King Juan Carlos of Spain, bye bye

This 2 June 2014 video is called Spain: Madrid’s anti-monarchists demand a new republic.

By Alejandro López in Spain:

Spanish King Juan Carlos abdicates amid growing unpopularity of the monarchy

4 June 2014

King Juan Carlos de Borbón announced on Monday that he was abdicating in favour of his son Felipe. Juan Carlos has reigned in Spain for 39 years, becoming head of state after the death of General Francisco Franco.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy explained in a brief address, “I have found the king convinced that this is the best moment for a change in the leadership of state with complete normalcy.”

Hours later, the king explained in a televised address, “When I turned 76 last January, I felt that the time had come to prepare the handover to make way for someone who is in the best possible condition to maintain … stability.” This someone is his son, Felipe, Prince of Asturias.

The truth is that Felipe has been put on notice for years, ever since 2011 when the king was absent after a knee replacement. The media have ever since promoted Felipe, portraying him as a common man married to a middle-class woman.

Felipe will be crowned on June 18, amid the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, leading to a 56 percent youth jobless rate, 30 percent of children in poverty and one of the worst and growing levels of social inequality in Europe.

Added to this is the political crisis following the European elections. The two major parties that have imposed austerity measures, the ruling right-wing Popular Party (PP) and the opposition Socialist Party (PSOE), received their worst results since the first elections in post-Franco Spain in 1977. Their combined vote plummeted to less than 50 percent, compared to 80 percent in the 2009 European elections. Between them they lost over 5 million votes.

This is hardly a state of “complete normalcy”.

The monarchy too has seen its general support collapse. Nearly two thirds of the Spanish population were in favour of King Juan Carlos abdicating. One poll in the daily El Mundo showed that, for the first time, fewer than half of the Spanish people (49.9 percent) want Spain to remain a constitutional monarchy.

Juan Carlos owed his position as head of state to the fascist dictator, General Francisco Franco. His grandfather, King Alfonso XIII, was forced into exile following the start of the Spanish Revolution and the overthrow of the 1923-1930 dictatorship of General Miguel Primo de Rivera, with which Alfonso was closely associated.

The Second Republic, proclaimed in 1931, introduced modest democratic measures. The Spanish ruling class reacted by conspiring to overthrow it, culminating in the July 18, 1936, coup d’état by Franco. The victorious fascist regime re-established the monarchy in Spain in 1947, and Franco appointed Juan Carlos as his heir apparent in 1969, closely supervising his training.

After Franco’s death in 1975, Juan Carlos was dubbed “Juan Carlos the Brief”—an allusion to the widely held belief that he would not last long on the throne. …

Within a few years of the transition, on February 23, 1981, sections of the military attempted a coup d’état, during which Congress and the cabinet were held hostage for 18 hours. It failed and the myth was propagated that Juan Carlos had personally intervened to prevent it and that he personally “brought democracy” to Spain.

The media has reacted furiously against anyone who has publicly questioned the official story. Journalist Pilar Urbano was castigated after she explained in her latest book that Adolfo Suárez, prime minister during the transition and the coup, suspected that the king was behind the plan for the 1981 coup.

El País wrote, “This campaign of smears and half-truths, breaking the most basic principles of journalism, has, to some extent, achieved its aim of sowing doubt in the minds of many people as to the role of the king in the 1981 coup. This comes precisely at a time when the monarchy is showing some signs of recovering its prestige, which has been dented in recent years by a number of scandals.”

The scandals to which El País referred to were the revelations in April 2012 of the king photographed in hunting gear beside an elephant he had shot on an €8,000-a-day safari trip in Botswana. It showed that not everyone was “pulling together” as a result of austerity, as claimed by the PP and the PSOE.

Along with this was the Nóos corruption case involving his daughter, Princess Cristina Federica de Borbón. Her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, is accused along with his former business partner, Diego Torres, of tax fraud and siphoning money into offshore bank accounts and family companies, including the real estate agency Aizoon, co-owned by his wife.Hours after Juan Carlos made his announcement, thousands protested against the monarchy in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Valencia, Alicante, A Coruña and Vigo.

