May 22, 2009

BEAUTY & THE BEAST (OR: A MASTER CLASS IN CORRUPTION)


In a comment about the previous post where I mentioned Spain’s serious economic difficulties, Charley Circus, author of the great blog, So Lovely, observed how one-sided a country’s news reporting can be. And this got me thinking. About all the stories here in Andalucia, for instance, that would hardly make it into the Spanish national press, let alone The LA Times or The Times (of London).

One recent local story stands out in particular since it highlights Marbella’s recent murky past. (A sunny place for shady people perhaps, to quote Somerset Maugham.) A litter bin (no, a skip) filled to overflowing with corruption scandals which the authorities, to be fair, are doing their best to eradicate. Though not enough in the opinion of a good friend of mine, Isabella, an English lawyer who’s been here over fifteen years and still deals with instances of corruption and bribery. In her view, it will take another generation for corruption to be the exception rather than the norm. When today’s youth comes of age in an environment when bribes and backhanders are no longer seen as the sine qua non of the Harvard Business School (Spain) model.

‘Spanish customs and practices’ is an oft used axiom - could equally well describe the operation of the UK’s ‘gentlemen’s club’ parliamentary expenses system - and here in Andalucia we are reminded of it every time we hear that a former mayor/councillor is remanded in custody/ released on bail/ comes to trial/comes to the public’s notice in some form or other.

And I was immediately reminded of it again when I heard that the former Mayor of Marbella, Julián Muñoz (above), who is not only currently serving a prison sentence, with day release privileges, for town planning crimes but still faces another 50 court cases on various counts including the so-called 'Malaya' case, is to give a guest appearance at a Madrid University Summer Course to talk about… Yes, you guessed right - "Corruption"…

It was the ‘Malaya’ case, in fact, that brought Muñoz, my chosen beast, to universal notice amid allegations of money laundering, property development offences, including building on land protected from development, manipulation of public tenders, the acceptance of bribes as well as schemes to alter the price of municipal services. Police seized, incidentally, more than €45,000 in CASH from the home of Muñoz's girlfriend, the singer Isabel Pantoja, which she claimed were for "household expenses". Which by comparison makes moats and duck islands seem pretty small fry… Hmm

So, let’s just imagine Muñoz - former waiter and chauffeur - sitting down and putting together some of the main bullet points for his inaugural lecture entitled:

The Muñoz Master Class in Corruption:

  • Fings wot I done (and got away with)


  • Fings wot I didnt get done (but would ave if I hadnt got nicked)


  • Fings wot worked (and made me shedloads of dosh)


  • Fings wot didnt work (couldnt make enough dosh out of 'em)


  • Fings wot I saw (and should have turned a blind eye to)


  • Fings wot I didn’t see (and wish now I had)


  • Fings wot I said (and were lies)


  • Fings wot I didnt say (but were lies anyway)


  • Fings wot I wish Id said (and might’ve kept me out of all this ****)


  • Fings wot I wish I hadnt said (but landed me in all this **** anyway)


  • Fings wot I would do again (now I knows not what to do)


  • Fings wot I wouldnt do again (now I knows they ******* won’t ******* work)

Signed X (Julián Muñoz), Marbella, 22 May 2009

The course director, Juan Luis Galiacho, who approved the proposal put forward by one of the lecturers, pointed out that the course is an "open forum" and "Muñoz can say what he likes ...Besides, he is not being paid to come".

And what about Muñoz himself? Asked about the course, he neither confirmed nor denied his intentions but remarked - ironically - that he never gets paid. (This from a self-made multi-millionaire. Millions made by himself - from corruption.)

Interestingly other speakers on the same subject of corruption include Spain’s Ombudsman, the Attorney General, a Cardinal, several politicians and the very judge who jailed the late, former mayor, Jesús Gil, the tip of Marbella’s corruption iceberg.

And what, you ask, is the beauty of the title? Here in Andalucia, mid-May is the season of one of the most beautiful flowering trees I know. The jacaranda. The gorgeous flowers only last for a week or so but what beauty! And what a contrast to the dirty, devious, disgusting dealings of my beast, Muñoz.




NB. Julián Muñoz wants it to be known that he offers his services as Guest Speaker (Specialist Subject: "Corruption or How To Con All The Punters All The Time") on the world business leaders’ circuit following in the footsteps of Blair and Clinton. For further details of other services available from 3 M (Muñoz MoneyMaking Machine Inc), apply directly to Julián himself to whom all moneys from whatever source (no questions asked) should be sent and by whom no reasonable offers (except from Nigeria) will be refused.
 

