Different Types of Inflation

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Inflation means a sustained increase in the general price level. However, this increase in the cost of living can be caused by different factors. The main two types of inflation are :

  • Demand pull inflation – this occurs when the economy grows quickly and starts to ‘overheat’ –aggregate demand (AD) will be increasing faster than aggregate supply (LRAS).
  • Cost push inflation – this occurs when there is a rise in the price of raw materials, higher taxes, etc.

1. Demand Pull Inflation

This occurs when AD increases at a faster rate than AS. Demand pull inflation will typically occur when the economy is growing faster than the long run trend rate of growth. If demand exceeds supply, firms will respond by pushing up prices.

The UK, Spain and France to a latter extent, experienced demand pull inflation during the late 1980s. Fuelled by rising house prices, high consumer confidence and tax cuts, the economy was growing by 5% a year, but this caused supply blockages and firms responded by increasing prices. It was only when the economy went into recession in 1990 and 1992, that we saw a fall in the inflation rate.

2. Cost Push Inflation

This occurs when there is an increase in the cost of production for firms causing aggregate supply to shift to the left. Cost push inflation could be caused by rising energy and commodity prices.

Be an example when in early 2008, the UK economy entered a deep recession (GDP felt 6%). However, at the same time, it experienced a rise in inflation. This inflation was definitely not due to demand side factors; it was due to cost push factors, such as rising oil prices, rising taxes and rising import prices (as a result of depreciation in the Pound). By 2013, cost push factors had mostly disappeared and inflation had fallen back to its target of 2%.

Sometimes cost push inflation is known as the “wrong type of inflation” because this inflation is associated with falling living standards. It is hard for a Central Bank to deal with cost push inflation because they face both inflation and falling output.

3. Wage Push Inflation

Rising wages tend to cause inflation. In effect this is a combination of demand pull and cost push inflation. Rising wages increase cost for firms and so these are passed onto consumers in the form of higher prices. Also rising wages give consumers greater disposable income and therefore cause increased consumption and AD. In the 1970s, trade unions were powerful in the UK and France –as it was in Spain in the 1980s. This helped cause rising nominal wages; this was a significant factor in causing inflation.

4. Imported Inflation.

Depreciation in the exchange rate will make imports more expensive. Therefore, the prices will increase merely due to this exchange rate effect. Depreciation will also make exports more competitive so will increase demand.

5. Temporary Factors.

The inflation rate can also increase due to temporary factors such as increasing indirect taxes. If you increase VAT rate from 16% to 20%, all goods which are VAT applicable will be 4% more expensive. However, this price rise will only last a year. It is not a permanent effect.

Core Inflation

One measure of inflation, is known as ‘core inflation‘. This is the inflation rate that excludes temporary ‘volatile’ factors, such as energy and food prices. The graph below shows inflation in the EU. The headline inflation rate (HICP) is more volatile rising to 4% in 2008, and then falling to -0.5% in 2009. However, the core inflation (HCIP – energy, food, alcohol and tobacco) is more constant.

eu-core-inflation-2001-111This shows that energy prices were very volatile in this period, contributing to cost push inflation in 2008.

Sublime!

The nicest Champions League final in years? No big deal, but some credit has to go to Manchester Utd. Sir Alex’s tactics were wrong. He could have set his side up to try and defend to a penalty shoot-out but instead he tried to make a game of it. That Barcelona won playing not just the usual neat stuff but also some good expansive football and without any usual simulation (that could spot) means they are most worthy. Good match but no surprises then, Barcelona were of course the better team. Man Utd gave a reasonable account of themselves, but with Giggs and Carrick in central midfield there was only going to be one result. Barça made Utd look like somewhat amateurs.

Admirable Wayne Rooney though. Seven minutes after first Barça goal, Barcelona’s defensive flaws were exposed as Rooney combined first with Fábio and then with Giggs before meeting the Welshman’s delicately weighted return pass with a beautifully judged first-time shot which curled away from the diving Valdés. Giggs appeared to be in an offside position, but Xavi, Iniesta and Messi could only stand and admire the confidence with which Rooney created and finished the move.

Messi and Villa’s strikes were magnificent. Rooney’s was magnificent. A game with at least 3 superb goals is never a bad game, win or loss.

United are comfortably the second best team in Europe, Barcelona comfortably the best team in Europe. In fact, you’d have to go back to their game against Arsenal to find the last time they lost in Europe. They’re sublime. Their last two (killer) goals were, for me at least, totally unexpected. I doubt anyone expected Barça to shoot from outside the box, and therein lies the problem with beating them.

Congratulations to my Barça. A truly great side, and worthy of their title.