Spain’s supreme court to rule on former king’s paternity cases. The admissibility of two claims against Juan Carlos – that of a Spanish waiter and a Belgian woman – hang in the balance: here.

Spain is second only to Romania for levels of child poverty: here.

Former Spanish defence minister José Bono admitted in his recently published autobiography that the Socialist Party (PSOE) government faced a “pre-coup situation” following its announcement of a draft statute for Catalan autonomy in November 2005: here.

‘Spanish king gone, monarchy should end’

This 2015 video is about Spain: Republicans protest against monarchy.

From Prensa Latina news agency:

Spain: Demonstrations Called to Support Third Republic Vote

Madrid, June 2 – Demonstrations were called today to demand a referendum to decide between a monarchy and a republic instead of continuing the process of succession to throne after King Juan Carlos I’s abdication.

The call to hold demonstrations in main plazas of every city at 20:00 local time, issued through social networks, coincides with the demands of various political parties that consider the moment appropriate for change.

Cayo Lara, federal coordinator of the Izquierda Unida party said that the people should decide whether they prefer “Monarchy or republic, monarchy or democracy”.

In a press conference, Lara said that sovereignty belongs to the people and that a constituent process should begin to build a new project for the country, after describing ruling through birthright as something unbelievable for the 21st century.

Lara also said that succession to throne is not understandable when the monarchist parties Popular (PP) and Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE) only won 20 percent in elections for the European Parliament.

Meanwhile, Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos, a newly created party that came in fourth in European elections, said that it is time to choose between oligarchy and democracy.

The spontaneous call to stage demonstrations today for a referendum and support the Third Republic carries the slogans “A Por La Tercera” (Go for the Third), “Proceso Constituyente” (Constituent Process) and “Referendum YA” (Referendum Now), among others.

From Lucha de Clases in Spain:

Spain: The people must decide: Yes to the republic, not to the monarchic succession – referendum now!

Monday, 02 June 2014

The abdication of King Juan Carlos is an attempt to rein in the crisis of the post-1978 regime, which has been widely discredited in the eyes of the people in the midst of the greatest economic and social crisis that the Spanish state has undergone in decades.

– Mobilize the people to demand a constituent assembly to derogate the 1978 Constitution!

– For a new Constitution that establishes a republic and grants full democratic rights to the peoples that make up the Spanish state!

– The economy must be put in the hands of the working class and the exploited sectors!

The (now former) King Juan Carlos Borbón has not been able to conceal his sinister role in our recent history: hand-picked by the dictator Franco, he always had a special relationship with the ruling sectors of the capitalist class, which spared no expense when it came to granting economic favours to the royal family.

There is still much to find out about the ambiguous and obscure role Juan Carlos played in the putchist plot of February 23 1981. The true role of Juan Carlos’ monarchy (which is now expected to be taken over by his son Felipe), has not been that of a great father to the citizens, as claims the spurious propaganda that unfortunately was endorsed by many left-wing organizations, but that of undemocratically holding all sorts of important constitutional powers: right of veto over fundamental laws, head of the Armed Forces, capacity to declare the state of emergency and exception… In short, becoming a possible tool to lump together the forces of the reaction against the people by making use of those powers.

Today, those who for decades had control over the economy and the most important state institutions: the Monarchy, the governments, parliament, the judiciary and the repressive apparatus, have completely failed to offer a future to millions of workers and citizens, and to present a solution to the economic and social crisis that has struck Spanish capitalism. On the contrary, what they have to offer is an unemployment rate of around 6 million people, growing poverty, low wages, precarious employment, emigration, the axing of social services, impunity and accumulation of wealth for the powerful, an increase in police and state repression against the struggling workers and youth. It is time for the people to raise its voice and take their fate into their own hands. The abdication of the King opens a possibility in the eyes of millions to reconsider the question of the Republic. The extraordinary process of mobilization that we’ve witnessed in the past 3 years gives us a clear lesson: the overwhelming power of mass movements.

