Spain: No peace for the King, unwelcome in Catalonia

Berga municipality resolution, scandals weigh on Crown

05 May, 02:27

(ANSAmed) - Madrid, MAY 4 - There is no peace for King Juan Carlos, who hasnow suffered the indignity of being proclaimed 'persona non grata' in the Catalan municipality of Berga, located in the province of Barcelona and numbering 16,000 inhabitants. The town council passed a resolution to this effect, presented by the separatist formation Candidatura d'Unitàt Popular (CUP). The motion was carried at the municipality meeting with the three CUP councillors voting in favour, nine abstentions from the Demo-Christian Nationalists (CiU) - who have an absolute majority in the municipality - four abstentions from the PSC socialists and a vote against from the representative of the Partido Popular. The resolution also repeals the title of adoptive son and the gold medal of the city awarded to dictator Franco in 1962. It highlights how Juan Carlos' position as monarch rests "not on a democratic process but, on the contrary, is the result of a hereditary process dictated by his predecessor, Francisco Franco". In the wording given by the separatist party, the document shows how the King's position "is a direct extension of that of his ancestor Philip V of Bourbon, who was responsible for the loss of national liberty, which the Catalan countries have not yet regained". It is, the resolution continues, a reign characterised by "the political and legal absolution of the crimes committed under Franco". And this is not just a problem of historic legacy: the separatists also point their accusatory fingers at the King's behaviour, "marked by every kind of scandal and offence," in reference to the recent elephant hunting trip Juan Carlos undertook in Botswana, where he was shown in the company of forty-year-old Princess Corina Sayn-Wittgestein of Germany, with whom the media maintains the king has been conducting a relationship for the past five years. Not only: the safari is said to have cost over 35,000 euros - at a time of deep recession in Spain - and is said to have been offered to King Juan Carlos by Syrian-born businessman Mohamed Eyad Kayali, who is close to the Saudi royal family. The King's hurried return to Spain and surgery for a right hip replacement on April 14 following a fall during the controversial trip has been followed by a storm of criticism.

This comes on top of an inquiry into the royal family's murky financial dealings involving Iñaki Urdargarin, son-in-law of Juan Carlos, who has been accused of corruption and of having siphoned off public funds worth almost 15 million euros. The monarch felt himself constrained to issue a public apology for the hunting trip in a statement unprecedented in the history of democratic Spain. The appeal for pardon has not, however, stilled the criticism and the Spanish crown sits uncomfortably. On April 27, the day of his first public appearance following this intervention, a bad movement by Juan Carlos dislocated his hip once again and the King had to be re-admitted to hospital for emergency surgery. On the day following, the King was once again at Zarzuela Palace, where he met Premier Mariano Rajoy in order pronounce a declaration aimed at silencing growing rumours in the media that the time had come for the 74-year-old monarch to abdicate in favour of Crown Prince Felipe. Finally, His Majesty has become a 'persona non grata', targeted by Catalan separatists, who have also announced their intention to send the motion they approved to the royal household. (ANSAmed).

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