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NORTH-AFRICAN IMMIGRANTS IN RURAL CENTRAL SPAIN

( This paper was never published. Some 12 years old, still worth reading and give consideration. It is reproduced here to anyone's curio...

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Inocentes

El “modus operandi ” consiste en que los tres niños entrasen en la entidad bancaria exhibiendo periódicos gratuitos (MésTV, Metro, etc.) como si los repartiesen. Caminando deprisa se introducen por entre la gente que hace cola, llegan hasta los mostradores y se acercan pasando la mano por encima y, con la misma velocidad salen del banco. Afuera les espera un adulto que recoge la “recaudación” e, inmediatamente, se dirigen a otra entidad bancaria. En poco más de una hora se han recorrido todos los establecimientos de la Rambla.

Parece un guión extraído de “Oliver Twist”, solo que en vez de ser huérfanos londinenses de la época victoriana son inmigrantes rumanos, de etnia romaní.

A la tercera oportunidad que me los topé me dirigí al adulto que se acercó como curioso. Le informé que lo que hacía era un delito en este país: inducción al delito a un menor. Corrupción de menores. Masculló unas palabras y con un gesto de escepticismo o desprecio se dio la vuelta y se dirigió a otro banco.

Los niños son inocentes. Hoy 28 de diciembre es su fiesta ¿no?. Pero el adulto es un delincuente.

Llamé al 091 y me colgaron el teléfono después de informarme que tenía que hacer la denuncia por escrito y en comisaría. La Guardia Urbana se mostró más interesada y mandó un coche patrulla. Pero el oficial de guardia, extrañado, me llamó por teléfono para preguntarme porqué mostraba tanto interés por el caso (sic!). En la Fiscalía de Menores me dijeron que si los niños tenían menos de 14 años ellos no intervenían.

Pues alguien debería hacer algo antes de que, por el camino que van, un día decidan probarlo con el chalet de un joyero y un segurata les meta una bala en la cabeza.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Philip the Second’s mistake

One of many. Reading the history of Spain one can’t but deplore the shortsightedness of the rulers, particularly that of the most influential.

Just trying to understand today’s minor issues, for instance: the classical rivalry between Barcelona and Madrid soccer teams, I went back over some history books for enlightenment.

They have recently found some new remains of the original Iberian wall of the city of Barcino in the old part of town, “el Barrio Gótico”. Indeed, Barcelona was an original Iberian settlement, back in the 3rd century B.C., later colonized by the Carthaginians. The story goes that Barcelona got its name from Amilcar Barca, head of the Barca family and father of Hannibal. So Barcelona has been in existence for some 2200 years.

Madrid was just a Moorish castle erected sometime in the 11th century (“Madrid, castillo famoso/arde en fiestas su coso/ por ser el natal dichoso/de Alimenón de Toledo….”). It was just that until the XVI century, when Philip the Second of Spain decided to make it the capital of his realm. Tired of freezing his butt in the inhospitable winters of his native Valladolid, he moved south to the gentle hills of the Southern “meseta” past the Central Mountains of Guadarrama, following the advice of some geographical experts that told him that it was the “center” of his world.

That was the vision of a Castilian land-lubber, keener to “physical geography” than to political o social conditions.

By that time he was already the king of Portugal as well, right after the death of King Sebastian in Morocco. He had been married to a Portuguese princess and then became widower as she died of childbirth. (She had mothered the Crown Prince Carlos, the Don Carlos who was going to give so much trouble to his father later on). And he was the rightful heir to the Portuguese throne.

In a historical moment when the ruling of the seas was going to be the mainstay of power, he could have made Lisbon the capital of his vast empire. Lisbon was the “geographical” center of the world, the real new world; the hinge of the Old and the New worlds. That would have been a real “imperial” view, of a global empire.

Instead he got himself (and the country) into trouble for the sake of a religion I am sure he did not believe in, using the Inquisition as a controlling sectarian force and accusing the Catalans of heresy just because they did not want to pay so many taxes to cover the expenses of the war in Flanders.

