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Stories 2014

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Editor, November 2014

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News Reporting

Table Of Contents

Swiftair Air Algerie Flight AH5017 Was MD-83 With 116 On Board. President Hollande Says No Survivors

Spanish Economy Won’t Recover For 10 Years, And 1 in 3 Spanish Children At Risk Of Poverty

King Of Spain Abdicates And Pro-Republic Demonstrations To Take Place In 44 Spanish Cities

Lab Results Negative For West African Ebola Virus In Valencia After Health Authorities Activate Alert


Podemos Are Weirdo Rancid Commies…Or Hitler

The Reds And Nationalists Are Coming, Abdicate!

From Rhetoric To Reality Of Rebellion In Catalonia

Spain’s Chaotic Ebola Death Watch


This Is What Happens In A Podemos Circle

Excitement In Madrid Over The Idea Of A Third Spanish Republic After King of Spain Abdicates


47 Spanish Cavers Race To Peru To Save Injured Comrade Trapped 400m Underground For 7 Days

Spanish Cartoonists Resign And Journalists Are Suspended After Abdication Week Censorship


“We Don’t Care About The Stock Market. We Want To Be Happy”, Says Podemos Euro MP Lola Sánchez

News Reporting

Swiftair Air Algerie Flight AH5017 Was MD-83 With

116 On Board. President Hollande Says No Survivors

NEWS—MADRID—SWIFTAIR, AIR ALGERIE: French and Spanish authorities confirm the wreckage of

the plane has been found near Gossi, in Mali. President Hollande says there are no survivors.

A spokeswoman for Spanish charter and freight operator Swiftair S.A. in Madrid confirmed to The Spain Report that the

missing Air Algerie flight AH5017 was a McDonnell Douglas MD-83 with 116 people on board: 110 passengers, two

pilots and four cabin crew.

French President François Hollande said there were no survivors after French soldiers found the wreckage of the plane

in the region of Gossi, in north-eastern Mali, close to the border with Burkina Faso.

A spokeswoman for Spain’s Public Works Minsitry confirmed to The Spain Report that the wreckage had been found,

but would not disclose how Spain had come to this “independent” conclusion.

The flight left Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso at 0117 GMT, bound for Algiers, where it was due to land at 0510 GMT.

A spokeswoman for Spanish airline pilots trade union SEPLA confirmed to The Spain Report by phone that the six crew

members of flight AH5107 were Spanish.

An updated Swiftair statement published at 4:30 p.m. Spanish time on Thursday said there were 110 passengers on

board, from France (50), Burkina Faso (24), Lebanon (8), Algeria (6), Canada (5), Germany (4), Luxembourg (2), Mali

(1), Beglium (1), Nigeria (1), Cameroon (1), Egypt (1), Romania (1), Ukraine (1) and Switzerland (1), with the identity of

three passengers still to be confirmed.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said there were 50 or 51 French passengers on board.

Air Algerie said in statement published by Algeria’s APS news service that it counted 119 people on board, 112

passengers and seven crew members, and that the last contact with the flight was at 0155 GMT over Gao in northern

Mali. AFP also reported the French Transport Minister said it had disappeared: “over northern Mali”.

Two French Mirage 2000 fighter jets were sent on a reconnaissance mission over Mali to try to find the missing MD-83.

In its initial statement in Spanish on the corporate website this morning, Swiftair said the plane had: “not arrived at its

destination”, and that there had been “no contact” with the missing aircraft.

Both Spain and France mobilised diplomatic resources to confirm the identity of the passengers and crew.

A spokeswoman for the Spanish Foreign Office in Madrid told The Spain Report by phone that an emergency centre

has been set up in Madrid, a crisis group involving the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and

Public Works Minister had been organised, and that Spanish embassies in Algeria, Burkina Faso and Mali are “on


Spain did not deploy any military reconnaissance aircraft but offered: “technical assistance as needed on request” to

Algeria and Mali.

In an e-mail statement, the French Foreign Ministry said they were: “totally mobilised, both at the crisis centre in Paris

and in Algiers and Ouagadougou, where our embassies are in permanent contact with local authorities and the airline”.

In their initial statement following the disappearance of AH5017, Swiftair said: “The emergency teams and company

personnel are now working to discover what has happened and as we find out more details of what has happened we

will publish a new statement.”

According to its corporate webpage, Swiftair was founded in 1986 and provides passenger and cargo planes in Europe,

Africa and the Middle East.

“Our company currently has more than 400 employees and has a fleet of more than 30 planes, which include models

such as the Boeing 727 and 737, MD83, ATR72/42, Embraer 120 and Metroliner.”

The McDonnell Douglas MD-83 is part of the MD-80 series of aircraft, has a range of up to 4,600 km and is capable of

carrying up to 167 passengers.

An MD-82 model, also part of the MD-80 series, belonging to Spanair, was involved in an accident at Madrid’s Barajas

airport on August 20, 2008. 154 people were killed when flight 5022 crashed on take off.


Spanish Economy Won’t Recover

For 10 Years, And 1 in 3 Spanish

Children At Risk Of Poverty

NEWS: Two reports published this week by BBVA Research

and Save The Children say that economic misery for ordinary

Spaniards is increasing and set to continue for the long term.

Last Sunday, Europa Press published a story about a new research

report from Spain’s BBVA bank, titled ‘Long Term Challenges For The

Spanish Economy’, in which the banks’ researchers believe it will take

Spain at least another 10 years to recover from its economic crisis and

return to the unemployment rate Spain enjoyed in 2007.

There is a 20%–40% income per capita gap between Spain and the US

and leading EU countries, caused mainly by the high unemployment rate,

caused by “an employment market that works substantially worse than in

other countries”, less human capital, less technology and research and

development spending which is 70% lower than in the US in terms of a

percentage of Gross Domestic Product.

Referring to an ‘inadequate’ legal and institutional framework that acts as

a barrier, BBVA suggests turning Spanish SMEs into “more productive”

larger companies that invest more in R&D and export more.

The bank also reminds Spaniards of demographic dangers on the near

horizon, saying that the ageing of the Spanish population, which is

already factored in to National Statistics Office population forecasts for

Spain, “threatens the sustainability of the pension system”.

The report states that for every one percent reduction in the

unemployment rate, 0.62% of GDP becomes available for government

budgets, reducing the public debt. Spain’s public debt has risen sharply

since the beginning of the crisis, and new data published this week by the

Bank of Spain calculate it to have reached 96.6% of GDP.

Child Poverty Increasing In Spain

Save The Children says the Spanish government

spends too little on tackling the problem of child

poverty, and to almost no effect: “lower spending

levels are associated with a lack of ‘child-centred’

strategies addressing child poverty”.

“State policies in countries such as Greece, Italy,

Spain, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Portugal

have little impact on reducing the risk of poverty

among children (…) compared to Nordic countries”.

On Tuesday, Save The Children said one in three Spanish children, or

33.8%, were now at risk of poverty, in a new report titled “Child Poverty

and Social Exclusion in Europe”, an higher estimate even than the recent

Cáritas report, which estimated 29.9% of Spanish children could suffer

the effects of poverty.

“Across Europe, Save the Children is witnessing, the way in which

poverty is depriving children of educational opportunities, access to

healthcare and healthy diets, adequate housing and living environments,

family support, and protection from violence.”

The report also says Spain has the second highest rate of children in

poverty living in unaffordable housing, second only to Greece.

One of Europe’s 2020 strategic targets is to reduce early school leaves to

below 10% of schoolchildren across the EU, but the report notes that

Spain has the highest percentage of early school leavers in the EU, at


“Many countries are far from reaching the target – for example

Spain, where 25% leave school early”.

King Of Spain Abdicates And Pro-Republic

Demonstrations To Take Place In 44 Spanish Cities

NEWS: The King of Spain, Juan Carlos I, abdicated the throne of Spain this morning, said Mariano

Rajoy at 10:33 a.m. Spanish time. 1,500 riot police are being sent to central Madrid this evening.

The King of Spain, 76-year-old Juan Carlos I, abdicated this morning after 39 years on the throne and said in a

televised address that: “We have felt the need for renovation, and to open up a better future. Today a younger

generation deserves to step forward”.

“I want the best for Spain, to which I have dedicated my whole life. I have

decided to abdicate my crown to give way to a new generation embodied by

my son Felipe, heir to the throne. I keep and will keep Spain forever deep in

my heart”.

Moncloa Palace, the seat of the Spanish prime minister, announced Mr.

Rajoy was to make an unexpected urgent formal institutional declaration at

10:30 a.m. Spanish time, and speculation amongst Spanish journalists

pointed to a cabinet reshuffle, an announcement about Catalonia or the

abdication of the King of Spain.

At approximately 10:15 a.m., 15 minutes before Mr. Rajoy was due to make

his formal announcement, Spanish online news sites began reporting the

King was to abdicate, citing government and palace sources.

The former editor of monarchist newspaper ABC, José Antonio Zarzalejos,

who now writes a column for El Confidencial, published an article minutes

before the prime minister’s announcement headlined: “The King Abdicates

To Save The Monarchy From Institutional Crisis”.