Garzon, an ‘inconvenient’ judge, now sitting in the dock

It seems that some people do their best to keep the impunity of crime during the Spanish Civil War and the Franco’s dictatorship: the 1977 amnesty law is outdated as it comes into contradiction with the regulatory offence of ‘crimes against humanity’, which is not prescribed under any circumstances – this is one of the principles of universal justice, one of the pillars of universal jurisdiction and a basic principle of comparative law.

The celebrated Spanish magistrate Baltasar Garzon will be judged for trying to dig into the dirty past of Franco’s regime. On receiving complaints by far right-wing organizations, the Spanish Supreme Court has decided to sit the magistrate in the dock for “misfeasance”.

“Aware of his lack of jurisdiction and that the crimes reported lacked penal relevance when the proceedings began, (Garzon) built a contrived argument to justify his control of the proceedings he initiated,” Luciano Varela – an investigating magistrate on the Supreme Court – said in the ruling.

The decision should result in a quick-fix suspension of Baltasar Garzon from the Audiencia Nacional, the Spanish high criminal court in Madrid that centralizes the issues on terrorism, crimes against humanity and organized crime.

Baltasar Garzon, 54, is accused of having set up a “legal subterfuge” to open an investigation regarding the missing persons during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and general Franco’s regime (1939-1975), ignoring a general amnesty law passed in 1977 by the Spanish Parliament, two years after the death of dictator Francisco Franco. Facing the hard opposition from prosecutor Luciano Varela, Garzon had to abandon the investigation in late 2008.

Considering he had “deliberately ignored” the amnesty law that prevented him to take jurisdiction for the investigation, Luciano Varela refused in early February to close a complaint against Judge Garzon. Garzon’s counsel Gonzalo Martínez-Fresneda, when questioned by the online edition of El Pais, said he would appeal judge Varela’s decision.

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A sad day for Justice
“It’s a sad day for justice,” assured Emilio Silva in the Spanish broadcast corporation. He is the spokesman for the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory, the leading association of families of victims of Franco. “Relatives from 113 000 missing people cannot find a place for justice to be done anywhere in this country,” said Silva. “If this trial takes place, this will be the first known case of a judge who tries to get the truth, justice and reparation for more than 100 000 people disappeared and finds himself pursued,” declared Esteban Beltran the Spain Director for Amnesty International.

More than two hundred organizations defending human rights and jurists all around the world, including former prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia as for Rwanda, Mrs. Carla del Ponte, recently signed a petition supporting Judge Garzon. They remind that the UN Committee on Human Rights requested Spain in 2008 to revoke the post-Franco amnesty law and “to guarantee the imprescriptibility of crimes against humanity”. “Enforced disappearances” which focused Garzon’s investigation are crimes “that cannot be prescribed or amnestied,” they stated.

Enforced disappearances are among the gravest crimes which cannot be prescribed nor be granted with amnesty without attempting against international law, which is part of the Spanish judicial system.

The crime of illegal detention, without giving information of the detainee’s location, or the crime of enforced disappearances, are crimes of continuous nature, that are ongoing until it is known what happened to the victims; that is why these crimes cannot be object of criminal prescription. When these disappearances have been committed in a systematic, massive and generalized manner, as it occurred during the Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship, they are considered as crimes against humanity and hence cannot be subject of amnesty nor pardon. For this type of crimes, the principle of non-retroactivity in criminal law cannot apply since the prohibition of such crimes already existed under international customary law (jus cogens) at the time of the facts and, the principle of legality, is formed by national provisions and international human rights law.
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An atypical magistrate
As pioneer and advocate of “universal justice”, Judge Garzon had gained worldwide recognition by securing the arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in London in 1998. This atypical magistrate has cornered the armed Basque separatist organization ETA for more than twenty years.

Accused by Spanish conservatives of harboring grudges and seeking the media limelight with his pursuit of high-profile cases, but also as a result of his investigations, Garzon have brought down wrath, both from the very conservative Spanish Judiciary and from the much corrupted Spanish political class (and not only conservatives). If we add the fact that Spanish judiciary is the only non-democratic power in the country with unchanged structures from the dictatorship, now handled by the extreme right… an explosive cocktail is served.

For your information, Judge Garzon is targeted as well by complaints in two other cases: one for the fees he received for lectures in the United States in 2005-2006, the other for his supposed “partiality” in the investigation he has started on the Gürtel corruption scandal that currently splashes the Spanish right .

The Spanish parliament put an end to universal jurisdiction last October 2009 when it approved a bill that narrows the role of the country’s judges in prosecuting crimes committed in other countries.

Sources: Harvard Law Review, Human Rights Quarterly, FIDH, NY Times, Le Monde, El País

Related Posts:

>> The Spanish Law of Universal Jurisdiction, now in Brackets?

