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A purely analytical perception...


SPAIN
A NATION APART

 

SPAIN, A NATION APART

 

Spain is the size of the combination of Arizona and Utah with a population of a tad above 40 million. The country is a constitutional monarchy with a President, nominated by the monarch and elected by the Congress of Deputies. The Congress of Deputies and senators are all elected with a view toward the equivalent popular vote electing their fair share of those who will govern. While the country is more than 90% Catholic, the constitution of 1978 disestablished the Roman Catholic Church as the official state religion and left Spain with no official religion.

 

Spain's economy is the seventh largest in the in the OECD with a Gross Domestic Product in 1996 of $582 billion with gives the country a per capita income rate of $14,500.  Spain's natural resources are plentiful with iron ore, uranium, pyrites, fluorspar, zinc, lead, gypsum, copper, tungsten, kaolin, lignite and coal leading the list. Hydroelectric power is plentiful and agriculture products include grains, vegetables, citrus, wine, olives, olive oil, sunflowers, livestock and deciduous fruits.

 

Imports exceeded exports by a about $20 billion in 1996 with petroleum, oilseed, aircraft, grains, chemicals, machinery, transportation equipment and fish the largest imports with the European Union getting most of the business. Exports are primarily automobiles, fruits, minerals, metals, clothing, footwear and textiles with the European Union again supplying the vast majority of the goods..

 

Spain is located on what is called the Iberian Peninsula which has been populated for many years with cultural sites in the famous caves at Altamira containing spectacular painting which go back as many as 25,000 years. The Basques who are the first identifiable people of the peninsula are also the oldest surviving cultural group in Europe and the Iberians who came to the Peninsula from North Africa did not arrive until much more recently.

 

Spain was considered fair game for just about anybody that had territorial aspirations and was occupied by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Celts, Romans, Visigoths and the  Moors. By approximately 1512, all the pushing and shoving between would be conquerors and established villains had ended and the geographical and social structure became fairly fixed.

 

While Spain rose to its maximum glory in the 16th century due to the enormous riches taken from the Americas, ego caused the government to believe that they were invincible and they engaged upon  a number of wars that could generously described as imbecilic over-reaching and ultimately had their heads handed to them by the British in 1588 who made the "Invincible Armada" look vincible. As Spain began slowly to sink in the east, succession to the thrown became their most insidious enemy and while engaged in that sport, France occupied Spain with little resistance in the early 1800s.

 

Spain extensive colonial system began falling apart in the 19th century culminating in the Spanish-American War which caused Spain to lose Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines to the United States. While there was not much left to write home about in Spain, dissention ruled the country until the pot boiled over in 1936 with the advent of the Spanish Civil War.

 

The smoke didn't clear until 1939 when the forces of General Francisco Franco gained control of a totally debilitated country with nothing much left. The country wasn't worth much to either side and Spain was allowed to remain neutral during World War Two but Franco was, if anything cozying up to the Axis during this period and were summarily punished at war's end by not getting a berth in the United Nations until 1955.

 

In 1959, under the guidance of the International Monetary Fund, Spain made a middling effort to rejoin the world and began to liberalizing trade and capital flows, while starting to accept foreign direct investment. Nevertheless, Spain remained the most closed economy in Western Europe until tourism started to revitalize the country in the early 1970s. As progress became a glimmer, Franco died and with it the emergence of Prince Juan Carlos de Borbon y Borbon, the designated heir of Franco.

 

The government was reconstituted and the first election was held since 1936 on June 15, 1977 and in 1978 a new constitution established Spain as a parliamentary monarchy. A coup was attempted in 1981 which was quickly put down and the government became more solid than ever because of it. As

Spain prospered, first one government and then another took office, but the economy, the country continued to grow with privatization becoming an important part of revitalization. Membership in first NATO, the European Union and ultimately the European Monetary Union be being one of the first countries to qualify under the stringent regulations of the Maastricht Treaty.

 

Spain has developed good relations with the Arab world from whom they import the majority of their energy needs. In return, Spain has received substantial Arab investments within its country and has returned the favor in the United Nations by becoming an "automatic vote" when Arab Issues are involved. Spain's UN votes have been particularly debilitating to their relations with Israel, whom they recognize and have diplomatic relations with but can't see eye to eye. With the Arabs pulling the stings this series of negative votes no matter what the issue is not expected to end soon.

