The Spanish parliament yesterday was the venue for a debate between the various parties regarding what to do regarding the current economic crisis—amongst threats of a non-confidence vote against the prime minister and general electioneering, however, it seems that the possibility of the parties working together to try to ease Spain’s financial problems is now very slim (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). At one point, Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero dared his opposite number in the Partido Popular, Mariano Rajoy, to bring a no-confidence motion “if you are brave and courageous enough.” Rajoy’s main strategy in recent times has been to criticise Zapatero and his dealing with the crisis, and has threatened the vote on various occasions without actually calling it—Zapatero's words yesterday drew laughter from fellow members of his party. For his part, Zapatero didn’t bring any new ideas to the Congress on what to do about Spain’s high level of unemployment and government deficit. However, he did try to rein in his optimistic forecasts about the future, aware of the criticism that his government has received for its attempts to be positive when the statistics, such as more than four million people out-of-work, suggest a particularly negative situation.
The Catalan minister of the interior, Joan Saura, has said that, to his knowledge, the Basque terrorist group ETA doesn’t have any plans to stage an attack in Catalunya, despite the recent spate of arrests of etarras (members of the group) within the autonomous community (read article in Catalan here, Avui). Saura said that the Generalitat had no information leading them to believe that ETA has set up, or has plans to, an operating base here. His words came after the Catalan police made their first ever arrest of presumed ETA members in the town of Molló in the Pyrenees county of Ripollès, during a routine check on the road that leads from Molló to the French border. Saura also said that he didn’t have any knowledge of a supposed third person who had fled the scene in Molló, which has been suggested by various eye-witnesses in the town. The two men arrested yesterday were travelling in a van that didn’t contain any explosives, and they were not armed. Another presumed member of the group was arrested on a train at the Catalan border town of Portbou earlier in the week.
The Catalan member of the Spanish parliament, Josep Sánchez Llibre, has been implicated in the proposed investigation into the finances of the party Unió Democràtica de Catalunya (UDC) (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). As the Spanish public prosecutor decides what action to take in its investigation into the supposed illegal financing of UDC, it’s been revealed that amongst the evidence presented to the Supreme Court in Madrid by the Barcelona public prosecutor, there are details of mobile text messages that suggest the direct involvement of Sanchez Llibre in the affair. Also implicated in the matter is the ex-leader of the party, Josep Maria Núñez.
Also in the news: Spanish king meets with Obama in Washington (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia); Concerns about the knock-on effects of changes to Diagonal could have on Eixample neighbourhood (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia); Barcelona archbishop says that Pope Benedict XVI will visit the city this year (read full article in Catalan here, Avui);