The world is falling down around our ears. It must be true, because you walk past the shops, and all you see are tempting clearance sales. Due to retirement, it says on one sign. On others, Due to bereavement, Due to renovation. In this country, the very last admission people will put on a sign is; Due to bankruptcy.
The bus stops are papered with posters saying New York, five days and three nights. Only 800 euros. This brings to mind what seems to be the phrase of the month: "Caribbean week." A Caribbean week is a work week that begins on Monday and ends on Wednesday. The rest is your "Caribbean weekend."
This is said to be a current expression in the General Council of the Judiciary. I don't mean that all the members of the Council habitually enjoy such weekends - but apparently enough of them do for the expression to have caught on.
However, there are some particularities of the Caribbean weekend that distinguish it from long weekends taken by average folks. A real Caribbean weekend is one taken by a top official, at public expense. A weekend that is paid for by the people, with their taxes. Yes, by the people - who, the economists tell us, have been living beyond their means, and are now being called upon to tighten their belts and, in the name of competition, work longer hours for lower wages, in the Chinese manner.
Everyone understands that the separation between the branches of government extends to different aspects of life. And while a judge's Caribbean weekend may sometimes coincide with a public holiday applicable to the rest of us, the judge can take his whenever he wants. Those who impart justice are bound only by their own rules. So says the Constitution. The Council president's Caribbean weekends would not have bothered people so much, if this endless crisis had not put everyone in such a foul mood.
If this had happened 10 years ago, when we were all wallowing in the Jacuzzi of the real estate bubble, people would have understood that the separation of the branches of government may well imply work weeks of this type. To begin with, it is possible that we would never even have heard about it. And if some spoilsport had complained of the privileges enjoyed by the chief justice of the Supreme Court, all sorts of politicians and columnists would have spoken up in his defense, warning of the danger, in an immature country such as ours, of throwing mud at our institutions.
A real Caribbean weekend is one taken by a top official, at public expense
Just a perk, they would say, and end the discussion. Some colleagues of Dívar, indeed, have spoken in his favor (and then they tell us that the spirit of solidarity in the workplace is dead), but it is uphill work trying to justify the Council president's Caribbean habits. And it is a poor favor, a poisoned favor, they are doing him, because the magistrate's reluctance to resign is causing the newspapers to bring out the sort of information that many of us would just as soon ignore. The Spanish judiciary seems to suffer from a permanent hankering to appear in caricature on the covers of comic magazines.
The Dívar case has come at a time when the whole country is absorbed in inventory, and about to close up shop due to renovation, bereavement or retirement. The public, which daily bears the scolding frown of Merkel and the unbearable silence of our prime minister, has decided not to overlook the misbehavior in certain holy institutions. The courts, the monarchy, the salaries of politicians, the Bank of Spain, the savings banks...
But think just how accustomed we were to accepting inadmissible privileges. Just before writing this, I saw a headline: "Dívar is forced to hold a meeting on Saturday." On Saturday! This must be hard indeed, when you are accustomed to a Caribbean week.