 

In the meantime, the Basque's were becoming restless and under the name of the Basque Fatherland and Liberty party (ETA) the founded a party dedicated to the terrorist denominated separation of from Spain with the aim toward the creation of a separate independence. Ultimately, ETA joined with GRAPO, a communist led with many of the same aspirations as the ETA and the combined group was involved in a series of bombings, murders and robberies ensued and it wasn't until Spain joined with France (who had a similar problem) in combating the group that there was an series erosion in their success. On the other hand neither organization has been extinguished and murders in Spain by the ETA continue on a regular basis.

 

Wars often create social dislocations as well as all of the other  pain and suffering that are part and parcel of its nature. The prize for victory in war has over the years, at least for the most part been territory and in 1704, England's prize for defeating Spain became a sliver of land called Gibraltar. The conquest was ratified by the two countries in 1713 by something called the Treaty of Utrecht which ended the War the War of the Spanish Succession. This treaty ceded Gibraltar to Britain absolutely and in perpetuity with the only right given to Spain being a right of first refusal if Britain should tire of owning the place. This was a distinct possibility because Gibraltar has no real economic value in that it produces literally nothing, but yet Britain has held fast and seems most satisfied with her acquisition.

 

From a standpoint of population it has only 30,000 people and a bunch of apes on its territory.  These people make up a hodge podge of races as the people come from Britain, Spain, Genoa, Sicily, Malta, India and in dribs and drabs the rest of the Mediterranean region as well. Since nothing grows in Gibraltar, the country survives on tourism and draws four million people to view mostly what are its military fortifications, a spectacular show which keeps them coming back. In viewing the depth of these ramparts, it is not hard to see why Spain has been unsuccessful in achieving a military victory in recovering it. 

 

Gibraltar is best described as a dependent territory of Britain with a large measure of self government and financially self sufficient. The people are members of the English Commonwealth and have been for years and the country itself is a member of NATO and a non-voting member of the EU.  Its European Union credentials come from the fact that under Article 227(4) of the Treaty of Rome which applies to any European Territory for whose external affairs a member state (UK) is responsible.  Some anomalies occur and there are best expressed by Chief Minister of Gibraltar, P R Caruana in an address to the European Atlantic Group, House of Commons, England;

 

            "Not unlike other EU territories Gibraltar enjoys certain derogations from the application of certain, very limited EU measurers. The Coal and Steel Treaty does not apply, since Gibraltar produces no coal. The Common Agricultural Policy does not Apply, since we have no agriculture and thirdly, Gibraltar is not included in the Customs Union.".

 

The Spanish have wanted Gibraltar back since they lost it and have been increasing the price of poker recently in their effort to get their way. Why on earth would anyone want this Godforsaken piece on property that is mostly rock and on which literally nothing will grow?  The reason is two fold, the first is that Gibraltar is probably the most strategically placed piece of real-estate on earth guarding the approaches to the Mediterranean and having tendering facilitates to reequip and dry-dock the a substantial number of naval vassals. It was the British control of Gibraltar during World War Two that had such a positive effect on the British control of the sea lanes that were so important to it and its allies.

 

The second thing that makes Gibraltar so valuable is ego. The Spanish have never given up muttering about losing this part of what they consider is their own soil. Gibraltar rests at the tip of Spain and is like the tip of a finger that has a large blister on it that just won't go away. The Spanish have tried through military conquest to win Gibraltar back for over two centuries and have not even come close. Gibraltar is fortified in rock like no other place on earth and from the high ground, those that were defending the territory could just pick off the opposition at will without even raising a sweat. Foiled in its attempt to conquer Gibraltar in war, the Spanish have resorted to other tactics to retake what they believe to be their property in what may be both the longest conflict on earth as well as the quietist.  Spain has quietly resorted to the following:

 

1.                 Refuses to allow maritime and air links between Gibraltar and Spain and has refused to allow Gibraltar airport to benefit from the Single Market in air services,

2.                 Even making due allowance for Spain's right to operate passport checks and Customs checks Spain operates the frontier with Gibraltar in a most Uneuropean manner. There are no red and green channels at Customs. Every car is examined. There is only one single file passport control for vehicles, manned by a solitary official regardless of the volume of traffic. This has resulted in severe queues and delays at the frontier.