For some time now, the most intelligent sectors of the bourgeoisie have become aware of the discredit which the (until today) head of state had been suffering, submerged along with the rest of his family in corruption and personal scandals, which add to the instability which riddles the Spanish state since more or less the outbreak of the Indignados movement in 2011. It’s no coincidence that all the official polls show a growing rejection of the Monarchy among the population and the strengthening of a republican sentiment, particularly among the youth.

Now, the politicians of the regime will intend to take us again into the politics of “consensus” of the 1970s, which secured the regime of exploitation dominated by the 100 families of potentates that lined their pockets during the Franco era, after having crushed the struggle of our forefathers. But the new generation demands the end of the Monarchy and the regime that Franco passed on to us: the fake democracy that allows us to elect every four years the government of the moment so that it can keep following the dictates of the economic oligarchy that rules the country.

With the enthronement of Felipe of Bourbon, the old regime is trying to varnish an institution that is antidemocratic in essence. We don’t want a SUCCESSION, but an ABOLITION of the fascist and feudal remnants in the Spanish state, one of which is the monarchy.

The words uttered by the president [prime minister], Mariano Rajoy, to communicate the abdication of the King: “I want to inform that the process will take place in a context of institutional stability”, go against the grain of events.

Aware of the moral and political downfall of the crown and of Juan Carlos, the abdication of the King in favour of his son had been debated and decided upon by the upper echelons of power months ago. Only a spark was needed to make the succession inevitable.

The catalyst for the succession were the elections of May 25, which have revealed the extreme weakening of the two parties around which the regime hinges, the PP and the PSOE, and the strengthening of the leftist tendencies in society, with a marked anti-capitalist and anti-monarchist character, and which have raised the alarms of the old regime. They intend to use the new and amicable face of Felipe of Bourbon to patch up a battered system that is falling to pieces.

In this situation, the tasks that we are faced with are:

In the first place, we have to launch immediately a mass mobilization on the streets to demand the start of a constitutional process to do away with the antidemocratic Constitution of 1978 and to put forward a referendum in which the population freely decides whether it wants a Monarchy or a Republic. Multiple demonstrations in different cities have already been called in the social media. We encourage the workers, the youth, and social and popular activists to participate massively in these mobilizations. After the results of the European elections the responsibility falls on the leaders of PODEMOS (“We Can”) and IU to set in motion a movement in the coming days and to call for mass rallies for the republic in the weekend.

The elections of May 25, and the subsequent situation they generated, has expressed a clear mandate: the confluence of the organizations of the left, the trade unions, the social movements, the “Dignity” platforms that launched the March 22 demonstration etc. that have put across their rejection to the old regime and their wish to build a broad united political front. The leaders of the United Left, PODEMOS, and the other social and popular movements must take a step forward to carry through this demand.

A democratic and federal republic would represent a great step forward, albeit incomplete. True sovereignty for the people involves the control and use by society of the commanding heights of the economy (the banking sector, the big corporations and the multinationals, and the big land estates), under the management of the workers that run those enterprises, so that they serve the needs of the vast majority which is suffering from the effects of the crisis and the injustices of the system. Therefore, we must link the struggle for the republic with the expropriation of the commanding heights of the economy, to take them away from those 100 families which own the country. That is to say, we must fight for a Federal Socialist Republic.

A video about tonight’s anti-monarchy demonstrations is here.

New Left Rising: EU Elections Shake Up Socialists in Spain: here.

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Elephant-killing king of Spain resigns about corruption scandal

This video says about itself:

Elephant killer Trumps, King Juan Carlos of Spain

16 August 2012

The Spanish branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) says it stripped the King of his position because his participation in the hunting safari was incompatible with the group’s goal of conserving endangered species.