>> International lawyers support the Garzon’s cause against Franco’s regime

>> Who Wants Judge Garzon’s Head on a Platter?

>> No todo el monte es orégano (Spanish)

A 3D Exploration of Picasso’s Guernica by Lena Gieseke ©

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The ‘Guernica’ is a powerful masterpiece, an oil canvas, of very impressive proportions (782 x351 cm), that Pablo R. Picasso made in 1937 for the Paris International Exhibition.
The fabric, black and white, represents the bombing of the town of Gernika on 26 April 1937 by the Nazi German Aviation. The canvas is currently exhibited at the National Museum Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.

Now, a New York artist Lena Gieseke, who is very conversant with modern digital computer graphics techniques, has decided to propose a 3D version of the famous masterwork and hang it on the Internet, in video form. The result is fascinating and gives out visualizing imaginary details that, otherwise, we would have overlooked.

Even though, I am not fully aware what Pablo Picasso would think …

Thanks to my lovely Geneviève who forwarded me the video.She’s always raring to go for new amazing adventures :)

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EU plans microcredit line to tackle youth unemployment

EU plans microcredit line to tackle youth unemployment

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With jobless rates rising, the 27-member bloc is working on a 100-million-euro ($139-million) microloan program to help unemployed young people start their own businesses.

The unemployment rate for those under the age of 25 in the European Union reached 21.4 percent in December, according to statistics released on Friday, January 29, by Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office.

That’s up from 16.9 percent for the same month the year before and more than twice as much as the 9.6 percent unemployment rate across the population of the EU.

Spain, the country currently holding the EU’s rotating presidency, has been particularly hard hit by the global economic crisis. Unemployment for under-25-years-old Spaniards is at 44.5 percent. “There is not a single country in Europe that is not worried about youth unemployment,” said Spanish Employment Minister Celestino Corbacho at a meeting with his counterparts in Barcelona on Friday.

What is to be done?

Corbacho confirmed that the EU was working on a plan to provide microloans to young people.

“One measure the European Commission is working on is that of microloans for young entrepreneurs,” Corbacho said in a release on the Spanish EU presidency’s website. “There may be a chance of an immediate agreement, as quickly as possible.”

The program suggested would involve a fund of 100 million euros for unemployed youth or the long-term unemployed. The microcredit program would target those people who tend to have difficulties getting loans from banks and evaluate potential loan recipients based on social rather than financial criteria, according to the Spanish presidency.

The Spanish presidency will present a final proposal to the European Commission in the coming weeks, according to outgoing Employment Commissioner Vladimir Spidla.

A New Definition of Misery

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A lesson from the history of a new “misery index,” created by Pierre Cailleteau, an economist and sovereign risk analyst at Moody’s.

The unfortunate leader in that misery index is Spain

The international ratings agency has ranked Spain as top of its Misery Index — a metric which adds a country’s fiscal deficit and the unemployment rate — meanwhile UK gets a sixth ranking.

Spain, is followed by Latvia, Lithuania, Ireland, Greece and the UK. The US is eighth — just after Iceland. France, is badly coming back to the mid 70s and 90s funest period.

Czech Republic, Italy and Germany were forecast to be the least miserable.

In fact, Moody’s has compiled a 1970s-style ‘Misery’ index. But instead of showing inflation and unemployment rates, it shows the fiscal deficit and the unemployment rate. The original “misery index”  was invented by the economist Arthur Okun in the 1970’s. Okun had served as a member of President Lyndon Johnson’s Council of Economic Advisers and a professor at Yale. That index came to symbolize stagflation, a significant problem of the 1970s, when consumer prices continued to rise even as economies stagnated and unemployment rose.

And now it makes no sense to talk about inflation as much of the world in which we live is suffering deflation, the new misery index incorporates the public deficit as an indicator of collective misery.

This fact shows that one of the biggest errors of the current economic model over the past thirty years, was taking the dogma of inflation as the central focus of economic policy. Financial circles just looked at the current inflation rate (goods and services), but did not see the creeping inflation of properties and real estate that created the bubble.  Now, high unemployment and high debt levels are putting the economic policy makers faced with the dilemma of an emergency stimulus plan but budgetary realities that cannot afford it.

The day Iniesta shut Cristiano Ronaldo

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In the catechism of good FC Barcelona supporters, the first commandment is to win Madrid, anywhere, even on the bus.

Not my habit to talk about football on this blog. But if it comes to Barça – and especially of a classic derby with Real Madrid – everything changes. « A Barca-Madrid is the top-ten of pleasure », says La Vanguardia. And that’s quite right.
Beyond the sporting merits of Messi and Guardiola and the undeniable quality of Madrid, there is a fundamental difference between the teams. The Catalans are just that: a team and the meringues ‘just’ a sum of individuals (built-through a mass of money).

