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Opinion

Accountability or political responsibility

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In recent days, an article I wrote at the end of 2017 entitled 'El gofio de la discordia' came to mind, in which I recalled the vicissitudes of a certain million euros that the Cabildo of Gran Canaria, governed by Nueva Canarias, gave ad hoc to the Polisario Front as humanitarian aid for the Tindouf camps. The peculiarity of that case is that the million euros was given entirely in gofio (for those who do not know, gofio is a typical Canarian foodstuff. It is a flour made from toasted and ground cereals, especially wheat and corn).

"One million euros in gofio is a lot of gofio", stressed the Popular spokesman Felipe El Jaber at the time. That one million euros of gofio for the Sahara was approved in the Cabildo plenary because the money supposedly came from a confidential express NC-PP agreement at the national level, with the direct mediation of Mariano Rajoy. At least that was the justification given by the perennial Solidarity Councillor Carmelo Ramírez during that plenary session. 

That extra aid to the camps was publicly sold as a personal achievement of the Cabildo via Madrid, despite the fact that the humanitarian aid allocated that year by his Department of Solidarity amounted to 2.1 million euros for various solidarity actions, and where a budget allocation to Tindouf was already foreseen prior to that additional million. Here one could already see the favourable treatment of the Cabildo towards the Polisario, given the disproportion in the distribution of this aid, just for a purely personal matter of councillor Ramirez towards the Sahara, to the detriment of other potential recipients in need of such aid.

But what is suspicious, and what went unnoticed at the time, is that six months earlier, during a visit by Saharawi leaders, they had already been promised that million euros by the president of the Cabildo, Antonio Morales. Just like that, without a vote. It was so strange that even Podemos abstained on the vote months later, which is revealing given the importance of this issue for a political party that also sympathises with the Polisario. Perhaps they sensed a certain whiff of opacity, or even a possible misappropriation.

This is the issue that concerns us now, the opacity, the lack of transparency. It turns out that a few days ago the registration of the Nueva Canarias party was cancelled on 12 July 2021 in the Register of Political Parties by the Ministry of the Interior, following a court ruling, for not rendering accounts for the last four years. Carmelo Ramírez, who is also the Secretary of Organisation of his party, was surprised by the cancellation from the Register of Political Parties, with somewhat lame excuses. He said that they had not received any request, that they were still receiving subsidies, that they had changed their headquarters, that we were very surprised. In view of this, perhaps they didn't even know that they hadn't presented their accounts for four years. Maybe they are presented on their own, or by infuse science.

Ignorance of a rule does not exempt you from complying with it, nor does disdain for that rule, but facts have consequences. And a Secretary of Organisation of a party that presumes itself to be serious cannot come to the fore after such an embarrassment and make such a string of excuses. Statements that denote a certain cynicism. It is not surprising that the party's supposed and hardly credible lack of knowledge of the facts, especially when it is already more than a year since the deletion from the register, and when the regulations make it clear that, before going to court, the party register sends a warning. There was a pandemic, you can have problems for a year, but four years?

Let us return to the beginning of this article, and remember that Nueva Canarias' brotherly ties with the Polisario Front still persist. As is popularly said, couples end up resembling each other. In this case even in decadence. From the decline of one on the opposite shore, we have reached that of the other in just a short space of time. In both cases, they share power circles that are allergic to retirement and where, in view of the facts, transparency and accountability have not exactly been their strong points. That is where the other accountability comes in, the political one.