The Spanish judge Baltazar Garzón yesterday charged an additional 11 people in the alleged case of corruption focused on the town council of Santa Coloma de Gramenet (article in Castilian, La Vanguardia). Amongst those implicated are the wives of two of the men already arrested (Macià Alavedra and Lluís Prenafeta), Doris Malfeito and Lluïsa Mas, and Josefina Calvet, the mother and wife of two former mayors of Santa Coloma, including Bartomeu Muñoz, who was town mayor until his recent arrest; however, the family of Calvet is trying to prevent her having to appear in court, due to her age (82) and their claim that she has suffered from Alzheimer’s for the past two years. Other people that have been named by Garzón as implicated in the so-called ‘Caso Pretoria’ include the former mayor and councillor of Urbanism of the town of Sant Andreu de Llavaneres, while the former Socialist mayoress of Badalona, Maite Arqué, has been called to testify in the case, along with nine other witnesses, in January.
The mayor of Barcelona, Jordi Hereu, last night switched on the city’s Christmas lights, which are the most extensive that they’ve ever been (article in Castilian, El Periodico). Almost 300 city streets will be lit up each evening from now until early January, as part of a conscious effort to motivate citizens to get into the festive spirit and renew Barcelona’s image as a place that celebrates Christmas with gusto. A bigger financial budget, thanks to greater contributions from both the city council and sponsors (including Endesa and Gallina Blanca), than in previous years has given a boost to the decorations put up around the city, which are said to be 10 times better than 2008, using higher-quality and more environmentally-friendly LED lights. An effort has also been made to get rid of elements that aren’t traditional here (particularly Father Christmas) and instead feature more Catalan characteristics, such as local craftspeople in the lights of Gran de Gràcia and bottles of cava in the area around Sant Antoni.
A survey carried out by the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya has found, for the first time, that more than 50 percent of Catalans would vote yes in a referendum on independence (article in Catalan, Avui). The margin in favour of a separate country is very small, with 50.3 percent in total saying they would support independence in a vote, but it is meaningful for the independence sector in Catalunya as this is the first time that a majority has shown their support for the change. In contrast, only 17.8 percent said they would definitely vote against the motion, 24.6 percent would abstain and 7.2 percent said they didn’t know or didn’t respond to the question. The survey of 2,614 people took place just after the September 13th popular vote in Arenys de Mar on the subject when, of those who voted, which was less than half the number eligible to take part, 96 percent were in favour of independence. However, it wasn’t all good news for those seeking an independent Catalunya: more than half of those born in Spain or elsewhere in Europe said that Catalunya would never get independence, although 50.2 percent of those born outside Europe were convinced that it would happen. The most pessimistic about the possibility were those born in Catalunya, of who only 28.1 percent thought that independence would actually come about one day, while 63 percent were sure that it would never take place.
Also in the news: 600 people arrested since May for stealing Bicing bikes (La Vanguardia); Woman missing since 2006 found in Barcelona (El Periodico); Catalan government fails to reach agreement on new inheritance tax law (Avui)