That Barça is more than a club, we all know. But we must remember, as the former president of FC Barcelona Agustí Montal does in an meaty interview in La Vanguardia, that the club is a fundamental hallmark  all throughout Catalonia and in this globalized world, this team represents, alongside sporting excellence, some way of understanding life getting to unite altogether in the same ideal: Empathy without violence or fanaticism. In front, a proud Madrid, with bright moments, but not much more:

Iniesta vs. Ronaldo, the typology opposes both characters, one silent, hieratic, cautious, almost humble, the other arrogant, spoiled, tough guy, and uploaded in the dollar, as any player had never been shaped.

Iniesta is probably a better player than Ronaldo. Time will tell.

The US economic revival just (provisionally) around the corner

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The US economy yesterday offered a robust data that, at least temporarily, allowed closing the world’s largest economic downturn since the Second World War.

eu-budget-deficits

Budget deficits, 2001-2010, by EU region · Déficit presupuestario 2001-2010 por región UE (Source: Ronan Lyons Economic Analysis, Oct. 16, 2009)

American GDP growth in the third quarter was 3.5% after four consecutive quarters’ drops. The positive data was expected by analysts, but the strength of the US economy stunned – and pleased – the world stock markets and particularly the Dow Jones index, which rose above 2%. The turnaround from the Q2 (-0.4%) suggests that the incentive plans of the U.S. government, an interest rate of 0% practice, the takeoff of the upturn in private consumption and housing are sufficiently solids to undertake corrections in a few months which would put the economy outside the ICU. If so, we would not be far from a very modest increase in interest rates by the Federal Reserve, an assessment that, sooner or later, should be followed by the European Central Bank, especially if consolidating the growth in Germany and France. In the case of Spain, data also released yesterday show the fifth consecutive quarter of economic decline, although it is true that the deterioration has been moderating in the last three quarters we have moved from -1.9% (Q1) and -1.1% (Q2) to -0.4% in Q3. We are, according to the Bank of Spain, in an “incipient recovery” that entails a great deal of risks: the worst unemployment rates, intolerably increasing next to18.2%, deficit escalating close to 10% of GDP and an upward  lack of credit to businesses and individuals.According to the latest figures in relation to countries under the Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP) of the European Commission, the general government deficit of the euro area lay at 6.1% of GDP in 2009.As a result, the EU-15 public debt the will increase as of 69.3% GDP in 2008 to 78.4% in 2009. By 2010, however, it is expected to further increase on average 6.6% of GDP.At disaggregated level, most euro area countries in 2009 recorded a deficit exceeding the 3% of GDP, while all euro zone countries will infringe the maximum allowable deficit in 2010, according to latest IMF estimates.

Thus deficit cuts jump out over 0.5% per year, mostly in countries with higher deficits.

And what are these countries? Ireland, Greece and Spain showed the highest euro area’s gap budget, both in 2009 and 2010. In particular, Ireland’s public deficit will reach a rate close to 13% of GDP, according to recent estimates. Greece exceeds 12%, while Spain recorded a deficit of 9.5%, along with the IMF.

In 2010, these three countries will continue to be leaders in fiscal imbalance: Ireland (13.3%), Spain (12.5%), while Greece will approach 10%, given its public accounts inaccuracy, only just admonished by the Eurogroup Chairman Jean-Claude Juncker.

Julio Medem’s Chaotic Ana

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>> Cliquez ici pour la traduction en Français

 The come back of a psychiatrist who turned into a devoted admirer of woman’s beauty

“My sister Ana Medem was a painter, and she still remains it through her paintings. I’ll enlighten the beginning of this trip without setting the feet on the floor, above enough to suffer as little as possible. On 7 April 2001, my sister celebrated her largest exhibition of paintings at a winery resort in Carignan, south of Zaragoza, Spain. Arriving by car to this wine region I again recognized the reddish hue of the landscapes of Tierra (Earth), my third film that I shot there five years back. My sister should meet us, relatives and friends, at the entrance hall of the exhibition. That is, the people she most wanted were waiting for her, by a closed door that she should open. A few minutes before the fixed opening time, three kilometers away, my sister died in a car accident. We did not enter the exhibition. I have in my mind a full moon in the sky in late afternoon, almost red, and almost over the highway, while driving my car to Zaragoza
The next day, before they closed my sister’s coffin , I decided – and I told her – that one day I would shoot a film on her. “

[My journey with Ana, Julio Medem, El País, 12 August 2007]

chaotic ana indexAna is a free spirit who turns her passion for life in painting. Justine, a cosmopolitan patron, invites her to complete her training in Madrid with a group of artists she sponsors. It will be the beginning of a journey, not only physical, which will lead her to discover new continents, past lives and ancient myths. Ana attempts to break the chain of ancestral violence looming on doors painted in a wall, and at the end of the adventure she will choose if she becomes a monster or a princess.