From the Daily Beast, by The Royalist:


Shock As King Juan Carlos of Spain Abdicates

Battered by a scandal surrounding his daughter, the Spanish monarchy makes the ultimate gamble as the once-popular King Juan Carlos abdicates

King Juan Carlos of Spain is to abdicate, the country’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has announced.

The surprise announcement comes after a dramatic decline in the popularity of King Juan Carlos, 76, who has ruled since 1975.

First, the King was discovered to have traveled to Africa on a big game hunting expedition, shooting elephant in private game reserves, and the past year has seen wave after wave of negative publicity as his daughter, the Infanta Cristina, and her husband have been the focus of a long-running corruption investigation.

Juan Carlos’s son Prince Felipe, 45, will take over the throne.

Juan Carlos’s resignation as King marks an extraordinary gamble on the part of the Spanish monarchy. …

“His majesty, King Juan Carlos, has just communicated to me his will to give up the throne – I’m convinced this is the best moment for change,” Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said this morning.

Juan Carlos is the second European monarch to abdicate in just over a year. In April last year, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands handed the throne to her son Prince Willem-Alexander after 33 years.

We assume Prince Charles is currently glued to the news feed.

The abdication has caught most observers by surprise, but it was predicted by Lars Hovbakke Sørensen, a lecturer in European royalty at the University of Copenhagen, when he spoke to the Daily Beast’s Nico Hines earlier this year. Lars Hovbakke Sørensen, a lecturer in European royalty at the University of Copenhagen.

“Cristina is seen as being close to the king; her problems are the king’s problems,” he told the Daily Beast. “I wouldn’t be surprised, if King Juan Carlos chooses to resign in the coming months, and hands over the throne to Crown Prince Felipe in an attempt to save the monarchy.”

MASSIVE anti-corruption raids have been carried out across Andalucia, the Canary Islands and Extremadura today, resulting in at least 30 arrests. Technicians, senior municipal officials and politicians were among those arrested, to add to the 51 arrested at the end of October: here.

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Spanish king’s daughter a corruption suspect

Spanish Princess Cristina has been linked to the business affairs of her husband, former Olympic handball player Inaki Urdangarin. Photograph: Gustau Nacarino/Reuters

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Spain’s Princess Cristina faces court over tax fraud claims

Summoning of King Carlos’s youngest daughter is latest blow to battered image of Spanish royal family

Stephen Burgen in Barcelona and Luke Harding

Tuesday 7 January 2014 11.48 GMT

The Spanish royal family was battered by further scandal on Tuesday when the youngest daughter of King Juan Carlos was named as a formal suspect in a long-running corruption inquiry.

Princess Cristina, 48, has been summoned to answer allegations of money laundering and tax evasion. The princess would be the first member of the king’s family to appear in court since the restoration of the monarchy in 1975.

The charges relate to alleged embezzlement by her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin. The former Olympic handball player and his business partner, Diego Torres, are accused of siphoning off €5.8m (£4.8m) of public funds.

The money was allegedly funnelled through their not-for-profit Instituto Nóos and their family business Aizoon, of which Cristina is co-owner.

The princess will now have to testify in Palma de Mallorca on 8 March.

How much Cristina knew of her husband’s allegedly shady activities is hotly contested. Cristina and Urdangarin deny any wrongdoing. Last year the investigating judge, José Castro, targeted the princess for the first time – only for Mallorca’s provincial court to throw out his ruling.

After gathering further evidence Castro named Cristina on Tuesday as an official suspect for a second time. A more senior judge may again decide that the princess should be spared from giving evidence.

The scandal exposes the murky interstices between royals and entrepreneurship, a perennial source of trouble for modern-day noble houses.

Urdangarin and Torres are accused of exploiting their connections to take money from the regional governments of Valencia and the Balearic Islands, both of whose presidents have faced a string of corruption charges.

In theory, the king’s son-in-law organised sports and tourism conferences and provided consultancy advice. In practice, it is alleged, much of the work between 2004-06 was nonexistent, with the cash disappearing into privately owned companies and offshore tax havens.