“Mariano Rajoy”, wrote Mr. Zarzalejos, “this morning announces an inédito

event in the history of the young democracy of this country: the aim of King

Juan Carlos to abidcate and pass on his duties as head of state to his son,

the Prince of Asturias”, adding that: “Sources consulted by this newspaper

attribute King Juan Carlos’s decision to the new political scenario in Spain

following the European parliament elections on May 25 last”.

The Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, announced at 10:33 a.m.

Spanish time that King Juan Carlos had abdicated.

“His Majesty King Juan Carlos has just told me of his decision to abdicate”.

“I hope that very shortly, the Spanish parliament can proceed to name the

Prince of Asturias King”.

The Zarzuela Palace later issued a copy of the formal abdication statement

signed by King Juan Carlos, dated June 2, 2014: “To the necessary

constitutional effects, I attach the statement that I read, sign and entrust to

the prime minister of the government by this act, and with which I

communicate to him my decision to abdicate the throne of Spain”.

The Spanish prime minister said: “King Juan Carlos has been an

indefatigable defender of our interests”, adding that: “The abdication process

will take place in a context of institutional stability and as proof of the maturity

of our democracy”.

Former Popular Party prime minister, José María Aznar, has thanked the

King of Spain for his service, saying he helped “reconcile Spaniards to

democracy”, adding that his decision to abdicate is both “responsible and


Mr. Aznar said the King’s abdication should be understood as a: “concluding

expression of his wish in each case to do the best he can for the interests of

Spain, for its democratic system and for the institution of the monarchy”.

Pro-Republic Demonstrations Tonight At 8 p.m. In 44 Spanish Cities

Spanish political groups in favour of a creating a Third Spanish Republic

announced shortly after the abdication statement that they are to hold

simultaneous demonstrations in favour of a republic in 44 Spanish cities at 8

p.m. Spanish time, according to Cadena Ser.

1,500 riot police are to be sent to Madrid’s central Puerta Del Sol square by 8


The central government representative in Madrid, Cristina Cifuentes, has

said the demonstration has not been authorised: “It is an illegal


United Left, Equo, Podemos and Republican Catalan Left said the Spanish

government should hold a referendum on the monarchy.

The leading United Left candidate in the European elections, Willy Meyer,

said: 21st-Century democracy demands a binding referendum be held so the

whole nation can decide if it wants a republic or a monarchy”.

The leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, said from Brussels that: “We demand

the government call a referendum”.

A spokeswoman for new political force Podemos, which is pro-republic and

won five new seats in the European parliament last Sunday, told The Spain

Report that they seconded the call for a demonstration tonight in Madrid and

that the party is in favour of a Third Spanish Republic.

“We want democracy, a referendum and a constituent process”, said the

spokeswoman, adding that Mr. Iglesias will not be returning from Brussels


The Chief Justice of Spain’s Supreme Court, Carlos Lesmes, has said he

cannot see either a reason or a majority wish to open up the debate about the

form of government in Spain, or to organise a referendum on the monarchy at

this time.

A New Crown Act 36 Years Later

The Spanish prime minister, Mr. Rajoy, has announced an extraordinary

government cabinet meeting will take place tomorrow Tuesday in order to

push through an urgent new Crown Act to regulate the abdication and

succession process.

Article 57.5 of the Spanish constitution reads: “abdications and withdrawals

and any factual or legal doubt that affects the order of succession to the

Crown will be resolved with an organic law”.

No government in modern Spanish history—since the King was crowned in

1975, or the Spanish constitution passed in 1978—has gathered the

necessary political willpower or support to pass such a law and Mr. Rajoy’s

Popular Party might have to make use of its absolute majority in parliament to

pass the bill.

The deputy speaker of the Spanish Senate, Juan José Lucas, told The Spain

Report in September last year that there was currently a legal vacuum that

has not been covered by that organic law.

“It does not seem to me to be the right moment to develop such a law,

despite a certain political carelessness with this matter. There are added

tensions and it doesn’t seem to be an opportune procedural moment”.

The Spanish parliament will begin formalising the parliamentary procedures

related to the King’s abdication on Tuesday. The speaker of the Spanish

Congress, Spain’s lower house of parliament, has modified the parliamentary

diary for the week.

Lab Results Negative For West African Ebola Virus

In Valencia After Health Authorities Activate Alert

NEWS—AFRICA—EBOLA: La Fe Hospital in Valencia told The Spain Report that the patient, a man

from Guinea Conakry, was released from hospital after being in isolation since Monday night.

La Fe Hospital in Valencia issued a statement at 6 p.m. on Wednesday evening saying that the lab results, which

had been sent to Spain’s National Microbiology Centre near Madrid, had tested negative for the Ebola virus, and

that the patient, a man from Guinea Conakry, was making “encouraging progress”.

Regional health authorities in Valencia activated their infectious disease protocols on Monday night after the man,

who is “resident in Europe” according to a Spanish Health Ministry spokeswoman, was admitted to hospital with

Ebola-like symptoms.

On Monday June 23, a Civil Guard agent at passport control at Valencia airport noticed the man did not look well

and called the airport’s first aid team, who then warned the Health Ministry’s Foreign Healthcare section, a

spokeswoman for Spanish airport authorities AENA in Valencia told The Spain Report.

In contradiction to the version offered by airport authorities, the Spanish Health Ministry in Madrid and regional

health authorities in Valencia insist the man’s symptoms were noticed on board the airplane by the crew and that he

was first isolated on board the aircraft.

The Health Ministry spokesman first told The Spain Report that the patient had arrived not on a flight from Morocco

but on a boat, later confirming that the man had: “a high fever, dizziness, shakes and a cough”.

36 hours after the man was admitted to hospital, Spanish health officials are still waiting for the results of the tests.

Doctors Without Borders in Spain told The Spain Report that the Ebola test the organisation uses in field conditions

in Guinea normally takes six hours to process, or up to 24 hours if there are transport problems from remote


Spanish health authorities in Madrid and Valencia denied the tests in Spain were taking longer than necessary, and

that Spanish doctors were following their own protocols. “We are not hiding anything”, said a spokeswoman for La

Fe Hospital, “but I don’t know why it is taking so long”.

Valencian regional health minister, Manuel Llobart said today that: “We really hope that the results of the test are

negative, but if it is positive, the protection of the population is guaranteed”, according to Spanish news agency


EFE also reports Mr. Llobart as saying the man was bleeding from his nose.

The ministry would not confirm the flight number, airline, time of arrival, number of flight crew or the total number of

passengers on board, but the Valencia airport webpage shows just one company, Royal Air Maroc, operating a flight

between Casablanca and Valencia.

Regional health authorities in Valencia issued a statement yesterday saying the man’s symptoms: “could

correspond to said disease, which has NOT yet been confirmed or denied. We are waiting for the test results”, and

asking for: “prudence and to not cause social alarm over the suspicion of a possible disease”.

The patient is currently in a “clinically stable” condition “in isolation”.

A spokeswoman for the World Health Organisation told The Spain Report that the WHO was in touch with the

Spanish authorities and that they were following updates in the Spanish press, but that they do not have any further

information at this point.

Data from the Center for Disease Control in the United States shows this spring’s Ebola outbreak in West Africa to

have so far infected 599 people, 362 of whom have died, a 60% fatality rate.

Doctors Without Borders said on Monday that the Ebola epidemic in West Africa was now: “out of control” and that

a: “massive deployment of resources” was needed to deal with the healthcare emergency.

There are five species of the Ebola virus and the World Health Organisation says case outbreaks have a fatality

rate of up to 90%. The virus spreads through human-to-human transmission and physical contact with infected

surfaces or mucous substances.


Podemos Are Weirdo Rancid Commies…Or Hitler

EDITORIAL: The Spanish right has reacted with abject horror at the election of five Podemos Euro

MPs. Le Pen, Hitler, Maduro, Chávez and Castro have all been named in reference to Pablo


It began on Sunday night with an editorial in right-wing online newspaper Libertad Digital titled “Disastrous Omens”.

The editorial writer spoke of “genuine convulsion”, the “astonishing emergency of the extreme left, radical

nationalism, friends of terrorists”. It was, said the newspaper “a nightmare situation”.

“The most fiercely anti-Spanish forces come out of this stronger, with terrifying results in the Basque Country,

Navarre and Catalonia (…) these elections will only deepen the political instability the nation has been suffering for

too long now. Spain is living one of its decisive moments (…) There is no way of attenuating the gravity of the


The rest of the political establishment was slower off the mark, but the criticisms and chiding are now pouring in

from most of the parties that are not Podemos.

Rosa Díez, the leader of Union, Progress & Democracy, said “chestnuts are chestnuts”, before comparing Podemos

and Mr. Iglesias to Syriza and Tsipras in Greece, Beppe Grillo in Italy and Marine Le Pen in France, with whom, she

thundered, there is: “an enormous degree of coincidence as regards the euro, not paying the debt, nationalising

strategic sectors”.

Pedro Arriola, the Spanish prime minister’s chief political adviser, said this morning at a conference that

Podemos :”is full of all the weirdos in the world”, adding that: “they all end up hovering around Madrid”.

