Thursday, May 03, 2007

Big news from here: Isabel Pantoja was arrested and spent the night in jail for her involvement in a money-laundering scheme. She is sort of the Spanish equivalent of a cross between Dolly Parton, Elizabeth Taylor, and Barbra Streisand. Seems that la Pantoja was holding large amounts of undeclared cash. She made €90,000 bail this afternoon after testifying at a hearing.

Her, uh, romantic companion, the former mayor of Marbella Julián Muñoz, was the brains of the operation. Muñoz has been in jail without bail since October, along with several other people. José María González de Caldas, the bullfight promoter and ex-president of FC Sevilla, is out on €50,000 bail. Some 100 people have been implicated in this scandal, which the Spanish press has named "the Malaya case," related to illegal rezoning, unlicensed construction, kickbacks, bribery, abuse of power, and general wide-open corruption involving pretty much everybody who has ever been within five miles of Marbella. Literally billions of euros are involved; these weasels massively outscammed traditional organized crime, who probably don't rake in a quarter of the cash involved here.

This was the lead story in every newspaper and on the TV3 afternoon news.

This mess is, of course, the legacy of crooked gangster Jesús Gil, who ran Marbella like Pendergast ran Kansas City until he happily croaked off a couple of years ago. Now Zap is somehow trying to blame it on the PP, which is ridiculous because the PP had nothing to do with Gil and his ring of chorizos. His argument is that Gil's corruption went on under eight years of the Aznar government. Yeah, and it went on under how many years of Felipe's government? And what exactly can a prime minister do about a corrupt mayor who is of a different party?

By the way, la Pantoja, though she is the personification of poor taste and showbiz sleaze, is not a danger to society, and neither is her ex-boyfriend. I don't know why Muñoz and some of his compinches are locked up without bail while De Juana Chaos is walking the streets.

Remember the guy who wrote the xenophobic letter to La Vanguardia a week ago about the Chinese shops in his neighborhood? He's back.

The first graffiti against Chinese shops has already appeared in my neighborhood, and it won't be the last. We have been complaining for a long time about the problem in the Plaza Tetuán-Arco de Triunfo area of the exaggerated proliferation of Chinese businesses.

Our shops that have been here forever cannot compete with the very high prices that the Chinese businessmen pay. We residents think there is something strange behind this: it is not normal that they can pay astronomical leases and then keep the shops open almost without customers. I have the feeling that this is going to turn into racism and our politicians are not doing anything to stop it.

R. Pérez Maldonado

Comments: 1) Mr. Pérez Maldonado is certainly doing everything he can to turn the situation into racism. 2) Chinese businessmen, not being stupid, do not pay higher prices than any other kind of businessman. 3) Mr. Pérez Maldonado's grandparents were most likely not born in Catalonia, based on his surnames, so it's a little rich that he's complaining about other immigrants now. 4) This guy is obviously a major asshole and certainly does not represent everybody in Barcelona.

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