This subterranean revenue stream helped fund lavish home improvements, investigators claim. Several of the allegations concern Cristina and Urdangarin’s €6m mansion in a fashionable district of Barcelona, which was done up with a further €3m.

There have been questions too over how the couple were able to obtain a massive €5m mortgage. The house has since been confiscated to cover Torres and Urdangarin’s €6.1m bail. The net began to close on Cristina when documents showed she had signed herself as both owner and tenant of her marital mansion.

Castro has defended his rigorous inquiry into the affair, describing it as the impartial application of justice. The judge said putting the princess on the stand would remove “any shadow of suspicion” that she is receiving special treatment, El Pais reported.

Ana María Tejeiro, Torres’s wife, has been indicted since the start of the investigation while Cristina was treated as being above suspicion. “Are not all Spaniards equal before the law?” Tejeiro’s lawyer asked the judge rhetorically.

Tuesday’s news is the latest blow to the already tarnished image of the Spanish royal family. King Juan Carlos was crowned in 1975, two days after the death of the dictator Franco. He became the darling of the fledgling Spanish democracy when he played a key role in stopping an attempted military coup in 1981.

From then on the royals were untouchable and when Cristina married Urdangarin in Barcelona in 1997, only weeks after Princess Diana‘s death, many in Spain hoped she would fill Diana’s shoes as a pretty, modern, self-assured princess. The King gave the pair the title Dukes of Palma.

However, the royals began to lose their shine, starting with rumours of the king’s extramarital affairs and then the divorce of Cristina’s older sister, Elena, in 2009.

Then, two years ago, Juan Carlos was photographed standing proudly next to the elephant he shot on a hunting trip in Botswana. This proved too much for many Spaniards. Not only was the king honorary president of the WWF but embarking on such an expensive trip when more than five million were out of work in Spain seemed proof that the royals were out of touch.

In November Juan Carlos had hip surgery, and during a public appearance on Monday he seemed unsteady. Increasingly frail, a recent opinion poll by El Mundo said 62% of Spaniards would like him to abdicate in favour of his son, the popular Crown Prince Felipe.

The royal household responded on Tuesday to the judge’s summons by saying it had “maximum respect for judicial decisions”, but the head of the king’s household, Rafael Spottorno, said in a recent television interview that the three-year investigation had become a “martyrdom” for the already scandal-beset royal family.

In his 227-page decree, Castro said that it would have been “difficult for Urdangarin to defraud Inland Revenue without his wife’s knowledge and acquiescence”, adding that Cristina “chose to look the other way”.

In the unlikely event that she is found guilty, Cristina faces up to six years in prison for money laundering and a fine of three times the value of the money laundered, as well as further punishment for tax evasion. Cristina and Urdangarin both deny any wrongdoing.

See also here.

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King of Spain, resign, people say

This video says about itself:

6 Aug 2012

The Spanish branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) says it stripped the King of his position because his participation in the [elephant killing] hunting safari was incompatible with the group’s goal of conserving endangered species.

From Reuters news agency:

Six in 10 Spaniards want king to abdicate, poll shows

King Juan Carlos‘s popularity rating at record low amid corruption investigation into daughter and son-in-law

Sunday 5 January 2014 13.58 GMT

Almost two-thirds of Spaniards want their king to abdicate and hand the crown to his son, according to a poll released on Sunday, the monarch’s birthday.

King Juan Carlos, who has been on the throne for 38 years, was once one of the world’s best-loved sovereigns, respected for his common touch and for helping guide Spain to democracy in the 1970s after the death of Francisco Franco.

But Spaniards have become increasingly frustrated by a long-running corruption investigation into the king’s daughter, Princess Cristina, and her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin – particularly at a time of economic crisis and widespread unemployment. Urdangarin has been charged with embezzling €6m in public funds. The couple deny any wrongdoing.