“It is good that in politics uneasiness is expressed with votes and not stones”, he said. “In Germany they have a

neo-nazi, here we have another type of weirdo”.

The editor of another right-wing newspaper, La Razón, is also horrified at the rise of Podemos. “With stupour,

almost horror”, said Mr. Marhuenda: “political and business groups welcome the success of Ponytail boy (…) the

ultra-left guy called Pablo Iglesias (…) no one knew who he was a year ago and he has now become the most

media-hyped commie in the country”

The secretary general of the Popular Party’s youth wing, New Generations, Javier Dorado, appeared to agree with

Mr. Marhuenda: “it’s worrying that in Spain populism hasn’t won but it has triumphed. The most rancid, authoritarian

communism has won 1.25 million votes”.

Senior Popular Party figures also joined in the fun. “Not very long ago”, said Mr. González Pons, the party’s deputy

secretary general: “Podemos was asking people to overrun Parliament and take part in raucous protest


Carlos Floriano, the Popular Party’s chief European election strategist, said: “we’re worried because there are a

million people who vote for a party whose model is Maduro’s Venezuela or Castro’s Cuba”.

Even the former Socialist Party prime minister, Felipe González has said, in reference to Hugo Chávez, that the

Bolivar revolution “is now becoming fashionable in Spain”.

And yes, Hitler has been mentioned.

Esperanza Oña, the Popular Party mayor of Fuengirola, tweeted that: “Hitler won the elections in Germany by

taking advantage of general discontent and turning it into hope in his favour (…) Pablo Iglesias, almost without a

party, without management and as one of Maduro’s not-at-all democratic consultants, has given hope to many”.

For his part, Mr. Iglesias has so far taken the verbal thrashings in his stride. The prime minister’s chief adviser, Mr.

Arriola: “is an intelligent man capable of doing a bit better analysis than that”, said Mr. Iglesias: “If that’s the

intellectual level of PP ideologists, it’s going to go badly for them as Podemos grows”.

The Spain Report is eager to see what happens next.

The Reds And Nationalists Are Coming, Abdicate!

EDITORIAL: The King of Spain has abdicated this week as Spain’s political establishment admits

“great concern” over the outcome of the Socialist Party extraordinary leadership conference in July.

In its editorials last week, The Spain Report described the arrival of new political party Podemos (We Can) on the

Spanish political scene as a howl of protest at the years of economic suffering that had caused a political

earthquake and introduced a period of creative destruction into Spanish politics.

The Spain Report this week understands the King has abdicated now and not in three or six months time

fundamentally because of the implications of those European election results, the extremely delicate nature of the

Catalan question, the rise of Podemos, and the economic hardship that is driving their voters—and therefore the

Spanish electorate as a whole—much further to the left of the political spectrum than has been healthy for the

stability of the modern Spanish system.

The key is not so much the vociferous chanting in favour of a Third Republic that filled Madrid’s Puerta del Sol

square on Monday but what is happening inside the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, because no one has any idea

who the new leader of the Socialist Party might be from July onwards, or whether he or she, or the PSOE

institutionally, will continue to support monarchy as the preferred form of government in Spain, or what their new

position might be regarding the Catalan question.

“The Socialist Party’s grassroots are republican”, said Mr. Medina, who is widely expected to be a leading candidate

in the race.

Senior historical (in the modern period) Socialist Party figures are reportedly disheartened by what is happening in

the PSOE. Senior members of the Popular Party are more concerned about the implications for the stability and

continuance of the Spanish institutional system than they are satisfied with the chaos in the ranks of the main

opposition party.

There is “grave concern” in both main parties over the PSOE moving towards the republican left in an attempt to

recapture some of the votes lost to United Left and Podemos.

Following a wave of resignations of senior leaders last week—including the party’s secretary general Mr. Rubalcaba

—there are strong internal divisions in the PSOE over a referendum on the monarchy.

Governing and supporting parties in both Catalonia and the Basque Country—which announced it too wanted its

right to decide on more self government in April—have said they will abstain in the vote on abdication and that they

would prefer a republic to the current monarchy.

United Left and Podemos are openly calling for a referendum and a Third Republic.

The rise of Podemos is being driven by a howl of protest at the unfairness of the results of the economic system

after almost seven years of economic crisis. Relative injustice is more important than absolute figures, but the King

himself in his abdication statement admitted that: “the long and deep economic crisis that we suffer has left serious

scars on the social tissue”.

During the Economist Spain Summit in Madrid on Tuesday, international investors from Goldman Sachs, PIMCO

and Apollo Global Management recognised Mr. Rajoy’s efforts in stabilising the financial and bond markets at the

very top of the Spanish economic tree, but chuckled at the idea of Spain meeting its 2016 deficit target of 3% and

agreed economic recovery for ordinary Spaniards—including anything resembling normal levels of unemployment—

would continue to be a very long, very slow, very painful process.

This is precisely the state of affairs that is the driving force behind both the rise of Podemos, with the corresponding

push of the Spanish electorate to the left, and the issue of Catalan independence.

The 21st Century is catching up with Spain and the Spanish political establishment is now running very quickly to

try to stop things falling apart further.

Paradoxically, the sudden abdication of the King of Spain, in an attempt to lock in monarchy as a form of

government in Spain for another generation, coinciding with the historically poor election results in the PSOE and

the consequent leadership crisis, could even conceivably produce the most pro-republic Spanish Socialist Party of

the modern period.

If a week is considered a long time in politics, the next two or three historic weeks in Spain could seem like an

eternity, despite official euphoria over the upcoming proclamation of Felipe VI.

From Rhetoric To Reality Of Rebellion In Catalonia

EDITORIAL—CATALONIA—SECESSION: As November 9 draws closer, the world will witness how

rhetoric around the Catalan question quickly becomes a more conflictive and rebellious reality.

The last Catalan leader to try to proclaim the existence of a Catalan state, Lluis Companys, did so in October 1934,

80 years ago this year, against: “monarchist and fascist forces who mean to betray the Republic”. It was, he said: “a

grave and glorious hour” for Catalans.

The Spanish prime minister at the time, Lerroux, ordered the Captain General of Catalonia, Batet, to declare a state

of war in the region and quash the rebellion, which he did with his edict. His forces surrounded the Catalan

government building, the Generalitat, and stormed it. Artillery pieces and machine guns were brought out onto the

streets of Barcelona, and 46 people were killed.

That version of Catalonia lasted just ten or eleven hours after the Mossos, the Catalan police force, surrendered to

the Spanish Army and Civil Guard. Companys and the members of his government were all arrested and

imprisoned initially on a boat called the Uruguay to await trial. The Catalan parliament was closed, a civil governor

appointed by Madrid and the Catalan Statute revoked.

Companys and his ministers were sentenced to 30 years in jail for the crime of rebellion, but were pardoned after

the Popular Front won the general elections in February 1936, five months before the start of the Civil War.

Contemporary supporters of the independence of Catalonia insist that violent confrontation is not and never will be

part of their secession narrative or activities and hope that Madrid will somehow just hand over the keys to the

castell if they can achieve some kind of majority in a vote that, in Madrid’s eyes, will always be illegal.

But the crime of rebellion still exists in the 1995 Spanish criminal code. Article 472.5 is quite clear that the legal

definition of rebellion includes: “declaring the independence of a part of the national territory”, and article 476 is very

specific about the legal duty of Spanish military officers to use “the means at their disposal” to quash any attempt at

rebellion “with forces under their orders”.

The longest jail sentences the leaders of such a rebellion could expect to receive nowadays are not very far short of

those handed down to Mr. Companys and his ministers: 15 to 25 years in prison.

Observers may add these legal notes to Mr. Rajoy’s constitutional defence of the rejection of any vote on a

referendum, the overwhelming parliamentary vote against the request in April, and this week’s declarations by

Pedro Sánchez, the new leader of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), who said the consultation could not take

place because it is illegal.

For the past two years, since Diada Day in 2012 and Mr. Mas’s meeting with Mr. Rajoy shortly thereafter, Spaniards

have expended much time and energy contemplating the different future outcomes for the Catalan question.

Politically, Mr. Rajoy and the governing Popular Party have been unwise to employ the arrogance and contempt

they have shown towards supporters of Catalan independence, whilst Mr. Mas and Catalan politicians have spent

two years egging on Catalan voters with dreams of peacefully and democratically redrawing the map of Spain for

the first time in 300 years.

The balance of most forms of real power—legal, political, police, military, etc—currently weighs in Mr. Rajoy’s

favour. Independence fans claim social power and majority citizen support for a vote on secession but Catalan

voices against secession have grown in number of late, and unless supporters of independence are willing to

actually fight against those other forms of real power in some more rebellious way, it is difficult to see how they can

win any extra-legal political conflict.

The economic question is more of a double-edge sword. The stakes are massive, 19% of Spanish GDP and 26% of

Spanish exports, contagion in the Basque Country—but the very size of the Catalan economy means it is

systemically important within Spain, as is Spain within Europe. Mr. Junqueras, the leader of Catalan Republican

Left (ERC), hinted at this way of raising the stakes in global financial markets in a recent interview with Bloomberg.

