February 9, 2014 at 7:57 am #57933
By PEDRO J. RAMÍREZ* – The New York Times
MADRID FOUR decades ago, I interviewed the New York Times columnist Tom Wicker about the relationship between the government and the press. It was the Watergate era, and journalism appealed to me as a noble calling.
Mr. Wicker told me that conflict was all but inevitable between executive branches and newspapers that did their duty. He observed that where democracy was weak, newspapers that criticized the government would pay dearly for their audacity. “Careful with the Leviathan,” he said. He quoted John Adams: “The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking and writing.”
The truth of that statement was confirmed for me last week, when I was fired as the editor of El Mundo, Spain’s second-largest newspaper, which I co-founded in 1989. The paper’s owner, Unidad Editorial, which is part of an Italian conglomerate, praised my tenure but denied buckling to political pressure. Sunday’s issue was my last.
My confrontation with the government began last year, when an ally of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy his political party’s former treasurer, Luis Bárcenas, now jailed on charges of corruption and tax fraud furnished documents showing illegal financing of the party over nearly two decades. We published an exposé, and turned over the documents to a judge investigating the case. We also published text messages of support that Mr. Rajoy had sent to Mr. Bárcenas.
February 9, 2014 at 3:55 pm #119111
I don’t know if the proposed Public Safety Act was approved, but as proposed, it made illegal recording video of police activities or circulating photos of demonstrations and other activities.
So the objectives of this government are clear: Silence the press, stop the cameras and cover-up continued corruption and wrong-doing.
Nothing is more indicative of this type of “accountability aversion” than the resistance to any investigation and accountability of Franco and his government. There’s never been adequate ‘closure’ or accountability and, I believe, that is part of the reason that Spaniards are so complacent with today’s corruption.
February 19, 2014 at 3:37 pm #119206
Journalists and forum posters have a moral duty to speak out against wrong doing and corruption. The bigger the audience to the truth the higher the stakes become.
Spain now has a national law which makes it illegal to publicly criticise or slander the state. One man’s slander is another man’s right of expression. Abortion laws are being turned backward to Franco’s time. Democratic expression in Catalonia is being suppressed.
It is clear the government of Mario Rajoy is a reactionary right wing cabal mired in corrupt practices. It is not the consensus pluralist,open government that Spain wants and needs in the 21st century. They gained power because of the financial crisis and the ineffectiveness of Zapatero to deal with it.
As Spain recovers this government will receive all the credit. That worries me for the future of a country that is more at ease with itself ruled with real social democracy and fundamental freedoms of speech and expression.
The situation in the Ukraine is an example of what happens when dictatorial leaders ignore the fundamental wishes and freedoms of the people. The Spanish people have so far tolerated Rajoy because they and the economy were in peril.
If he believes that situation will continue and he can move Spain further to the right when it improves he’s making a grave political error.
February 20, 2014 at 9:12 am #119209
I agree with Gary and Logan. I can’t stand either of the main political parties in Spain, but I am developing a real contempt for Rajoy and the PP. Zapatero was incompetent and the PSOE economically illiterate, but I prefer that to fascism, which is what the PP are now bordering on. The amazing thing is, people like Rajoy and Gallardon were considered quite liberal before this term of government started. God knows what the others are like.
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