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SPAIN: Galicia and Caciquismo



As an example of the caciques (bosses) who control the province of Galicia in Spain, I mentioned my experience in a hotel in Santiago. I could not sleep because of a huge dog barking in the adjoining patio. The hotel owners would do nothing, being too frightened of the cacique to whom the dog belonged. Chrisytopher Jones comments: "The incident with the barking dog is a very mild manifestation of Galician caciquismo. Don't believe those tourist brochures with bagpipe (gaita) playing Gallegos dancing Celtic dances. The reality of that place is dark and sinister. Unfortunately the bosses have turned their attention towards the drug business and in particular the smuggling and marketing of narcotics in the region. I was shocked to see addicts in the streets of lovely Galician fishing towns like Bayona, La Guardia or Tui, totally destroyed by the habit. I know for a fact that the puesto (office) of the Guardia Civil had been bribed, while in Tui it wasn't. Some brave people in the area are fighting back, and in particular I remember an amazing woman named Carmen Armendaņo who actually managed to have one of these "bosses" prosecuted, convicted, and properties confiscated (notice the plural. Their wealth is astounding.)

I have always been amazed how our demented media stamp countries as "democracies" when in reality, dictatorships have simply metamorphosed into a "pretend" democracy with elections and a P,M when the bosses continue to call the shots. This is clearly the case in Spain. Despite the "Nunca Mais" (never again) campaign (when the oil-tanker "Prestige" sank off Galicia's coast), Galicia will remain forever a backwater, dominated by post Francoists like Manuel Fraga Iribarne. For these reasons, Gallegos are one of the greatest emigrant populations in the world.

Another canine case: In a small town in Cataluņa, I rented an apartment in a villa of a retired French military couple. The town doctor lived next door. What my landlord didn't tell me was the fact that the doctor was terrorizing the entire village with a monster sized dog (no race, it looked like the Hound of the Baskervilles) which ran wild in the streets. The dog killed house cats and bit children (drumming up business for his master, I guess) and even bit my car! But nobody dared to open his mouth. When I expressed my sadness for my fender, a few townspeople told me, "You can go to the police, but we can't -- the doctor won't treat us and will let us die!" Obviously, I did my duty. The new autonomous police corralled the rabid pooch who was locked away in a cage for life.

But let's make no mistake about it: international caciquismo is growing".

RH: "Autonomous police" refers to the locally controlled police, as opposed to the national guardia civil. I would have thought that local police would be more under the thumb of local bosses than the national police. Christopher's last sentence is ominous. Once a conscientious voter, I have given up, since I believe the whole system is controlled by money. However, I am not as pessimistic as Christopher.

Ronald Hilton - 5/14/03


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