No one knows how this will play out, if Mr. Mas will succeed in holding the Catalan vote on November 9, or whether

Mr. Rajoy will attempt to enforce Spanish law slightly more energetically over the coming months, but the closer

Spain gets to that autumn day, the more the complexities of the real world will take us deeper into unknown and

unknowable political territory in Spain, and all of the scenarios will unfold within today’s highly-connected, highspeed

21st-Century world.

What happens when Mr. Rajoy orders the Civil Guard to uphold the law in Catalonia and Mr. Mas orders the

Mossos to defend his government’s position Bond yields could begin to spike quite dramatically towards the start

of November.

Spain’s Chaotic Ebola Death Watch

EDITORIAL—MADRID—EBOLA: A lack of consistent, credible

information has created an avoidable institutional crisis for the

government this week, after Teresa Romero tested positive for Ebola.

It has been a terrible week for government communications in Spain, and many

Spanish media outlets have contributed to the confusion and chaos. Thursday was

perhaps the worst day, of heightened confusion, contradictory confirmations and

misinformation following the announcement by Mrs. Romero’s brother that her

condition had worsened considerably. The authorities had not counted on him

deciding to just tell the truth to journalists waiting outside the hospital, and the

Deputy Director of the Carlos III was forced to run out and issue an unplanned


La Información and El Periódico published CCTV screen grabs of Mrs. Romero

agonising in her hospital bed, taken from the video camera recording her suffering.

It is not clear how they obtained the CCTV footage.

Regional TV in Castilla La Mancha did an Ebola show with the presenter brushing

a glove against her face several times, in allusion to the accusations made against

Teresa Romero earlier this week that it was her fault for not taking the protective

suit off properly.

State broadcaster TVE put out an Ebola special and passed off Reuters images of

a spotless German hospital decontamination unit as images from Madrid’s Carlos

III Hospital. They did not inform viewers of the minor detail, and the German suits

and decontamination procedures contrasted strikingly with the images and stories

of sticky tape, screen doors, protective suits with sleeves that are too short, Ebola

decontamination instructions pinned to makeshift blackboards and 15-minute

Ebola training courses that healthcare workers report is Spain’s Ebola response

reality this week.

Two El País journalists managed to wander onto the fifth floor of the Carlos III, without protective suits and without any security guards

stopping them.

The prize, though, went to radio station Cadena COPE, which rushed to publish the news of Mrs. Romero’s death on Thursday evening.

Other reporters quickly confirmed this was not the case, and the radio station put out a statement claiming they had not actually published

the story, and removed it from their website, before claiming they had been hacked. Inexplicably, the radio station then re-published the

same news of her death, a second time.

ABC and El Correo came a close second after running a wire story with the future-tense, certain headline: “Teresa Romero will be

cremated without autopsy”; and continued in the present tense in the body of the text: “the protocol establishes that she is a group 1


Right-wing online newspaper Libertad Digital penned a Friday-morning editorial titled “it couldn’t get any worse”, and then beginning

Friday lunchtime it did, when the government tried to take control of the situation with three press conferences.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy made a surprise 45 min visit to the Carlos III Hospital to demonstrate leadership in a crisis. He did

not do the 15-minute Ebola protective suit training course, try on a suit with short sleeves or visit Mrs. Romero in her isolation room.

At first, journalists were prevented from even witnessing the brief institutional statement without questions that the prime minister was set

to make, but were finally let in to record it for posterity. He did not offer any new information and accepted no questions.

“Bastards, useless cowards”, shouted the nurses watching the press conference, throwing surgical gloves at Mr. Rajoy as he was driven


At the same time, Deputy Primer Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría held her weekly post-cabinet press conference. She is normally

accompanied by one or several other ministers, depending on the situation at hand. The Health Minister, Ana Mato, was entirely absent

from the Ebola week event.

Mrs. Sáenz de Santamaría, her voice two tones higher than normal and a stressful week evident, was instead accompanied by the

Defence Minister, Pedro Morenés. They did not announce the Spanish Army’s specialist NBC units were taking charge, and Mr. Morenés

even said, shockingly, that the Spanish Armed Force’s capabilities in the matter of infectious diseases were at the same level as the

nation’s civilian hospitals.

The Deputy Prime Minister replaced her two-tone, stressed tone with a pained, sad tone of voice to argue that now wasn’t the time to talk

about political responsibilities and, five days after the start of the crisis, announced the creation of an Ebola crisis committee that she

herself would lead, effectively saying the Health Minister was not capable

of managing the mess.

Finally, in the evening, Health Minister Ana Mato gave the third

government press conference of the day, and even accepted a couple of

questions, to her evidently great discomfort, before shuffling off, leaving

the attendant journalists with questions half-spoken. She claimed she did

not have any more information on the condition of Teresa Romero than

that which she read in the newspapers, adding: “It’s not my job to give

information on the condition of the patient”.

The Spain Report wonders if the government realises all of these images

and stories of the country’s botched response get published and

commented upon around the world, or if it really cares about the systemic

nature of the failures.

Worse, for Spaniards and Spanish healthcare professionals, the

description of the underlying reality illustrated by the continuous flow of

images and stories—all from Spanish healthcare workers trying to deal

with Ebola in Spain—appears to be increasingly consistent.

At the time of publication, Teresa Romero is still alive and struggling

against Ebola on the sixth floor isolation ward of the Carlos III Hospital in



This Is What Happens In A Podemos Citizens’ Circle

CHRONICLE: The Podemos circle in Murcia last night was long, hot, sweaty, chaotic and confusing,

but the 150 circle attendees were excited about being listened to and about participating in politics.

On a very warm June evening, around 100 people gathered in a civic centre over the rail tracks in the southern part

of the south-eastern city of Murcia, in a working-class area where the yellow paint peeled off the outer walls, 30

minutes walk from the perfumed strolls with ice cream that couples and tourists go on through the city centre, around

the cathedral that took four centuries to finish.

There was no air conditioning in the large room full of second-hand books piled on shelves, children’s drawings

taped to the walls, old clothes, tables and garden chairs, which had been laid out in an actual circle.

At one point, a table with an old woman sitting on top of it collapsed, causing general consternation for a few

seconds, until she got up, smiling but embarrassed.

The 100—who later swelled to around 150—wore t-shirts, shorts, dresses, jeans, trainers and sandals. There were

men and women of all ages, and even some children and a baby. They had each decided to come together at dinner

time to talk about politics, about a letter that pony-talied party leader Pablo Iglesias had published, about the

Podemos meeting in Madrid on Saturday and about the possible infiltration of their brand new political force by a

group called Anticapitalist Left.

Mobile phones rang over the discussions. A GPS alarm went off: “100m to Calle Fuensanta … beep … beep”. It was

chaos. Could Podemos really govern Spain like this one day The confusion, heat and shouting lasted throughout

the assembly meeting, in which the arguing and rambling did, in the end, after three long hours, lead somewhere.

Why, I wondered, did all of these people choose to come here and participate in Podemos How was this better than

the established political parties and systems

At least half of the discussion was about the discussion itself. “Circles”, said a spokesman: “are a decisive part of


When anyone tried to control the debate too much, people got angry and demanded to be heard: “There’s no

dialogue!”, one man complained loudly at one point, although a majority did eventually get fed up with a woman

called Isabel—previously one of the four or five dominating the debate—after two hours of sweaty discussion and


“Will you let me speak”, she asked.

“Nooooo…!”, cried a dozen people.

“Get out!”, shouted one teenage lad.

“No one throws me out of Podemos”, she contested defiantly, proudly.

“Out!”, shouted the teenage lad again.

“Will you shut up, woman!”, grumbled an old man as she finally left, to continue her ranting outside: “I am Podemos, I

am Podemos”.

The circle’s coordinator had asked people to keep to two or three minutes each, to “stop this getting chaotic”, but it

was chaotic anyway. The group set about trying to elect some representatives to send to the Madrid meeting, and to

agree on a group response to leader Iglesias’s letter to members, which had not been well received at all.

“This is lovely, but a work in progress, and we’re making it up as we go along”, said one man: “We’ve had to work

hard on the elections, and we haven’t had time to do these new lists for coordinating teams.”.

“Pablo Iglesias is bloody cheeky!”, shouted another: “we want open democracy!”.

A young woman, who said she was a teacher, even nervously suggested a great circle of circles as a better way of

discussing everything, until everyone was satisfied with the outcome, and so that all felt like they had participated.

“The basis of Podemos is representation from below”, said a 40-year old woman in a white t-shirt with a pink rabbit

on it: “so how are we going to work if there’s a group trying to manage everything from above!”

National leaders Pablo Iglesias and Iñigo Errejón got some praise for a job well done so far but members were very


“Don’t let them take the piss! If Podemos is just Pablo Iglesias, I’m leaving!”, said a long-haired woman in a white t-

shirt and a red cardigan, to general applause.

An older, balding, white-haired man said he was: “radically against closed lists. Either we sort this out or the

Podemos bubble is going to burst.”.

There was disagreement about every point on the agenda, about some points which were not on it, and even about

the best way to discuss the disagreements. A younger girl with a long ponytail, glasses and a green skirt attempted

to keep a record of proposals and the main points of the discussion, but she was shouted down when she got the

summary wrong half-way through.