3.                 Spain refuses to recognize Gibraltar's telephone International Direct Dial geographic area code -350-. Spain is the only country from which you cannot dial Gibraltar via satellite.

4.                 Spain refuses to recognize identity cards issued in Gibraltar and has , in the recent past, sought to question the validity of British passports issued in Gibraltar by the Governor in the name of Her Majesty the Queen.

5.                 Spain constantly seeks the exclusion of Gibraltar from EU Directives and refuses to recognize Gibraltar's course or legal system.

6.                 Spain systematically seeks to deny Gibraltar membership in International Sporting Associations and Federations and participation in international sporting, cultural and political events.

7.                 Spain subjects Gibraltar to an incessant barrage of media abuse and allegations of money laundering and nefarious activities calculated to stifle the development of finance and impeding the economy.

 .

Spain has caused the government of Gibraltar to be confrontational with Spain and indicates that it has good reason for its position. One instance published by News and Reports indicated, "Zmadrid ordered the tighter border controls after a Spanish policeman was killed April when his helicopter crashed while chasing a Gibraltar-registered speedboat loaded with hashish". What seems to be left out in the story is that if the helicopter crashed and the Spanish policeman was killed, how does the Spanish Government know what was on the boat or where the boat came from?

 

El Mundo daily added insult to injury when it  said, "Gibraltar, a British colony at Spain's southern tip,  is a base for traffickers trying to sneak hashish, cocaine and ecstasy into Europe via Spain and is a haven for laundering drug profits," While this may be all well and good, one point seems to be missing, we know that the hashish, cocaine and ecstasy are not home grown in Gibraltar because admittedly, Gibraltar is incapable of producing agriculture products and beside that, we are talking about on two square miles of land here. Now the Spanish then must be that the drugs are first dropped off in Gibraltar and then transshipped to Spain. One would wonder why they are shipped to Gibraltar at all if they are going on to Spain to begin with. This would require the danger of two customs searches instead of one and Gibraltar does not have any deserted spots where counter band could be off-loaded. I thought the there were much better stories in Alice and Wonderland, at least they were believable.

 

Not satisfied that they were getting enough attention from the world press that totally ignored the story because most media thought that it was a poor fabrication, the Bank of Spain and the Madrid Weekly reported that that "the number of corporation in the colony had mushroomed to 60,000 by late 1998, two times the total number of inhabitants of the Rock of Gibraltar, which is home to around 30,000." The Bank of Spain still undaunted stated that these were front companies which used Gibraltar "to recycle the money proceeding from crime, and served as the perfect channel for collection and payments derived from illicit activities. The laundering of dirty money proceeding from drugs or other illicit activities is easily carried out, and the money is easily invested in Spain as respectable foreign investment."

 

The report continue that 120 lawyers lived and worked in Gibraltar, making their living almost exclusively from their association with foreign investors and that last year $2 billion in investments carried out from Gibraltar were registered with Spain's General Office on Foreign Transactions -- nine times the 1995 figure.

 

Our feeling is that Spain should consider itself lucky that these funds think enough about the future of Spain to invest in it. If the money was not based in Gibraltar, it would be based somewhere else. Spain does not make a case for taking over Luxembourg, the Virgin Island, the Isle of Man, Bermuda, Vanatuu or the Bahamas who all advertise that this is the business they are in. 

 

While we feel that Spain has lost a lot over the years, they would be better off just living with the situation. Why not ask the United States for Cuba, the Philippines and Puerto Rico back? All were seeded to the United States in the last hundred years. Gibraltar was awarded to the British before America existed and over 3 centuries ago. I mean that, is really holding a grudge.

 

Let's leave the negative and go on to some of the more positive creations of the new Spain. Spain learned many lessons from the Inquisition and among other things it found out that there must be some laws that protect people no matter what government is in power. The people that Spain illegally expelled or murdered had made up their intellectual elite and their loss was the beginning of the end of Spain as an Empire builder. The people there have not forgotten.

