apart from the inconvenience of having to wear a pair of glasses for the duration I must admit it does bring the action right in to your face.

That might be all well and good for Gulliver’s Travels but do you want the body parts shown in an erotic movie poking your eye out. I think not!

In Hong Kong they have just premiered the first 3B erotic movie.

“3D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy” is in Cantonese but since when have viewers of such films listened to the words. It cost nearly four million US dollars to make by a company called One Dollar Production –obviously not.

By all accounts the film is based on a Chinese erotic book from the XVII century. The 3D effect means the actors and actresses are just centimetres away from you. Could be far too close for comfort.

Apparently the majority of viewers have been women – a marked change from the dirty raincoat brigade associated with Britain’s cheap porno cinemas.

One of the film goers said: “I want to see how they produced porno in 3D on a giant screen.”

The erotic film is attracting a lot of interest and could well be heading this way.

I think I will give it a miss.

The thought of sweaty body parts poking about in my popcorn is not my idea of a good night out.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


There is much consternation amongst the operatives of the Spanish intelligence services as they study a message from Atahadi – an Al Qaeda linked group.

It warns of terror attacks on both Ceuta and Melilla next week – Semana Santa – when Easter processions traditionally take to the streets of Spain’s North African enclaves.

The message is addressed to Muslims living in Ceuta and Melilla and tells them the attacks will be launched in markets and other popular gathering areas. Of course whilst the processions are taking place thousands of people are on the streets participating or watching the spectacle. Atahadi no doubt considers these to be a Christian affront on Islamic soil.

There are several elements to the message that concern the intelligence officers. Al Qaeda and Atahadi messages are usually in Arabic but this one has been posted in Spanish. Why the change and who wrote it for them?

In addition both Spain and Morocco want to know is the threat a device to stir up divisions between both nations over the enclaves – which Morocco claims – or are they a real threat, perhaps both?

Al Qaeda includes in its message allegations that the Moroccan and Spanish secret services have been working together with the objective of promoting a Jewish – Moroccan agenda. In response both Spain and Morocco have accused these Islamic activists of trying to destabilise relations between the two countries.

Back in November I wrote about the potential of Al Qaeda infiltrating and working with the Frente Polisario in the Western Sahara. The then view of a number of think tanks and experts in both the USA and France was this was a possibility, which if it happened would be a drastic and dangerous change in the Maghreb.

At the time Al Qaeda was not a major force in the Maghreb. Its activities were confined to areas of Mali and Mauritania where it has staged a number of kidnappings – perhaps because it is short of funds. Naturally if it were to team up with an armed force such at the Frente Polisario that limited influence would be greatly increased.

However whilst Al Qaeda is still on the sidelines it has been gaining in influence in the Maghreb in recent weeks. Al Qaeda or those sympathetic to it seem to be playing some part in the rebels fight in Libya. In addition it has been reported that Morocco has withdraw troops from the Western Sahara to bolster security at home due to the pro-democracy protests. If that is the case then Al Qaeda could certainly have slipped in to the region.

Morocco takes a very tough stance on Al Qaeda related groups so it is doubtful Atahadi could stage a major attack in Ceuta and Melilla where the Guardia Civil and National Police will also be on a high state of alert. Yet it is also possible so it will be an anxious Easter week for both communities.

Even if the threats prove to be a hoax Atahadi knows it has Spain’s intelligence service worried that it has at least one operative who writes fluent Spanish; it has achieved its objective of creating mistrust in the Christian and Muslim communities and it’s actions will be supported by those Moroccans who want a more active campaign to remove Spain from its enclaves.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Regular readers of this blog will know that every week I meet with Prospero to chew the cud over breakfast. Being busy journalists (stop sniggering) the day is never exact but meet we do.

On our last encounter no sooner had I sat down at the table than Prospero entered the bar and pointing at me accusingly shouted – “You’ve changed!”

Now true Prospero is a cantankerous old sod at the best of times and that day obviously wasn’t one of them. He is older than me but sadly no wiser. So what had incurred his ire?

Well before I could find out he wavered his finger at me in what I have to say was an aggressive manner – probably his Argentinean blood – and yelled at me again “You’ve bloody changed!”

Being a reasonable soul I kept my cool and quickly ran through the things I may have changed in my life. My sex – hardly. My style – what style? My hair – difficult. My religion – no I’m still confused. My politics – even more so. My socks – don’t go there!