After an hour and a half of debate, people were still not clear on most of the main points. An older woman created a

stir by saying this was serious: “We’re doing politics, not playing a game”.

“And we’re not!”, another woman spat back.

In the end, the group voted that most of them didn’t like Pablo Iglesias’s letter, but then the majority of the majority

voted that it didn’t really matter one way or another, because it was just a letter.

They also voted to send between two and five delegates to Madrid for Saturday’s meeting, and then voted again to

choose the five, after six volunteered. The man in the red t-shirt doing the hand counting gave up, after it became

clear that almost no one wanted to pick Antonio, who had said excitedly that he felt “like a fish in water” in Podemos.

I asked two of the lucky chosen five how Podemos was going to work in practice.

33-year-old Carlos Egio, an unemployed journalist from Murcia who acts as an unofficial circle spokesman, said that:

“Despite the three hours we’ve been here, and the heat, and that it seems chaotic, we do get round to a coherent

group point of view in the end. That’s what makes us different from a traditional party. That’s what gives people


“If in five months we’ve managed to organise a party”, he said: “a political initiative, capable of motivating so many

people, not only at the ballot box but locally too, I trust we will be able to do it right.”.

26-year-old Rebecca Martínez, an unemployed translator studying for a doctorate degree, is a Podemos veteran

who has been around since the start, four months ago.

“I was totally fed up with the system”, she said. “I understood that the main parties didn’t represent me. This has to

work from below, with votes and debate and arguments. I decided to chip in my little grain of sand.”

She too was confident Podemos would be able to govern Spain in a year or 15-months time: “but I can’t tell you how

right now. We can’t have a very defined route map at the moment, this is all about being spontaneous and


Medical student Sergio, another one of the chosen five, had been participating in Podemos for all of a week before

being chosen by the group to go to Madrid. Carlos and Rebecca told me attendance had tripled since 1.2 million

Spaniards voted for the party in the European elections on May 25.

An older man suggested there might now be 1,000 Podemos circles, multiplied by five volunteers from each circle,

so the meeting in Madrid on Saturday could be a gigantic 5,000 person Podemos assembly. To discuss everything.

At length.

No one had any idea about how they were going to pay for the volunteers’ trip to Madrid. “We can talk about it on


The meeting ended with shouts of “Yes, we can! Yes, we can!”, as everyone put away their own garden chair and

walked out into the heat of the Murcian night.

Excitement In Madrid Over The Idea Of A Third

Spanish Republic After King of Spain Abdicates

CHRONICLE: On the day the King of Spain abdicated, thousands of excited Spanish republicans

descended on Madrid’s central Puerta Del Sol square to demand a Third Spanish Republic.

The excitement was palpable amongst Spanish journalists an hour before the abdication announcement was made.

They knew Mr. Rajoy was going to announce something big. A cabinet reshuffle Finally a decision to act on the

Catalan problem The King

It was the King, and Mr. Zarzalejos, the former editor of monarchist ABC, had obviously been told beforehand by the

palace because he published his column with the news five minutes before Mr. Rajoy announced it in a brief

statement from the Moncloa Palace, but even Mr. Zarzalejos was beaten to the scoop by online Spanish news sites

tweeting it 10 minutes earlier than the early article.

On the train up to Madrid, people in the cafeteria were talking of nothing else. An old Spanish lady rushed over for

confirmation of gossip she had heard in her carriage. The two waitresses giggled and told me of their excitement of

the idea of the possibility of a Third Spanish Republic. Older Spaniards I spoke to were more cautious, more


The taxi driver in Madrid cut to the chase: “I hope it will be a big demonstration tonight”, he told me, “I’ve never

understood the idea of a King. They’re bloodsuckers.” The receptionist at the hotel was smiling, with a twinkle in her

eye as she Whatsapped her girlfriends about the pro-republic demo to be held in the Puerta Del Sol.

“It’s about time”, she said.

Under an almost cloudless blue sky, a throng of thousands and thousands of Spanish republicans, of all ages,

descended on Madrid’s central Puerta del Sol, squashed tight as sardines into every corner of the square. It was

difficult to make any progress at all. Girls took refuge in doorways.

The riot police stood on the sidelines in the streets leading to Sol as hundreds of republican and communist flags

were waved above the crowd as it chanted pro-republican slogans.

“Spain, tomorrow, will be republican!”

“Referendum, referendum!”

The Students Syndicate handed out flyers with photos of Franco and a younger King Juan Carlos on them,

announcing they were selling raffle tickets for a trip to Cuba.

Their flyers were hopefully titled, in the present tense, “Youth and workers’ mobilisation gets rid of Juan Carlos I. We

want a III Republic now!”.

The accompanying text explained—and remember this is just a few hours after the announcement—that the King’s

abdication had been a “direct consequence of the mobilisation and struggle in the streets, and is just the start of all

the battles we have yet to win”, adding that the governing Popular Party is terrorised by a wave of street-level


“Each and every one of the institutions that have been used historically to sustain the system and condemn us to

unemployment, instability, evictions and all the scourges of capitalism, are seriously wounded and have lost their


Other signs read: “A dead king is a kick in the balls”, or “No King, No State, Hang Them All”. The young Spaniards

holding that banner didn’t want their photo taken.

From above the square, on one of the balconies that overlook the Puerta Del Sol, where TV crews do their live

shots from, it was very evident that there were very many thousands of protestors down below, peacefully

demanding a new Spanish republic.

As the sun started to go down, and dozens of immigrants walked through the crowd trying to sell cans of beer, the

riot police refused to say anything interesting about what was happening from their point of view: “You must talk to

the police HQ press office if you want to know anything. We don’t give out any details. About anything”.

The protestors, though, were quite happy to explain why they were there in colourful detail.

José Manuel, a 50-year old Spaniard, told The Spain Report that: “Most of the young people in Spain support a

referendum on the monarchy. The Bourbons in Spain have been a bunch of scoundrels, drunkards. The King had

reached the point of falling asleep in all his official summits. And now we have to swallow Felipe”.

He and his friends all agreed the King had abdicated because of the European election results.

Nadia, a 40-year old Moroccan, said a republic would be impossible in her country: “although I’d like to see it one

day. This has been a big surprise after the elections. I’m hopeful but I don’t know if it will go much further.

Carmen, 48, added that after the European elections, right-wing politicians: “are very scared now: the reds are


José Manuel concluded: “This is like when rats run from a sinking ship, they’ve realised what’s going on and they’re


Nearby, Rafa, Ruz and Mónica were standing chanting republican slogans and chatting amongst themselves.

“This is another example of the unity of the Left”, Rafa said: “We are on a path towards a new Popular Front”. He

thought the king had abdicated now because the judge was about to put the king’s daughter in the dock over the

Urdangarín fraud scandal.

His friend Ruz, 34, who agreed that many of the girls didn’t look very much like radical left extremists with

republican-coloured flowers in their hair, or wearing pretty republican-coloured clothing combinations, told me they

wanted a new republic now: “The time has come. They want to cover this up by calling us all the radical left. There

is going to be a republic. Felipe is going to be left without a job!”

Towards the end of the evening, after the several thousand had become several hundred, a small group of older

Spaniards grabbed a megaphone and began speaking.

A crowd of young people quickly gathered around them and cheered as they gave political advice and tips on life.

The star act was an old woman, who told the youngsters not to worry about burning a few rubbish skips when there

are so many children hungry children in Spain.


47 Spanish Cavers Race To Peru To Save Injured

Comrade Trapped 400m Underground For 7 Days

FEATURE—WORLD—FOREIGN POLICY: Spanish potholers crowdfunded a private international

rescue mission to rescue Cecilio López. The Spanish government said it couldn’t afford to help out.

Late on Thursday evening, Spanish cavers in Madrid received an urgent message that one of their most well-known

colleagues, 46-year-old Cecilio López, had suffered a fall from a height of five metres inside a cave in north-western

Peru and was badly injured 400 metres underground.

Mr. López, an experienced potholer who had participated in several prior archaeological expeditions to Peru’s

Intimachay chasm, has broken several vertebrae and is unable to climb out himself.

Spanish spelunkers immediately began to coordinate a private international rescue mission to help Mr. López, who

has now been trapped underground for seven days, in a cave that is four hours walk from the nearest town.

Ángel San Juan, the chairman of the Madrid Spelunking Federation, told The Spain Report by telephone that the

rescue effort depended on mules and helicopters to reach the mouth of the cave, which is 3,000 meters above sea

level in the remote north-western region of Chachapoyas.

“The local priest in the nearest town, Leimebamba, walked a cow up the mountain to slaughter and feed the rescue

team”, said Mr. San Juan.

Cecilio López was taking part in an archaeological expedition “with five scientists” to uncover more information

about the remains of the ancient Chachapoyas culture.

Peruvian cavers, firefighters, and soldiers are taking part in the rescue attempt, but they are not experts in this type

of cave rescue, he explained, whilst Madrid spelunkers have never carried out the international rescue of one of

their trapped colleagues before.

