Catalina de Erauso |The Spanish Criminal Code and corruption: a non-existing crime
Everyone is talking about corruption these days as this word has reached the ears of anyone who joins a queue in front of an ordinary bakery in Spain. Newspapers of all colour mention this issue, albeit with marked nuances depending on who is the one who plunders the safe. It is only very recently that the bravest politicians have gathered the courage to publicly assert that corruption is a scourge also in Spain. Something is changing. In the same vein, the results of the latest CIS surveys confirm that corruption is the main concern of the Spaniards. However, only few voices claim that a direct link between the widespread corruption and the bankruptcy of the welfare state holds. This is causing hundreds of deaths all of them concealed by the mass media. Of course, the mentioned media are only able to survive by means of the advertising contracts that the State subscribes with them. And I fear that, for a large number of humble workers, bankruptcy of the Spanish state is perceived as the result of the problems caused by Zapatero in addition to the tyrants of Venezuela or North Korea to their respective peoples. There is the widespread misconception that we are spending lots of money to help the latter as good Samaritans. Those who live a life of a Riley out of the revenues of shady businesses are very skilled at making us believe that the culprits are some doter who dwell far away. If the smoke surrounds you, run down the river before you choke.
As it is a relevant topic crucially affecting the way public institutions work, it might be thought that this concept should have special relevance in the Spanish Criminal Code. If you bother to do a search for the word “corruption” in the Criminal Code in force in Spain, you will realize that this word is rarely used in the legal text of more than one thousand pages. In contrast, the word terrorism appears 190 times, gender violence 180 times, physical integrity 38 times and corruption only 7 times. I have made this count in a hurry and I invite the reader to check whether I have counted right or wrong. Surprisingly, there are only two chapters in which the mentioned word is entailed in the heading. More specifically, these are chapters 5 entitled “offences related to prostitution, sexual exploitation and corruption of minors” and section 4 which includes crimes of corruption in businesses. Corruption, understood as the management of the public funds to enrich oneself or third parties, does neither appear in the CP as a concept in any title of the code nor in the laws themselves. Therefore, I began to search information on the crimes of embezzlement of public funds, bribery and prevarication, which are crimes that can be subsumed under the general umbrella of corruption. Bribery 5, embezzlement 5 and office abuse 9 mentions. In view of this data, you are free to draw your own conclusions.
One perceives, therefore, a clear discrepancy between the concept of corruption that ordinary citizens share and its absence in the CP. What people understand under corruption is identical to the definition provided by the DRAE. If people are being asked whether they know what it means that Alfonso Alonso and Javier Maroto (ex Health Minister and local politician, both members of the PP) have been punished to pay almost 400,000 € for a crime of embezzlement, it should not stagger anyone that many honest taxpayers amongst us who abide by the law and pay their taxes virtuously do not know that this crime is nothing else than what they understand as a corrupt behaviour. Having said this, it should not take anybody by surprise that citizens in Spain are not informed about the stony tricks to fight the law in the day-to-day and the legal guiles to avoid conviction when the practices alluded to in the chapter of “Crimes against the Public Administration” affect to that social stratum that we commonly call corrupt. And if the convicted themselves say, as Maroto did, that the conviction was not for a criminal matter because the Court that took the case was not the Criminal Court, the sidetrack maneuver of the plunderer of public coffers ends up having its effect in the citizenship. Ill-starred with severe existential problems this prevents them to see clearly how those who claim to represent us fool us out of our money. The meddlesome media begging every day for a public advertising contract usually give us the lace with their disinformation techniques because they stubbornly repeat that the conviction was not for corruption but for embezzlement. They practice virtual absolution.
Going deeper in media manipulation, surely most of the readers who read these lines are not aware of who Fernando Urruticoechea, Roberto Macías, Ana Garrido or Luis Gonzalo Segura are, to name but a few people who have reached some degree of popularity. But there are many more such people. It can be said of all of them that they fought and continue fighting against those who defend themselves in Court for crimes like bribery or embezzlement with public funds. In other words, the money of us all. All of them have lost their jobs in that struggle and are ruined because they have been harassed in that battle between David and Goliath. Happily, some are not so lonely now because a number of non-governmental associations and platforms support them so that they can continue with their fight. Note that they should have abandoned it long ago, at the latest when their bank account started to be in the red. In fact, the fierce civil servants represent the minority and are able to continue their battle only because of citizen solidarity. Without it, they would have abandoned their fight long ago forced to earn a living for themselves and their families. In order for the average worker to get an idea of what it costs to fight against those who empty the public coffers, let us introduce Ana Garrido who is being supported by the Platform x Honesty, a non-profit citizen association. From November 2015 until today, this platform has raised € 14,088 and has paid a whopping € 11,714.63 in attorney fees. These are data that can be consulted by anybody in the platform’s web page. In contrast to those with poorly developed ethical principles, this platform commits itself to transparency. The council against whom Ana Garrido is fighting in Court, the one of Boadilla del Monte, refuses to release the bills of the “Sagardoy lawyers” and “Lago y Diezma Abogados” who take the case against this ex-employee of the City Council. Do not forget that it is with public. Any worker with an average salary of 2016 who sees these expenses in lawyers will conclude that he, with his salary of 10,000 € per year, could not aim at a battle against those who enrich themselves with the taxes he pays himself. Between sparring with someone and resigning, most people opt for the latter. And I wonder how the honest civil servants can abide by the law reporting to the criminal prosecutor the irregularities he or she witnesses at his or her work place having seen what has happened to the few honest civil servants who did comply with the law. If he does not report irregularities, he is an accomplice to the crime, if he does, the corrupt people try to give him or her up by pursuing him with innumerable complaints that they pay with public money whereas the harassed must face all costs from his or her pocket. I do not know what’s worse, the remedy or the disease.
And returning to the word at stake, it has its own charm that the crime of corruption appears only in the articles of the CP referring to sex offenders and in business. I was very surprised because the word corruption is one of the most used by the Spanish media. A non-representative survey in the social networks asked if citizens were aware of the terms corruption of minors, corruption in business, corruption of officials and corruption of politicians are in the Penal Code. Their verdict is compelling. 71% know that sex offense against children (corruption of minors in Spanish ) is mentioned in the CP. Corruption of minors has little to do with crimes against the Public Administration, but the media do use this term in the few cases of pederasty that conquer the newspapers. The remaining three terms mentioned above do not have the same degree of popularity, this being close to 10%. That is, only a few respondents believe that corruption in business, of politicians and officials is established in the Penal Code. How sensible citizens are! I may be wrong, but I doubt that most citizens associate the corruption of minors with pederasty and the lucrative business around those sexual practices that for reasons difficult to understand go almost always unpunished. It is like having your eyes always open and not being able to see even when you are not blind. I wonder why and I fear the worst. These examples show us perfectly well that the camouflage of corruption has already reached our legal system. Those who make the laws have been very careful not to define as a crime something that the citizenship considers immoral, a scourge for the welfare state and harmful to the coexistence among all Spaniards. I mean the word corruption. We can no longer trust the meaning of the words because some language procurers amongst us pollute language. Those who write laws take great care to make them in such a way that certain behaviours to which the speakers refer with usual words are not reflected in the laws with the common words used by the people. And Maroto was right. He was not convicted of corruption. Of course, because corruption does not exist as a crime in the Spanish CP. The PP has already taken care that this word with the most common meaning attributed by every native speaker of Castilian was proscribed in the Criminal Code. “Nomen est omen”. If the former disappears, we are in the believe that the latter does not exist. Your eyes in middle of the mist.
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