The king’s approval rating took a hit in April 2012 when he fell and broke his hip during an elephant-hunting safari in Botswana, a lavish, privately funded trip that was secret until his accident.

The Sigma Dos poll published for El Mundo found 62% of respondents thought the king should step down, compared with 44.7% a year ago.

His popularity rating fell to a record low, with 41.3% saying they had a good or very good opinion of the king, down from more than 76% two years ago.

Younger Spaniards, who were not alive during the Franco years, were overwhelmingly in favour of abdication, the poll showed. Prince Felipe, 45, held on to a positive rating of 66%, and most of those polled said the monarchy could recover its prestige if he took the throne.

A series of hip and back operations and other health problems have fuelled speculation that the king, 76, might abdicate, but in his annual Christmas Eve speech he reiterated that he was not contemplating such a move.

The telephone poll of 1,000 adults was carried out between 28 and 31 December.

The small provincial city of Burgos in northern Spain has witnessed mass protests and unrest in the working class neighbourhood of Gamonal: here.

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Abolish Spanish monarchy, demonstrators demand

This 3 June 2014 video is called ‘Monarchy? No, Thanks’: Thousands demand referendum after Spanish King’s abdication.

After the WWF in Spain deposed King Juan Carlos as honourary president because of his elephant killing, now people demand his resignation as king as well.

From AFP news agency:

Thousands protest against scandal-hit Spanish monarchy

14 Apr 2013 11:36 PM

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Madrid on Sunday to demand the abdication of Spain‘s scandal-hit monarchy.

Waving thousands of red, gold and purple republican flags, the crowd chanted: “Tomorrow, Spain will be republican”.

“Nobody elected the king,” said protester Veronica Ruiz. “We want a referendum. It would be the fair and democratic way to find out what the people want.”

The protest was called to mark the anniversary of the country’s Second Republic, proclaimed on April 14, 1931, and followed by 40 years of dictatorship under General Francisco Franco after a 1936-39 civil war.

King Juan Carlos is credited with steering Spain to a parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy following Franco’s death in 1975.

But family scandals have undercut public confidence in the monarchy during a bruising recession.

A year ago as unemployment hit a record 26 per cent, the country was stunned as it emerged the king had gone elephant hunting in Botswana and broke his leg during the costly excursion.

The 75-year-old monarch was forced to apologise to the nation.

The king’s youngest daughter Princess Cristina has also been named a suspect in a corruption case against her husband Inaki Urdangarin, accused of syphoning off millions of euros paid by regional governments to a non-profit organisation he chaired from 2004 to 2006.

Support for the monarchy in Spain has fallen to a historic low of 54 per cent, according to a poll published in the daily El Mundo in January.

“Considering the current situation in Spain, what we need is a republic, and to put an end to the plundering by the Bourbons,” said 20-year-old student Anabel Galiano, referring to the Spanish royal house.

Spanish king’s daughter, a criminal suspect

This June 2010 photo shows Spanish Princess Cristina and her husband attending a wedding

From the BBC:

3 April 2013 Last updated at 14:40 GMT

Spanish princess to face court in corruption inquiry

Spain’s Princess Cristina has been summoned to appear in court over allegations that her husband misused millions of euros of public money.

It is reported to be the first court summons for a direct descendant of the Spanish king. She is King Juan Carlos‘s youngest daughter.

Her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, denies wrongdoing and has not been charged.

He is suspected of having massively overcharged local authorities for organising sporting events.

It is alleged that some of the money ended up in companies controlled by Inaki Urdangarin – who is the Duke of Palma and a former Olympic handball player – in offshore bank accounts.

The events allegedly happened between 2004 and 2006, when the duke stepped down as head of the non-profit Noos Institute.

He and his former business partner Diego Torres are suspected of misusing millions of euros in public funds that were given to the institute – a charitable foundation.

Mr Torres, who was questioned by a judge in February, has also denied any wrongdoing.