The 47 members of the Spanish cave rescue team have flown out to Peru in stages over the past few days, as a

crowdfunded private rescue mission was put together and financed thanks to online donations, private bank

accounts and pot holers using their credit cards.

French, Italian, Peruvian and Mexican cavers are also taking part in the rescue operation.

The first team of six Spaniards, including a female doctor and a nurse, left Madrid on Saturday and has now made it

all the way down to Mr. López in Peru.

He is in a stable condition, with crushed or cracked vertebrae, although the doctor does not think he has fractured

his spinal cord.

Given his injuries, extra special care needs to be taken to bring him out horizontally through a complicated set of

underground caves, with inclines and many small underground rocky outcrops that will make his rescue an arduous


Mr. López has been given hot food and is being kept warm, in a cave where the temperature is around 10ºC with

100% humidity. Constant rain on the surface also makes the base camp efforts more strenuous.

“If the weather holds out, the rest of the teams will take another day and a half to get up there, and then, if all goes

well, another day or so to bring him all the way up. The Peruvian Army has been providing military rations”, said Mr.

San Juan.

The third group of Spanish rescuers took off from Madrid’s Barajas airport this morning.

Spanish Government Criticised For Inaction

Spanish cavers are angry that the Spanish government has done so little to help rescue their colleague.

Whilst the Peruvian government has offered logistical support, soldiers, police and firemen to rescue Mr. López:

“We have had no news of any money from the Spanish government”, said Mr. San Juan, adding that: “The Civil

Guard and the Military Emergencies Unit (UME) can’t send their teams until they get diplomatic approval from

Madrid. They want to go out there, but they can’t without the formal petition. The ministers need to talk to each


A spokeswoman for the Spanish Foreign Office—asked why Madrid cavers were having to rely on their private bank

accounts and anonymous online donations to rescue a Spanish citizen trapped 400 meters underground on the

other side of the world—told The Spain Report by telephone that the Spanish government: “didn’t have a budget for

rescuing Spaniards who have accidents whilst taking part in private sporting activities abroad”.

“The rescue will be over when everyone is back here safe and sound”, said Mr. San Juan: “but I don’t know who is

supposed to charter the aircraft to bring them all back. If we could have a Spanish military aircraft for it, that would

be great”.

“I have literally been paying for this with my bank account”; he added, saying the rescue effort had so far received

more than €17,000 in online donations from supporters.

The spokeswoman for the Spanish Foreign Office said she had “no news” about conversations between the

Spanish Foreign Minister, José Manuel García Margallo, and his Peruvian counterpart, Gonzalo Gutiérrez Reinel,

over the rescue of Mr. López; about using Spanish military aircraft; or about opening up emergency financing for the

rescue group.

A Facebook support group set up to promote Mr. López’s rescue posted that: “Whilst the Peruvian government

provides food, transport, and resources to rescue Ceci (who is still laid out on a stretcher with two fractured

vertebrae after nearly 7 days), the Spanish government isn’t doing anything”.

“If this were a priest, or a nun, there would be support and this would already have been sorted out. Shameful.

Either everybody or no one”, wrote one commenter.

The Foreign Office spokeswoman refused to comment on why the Spanish government rushed to rescue and

repatriate two religious volunteers infected with Ebola from West Africa but is not providing any financial or logistical

support to rescue a Spanish caver on a scientific expedition in Peru.

Mr. San Juan said that “obviously” his federation would like to see the same response from the Spanish Foreign

Ministry to help Cecilio López as that received by the two Spanish priests in West Africa: “We can’t stop people

making the comparison”, he said.

Spanish cavers have opened a blog to coordinate their private rescue mission, and a petition to

demand Spanish government support has been signed by 23,000 people.

(UPDATE 1, 30/09/2014, 9:55 p.m.): In a brief note posted on their blog, the Madrid Spelunking Federation said Mr.

López had now been rescued and brought to the surface.

“Throughout today, the installation in the cavity has been finished and Ceci has been moving up from -150m to the

surface, where he arrived a few minutes ago.”

“He hasn’t seen the sun for 12 days. He will be moved to the helicopter when the weather conditions allow.”

Spanish Cartoonists Resign And Journalists Are

Suspended After Abdication Week Censorship

FEATURE: 14 cartoonists have left satirical magazine El Jueves over the past 24 hours and leading

Spanish daily El Mundo has suspended two correspondents over censorship accusations on Twitter.

Up to 14 cartoonists, a third of the total, have resigned over the past 24 hours from Spanish satirical magazine El

Jueves after publisher RBA pulled 60,000 copies of a front page design showing King Juan Carlos crowning Prince

Felipe king of Spain with a crown filled with steaming excrement.

Albert Monteys, the former editor of the magazine and one of the senior cartoonists who has resigned, confirmed to

The Spain Report that the “Crown of Steaming Shit” front page had been agreed upon by all at an urgent editorial

meeting on Monday morning, following the king’s abdication, and was in fact printed: “I had a copy of it in my


“This is censorship by RBA. We don’t know exactly who pressured them.”

The original cover for this week was Pablo Iglesias and Podemos, but when the king announced his abdication on

Monday morning, an urgent editorial meeting was called in which the new cover was agreed upon by all present.

The cover was drawn by Manel Fontdevilla and sent to the press, along with four additional inside pages on the

abdication, by the 6 p.m. deadline.

The print run was stopped at some point on Tuesday on the orders of publisher RBA, and on Wednesday the

cartoonists were told in a meeting by the head of publishing that any satirical cartoons of the royal family were not

going to be published on the front page of the magazine.

“That was a shot right in the back of the neck of El Jueves”, said Mr. Monteys. “The heart, the essence, of El Jueves

died on Wednesday”, adding that he did not understand why the prohibition only referred to the front page.

“Oligarchies are all old, and they don’t know anything about the Internet.”

Another senior cartoonist, Guillermo, who had been working with the magazine for 18 years, told The Spain Report

that: “The problem is with this new owner, RBA, they don’t want it going on the front page”. “This is what always

happens, the royal household doesn’t need to tell them what to to, they just do it and end up making a mess of it”.

“I have resigned because I don’t have kids”, he said: “I can get by for two or three months until I find new work”.

“This is worse than breaking up with your wife. It’s very painful. We are beat”, he said, stressing that: “It is worse for

those who are left behind, they are very brave, especially Mayte; basically there was Mayte and then they built El

Jueves around her”.

Mayte Quílez, the editor, was unavailble for comment today but tweeted that: “I have said nothing, I have no words,

and I cannot stop crying for El Jueves, where I have been for 37 years, and for what it all means”.

El Jueves publisher RBA was also unavailable for comment but a spokeswoman for El Jueves told The Spain

Report that: “the publisher”—not the editor—”has decided that El Jueves will not make any official statement” on the


The cartoonists who have resigned are to meet on Monday to discuss options for a new magazine.

El Mundo Changes Key Abdication Chronicle & Suspends Correspondents

The King of Spain announced his abdication on Monday morning and the special evening print edition of El Mundo,

one of Spain’s leading national dailies, carried a chronicle by their royal correspondent, Ana Romero, that included

the phrase: “…the public emergence of the princess Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, an international introducer of

capital and intimate friend of the monarch”.

In the Tuesday morning version of the same chronicle, that phrase had been removed and the byline attributed the

text to El Mundo and not to Ms. Romero, who had refused to sign off on the new version following an argument with

the newspaper’s new editor, Casimiro García Abadillo.

The editor reportedly told Ms. Romero that either she removed the phrase or she would be shown the door to his

office, which Ms. Romero interpreted as the editor sacking her.

Mr. García Abadillo asked the correspondent to prove he had fired her and tweeted that: “The editor of El Mundo

has NEVER censored a story”.

A spokesman for Unidad Editorial, the publisher of El Mundo, told The Spain Report by e-mail that he did not know

exactly what was said during the argument but that Mr. García Abadillo: “did not censor any article with her byline or

announce that she was sacked”, adding that Mr. Romero still worked for the newspaper.

“The special edition chronicle has Ana Romero’s byline, she wrote it, and the second one is not a chronicle with Ana

Romero’s byline”.

Ana Romero told The Spain Report from her home that she did not wish to make any further comments at this point

on the week’s events but that she was not happy with aspects of the story being told about her.

María Ramírez, the daughter of founding editor Pedro J. Ramírez and the newspaper’s U.S correspondent,

tweeted: “The main chronicle about the abdication of the king appears without a byline in El Mundo. No way.

#thekingabdicates #freespeech”, adding: “Very sad what is happening at my newspaper: censorship”, and that the

newspaper’s attitude was: “shameful”.

Her husband, Eduardo Suárez, El Mundo’s New York correspondent, tweeted in support: “A journalist must be able

to remind her readers who Corinna is. Whoever doesn’t let her do that infringes freedom of speech.


The newspaper has suspended both journalists for a month without pay.

Sources inside El Mundo told The Spain Report that Ms. Romero had been looking for a severance package from

the newspaper for some time, but that perhaps the current editor had been “clumsy” changing the key chronicle by

the royal correspondent on the day the king abdicated.

They said the Royal Household has indirectly pressured the newspaper over the past 12 months—under both Mr.