Medem still retains much of what I admire in the storytelling way of a camera movie. Recurrent elements, if you may, always pull on the emotions and sadness that turn into beauty, like Ana´s image at sea, a resource that Medem already used in Sex and Lucia –whereas on this occasion it is brought to mind through young actress Manuela Vallés.

This appeal to aesthetics – and the use of music, wind sound or photographic colors as part of the plot – makes many of us love this film director with the same force as many criticize him for the same reason, turning Medem into the objective of the same worn arguments that were pointed against Kieslowski or the Dogma filmmakers.

We face first and foremost a good artwork – sometimes very close but not yet a masterpiece – that does not achieve the freshness of Sex and Lucia and Lovers of the Arctic Circle. In my opinion, the best films of Medem are those who have delved into the intimate territory and madness of human beings without needing to explore beyond their natural environment for survival. Whatever the case, and after having been attacked by the fascists for the documentary The Basque Ball: Skin against Stone, the come back of this unique psychiatrist, that has become a devoted worshipper of woman’s beauty, is good news.

After the wonderful Lovers of the Arctic Circle and his masterpiece Sex and Lucia, Chaotic Ana is an intense and ambitious film, beautifully acted – though some characters are undeveloped (Charlotte Rampling’s).

It is noteworthy that the British composer and pianist Jocelyn Pook is the person behind the original soundtrack.

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Who Wants Judge Garzon’s Head on a Platter?

Judge Garzon on the Spotlight of the The Spanish High Court

BGarzon017

Judge Garzón said Spain learned that torture doesn’t work.

The career of the Spanish star judge –who became famous for having ordered, in November 1998, the arrest in London of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet for « genocide, terrorism and torture » – is on the edge now. The Court of criminal appeal of the Spanish High Court is about to charge him for « corruption in the performance of his functions ». If indicted, the « super judge » from the Audiencia Nacional – i.e. the highest Spanish criminal court – would be immediately suspended whereas pending for trial.

What was his crime? Unlocking [October 18, 2008] – and at the request of families – an investigation on the ‘forced’ disappearances of 114 000 Republicans – that the judge reclassified then as ‘crimes against humanity’ – during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and Franco dictatorship. Unsurprisingly, this initiative stirred up the far right troops and brought about a mutiny against « reopening old wounds ». But also a part of the government and the Socialist Party, who saw an attack on the shortcomings of the  Ley de memoria histórica (Law on Historical Memory), painfully adopted a year earlier.

The Attorney General, Cándido Conde-Pumpido, has requested the annulment of proceedings as well. He is arguing the incompetence of the Audiencia Nacional on this subject. The prosecution’s appeal was accepted [December 2, 2008]. The case might have ended there if in the meantime Baltasar Garzon did not step down himself |November 18] by returning his jurisdiction to local judges: each of them can therefore arrange the opening of graves and exhumations within their jurisdiction. « He acted as if he was putting aside the atomic bomb – i.e. closing the case –» whereas « he was disseminating a lot of small bombs across the country » [1].

The controversy has shifted from political scope to the judiciary when in January 2009 a criminal complaint was filed by two extreme-right organizations, a ghostly « union of civil servants » called ‘Manos Limpias’ (Clean Hands) and the Association ‘Identidad y Libertad’ (Freedom and identity). [2] The criminal complaint reproaches judge Garzon violating the 1977 amnesty law – based on a tacit « pact of oblivion », supposed to ease the Spanish transition to democracy; and also for his persistent willingness to investigate facts that he was aware they were supposedly prescribed and amnestied by introducing the concept of   ‘crimes against humanity’  which did not exist at the time of civil war.

priests assassinated in Salvador

Judge Garzon has received cases connected to rights abuses in several countries

Most likely, Baltasar Garzon would not risk his professional future in this business without the excess of zeal of some judicial colleagues. Besides the ideological dimension of the case, there is a suspected game of settling scores – a payback related to Judge Garzon’s personality, whose liking for notoriety and spectacular methods annoys most of his equals [Well, I do not think for that reason his goodwill and performances become worthless… unless they are inversely proportional)

The complaint against judge Garzon was admissible on May 26, by a commission chaired by Judge Adolfo Prego, whose ultraconservative sympathies are notorious. As a member of the Honorary Board of the ‘Foundation for Defense of the Spanish nation’ (Dena), he had signed along with other jurists, a particularly aggressive text in opposition to the Law on Historical Memory, reproving it for « glorifying as martyrs of freedom many of the worst criminals that darkened our history. » [3]