 

Through the efforts of a fearless young prosecutor in Madrid and aggressive indictments made in a 285 page document by Judge Baltasar Garzon, General Gugusto Pinochet was charged for crimes against humanity and a freeze was requested on his worldwide assets. He was charged with genocide, torture and terrorism in the deaths or disappearances of more than 3,000 people. This one action taken on by two crusaders did more to put fear into the hearts of despots and out of control military leaders than any single act in the history of man. This one decision by two people of conscience has accomplished in one fell swoop what the United Nations and all of its members could not come close to in its over fifty years of existence.

 

The fact that this decision came out of Spain is even more startling. The Spanish have historically sided with despotic regimes throughout this century and until their own revolution in 1936 which brought with it a fascistic government that thought the rights of people were only to be given out in another life. General Franco ran the country with an iron fist and only recently has their been any evidence of people's rights.

 

General Pinochet was in London when the dam burst and the indictment was presented on British authorities. They didn't really know how to react at first assuming that this was only a bad dream and really wasn't happening in England. After the House of Lords had substantially reduced many of the charges against Pinochet, Home Secretary Jack Straw, the top law-enforcement officer in England, ultimately announced that he would allow the extradition proceeding to go ahead stating that; "the remaining allegations of torture and conspiracy to torture satisfied the European Convention on Extradition and imposed an obligation on Britain to permit the Spanish request to go before British court." In addition he stated that; "The Spanish request was legally well founded and properly drawn up, that the offenses were not of a political character, that no statutes of limitation had run out and that it would not be unjust or oppressive to expose the general to the charges now. "

 

In addition, the treaty that was relevant in this case was originally called the 1984 International Convention Against Torture -- and it has been ratified by 112 countries including Chile, Spain and Britain. An interesting anomaly that occurred in the case was the issue that Britan did not become a signatory to the act until 1988 and therefore could only be extradited for acts of torture or conspiracies to torture after that date. On the other hand Pinochet tortured enough people so that luckily, this anomaly was not material and once Pinochet lands in Spain he can be charged their for whatever part of the book that they desire to charge him with.

 

Pinochet's quickly assembled legal team countered with the subject of immunity. They also raised the point that if there were to be a trial it should take place where the "crime" had occurred, Professor Fernanco Barros, one of the lawyers on Pinochet's team told BBC radio when asked about location, "This should take place in Chile. No one else is authorized to make a judgment about our democracy, our institutions which have been working for 200 years."  The Washington Post Foreign Service in an article by T. R. Reid put a spin on that for its readers;

 

"The seven Law Lords who heard the Pinochet case issued seven different opinions covering 122 single-spaced pages. Their reasoning and their language was so "obscure," as the chief judge admitted, that the pro- and anti-Pinochet camps initially reacted with cheers. But the decision was not victory of he 83 year old Pinochet or anybody else -- including former heads  of state - charged with human-right abuses. For one thing, the ruling clearly states that international treaties override the legal principle of "sovereign immunity" that traditionally has protected heads of state from criminal prosecution.

 

The Law Lords did not consider whether an incumbent head of state could be tried -- that point was not before them -- but they did find that a former head of state cannot claim immunity. The more important practical issue is that the decision makes it much easier to bring an alleged human-rights criminal to trial, assuming the culprit can be caught in the first place."

 

Although both Britain and Spain have changed the course of civilization as we know it with their no nonsense attitude toward thugs and dictators, the has been an effect that was not anticipated. When Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher decided to go abroad on a holiday it suddenly dawned upon her that any ally of Chile or despotic regime unhappy with the British decision to extradite Pinochet, could do the same to her. Although Thatcher was a staunch defender of Pinochet, she is said to be extremely anxious about the same thing happening to her should she venture into certain parts of South America relative to her role in the Falkland Islands war with Argentina. She has also expressed concern about fanatics in Northern Ireland that have a long memory of her shoot-to-kill operations by her security forces.

 

If someone as bland as Margaret Thatcher should have these kinds of concerns about her miniscule role in long ago events, think about the problems that will be faced by the leaders of Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, Serbia and what about George Bush, we don't see him venturing on global tours even though Jimmy Carter has been traveling around the world every eight days or so. We have a situation where justice will treat those that make the tough decisions more harshly than those that avoid controversy.