García Abadillo and former editor Pedro J. Ramírez, and spefically about Ms. Romero’s “good” but “uncomfortable”

reporting (for the Royal Household)—but that editors always have the last word on what gets published in a


A statement signed by a dozen El Mundo reporters from the national news section said that their news stories,

chronicles, features and interviews had: “never been censored by the editorial managers”, and that any other

version: “has nothing to do with our normal reporting work”.

Spanish Royal Household Denies Involvement

A spokesman for the Spanish Royal Household at Zarzuela Palace told The Spain Report that any suggestions it

has pressured El Mundo journalists over the past 12 months were: “totally false”, and that: “we have had nothing to

do with those matters” this week at El Mundo and El Jueves.

“We have worked for many years with Ana Romero without any problem. They have some internal problems there

that have nothing to do with the Royal Household. We have never said anything about the El Jueves front pages.”


“We Don’t Care About The Stock Market. We Want

To Be Happy”, Says Podemos Euro MP Lola Sánchez

INTERVIEW: New Podemos Euro MP Lola Sánchez spoke to The Spain Report in the days following

the European elections about small business and unemployment in Spain and Podemos policies.

Small Business, Unemployment & The Universal Minimum Wage

Is it true you closed your small business because they raised VAT

Yes, of course, I couldn’t add that VAT increase to my products, to my customers, so the profit margin was


When I had spent two months without profits, and I saw the debts piling up, I decided to shut up shop.

Because you couldn’t get a loan or support to make the business work

No. I already had a micro credit with La Caixa I had asked for to open the shop. I asked for another one for €2,000

to be able to buy things, but then I was paying the bank €300 a month, so what was coming in was going out

again, with the rent, the banks, the VAT and all the rest.

So I couldn’t ask for another loan, because it would have increased the monthly fixed costs, and sales weren’t


What would Podemos like to do with VAT

We’d have to talk about all of that in the circles. It’s an indirect tax that doesn’t differentiate between people

because of their income or economic capacity. So I would definitely lower VAT on many products, especially basic

necessities, and I’d increase direct taxes on income, property and above all on capital, which is the shocker,

capital taxes are the lowest we’ve got.

Because what most people are talking about this week in the newspapers is your economic plan.

I imagine, it’s the newest bit, the bravest part.

And because Spaniards for years now have said that the most important thing is unemployment,

unemployment and unemployment. It seems like current politicians have not been able to deal with that

because we still have 5.9 million unemployed people.

Of course they haven’t been able to. I’m not the only person in Spain who has had to close their business

because of the VAT or the lack of credit and liquidity. They’re even talking about putting VAT up again.

Small businesses is where most jobs are created. Small business is absolutely up to its drowning. I have lots of

friends with small shops or professional service offices, and they’re not making it.

Podemos proposes a long list of guaranteed social and welfare rights when the currents system can’t deal

with the long-term impact of what we’ve got. But apart from VAT, the most problematic bit for small

businesses is the social security payments. How do we increase capital taxes for businessmen and pay for

everything Podemos wants in its economic programme whilst at the same time helping small businessmen

I know. One of the most critical questions they ask us is where are you going to get that money from for all the

stuff you are proposing Things like the universal minimum wage, or lower social security contributions and the

secret is in the fight against tax fraud.

A few months ago, there was a study by tax inspectors saying the percentage of tax fraud related to big fortunes

and to small businesses. Small businesses in comparison are nothing, compared to big capital fraud. There’s a

huge bag of money there that could be used in society.

According to that report, if the underground economy is 25% of GDP, tax revenues would be 60 or 70 billion

euros, but your idea of a universal minimum wage for all would cost well above that underground economy

tax revenue, even if every penny was collected.

I don’t know the numbers by heart. But I’ve talked to the people who are dealing with the legislative initiative for

the universal minimum wage, I’ve been to some of their meetings and they have all the numbers and they work,

both in terms of the fight against tax fraud and tax increases for large fortunes.

But do you want to apply the universal minimum wage to everyone, to 46.5 million Spaniards, or to certain

categories of people

Not everyone, no. For people who don’t have a job, that’s clear. For a person who’s got a job, with a wage, we

wouldn’t need to give them the universal minimum wage.

What about kids and old people

No. If an older person has a dignified pension, we wouldn’t need to give it to them. Nor to kids, if they’re well

looked after, and their parents can look after them in a dignified manner.

The idea is to not have anyone in Spain with no income, because if there’s no work…the ideal solution would be

for everyone for to have a job, and for that income to come from employment, but we can’t have a rich country like

Spain with people with no income and no chance of working.

But adults of working age without work Not everyone

Of course. No, no, we can’t give a wage to 46 million people. People who are earning EE1,500 each month don’t

need the wage.

So to understand it, then, the “minimum wage for everyone just because they’re a citizen” is not for every

citizen but a kind of extended unemployment benefit

Well, yes, you could look at it like that, but without taking into account what that person had paid in social security

payments. In my case, for example, I’ve only worked in restaurants, or as a sales person, and the contracts are

rubbish, they’ve given me 2-hour contracts in case an employment inspector turns up, but then I work 10 or 12


I’m not paying social security based on the hours I’m really working or producing. So when I go to the

unemployment office to ask for benefits, I get silly numbers. On the one hand that’ wrong because it’s not true I

have worked so little, I have worked much more, and on the other because it’s also tax fraud.

So would you keep self-employed social security payments the same to pay for that system, or get rid of


We wouldn’t get rid of them. Reduce them, or at least adapt them to the earnings of each company. It’s not fair a

small businessman, with a small shop, who’s perhaps earning €1,000 a month…it’s not the same as a selfemployed

person who has a factory or a lot of employees and is earning €10,000 a month and that they pay

exactly the same social security payments.

So that would have to be progressive, like income tax, with bands. The more you earn, the more social security

you pay, logically.

I know many people who can’t register as self-employed because they’re working but invoicing just €500 or €600

a month and they tell me they’d like to register as self-employed because they’re not going to get a pension,

they’re not going to get anything. “If I’m earning €600, how am I going to pay €300 self-employed social security”

It’s a terribly unfair situation. These people are kept outside of the system, but not because they want to but

because the system…their businesses wouldn’t last within the system.

The response to that is not to teach those small businessmen to increase their turnover

Of course, but that would mean a very extensive, very costly programme, but I would be very much in favour of

doing it, as training or consulting, but in a crisis situation like the one we’re in, it’s very difficult, because until

national consumer purchases increase, there are companies that can’t do more.

They do €500 or €600 a month and they can’t do more because there aren’t more customers. So it’s like an

engine with many cogs that need to work again together, slowly, so that it can be carried out.

If we gave everyone a universal minimum wage, or all adults, wouldn’t prices increase too, cancelling out

the effect If everyone suddenly had €700 more a month, businesses would put prices up.

I don’t think so, not so much. If I had a business right now, and got the universal minimum wage, I wouldn’t think

about increasing prices. I would think about keeping them the same to sell more.

Often, businessmen, especially the big ones, have a bit of a strange vision of what a consumer is. It seems they

forget what a consumer is, and that they too are consumers. I think we could have some price controls, but I don’t

want to appear too interventionist.

I don’t know. I’m not an economist, but I think there would be some mechanism to control all that to a certain


Podemos & Economic Systems

Do you think Podemos’s economic proposals are realistic right now

Yes. Yes, they are realistic. Very brave and very daring. They’re things people sometimes have difficulty believing.

You asked before where the money was going to come from.

I haven’t studied it personally, but my colleagues have, especially the minimum wage group, who know exactly

where the money is going to come from, with hard figures.

The secret is in not drowning the small people, because we are the ones who consume every day. I don’t say we

should drown those who earn a lot of money either, but big capital is where the river of money flowing out of Spain

is, without paying taxes, or paying very little tax.

Is the vote for Podemos a cry of protest against the current economic system

Yes, of course, I’m convinced they have sold us a system in which they told us we would all be rich and we were

all going to live very well, and there was a period like that, but that’s over now.

Capitalism dug its own grave the moment it was born. It’s impossible to maintain it indefinitely over time. It’s

definitely a response to the economic situation, but also to the political situation, and both are related, of course.

Isn’t capitalism an economic fact, more than an ideology The use of capital to create companies and value.

Yes, of course, it’s an economic fact, but it’s also a system, and above all, the most dangerous part is that it has

also become a political system.

When the political system and politicians only serve and empower capital, forgetting about people, and forgetting

that capital exists so people can live properly…capital has become so important, it’s above the interests of people.

We shouldn’t forget it’s just numbers, pieces of paper, metal. Numbers on the Internet. They say there’s even

money that doesn’t exist. It exists on computers and in accounts but it’s not physically real.

So giving all the priorities to an abstract concept, before prioritising people, is what has brought us to this point.

We have to realise money exists so that we can live well, and with dignity, not the other way round.

People don’t live so that capital can just grow and grow and grow and get bigger to increase fortunes that are

already outrageous.

So you think there is an outrageous discrepancy between the current economic system and the wealth it

generates and the fact that wealth does not flow towards the poorest

The fact it doesn’t flow among us all, if you like. Not just the poorest. I understand there must be people who earn

more money than others, depending on how much work they do, and their responsibilities, and many other things.