The examining magistrate, who took Garzon’s deposition for nearly four hours [September 9] – and who could make him return to the dock – is on the contrary a man clearly on the left side of the chessboard. He, Luciano Varela, is close to the Vice-President of the Spanish Government, Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, and has never hidden his dislike for the ‘super judge’ manners. This high figure is a brilliant lawyer, founder of the renowned association ‘Jueces para la Democracia’ (JpD, Judges for Democracy), nicknamed by his colleagues « O Guerrilleiro » (the ‘guerrilla partisan’) because of his radical sentences. According to journalist Julio Lazaro from ‘El Pais’ Varela  has « an ego as boundless as that of Garzon. » [3]

The defendant’s counsel pleaded the closing of the complaint [October 1] before the High Court. « The assertion that Judge Baltasar Garzon has acted unfairly does not stand – says Gonzalo Martinez-Fresneda. In truth, abandoning the families who demanded justice would have been unjust. » Most analysts think case dismissal is unlikely, because of the fighting spirit demonstrated by Luciano Varela during the questioning of Judge Garzon. At best, Garzon could benefit from a period proviso the High Court demands further investigation.

Civilian refugees from the Spanish Civil War

Civilian refugees from the Spanish Civil War

Spanish journalists seem to anticipate an unfavorable outcome for what they call the «  fallen angel ». The holder of the Fifth Chamber of the National Court, aged 54, is now on its own. As a tireless worker, he has processed about 7 000 cases in twenty years and has imprisoned more than 1 000 ETA activists and supporters –as many enemies.

The rejection of his candidacy for president of the National Court, in March, was a sign of his low popularity in the judiciary. «Whatever the decision of Luciano Varela is, there’s no doubt: the High Court jar has overflowed, and if not this time it will be done the next one.» [2][3] Several other complaints, in further cases are in the waiting room, just in case. The international prestige of Baltasar Garzon, the support of the International Commission of Jurists and the mobilization of Franco victims’ families may not weigh sufficiently. Hopefully not so. Spanish democracy can not (and might not) do without a man as judge Garzon.

It is comforting however to observe that he has not yet thrown in the towel.   Not at all.
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Related Posts:
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[1]  Spanish Judge Seeks Names of Victims in Franco Era, NY Times, September 1, 2008

[2] La defensa de Garzón pide el archivo de la querella ‘franquista’. El Pais, Oct. 1 & 2, 2009

[3] Garzón, en el punto de mira. El Pais, Sept. 21, 2009

International lawyers support the Garzon’s cause against Franco’s regime

The Spanish Supreme Court summons the judge in a lawsuit for ‘deliberate neglect of duty’.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), based in Geneva and made up of 59 presidents and former presidents of supreme courts, judges and lawyers from countries represented at the United Nations, expressed on Tuesday 8 Sept. its concern about the investigation handled against Judge Baltasar Garzón in the Spanish Supreme Court. The ICJ qualified the inquiry as “unjustified interference” in Garzón’s professional competences.

Jugde Baltasar Garzón

Judge Baltasar Garzón

The ICJ statement of support to Garzón occurs before its imminent issue to subpoena to the Supreme Court on the way to declare as defendant in a lawsuit from the far conservative association called “Manos Limpias” (Clean Hands) for his investigation on crimes against humanity committed during the Spanish Civil War. Manos Limpias filed a criminal complaint against Garzón for knowingly overreaching his jurisdiction (prevarication).

Garzón is under investigation before the Criminal Chamber of the High Court for an alleged crime of judicial misconduct in public office (=deliberate neglect of duty) –to be precise, to take decisions knowing full well that they are unjust. The lawsuit, filed by the obscure far-right union Manos Limpias , which later joined by extreme rightist Libertad e Identidad (Freedom and Identity), was declared admissible on 26 May by the President of the Criminal Division, Juan Saavedra, and four other judges.

The subpoena to testify by Baltasar Garzón – the most prominent Spanish judge abroad – in a criminal case pending against him by the Supreme Court was pending before the summer. The instructor of the high court, Luciano Varela, called Garzón yesterday to appear in court. Judge Baltasar Garzón defended for nearly two and half hour his jurisdiction to investigate the graves of Franco’s regime before the Supreme Court instructor Luciano Varela.  According to sources in the indictment, Garzón firmly denied having committed any trespass and refused to answer the battery of 150 questions introduced by the private prosecutor Jaime Alonso. Judge Garzón responded no more than issues raised by the instructor Luis Navajas and his own defense. None of the prosecutors asked for precautionary measures against the judge.

Meanwhile, the case opened to Garzón has caused concern in international legal forums…

“International Standards on the Independence of the Judiciary prohibit criminal responsibility of judges for controversial decisions and even unjust or incorrect in any case, should be addressed through disciplinary mechanisms established to that effect,”

…said Roicin Pillay, Senior Counsel for Europe of the International Commission of Jurists.