… and then comes the FIFA and gives the 2006 Golden ball to a Real Madrid defense back Italian bastard instead of our fantastic Ronaldinho...!!! Damn!!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Un cuento de Navidad

Embarazada de 31 semanas de gestación y con gemelos que se pone de parto en Ibiza y, como allí no pueden hacerse cargo de una situación potencialmente complicada, se procede a trasladarla. Pero no se encuentra un hospital disponible para acogerla ni en Mallorca, ni en Barcelona ni en Valencia, por lo que acaba siendo trasladada al aeropuerto de Reus-Tarragona y de allí al Hospital Universitario de Tarragona Juan XXIII, donde da a luz al cabo de una hora escasa (madrugada del 1 de diciembre). Tanto la madre como los recién nacidos, niño y niña, se encuentran bien. La madre ingresada en la planta de maternidad y los bebés ingresados en la Unidad de Cuidados Intensivos Neonatales del hospital, donde tendrán que permanecer varias semanas.

Buscar acogida para una mujer de parto recuerda la aventura de José de Nazaret y su señora, ahora hace 2006 años. Que el peregrinaje en búsqueda de acogida se haga en avión y que acabe en una UCI neonatal y no en un pesebre no es más que un signo de los tiempos.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE HEAT

I am just surprised no one, thus far, has used this headline to refer to the Litvinenko affair. The poor guy has been buried in a special coffin to prevent radiation leakage. His is a very hot body.

This strange story takes you easily back to the Cold War years and all the cloak-and-dagger affairs the two superpowers carried on all over the world. With a little help from their friends, indeed, being those the Mossad, the Bulgarian secret services, the French Deuxieme Bureau, the Stasi, and a whole bunch of others more or less recognized shady operators.

The poisoning of Litvinenko has all the trappings of a KGB operation, now taken over by the FSB, as the intelligence services of the Russian Federation are now known. Old habits die hard.

Somehow, however, the British have decided this is just a crime, not a crime of state. Readier to admit the affair more as an embarrassment for the Putin government than his doing, they have obtained full cooperation from the Russian authorities.

The use of such a sophisticated killing method, poisoning with a rare radioactive isotope such as polonium-210 is, at least, convoluted in its development. Looks like the killers wanted a gradual progression towards death for some unknown reason. Killing anyone is a relatively easy matter: gunshot, knife, cyanide poisoning or just a gentle shove in a tube station platform just before the train enters the station… Quick and neat. Now is a mess and the polonium has left a trail all the way from the London hospital where Litvinenko died to several toilets in London restaiurants and hotels, at least 14 British Airlines planes, a Schleswig-Holstein home in Germany, and even Moscow.

Litvinenko had ample time to talk to the authorities and the press, getting all the publicity he could ever wanted. Is it a matter of clumsiness in the part of the killers or is just the intended effect? Indeed, a good script for a spy movie.
Reality often outsmarts fiction: John Le Carre, eat your heart out.

What calls my attention in this story is the radioactive part. Living within a 45 minutes car ride from three nuclear power plants (the fourth, “Vandellos I”, a Chernobyl era old chugging contraption that almost blew up some 15 years ago, is in a never-ending process of being dismantled) keeps me very sensible to nuclear energy and its effects on the human body.

It also seems almost forgotten the ominous fact that the nuclear arsenals of the superpowers (and Russia is still one) hold enough megatons to blow up the entire planet 100 times over. We seem to only shiver a little when somebody announces that so-called rogue states such us North Korea o Iran are about to build atomic bombs, as if the thousands of warheads already existing were not likely to blow up at the whim of one government or another.
Some time ago I was about to join the “Doctors Against Nuclear War” association, just when they got the Nobel Peace price. In an “ex post facto” sensation I felt it was not worth to join anymore. A sort of a “mission accomplished” feeling. Perhaps we need an association of “Doctors against Nuclear Peace”, or “Against Nuclear Energy Of Any Type”

Not that I do not recognized the many good uses of radioactivity, particularly the uses in Nuclear Medicine and radiotherapy, but I keep wondering if the world would not be a better place had the Curie espouses decided to get into cheese making or founded a winery in Alsace, instead of messing around with nuclear isotopes. And if Albert Einstein had used his marvelous relativistic mind to write poetry instead.

May be the next time around. If there is one.

The very best

- An American salary… and a Mexican job

- An Italian wife… and a French mistress

- A British home… and a Tuscany landscape

- A German car… and a Russian driver (body guard)

- A Swiss accountant… and a Swedish doctor

- A Catalan (perhaps a Chinese) cook, and a Spanish winery

- A Dutch secretary… and a Thai masseuse

- An Hindu servant… and an Argentinean stable boy

- A Japanese laptop… and a Finish cell phone

And the worst is just the opposite...?