Eventually when I had calmed him down and laid a breakfast before him between chomping on his mollete con jamón y tomate washed down with gulps of coffee – he said yet again – now almost in tears – “You’ve bloody changed!”

As he wept on my shoulder he revealed the reason for his agitation was that I have changed the style of this blog page. I explained that indeed I had because I had received not complaints rather suggestions from users of iPhones that the white reversed out of black was difficult to read.

This confused the old fart even more. First he refused to believe I have any readers (on that he is probably right) and secondly – what’s an iPhone?

I ordered him another coffee.


I have been doing some research into Laura Norder.

I thought it would be interesting to find out the Labour Party’s thinking on certain issues and as Yvette Cooper is the Shadow Home Secretary I Googled her name.

Her own website came up which told me nothing I didn’t know already.

So I checked out Facebook and found Fans of Yvette Cooper.

Well the page looks official enough. It has her biog and a link to her own website. However it appears poor Yvette has only three friends.

Now don’t get me wrong it is not the number I refer to. Many of us would be happy to have three friends. For a politician I would imagine such a high number is a rarity.

No my only issue with Yvette is the company she keeps. As you probably know Yvette Cooper is also Mrs Balls – easy to see why she kept her maiden name. Husband is Shadow Chancellor Ed – recently described by the prime minister as the most annoying man in the House of Commons. When you consider what riff-raff reside there that’s no mean achievement.

So I accept that Mrs Balls might find friends hard to come by – but is Nick Griffin really one of her three friends?

Nick Griffin is I am sure you know the leader of the odious BNP – Britain’s far right gang.

Click on Nick’s ‘Activities and Interests’ on his Facebook page and you find listed: Gordon Brown, Labour Party, The Labour Party, Kerry McCarthy MP Twitter Tsar, Ed Balls, Ed Balls, Peter Mandelson. Curiously Yvette’s husband features twice so she is in good company.

How does that old saying go – a person is known by the company he or she keeps.

Indeed! I think its time Yvette reviewed her Facebook friends. Remove Old Nick and you might even get a few more!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Whatever happens at the next Spanish general election in March 2012 the country will find itself led by a new prime minister. On Saturday José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero announced at a PSOE conference that he would not be a candidate at the polls.

The move was widely anticipated and so Zapatero draws a close on what will be his two terms as premier. The next prime minister could be Mariano Rajoy whose Partido Popular currently lead in the polls. Who will lead PSOE has yet to be decided.

Although the PP is riding high in the polls, largely because of the financial crisis, Rajoy will be a nervous man. He took over the leadership of the party from outgoing premier José María Aznar in 2004 and seemed favourite to win until the March 11 bombs in Madrid and the anger over the Iraq War railroaded his campaign. H was defeated at the polls just three days later.

Now PSOE will look for a new leader who will probably close the gap on the PP. The problem for Rajoy is he is not popular in the country and various polls have shown that even Zapatero was more liked on a personal basis. So could Rajoy and his party be robbed of the crown yet again?

The process to decide who faces him in 2012 will not start till after the town hall and some regional government elections on May 22. Zapatero said he was announcing his decision now to dispel any uncertainty but there would be no immediate campaigning for his job as everybody would be concentrating on the local and autonomous elections (not in Andalucía until 2012).

It is likely the committee to run the election for his successor will meet on May 28 and the process will be completed during the summer. However whoever emerges as the winner will be the leader in waiting as Zapatero is adamant he will lead the government till the end of its term.

So who will be the new leader? Two names are currently in the frame. The first, and probably favourite, is Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, the new strong man of the government and first deputy premier. He is also the minister of the interior and has been at the heart of the battle again ETA. His likely challenger is also battle hardened. She is Carme Chacón, the first female defence minister and one who is rated as having made a success of the job.

Rubalcaba is considered by many as the only candidate capable of taking on the PP and winning. According to the Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas poll Rubalcaba is the mostly highly rated member of the government but is intriguingly followed by Chacón in second place. The other question is – are the socialists and wider Spain ready for a female party leader and hence potential prime minister?

I blogged about Rubalcaba when he first showed in the opinion polls that he would be more popular than Zapatero dubbing his emergence as PSOE’s Gordon Brown moment. Rather than bottle it as the Labour Party in the UK did (to David Miliband’s cost) the Spanish socialists have set the beleaguered Zapatero aside and will go in to the general election with a new leader at the helm. Their hope now will be to win outright or at least win sufficient seats to form a coalition.