 

Will this wonderful action by both Spain and Britain turn our leaders into either wimps or prisoners in the confines of their own country. World leaders in underdeveloped countries that have inferior medical services could find themselves using less than state of the art Technics because of fear of traveling abroad because of some controversial decisions that they made at home. Until many of the issues that have been created by this indictment are clarified, international travel may represent an extreme hardship to aggressive global leadership. If you haven't stepped on some toes while running a country, you are not running it properly. 

 

Furthermore, strange objections have come from unexpected sources. Quietly, the United States is very unhappy of the matter at hand because they well could be implicated by Pinochet's defense team. Foreign Policy In Focus, The Pinochet Precedent written by Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights makes some excellent points;

 

"The U.S is reluctant to allow international examination of its own role in the destabilization of Chile, its support for Pinochet's coup, and the CIA's close relationship to the Chilean secret police during Operation Condor. Washington fears furthermore, that exposing Pinochet to prosecution would destabilize Chile, and the U. S. argues that countries making a "transition to democracy" must be able to guarantee immunity from prosecution to human rights offenders in order to make headway. Finally, the precedent set by a Pinochet trial could make it possible for former U. S. officials responsible for crimes against humanity to be arrested and tried in another country." 

 

 While these arguments are factual and should be concerns to this country whose overall global strategy is like a continuing game of three-dimensional chess, we have faced up to our shortcoming before and what we did was for a long term benefit. The problem with the indictment is just that, it creates almost as many problems as it answers and time should be spent looking for solutions. International crimes should be heard in neutral courts. The Hague would represent an excellent tribunal for heads of state to be heard. Their record for fairness has not been challenged since the forum was begun. The United Nations would obviously have been first choice but petty bureaucrats roam the hallways of the UN espousing strange utterances that could only make one wish that the organization would grow out of prepubescent and take its place as a forum for all things international.

 

Assuming than, the Hague, the next step would be what are the rules and we would postulate that no third party country not directly involved in that matter at issue can prosecute and intern a head of state or someone that acted as the head of state or was carrying out the legal orders of a head state. A third party country should as a matter of justice, be able to issue an indictment and ask for extradition of any leader that is no longer in office. The extradition should only be to the Hague, upon their agreement, and the basics of the trial should only have one benchmark, did the action or action of said ex-leader or someone following his orders have a greater good effect on people in general, (of all countries) or a greater bad for the same people.

 

These facts would constitute whether or not the Hague could move into a trial of the leader and could be considered as pre-trial. Only, once it had been established that the majority of the people were affected adversely by the leaders actions could the case go ahead.  To insure that frivolous actions were not brought at an international level and the small groups of people only interested in revenge got into the habit of bringing frivolous issues based on obscure principals, we would also recommend a global rule 11 regulation where if the case against the leader was ruled frivolous for whatever reason, damages would be assessed against the indicting nation that would be used to pay the expenses to conduct additional hearings and insure that regulations were updated in order to keep track of rapidly changing mores and social customs.

 

But having pontificated on our solution to the problem of  countries like the United States wanting to cover-up their role in Chile, China's wish for the same in Cambodia and France's desire that Algeria didn't exist. All major countries have their Waterloo and for that reason, the gaining of universal acceptance of the Spanish-British hypothesis will be tough unless we can show amelioration. This just happens to be a fact of life. But having said that lets us give you the conclusion of Michael Ratner on the subject;

 

"These political objections are not convincing. Concern about its own reputation should not lead the U. S. to cover up crimes against humanity. Pinochet's arrest did not destabilize Chile; moreover, national political concerns do not override the international duty to prosecute genocide. Furthermore, crimes against humanity perpetrated by American officials deserve prosecution as much as crimes committed by nationals of any country - even though practically speaking, it is very unlikely that any country would risk prosecuting any U. S. official due to America's influence and power.

 

Pinochet's arrest will further justice and provide a precedent for the prosecution of other major human rights violators--even if they, like Pinochet, were at one time aided and abetted by the United States.

 

The U. S. reluctance to support efforts to prosecute Pinochet weakens humanity's quest for international justice. It ignores murders carried out in the U. S., disregards the killing of U. S. citizens, and undermines the principle of accountability for crimes against humanity."  