According to the commissioner of the ICJ, criminal investigations against judges “for acts framed within their professional duties are unjustifiable and inappropriate interference in the independence of judicial proceedings and are contrary to Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the principles 4, 17 and 18 of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary “.

The ICJ considers that this attempt to interfere in the judicial process is of “particular concern” since it involves an investigation into crimes against humanity, that “Spain has the international duty to investigate and prosecute.” According to a statement by the ICJ, these crimes have no prescription.

“The investigation of Judge Garzon for crimes against humanity does not correspond to professional negligence that would justify a disciplinary action, much less a criminal prosecution,” said Roicin Pillay.

The ICJ has reported this case to the UN Rapporteur on the independence of judges and magistrates “and hoped that the proceedings against Judge Garzon be dismissed as soon as possible.”

What is the ICJ commission

3monkeys

  • The International Commission of Jurists was founded in 1950 and is headquartered in Geneva (Switzerland). It consists of 59 commissioners from the majority of countries represented at the UN. It is composed of lawyers, attorneys and members of courts of justice, among others, presidents or former presidents of the Supreme Courts of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa.
  • The current President is Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

This new regrettable sequel blurs Spanish justice once again. Because the Judge Garzón’s supposed “abuse of power” that sustains this lawsuit, concerns the investigation for the crimes against humanity committed by the regime of General Franco during the Spanish Civil War. Judge Baltasar Garzón had no statutory power to investigate this matter, the indictment said, and therefore committed a criminal offense. As said Emilio Silva, president of an association of civil war victims and their families, this is “justice upside down”: what should be punished is the performance of conservative judges who DO NOT want to investigate crimes under Franco. And that occurs in a country whose courts do have authority to open proceedings against Pinochet’s abuses or other crimes against humanity committed anywhere in the world.

Judge for yourself.

The Spanish Law of Universal Jurisdiction, now in Brackets?

The Spanish National Criminal Court (Audiencia Nacional), open to individuals supported by combative magistrates such as Pinochet’s antagonist, judge Baltasar Garzón, has ostensibly become a breeding ground for politically-charged prosecutions having little or no connection to Spain. Investigations have been initiated against renowned American officials including Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice related to the torture of terrorism suspects. Seven Israeli politicians and military officers, with former defense minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, are the subject of an explorative investigation because of a July 2002 Gaza Strip air strike that resulted in fourteen civilian deaths. Chinese officials are being investigated for abuses in Tibet and forty Rwandan army officers have been indicted in connection with alleged post-genocide reprisal massacres. Detractors allege that activists going for political purposes and settling scores have took control on Spanish UJ. The Spanish government gives the impression to acquiesce and has been opposed to these extensive global justice efforts. In fact, Spanish public prosecutor’s office has explicitly disputed the UJ power of the Audiencia Nacional. In addition, since the exciting days of Pinochet, only one defendant has been tried and sentenced under the Spanish UJ law (Argentine naval captain Adolfo Scilingo, who turned himself in to Garzón in 1997 and was condemned at last to 640 years in jail for “Dirty War” crimes during the Argentina’s military dictatorship).

Henri Cartier-Bresson · Gestapo Informer (1945)

Henri Cartier-Bresson · Gestapo Informer (1945)

So what happened? Now the Spanish justice system can intervene only when there are Spanish victims or when the alleged responsible will be on Spanish soil if the country concerned cannot or will not prosecute alleged perpetrators. For Gonzalo Boyé, of the Madrid Bar, working with the Palestinian Center of Human Rights, the NGO that filed a complaint before the Spanish courts for the bombing of Gaza in 2002, in restricting this law it means that the Justice is not the same for everyone.

“Until now, no one in Spain had put back the law in doubt, as it was to pursue criminal Latin Americans or Africans. The problem arose when we had cases involving Israel and China. This means that the government is applying the “double standards”. On the one hand, it deals with crimes against humanity and war crimes or torture, when committed by Africans or South Americans. The other one has a very different situation, where such crimes are committed by countries that are very important in the eyes of the government.” [1]

The political and diplomatic pressures overcame the justice. Foreign leaders abroad have put forth demands on Spain to restraint the Audiencia Nacional jurisdiction and it appears that Madrid, willing to remain a player on the international stage, is ready to do the right thing. This is a deliberate political pressure. We must not forget that on 29 January 2009, the Foreign Minister of Israel, Tzipi Livni, said the Spanish foreign minister, Miguel-Angel Moratinos, had ensured her that the law would be changed and five months later, this legislative change had taken place. We should not be very brilliant to understand that Spain has changed its law to meet Israel demand . Yet conversely, Israel maintains its own law of UJ, which means that while in Spain a war crime is committed, Israel might try it. Why Spain could not judge a war crime committed in Gaza?