30 comments:

Nora Johnson said...

Melanie: Thanks so much for yr comment right at end of previous post. Yes, I couldn't face another plate of paella!
Best wishes
xNora:)

Karyn - (French Charming) said...

Hi Nora,

Very interesting and thought provoking post. I once worked for The Board of Supervisors here in Orange County and I got a first hand taste of one-side news reporting.

I would be at the weekly public Board Meetings and I'm sure that the reporters heard the exact same thing I heard, it never ceased to amaze me how they could twist things to their point of view and report half truths. My grandma used to say that a half truth is still a whole lie!

Hope you're having a great day.

Nora Johnson said...

Hi Karyn! How very interesting to hear another side of events! Well you know what they teach journalists in Journalism School: NEVER let the truth get in the way of a good story!
Thanks for stopping by & have a great weekend!
xNora:)

ModernMom said...

Ah Half truths and politicians are the same all over the world!

Nora Johnson said...

ModernMom: How very true!
Have terrific weekend!
Take care
xNora:)

Jessica Cangiano said...

Your account of this situation is very enthralling, Nora (loved the bullet point list, shall be smiling all day recalling that).

It's sad that corruption is so widespread and so deeply rooted in society. The answer to this problem (to be a decent, honest, law abiding human) being seems to simple, yet apparently is not so for many!.


Thank you so much for all of your comments on my blog. May you have a joyful weekend!

♥ Jessica

Nora Johnson said...

Hi Jessica: Yes, you're quite right unfortunately! Especially here in Andalucia where there are over a dozen court cases pending involving local officials ... Some, it seems, simply can't resist temptation!

So pleased Munoz's draft speech amused you! Love your blog too - so much wonderful inspiration for those like me who try hard but don't always succeed!
Have a great w/end!
Take care
Nora:)
btw many thanks for becoming a follower - am most appreciative!

Karyn - (French Charming) said...

Yes it is a shame! I need help...urgently!! I have my regular full time job, my part-time blogging/internet perusing job and to top it off I failed HH's quiz miserably.

Perhaps if I cut down on my sleep and hire Molly Maids...I can squeeze it all in. I'm open to suggestions! Hope you're having a great weekend.

Fragrant Liar said...

Corruption is everywhere, as you know, but it's always a HUGE surprise to me that people allow it for so long before taking any action on it. For instance, the last EIGHT years in America, pre-Obama. You know what I'm talking about... Good lord, I thought we'd lost our minds!

Moonspinner said...

shite it sounds bad, (forced to economize my words, timecard just about up). love to lola xxxxx

Nora Johnson said...

Karyn - French Charming: Oh, I know the problem! And since S. Munoz can't help, I've been thinking hard & come up with an idea based on yr terrific suggestion. Am still working on it - help may be at hand for us all! More in next post!
Hope you're having a great w/end!
Take care
Nora:)

Nora Johnson said...

Fragrant Liar: Thank you so much for stopping by! And yes, I know exactly what you mean. But at least you've got a NEW President now! Here in Andalucia, the police have only just arrested one of the bosses of the Neapolitan Camorra (mafia)who'd apparently been living here quite happily despite being on Interpol's wanted list!
You couldn't make it up!

Hope you've had a great w/end. I've left a brief note at yr site & will return as often as work permits!
Take care
Nora:)

btw many thanks too for becoming a follower - am most flattered!

French Fancy said...

Do you think there are more than about 5% of honest people anywhere that hold a public office? I would reckon it's 2% - shame on them.

Lola's groomer must be so much better than ours. Ours just can't do the 'bichon head'.

Nora Johnson said...

Moonspinner: Wonderful to hear from you again! Lola was getting quite anxious - thought maybe you'd taken a wrong turning somewhere & got lost in blogospace! I did my best to reassure her that you were still on terra firma somewhere but where on the planet no one's got the least idea - maybe Basra or Helmand province since communication is, as you put it, so *****?!
Nonetheless, hope all's going well with the move!
Take care
xxNora & Lola:)

btw Lola says she's looking forward to the bloghousewarming party & meeting the little puppy!

PS Left a message on yr site too!

Nora Johnson said...

French Fancy: Totally agree with you about the number of dishonest officials holding office! It's simply the exceptions who renew my faith in human nature!

I thought your bichons look gorgeous - 'bichon head' or no 'bichon head'!!
Hope you're having a marvellous holiday weekend.
Take care
Nora:)
LOL from Lola to Misty & Poppy

btw Recently tried to access yr site but operation was "aborted"!Doubtlessly problem here at Johnson HQ. Will try again later!