The duke has sought to distance King Juan Carlos from the scandal, pointing out in February that the royal house “had no opinion, did not advise and did not authorise” any of his activities at the institute. …

‘Out of touch’

Princess Cristina has been asked to appear in court in Palma de Mallorca, in the Balearic Islands, on 27 April.

Emails have come to light suggesting that the princess knew about her husband’s financial affairs, the Spanish El Pais newspaper reported.

Anti-corruption campaigners have urged the judge to formally name Princess Cristina as a suspect, alleging that she may also have been involved.

Emails published by Spanish newspapers in February also appear to show that King Juan Carlos took a close interest in his son-in-law’s business affairs.

Support for the royal family has diminished in recent years, amid criticism that it is out of touch with ordinary Spaniards as they struggle with a severe economic crisis.

The king, 75, is credited with steering Spain to democracy after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975 – but his reputation has been damaged by the corruption inquiry implicating his son-in-law and by a luxury elephant-hunting safari he took in Africa last year at a time of record unemployment in his country.

Correspondents say that the summons issued to the princess by Judge Jose Castro will be seen as another extremely damaging blow to the royal family.

The duke was suspended from official royal engagements in December.

His wife – who works as the director of social welfare programmes for a Barcelona-based financial services group – has kept a low profile since reports of the alleged scandal emerged two years ago.

She has mostly confined herself to the mansion in which she lives in the city with her husband and four children.

“The royal household does not comment in any way on judicial decisions,” a spokesman for the royal family told the AFP news agency.

Spanish royal family corruption scandals

This video is called Corruption scandal looms over Spanish royal family.

By Vicky Short:

Corruption scandals engulf Spain’s monarchy

12 March 2013

The corruption scandals rocking Spain’s governing right-wing Popular Party (PP), as well as many other financial and business concerns, have now extended to King Juan Carlos and the royal family.

At a time when the vast majority of the Spanish population are suffering enormous hardship as the result of years of brutal austerity measures, the top layers of society are increasingly hated for profiteering from the crisis while issuing statements for unity to solve it. The king recently said that the way to overcome the crisis would be from everyone in the country “acting together, uniting our voices, rowing in unison”.

Last year, the media attempted to whip up sympathy for the king when he broke his hip. The initial story was that it had happened while he was working in his office, but it turned out that he had actually fallen during a secret luxury African safari hunt in Botswana while shooting elephants.

It was also alleged that he had used his privileged position to procure sponsors for criminal financial operations involving his son-in-law, Iñaqui Urdangarin, and his wife, the king’s daughter Cristina de Borbón.

Urdangarin, an Olympic medal-winning handball player, was given the title of Duke of Palma on his marriage. He is alleged to have embezzled millions of euros of government funds through a non-profit organisation he co-directed between 2004 and 2006. Urdangarin and former business partner Diego Torres are accused of setting up a network of fictitious commercial companies that operated behind the Instituto Nóos, which organised sporting and tourism events.

Both are being investigated for allegedly siphoning off to these companies €5.8 million (US$7.6 million) belonging to the PP-run governments of Valencia and the Balearic Islands. This is believed to be just a small part of an intricate web.

In an attempt to keep him out of the scandal, the king sent Urdangarin and his family to Washington, D.C., to take up a consultancy post with the Spanish telecoms firm Telefonica. If the plan was to leave Torres to face the music, he is having none of it. In his defence, Torres produced dozens of documents and e-mail exchanges implicating Urdangarin, his wife and the king, who has not yet been investigated.

The corruption scandals involving members of the royal family are producing questions about their legitimacy and the future of the monarchy.

In 1969, Franco had already appointed then-prince Juan Carlos as his heir apparent. He groomed and trained him over years in the hope that he would continue Francoism without Franco. After his appointment, in court Juan Carlos swore “fidelity to the principles of the National Movement and other basic laws of the Kingdom”.

He told interviewers, “General Franco is, historically and politically, a truly significant figure for Spain. He was the one that took us out of and resolved our crisis of 1936.”