 

In a perfect world, Michael Ratner is 100 percent correct, the problem is that we are hardly in a perfect world and the best intentions of people without the proper groundwork often can turn out with less than perfect results. Should the world's leaders feel threatened by this the Spanish-English action, you can bet that unless there is some amelioration, this case in spite of its wonderful characteristics, is just going nowhere. The key to justice most be tempered with logic and world leadership is not going to put themselves into a position of potential indictment by any two-bit dictatorship on earth.

 

The start is excellent, Spain has shocked the world into action and assessment of crimes against humanity. When every world leader goes to sleep at night, he now thinks about who he has done what to and why. Can his actions be justified in front of a global forum? Will he be able to travel outside of his country when his term of office is finished? Will he ever need medical treatment abroad? There are a lot of questions running through a lot of people's minds and for this Spain should be complimented.

 

Because of their concerns the United States in producing documents relative to the Pinochet case has supposedly been less than forthcoming. It has been said that Spain made a request of the United States under the legally binding bilateral Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty and what they received in return were worthless documents that had no bearing on what was requested. It is evident that the United States is stonewalling the situation and yet it is quite possible that they have good reason. The U. S. theorizes that not only world leaders could be picked up at random but so could American soldiers. The role of peace keeper to the world bear enormous burdens and the fact that the United Nations has sanctioned many of our actions is probably not enough.

 

The United States also does not want its soldiers at risk when they travel abroad and are talking about a veto relative to the establishment of an International Criminal Court so that it can vote against the indictment of anyone acting in the line of duty. We do not see the creation of an International Criminal Court at all when the Hague has been established and has earned a reputation for fairness in international disputes. In addition, we would exempt those that are given order from those that create orders from any sort of judgment by either the International Criminal Court or the Hague.

 

Thus, in our proposal, those that have the power to enforce an original order on others at the executive or legislative level of a country would be the only ones that could be taken to international courts. If those in command did not mead out the necessary judgment when forces under their control, such as the Serbian Forces in Kosovo, then once again it is the responsibility of leadership to enforce justice. If they don't one can reasonably assume that they were operating under orders and once again it is the leadership that should be punished, not the person following orders.   

 

Ratner correctly point out that the United States has asked for an international tribunal only to prosecute crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia to be limited to crimes committed between 1975 and 1979, subsequent to its carpet bombing of Cambodia and before the U. S. began collaborating with the Khmer Rouge. Ratner goes on to say;

 

"At the same time, however, the U. S. seeks to invoke international law to prosecute its enemies, and Washington claims that fighting terrorism is a cornerstone of its foreign policy. This double standard is demonstrated by the case of the extradition from Italy to Turkey of Abdallah Ocalan, a leader of the Kurdish Workers Party. In contrast to its failure to support the extradition of Pinochet, the U. S. State Department announced that Ocalan "should be extradited and brought to justice… We have no doubt this man is a terrorist, and he, therefore, should receive no safe haven."

 

 

While there is no absolute guarantee that this case will be heard in Spain, Britain, the Hague or some International Court on Criminality, one thing is certain, it will not be heard in Chile. This is best summed up by Geoffrey Robertson QC the author of "the Justice Game",

 

"What has become crystal clear in recent months is that Pinochet will never stand trial in Chile. There have been cases brought against him by relatives of those who disappeared under his orders, all consolidated before Judge Juan Guzman of the Santiago Appeals Court, who recently explained, "I am prevented from issuing any kind of arrest warrant:, because of the amnesty Pinochet bestowed on himself in 1978 and because he will always enjoy immunity as "Senator for life". Even if these immunities were in some way ended, the issue of any warrant against the General would automatically remove his case to a military court, where his acquittal would be a foregone conclusion."

 

"Pinochet has never apologized, although he has joked that the "disappearances" saved the cost of coffins. …There will, inevitably, be disappointment that Pinochet cannot be prosecuted in Spain for the bulk of his crimes, but this should be tempered by the advances the case has made in human rights law. Britain can take some credit, too, for the fact that its courts have bent over backwards to be fair to this man, compared with the utter lack of fairness he meted out to his victims who were denied any form of legal process."