Poster by the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo NGO with photos of the disappeared

Poster by the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo NGO with photos of the disappeared

In 2003 Belgium had to restrict the scope of its own law of UJ, under pressure from Israel and the United States, but the Belgian law was much broader than in Spain, according to lawyer Patrick Baudoin, President Honorary FIDH:

“The Belgian courts were an absolute UJ, as nowhere else. Ie, that a Belgian court could try an Argentine criminal for crimes committed in Peru against nationals of the United States without anyone found on Belgian territory, neither the victims nor the alleged perpetrators. Therefore, it had gone too far [...]. This is not the case of Spain. Here the Spanish judge must ensure that in the country there is no justice who “passes” in a way. In addition, it only then the court can go further because there is no reason for this impunity to prevail. “[1]

The principle of UJ provided in the four Geneva Conventions and the Convention against Torture, allows any country to initiate, as recalled Reed Brody, European press director at Human Rights Watch:

“There are many European countries that have this in common, that if a victim of their nationality or whether the alleged charge is found on their territory, the country in question is competent. Where Spain had a head start, now we can do nothing unless the person is coming to Spain. However, [...] nobody is in Spain or another country for a very short period, because it does not give the time needed to start proceedings and seek a warrant.”

The Spanish lawyer Gonzalo Boyé must lay an extension to the former complaint on Gaza in 2002 to events earlier and later. It would include the bombing in Gaza in 2008, which made victims of Spanish nationality. A rebound occurred on June 30: The Spanish judiciary has decided to shelve the investigation into the complaint on the bombing of Gaza in 2002. A resolution that does not worry Mr. Boyé. The complainants have submitted an appeal to the Spanish Supreme Court. As to the law of UJ, the Senate will consider it in September 2009.

Related Posts:
· The United States and the UN Human Rights Council
· Garzon, an ‘inconvenient’ judge, now sitting in the dock

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[1] Véronique Gaymard, RFI – Chronique des droits de l’homme, Paris 4 july 2009

Conjunction of planets

… a call to order to our Spanish political leaders

spainisdifferent_425Conjunction of planets is becoming more and more unworkable, since President Obama is a planet apart and he knows inside out who is blameworthy for the crisis  –this downturn that spreads throughout the world. Because of President Obama makes what is required to cut the recession roots in the US. And since American workers are totally guiltless, he is boosting employment and starts on control the senior executives’ salaries by law decree.

In Spain, the Leader of His Majesty’s Official Opposition, Mariano Rajoy [right-wing], simply can not do it and the Prime Minister, J.L. Rodríguez Zapatero [social democrat] lacks the courage to do it. Both are surrounded by local celebrities of doubtful ideology. Individuals disguised for the sole purpose of getting rich  –thanks to the Treasury [1]. Their range of privileges and wages, cost € hundreds of millions per year to taxpayers.

The Populars [2] have received massive support from voters who have little democratic culture, and who are familiarized  –and comfortable– with the direct appointment of their candidates. These voters feel compelled to support these doubtful celebrities without analysing their morals or their management capacity: it is notorious that Popular Mr. Mayor Oreja was the Euro MEP with the highest number of absences during the last parliamentary session. Besides that, the 8 year Popular Administration [1996-2004] and their way of doing, provide evidence that their policy would never take us out of the crisis. Their performances in the Spanish Parliament show that they neither want nor they can go against their natural practices: could the Partido Popular explain why they did not give support to the bill project that was related to regulate money flows placed in tax havens [roughly between 5 and 8 € billion]? It does not take long an economist to know that the taxes they would pay on such a money flow would reduce the public deficit significantly.

The Partido Popular should also explain if their alternatives to crisis would be equal or similar to those of Mr. Aznar’s [3], i.e., selling public corporations to their senior friendly leaders –namely the Telefonica President [4] of that time received round about € 6 million  –an amount that let him carry legally great benefits in Miami.

The left-wing voters  –those that Mr Rajoy says repeatedly they are uneducated–  they do analyze and I would say that most of them who did not vote during the latter European election, won’t either give support to Mr. Rajoy during next general elections –so you should not speed up so much, Mr Rajoy, to get the Prime Minister’s chair so easily.

It is a grave matter: most of Spanish people are skeptical on politics. It is up to their political leaders to persuade them to trust in democracy again.

[1] IRS Treasury Department, in US
[2] Those who belong to Mr Rajoy’s right-wing “Partido Popular”
[3] Mr Aznar was the former Prime Minister in 1996-2004, preceding Mr Zapatero

Spanish version over there