Catalonia and the Pujol Case: corruption in the heart of the establishment

Among the major corruption cases in Spain, some deserve special recognition: the Urdangarín Case, which affects the Spanish Royal family; the Gurtel Case, which directly touches the Popular Party senior staff (including its latest presidents and secretary-generals even though it is trimmed down and only affects the party’s treasurer) or the so-called EREs Scandal in Andalusia (and other regions), which reveals a poor and abusive socialist administration that gives rise to fraud.

It is too much corruption for a single country, and it leaves the young Spanish democracy somewhat damaged and in a comatose state. Fortunately there are police, prosecutors, judges and journalists, as well as newspapers that investigate and –despite delays and some mishaps- formalize accusations, imputations and also sentences.

That is the second phase of a political and Estate corruption, after the first one, whose major protagonists were members of the socialist administration ruled by Felipe González at the beginning of the 1990s. The second phase is more acute and generalised, though.

These days the problem has escalated even more with the implication of former president of Catalonia Jordi Pujol in another corruption case. Mr Pujol created the CDC national party that has ruled the region for almost a quarter of a century. By means of a confusing public notice (which was published on the eve of an accusation with full evidences), the former president acknowledged that for more than 30 years he maintained in Andorra (unknown to the Spanish tax administration) his father legacy in favour of his wife and children.

Besides, we must add the reiterated lies in quite a lot of public statements to this concealment and continued fiscal fraud. The problem grows even more with the accumulation of indications and evidence pointing to a case of corruption within the Pujol family (i.e. charging of illegal commissions, obtaining preferential contracts and some other irregularities on a widespread basis and for quite a lot of years). This behaviour has a mafia-like slant and has been taking place into a family considered “exemplary.” Furthermore, Mr Pujol was a politician known by his demand of ethics.

The Pujol Scandal jeopardizes the stability of both the party and Catalonia, but it also compromises the Spanish democracy, which is accumulating more and more corruption cases that cannot be considered isolated cases anymore. Besides, there seem to be a suspicious tolerance towards corruption, even when they were just rumours and finally became a reality with so many evidence and confessions.

The current president of Catalonia said that the Pujol Scandal was a personal and private matter –a naïve and stupid claim that hints at complicity. The new PSOE general secretary, young and with no history, has not yet weighed the importance of the corruption in Spain, which is one of the greatest threats to the reputation and the future of the country.

The Pujol Case represents a quantum leap; it is the last straw that makes Spain a tolerant arena, a space open to corruption and therefore an unreliable country. If there is not a fulminant and strong reaction by the institutions and the democracy itself, Spain will risk being included in the list of suspect and undesirable countries.

 

About the Author

Fernando Gonzalez Urbaneja
Over 30 years working in economic journalism. Fernando was founder and chief-editor at El País, general editor at the business daily Cinco Días, and now teaches at Universidad Carlos III. He's been president of the Madrid Press Association and the Spanish Federation of Press Associations. He's also member of the Spanish press complaints commission.

1 Comment on "Catalonia and the Pujol Case: corruption in the heart of the establishment"

  1. Why don’t you mention the massive judicial corruption which also exists in Catalunya? That is a much more serious type of corruption, which affects the very fabric of democracy!

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