 

There are a few other interesting observances that should be noted before we stray much further from the essence of our discussion. Lately we have seen a spate of indictments of people in Yugoslavia and Rwanda that were popular enough that they were brought the United Nations for a vote and all concerned could stand behind the fact that this world organization had given the problem in imprenture. Spain did not go through this process and thus there was no way in the world that anyone could stop the Spanish from what they were about. The fact that they timed their indictment when Pinochet was visiting a co-signature to the Anti-Torture Act was either good luck or excellent timing on the part of the Madrid prosecutor. We would prefer to believe that he organized his case perfectly, timed it to perfection and executed it to succeed as it did.

 

In furtherance of what I consider to be an almost perfect legal masterpiece, a little known fact would be interesting to note. Shortly after Pinochet's arrest, the Cuban American National Foundation thought that Spain having done such a good job with Pinochet would be interested in Castro. They filed a brief and presented their case in Madrid. The court for a multitude of reasons dismissed the case against Castro without even opening a preliminary investigation. There are major differences between the two leaders and they are too many to go into in this arena, but we suggest that at the minimum, there would be no one that could turn over Castro to anyone as he is safely ensconced in Cuba where he enjoys whatever freedoms he desires, the second is the fact that he is a reigning leader at that makes a significant difference, Cuba was not a signatory to the same document that Britain and Spain relieved upon for their legal position and to our knowledge, Castro was not involved in torture of his citizens. We congratulate the Spanish Court for rejecting this case and making a mockery of the case against a true villain, General Pinochet.

 

So we see that Spain has come a long way from their days of injustice for all. Spain has grown up and because of substantial liberalization the people are becoming richer and there is opportunity for all. Mairo Conde, 49 year old lawyer turned banker showed what kind of opportunity exists in the modern state. Banesto Bank was one of the largest in Spain and Mr. Conde through acquisition and other shrewd maneuvering became its Chairman literally overnight. He then proceeded to the loot the bank of literally every cent it had, $4.8 billion.

 

That puts Mr. Conde in a league all by himself when it comes to personal gain through bank theft. Oh sure there have been cases where more money has disappeared such as in Credit Lyonnais and certain BCCI but in neither case did anyone pocket anything near this astronomical amount stolen by Conde and his cohorts.

 

Conde's modus operandi  was simplicity personified, he simply borrowed money in the names of numerous companies that he was the main shareholder in and forgot to repay it. Ultimately the Bank of Spain had to take control of the bank and fired its board of directors. This had major political and social implications and almost toppled the government of Socialist Party of Felipe Gonzalez.

 

Someone should have known better as this was not the first time Counselor Conde had a run in with the law. On the previous occasion he was sentenced to six years in jail for embezzlement and forgery and was order to pay compensation of $4.1 million. Needless to say that he did not serve any time on this charge, he did not pay the fine and was enjoying life as a banker when the Spanish police walked in.

 

Spain has now emerged as a modern country and whether they like it or not, welcome to the big leagues.

 

When General Franco ran Spain, in order to make their olives more saleable in the world market, they would sell the majority of the crop on the cheap to Italy who would then repackage the olives and resell into the international marketplace as being produced in Italy. This scheme worked well for both countries over the years because Spanish products were boycotted in many places and by using the Italians as middlemen, the entire crop could be unloaded.

 

As the years rolled by, both Italy and Spain joined the EU which in turn set the amount of olives that could be produced each year by each nation based on the individual historical export figures. Because Spain and Italy had both been dealing to their benefit for low these many years, Italy received a substantial part of the allotment that normally would have gone to Spain. Rather than come clean, the Italians started planting more olives because they could never produce the number that had been allocated by the EU. Spain on the other hand had become a legitimate global exporter and now was hamstrung with an allocation that had no bearing on their historic production.

 

There is one addition factor in this equation and that is the fact that Italian Olive trees are far more fruitful that the Spanish ones so that when the EU became concerned about a glut in olive oil and thought that Spain was increasing its production to rapidly to support current prices it determined that olive subsidies would henceforth be based on the number of oil trees extant rather than the historic gross production. This would mean that Spain would have to take a double jolt, put as many as 30,000 people out of work in Andalusia, an area where one-third of the population is already out of work. Furthermore, in an article which appeared in the Economist stated, "The Spaniards say that, in one recent year, 10% of the EU's olive -oil subsidies were embezzled nearly all by Italy. Independent watchers say Spain is far from clean either".

 

Well as they say in baseball, he who live by the sword, dies by the sword. Welcome top the 20th century.   

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