But this can’t be like an ant hill, in which we just work and work and work to produce capital that accumulates and

accumulates or multiplies and multiplies into more capital. We live in a world full of people and human beings and

this is like we’ve gone mad.

The system isn’t treating people properly.

Of course. It’s like it’s schizophrenic, a system made by people that mistreats other people.

When you get to Brussels for the first time, how are you going to do this in practice, in real life, to change

the system What are the first steps

We know there are just a few of us for now, but we have very clear ideas and we’re aware that what we’re

defending is right because we’re defending people. One of the first things we’re going to ask other Euro MPs to

set an example and if we need to tighten our belts a little, especially those from the south of Europe, they should

demonstrate they are ready to tighten their belts too if we need to to get out of this crisis.

We are going to earn €1,930 a month, which is three times the minimum wage in Spain, and I think it’s a great

example of how we’re not going to get rich, of how we’re not going there to earn a crust, or for economic reasons,

so we’ll be in a condition to say we’re like those at the bottom.

Why three times the minimum wage Why not twice or four times

Well, that was decided like that, it seems to us it’s an amount you can use to live a dignified life, and four times

was too much and twice too little.

It’s similar to the amount MPs receive for expenses in the national parliament.

I don’t think they chose that amount as a yardstick.

On an observational level, the minimum wage is what it is, six hundred and something, unemployment

benefit is what it is, but then MPs expenses in parliament are about that amount and now you have chosen

€1930. The price of life for a normal life in Spain, a dignified life now, is about €1800, not €600 a month.

I wasn’t in the assembly where they decided that, but logic tells me it’s an amount I wish everyone could earn,

because then everyone could have a comfortable life, and not what we’re seeing on the streets, beginning with

me! I have to ask my family and friends for money, my granny, and I don’t stop working. We need to be exemplary.

Politics, Government & The Establishment

Are you looking forward to working with Syriza and Mr. Tsipras

I am very much looking forward to meeting them, yes, because they are the only ones who are standing up in

Greece. Spain is going the way of Spain but unfortunately they are much worse off, and any news from there, and

it’s not very much, is terrifying, really, what’s happening to that people. So I am looking forward to fighting

alongside them.

Will there be an agreement with United Left

Everyone who participates in Podemos will have to decide that. My personal opinion is that there could be

approaches, we could help each other out, but the Podemos method is inviolable and must continue to be so,

otherwise we’d lost the spirit of what we are to become just like any other Spanish political party, including them,

including the leaders of United Left.

Would you reach an agreement to govern in Spain

As I say, it would depend on many things on the way things work out, not only the planning of the agreement but

also deciding on the leadership later on. We aren’t ready to accept decisions made in closed offices by four

people no one has elected, or by a leadership elected amongst insiders. Never. Not for an agreement, or to reach

an agreement, or later on in government.

What is the main reason that agreement doesn’t exist already

The method. They don’t want open lists, they haven’t wanted primaries open to any citizen. That’s the main

reason. But we can’t stop doing that because then we’d stop being Podemos. Then we wouldn’t have done


But from the outside, many of your proposals seem similar, not only economically but also politically. You

also want a Third Republic, for example.

Yes, that’s what the grassroots members have said.

Would you like to see a Third Republic

Yes. I have always been monarchist, really, because the governments, the parliamentary monarchies, have

seemed to me more stable. It has always seemed a way of bringing stability to a system, even thought it is not as

legitimate as it might be.

But looking at what’s happened, and the Spanish situation, not just the corruption, but seeing it is a useless

institution, inoperative, it’s not doing anything useful at the moment, apart from the king’s trips to the Middle East,

once again defending big business.

Do you see it as a corrupt institution

Not inherently corrupt, despite the Spanish example, but very easy to corrupt.

I mean the Spanish monarchy.

Well…yes. They have shown us that currently they are corrupt. It’s what we’ve seen. Perhaps not all of the

members of the royal family, but a lot of them, and we’re also seeing there are some very big movements to try

and cover it up or prevent Princess Cristina…the public prosecutor seems more like a defence lawyer.

So you would like to see a Third Spanish Republic and, at the same time, the right to decide in Catalonia

Yes. The right to decide for any people. We don’t understand the obligation to belong to something when a

majority doesn’t want to. If a majority doesn’t want a monarchy, why do we have to have one, and if there were a

majority in Catalonia—and I’m not so sure, but that’s why it would be a good idea to ask—that didn’t want to be

Spanish, why not It’s something I can’t understand.

If the Catalans vote for that independence proposal, for secession, you could happily imagine a Third

Spanish Republic without Catalonia

Yes, why not We are also stuck in a system that is trying to perpetuate itself under any pretext. Spain has been

Spain for 500 years, or less, depending on how we understand it. It is not an eternal thing, and it won’t be so in

the future. The same goes for Spain as for any country in the world.

People want to be happy, and to live as they want to, together, so I don’t understand that desire to cling on to a

status that is 500 years old. So what More than 500 years ago, Spain didn’t exist and people still wanted to be

happy. People just want to be happy. That’s the key to everything.

Do Podemos voters and MPs feel hatred towards the current system

I think each person feels what they feel, but the disenchantment with this system…a disappointment. I understand

those who have it worse off and suddenly feel that their country, their rulers, their system become their number

one enemy.

And you as a young Spanish woman who has for so many years been unemployed or working all the hours

God sends without the economic aspect of her life working properly, what do you feel

I don’t hold a grudge about things, but I really want to change things. It’s more weariness than hate. It’s not hate

because if the great mass of population felt hate, we would be living through a violent revolution, which is what

happens when people can’t cope anymore.

People are demonstrating they are extremely patient, and a lot of common sense, not going out on the streets to

burn things, because that what takes us to hate.

So more than hate, fed up, they’ve had enough

Exactly. They’re tired, fed up and outraged. Outrage more than hate.

Do you see yourself in the Spanish government by 2016

Not personally. I think there are a lot of valuable people still to discover. There are other generations, not just one.

There’s my parents’ generation, who have worked hard to make sure their children have a better life, and now

they’ve lost it, and things aren’t going anywhere, that we’re worse off than they were.

But you would be in with a chance, being one of Podemos’s first five MPs

I understand the question, but I think there is an awful lot of good people, and I’m sure wiser or more capable of

understanding things.

I love politics, which is why I studied political science, so I love being able to do politics, but I think what Podemos

defends is the power of citizens, and I would like it if it wasn’t just us who had to carry the weight of this, but the

other way around: we show our faces in Brussels, but it would really be the people pushing from behind.

I’m sure that now as soon as we get better organised and prepare for the local elections next year, and for the

general election, we are going to see some extraordinary people appear, of all ages, and from all parts of


Is Podemos going to take part in all of those elections next year

Without a doubt. Of course. That’s why we’ve created the party.

You have worked with Pablo Iglesias, you know him. Is he more like Hugo Chávez or Marine Le Pen

I would love to know. I don’t think either of them. The things we are proposing are things that can’t be found in the

examples of any other countries, because our situation is quite unique, comparable to Greece, Ireland, Portugal,

but not France or any Latin American country. Comparisons are very problematic.

We have to realise this is completely new. Hugo Chávez was a soldier, everyone can think what they like about

him but he was a man who won the elections again and again. In Europe he has been demonised a lot, but it’s

undeniable, international organisations said the elections were carried out properly and he won them again and


In any case, Hugo Chávez’s party doesn’t work like Podemos, so it’s not comparable.

What do you think of Hugo Chávez

He did some things well and some things badly. A clear example is when the FAO brought out a programme

recently and named it the Hugo Chávez programme.

Does the expropriation of Spanish companies in Venezuela hurt the Spanish economy Yes, but in Venezuela

they were hungry and they’re not anymore.

Is Hugo Chávez a role model for the new Spanish left

For some things he is, for others, no. It depends. In the fight against hunger or inequality, of course he is. Hugo

Chávez or Rafael Correa.

What do you think about the criticisms of Pedro Arriola (Mr. Rajoy’s chief political advisor), that Podemos is

full of all the weirdos in the world, or Marhuenda, the editor of La Razón, saying Iglesias is the most

mediatised commie in the whole country

It just shows how scared they are, and they’re scared because they know we’re right. They know it. They’re not

daft. They know the power the people has when it unites, when it marches to the same step. They know Podemos

is going to bring together a huge majority of people.

Is a new conflict between the Two Spains coming

There aren’t two Spain right now. It’s not an ideological conflict right now, it’s very pragmatic, about daily lives.

Enough of evictions, enough bailing out banks, and enough corruption.

More injustice and contempt than anything else

That’s right. It’s a perverse system, because it damages people, it makes them suffer, and they don’t have any

power to decide on their lives.

We have lost control over our lives because we can’t choose to work or not, or to have a house, or to create a

family, because it’s absolutely impossible to have children nowadays for someone like me who is unemployed or

who works two days a week, on two-hour contracts.

It’s like 1984 or A Brave New World. It’s a situation in which we’ve lost control over our lives. We don’t care about

the stock market or bond spreads. We want to be happy. It’s so simple.

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