Asked what General Franco represented for him personally, Juan Carlos answered, “For me, he is a living example, day by day, for his patriotic performance at the service of Spain, and because of that I have a great affection and respect for him.”

An upsurge against the monarchy would threaten the entire network of myths and lies, as well as institutions established during the transition and the renewal of revolutionary struggles. While, in general, the official political parties such as the PSOE and the media have come to the defence of the king, or rather what the king represents, there are more cautious sections that believe a less damaging situation could be achieved by replacing the king with his son, Prince Felipe de Borbón.

The daily El Pais published an editorial early this year titled, “El Tiempo del Principe” (The Prince’s Time). While not openly calling for an abdication, it attempted to separate the prince and his wife Leticia, a commoner and divorced journalist, from the king and the corruption scandals.

WWF sacks elephant-killing Spanish king

This video is called Spain’s Juan Carlos under fire. Warning: this clip contains some shots of bullfights.

From the Irish Times:

Spanish king loses WWF title

The Spanish branch of the World Wildlife Fund has ousted King Juan Carlos as its honorary president – a title he had held since 1968 – because his recent elephant hunting safari was incompatible with the group’s goal of conserving endangered species.

The animal charity said in a statement that “although such hunting is legal and regulated”, it had “received many expressions of distress from its members and society in general”.

It said members voted in a meeting in Madrid today to “get rid of the honorary president”.

News of the king’s elephant hunting trip in Botswana in April upset many Spaniards who considered it an opulent extravagance at a time of economic distress in the country.

The Spanish royal palace declined to comment on the WWF announcement.


WWF members voted “to get rid of the honorary president” by a majority of 226 votes to 13: here.

Spanish austerity, but not for royals, war budget

This video says about itself:

More than 100 people were injured in Spain as riot police clashed with protesters on Friday, as authorities cleared away a makeshift camp set up as part of a Spain-wide demonstration against the country’s economic problems.

The trouble started when police tried to clear the protesters from a main square in Barcelona. Many of the protesters, who are angry about high unemployment, anti-austerity measures and politicians’ handling of the economy, refused to move. Video from a local broadcaster showed officers beating the demonstrators and dragging them on the ground.

By Jeremie Nestor in Barcelona:

Tue 12 Jun 2012

Spanish crisis: cuts for all, except army and royals

The impact of the crisis in Spain affects all aspects of life for ordinary people.

Every day there are 500 house evictions. People lose their homes—but they still have to pay their mortgages.

Before the crisis the health system was totally free and universal.

But now people have to pay one euro for every prescription.

People in hospitals have to pay between 50 percent and 60 percent of the cost of their medicine. Before the crisis it was 40 percent.

In some cases people have to pay to use an ambulance. And, as many hospital services are closed, some people have to travel for miles to go to get treatment.

Some hospitals are missing some anti-tumor medicines needed for cancer patients.

And some pharmaceutical firms won’t deliver them anymore.

Migrants without any documentation will have to pay to go to hospital from September.

This will be the same for young people who haven’t worked and aren’t studying.

University fees will go up in September from just over £800 a year to £1,200.

And many students will lose their grants.

The money that the government gave to the Bankia bank recently is three times the education budget.

The government has also cut funding for research.

Public sector workers have had their wages cut by almost 10 percent since the crisis began.

And many people without permanent contracts face redundancy.

One in four people in Spain are already unemployed. More than half of those are under 25 years old.

And a new labour law has made it easier for bosses to fire people.

It is also easier for them to avoid paying any redundancy compensation.

The government is presenting this as a way of making it easier to hire people.

David Cameron has used the same idea to cut workers’ rights in Britain.

But in fact, as we see with the unemployment rate, bosses are using the laws to fire people cheaply.

One charity recently compared poverty levels in Spain today to those that existed following the Second World War.

The government has cut everything except the military budget and money for the royal family.

But the cuts have led to strikes and resistance on the streets.