Heavenly Housewife said...

Dear Nor and Lola,
Just dropping by to say hello. Hope u girlies are having a lovely weekend! I have been busy getting things together for Hubby's and I upcoming trip to Barcelona. I am getting pretty excited, but there is a lot of work to be done and loose ends to tie up (even though I am only gone for 5 days, I like to come back to everything in order). Here in England we are finally starting to have some nice weather... ideal for outdoor afternoon tea :D. Ah, if only. More like mowing the lawn lol. Here in England people are so persnickety about there gardens. Mine is always a bit of an eyesore. I hate manual labor and tend to leave things until a jungle appears which may or may not include new life forms! Yes Lola, I am reading your mind, "How odious!" LOL
Love, HH

Nora Johnson said...

Hi HH: Wonderful to see u again! I'm pleased the weather in the UK is behaving itself at last and that you can get out into the garden. I can just imagine the uberglamorous HH, complete with tiara, taking afternoon tea on the lawn! And don't let Lola hear about any new life forms over there! She still hasn't got over having all those suppositories inserted last time...!
btw I'm working on some sort of solution to Karyn-French Charming's plea above. You may be interested in the UK end, Karyn the U.S. and Moonspinner Australia!! More in next post!
See u over at yr place shortly for a taste of that chocolate masterpiece!
Have a super trip to Barcelona!
xxLOL Nora & LOLA:)

Karyn - (French Charming) said...

Hi Nora,

I'm intrigued and can't wait for your post. The only solution I see at this point is to be cloned. One of me that just blogs, internet surfs and sews all day, and another one of me that cooks dinner, works, cleans, pulls weeds and does laundry.

Hugs to you and Lola,
Karyn

Nora Johnson said...

Hi Karyn: Am still working on it! Yes, can see yr dilemma - it must be 5 A.M.(!!) yr time unless you've secretly popped over to Europe or even met up with Moonspinner! (Lola's convinced she's moved to Basra or Helmand province cos communication is so sporadic!!)
Have a great week!
xxLOL Nora & Lola:)

French Fancy said...

forgot to say how wonderful the jacaranda looks - it is superb. It wouldn't be hot enough here for it I reckon - more's the pity

Karyn - (French Charming) said...

Hi Nora and Lola,

Yes "The Italian" was snoring so I gave up and just decided to get up! Thanks for the message, hope you're having a good day.

Nora Johnson said...

French Fancy: Yes the jacaranda is beautiful though ephemeral. A violent thunderstorm last Friday has added to its premature demise unfortunately - pity the unscrupulous politicians here couldn't disappear as swiftly...
Have a good week!
Nora:)

Nora Johnson said...

Karyn: My,my you do need help! But where do you get all the stamina from?! Look on it positively: maybe another business idea?
Have a great week,
LOL Nora & Lola:)
PS Still looking for decent pics for post!

Melanie said...

Thank you Nora for your comment, I hope you have a fab week too. xxxx

Nora Johnson said...

Hi Melanie:
Thanks for that!
Have a great week,
xNora:)

Moonspinner said...

YES I feel like I'm in Basra, may as well be! I cannot believe it's taking this long to get connected. They told me but I didn't really believe them! I am secretly using my husbands work time thingy card (just for few miniutes each night) so keeping it short and sweet - could be you know, up on charges or something if found out. I got your comments and other girls too, Thank you!xxxx LOLA missing you heaps!xx

Nora Johnson said...

Hi Moonspinner; Lola's soooo relieved you're not in Basra after all! She had an AWFUL nightmare last night - you'd run off with the little puppy instead!

We're both looking forward to seeing you back in blogland firing on all 4 cylinders again as it were...!

Hope to see u again soon!
xxLOL Nora & LOLA:)
PS Your secret is a secret at Johnson HQ - memo to Lola: be DISCREET!

Karyn - (French Charming) said...

Hi Nora,

Yes, I desperately need help! Where does my stamina come from? Starbucks, lots and lots of Starbucks!!

Can't wait for you next post and I hope your week is going well.

Moonspinner said...

Note from you know where... to Johnson HQ Thankyou for comment, LOLA - it's okay my sweet all is well (hmmm rephrase that, it WILL be shortly)remember you don't know a thing.xxxx

Karyn - (French Charming) said...

Hi Nora,

When you get a chance, check out my place...you've been tagged!