The Spanish minister of defence, the Catalan Socialist politician Carme Chacón, yesterday indicated her interest in stepping into the shoes of prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Although it has not been formally announced, it is expected that Zapatero will not seek re-election in next year's general elections, leaving the way open for someone else to take over as the leader of the Spanish Socialist Party. Speaking yesterday at a breakfast meeting in Madrid, Carme Chacón said that she would support Zapatero if he did ultimately decide to run for a third term as prime minister, but added that if he didn't, it was right that the party members chose his successor; a statement viewed as sending a message to the Spanish deputy prime minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba who is regarded by many as the automatic successor to Zapatero who could take over without letting party members have their say. Chacón insisted yesterday that the decision as to who should take over the reins of the party should be an open matter. In addition, she asked to be introduced at the breakfast by Maria Teresa Fernández de la Vega, the former deputy prime minister and highest-ranking woman in the Spanish Socialist Party, another move viewed as a sign of Chacón's intentions to run for leadership of her party.
Spanish king Juan Carlos I and various political leaders who were in Congress 30 years ago will today attend a special lunch to remember the attempted coup d'état that took place there on February 23rd, 1981 (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The event, organised by the current president of the lower chamber, José Bono, who himself was in Congress the day when members of the Guardia Civil entered the building in an attempt at taking it over, will also be attended by former Spanish prime minister Felipe González, the communist Santiago Carrillo and one of the founders of the Partido Popular and one-time minister under Franco, Manuel Fraga, amongst others. In another commemorative event, 150 of the 350 deputies who were seated in the chamber when Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero burst in brandishing a gun and shouting at everyone to get down on the floor (a scene that has become notorious in recent Spanish history) will participate. They will be joined by around 50 journalists who witnessed the events, with the aim, as José Bono explained in a letter inviting those concerned to take part, to remember the date and celebrate that the 30 years since that day have been particularly fruitful in establishing democracy and freedom in Spain.
The Barcelona neighbourhood of Carmel has suffered a wave of robberies in businesses in the past four months (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The majority of the thefts have taken place at night, when the businesses are closed, and bars have been particularly targeted, apparently because they have slot machines in them that can contain a lot of change; the thieves destroy the machines to be able to access the money. Since December, there are a number of bars that have been attacked more than once, and while the Catalan police say that the rate of robberies in the area is not particularly bad, business-owners disagree and are looking for more help with the problem. Speaking to La Vanguardia, bar-owner Laura García says that she has "never seen anything like it," in the five years since she's had the business. Her bar was broken into twice during January, both times the shutter was damaged, although it was only the first burglary that saw the slot machines successfully targeted. "At weekends, we leave later at night and we've never seen a police patrol," Garcia said.