The leader of the Popular Party (PP), Mariano Rajoy, should know that while state business is pressing, the headquarters of his party is aflame with the new turn taken by the Gürtel corruption scandal, with 22 million euros on the table and envelopes full of unmarked banknotes going this way and that. The boreholes drilled by Judge Pablo Ruz have struck oil in the form of Swiss bank accounts containing that sum, in the name of Luis Bárcenas, the PP's national treasurer, designated by Rajoy.
We know that Bárcenas began to work for the PP in 1982, at the age of 26, and rose step by step under successive treasurers Ángel Sanchís, Rosendo Naseiro (he of the 1989 Naseiro scandal) and Álvaro Lapuerta until, in June 2008, he himself was appointed treasurer by Rajoy. Soon after he was elected senator for Cantabria (a safe PP seat). In his obligatory statement of professional activities and assets he mentioned only his posts as PP treasurer, and as secretary to the syndicate of shareholders of the toll-road firm Autopistas del Atlántico, which brought in 6,000 euros a year. His assets did not amount to 600,000 euros.
So how did he squirrel away 22 million in Switzerland, in a job as busy as that of administering the funds of the PP? Perhaps we are looking at a miracle like the Immaculate Conception. Even so, how could he do it without arousing suspicion in those around him? There is nothing surprising about wanting to enrich yourself. What is amazing is that he accumulated so much money, in so short a time.
The gatherers of party revenue begin to feel they are entitled to a percentage of what they bring in
A simple extrapolation enables us to calculate how much input he obtained from anonymous donations -- a term that normally veils the sums offered by the beneficiaries of grace dispensed from the celestial regions of power. The gatherers of party revenue normally commence their work in scrupulous abstinence from considerations of personal interest, but with time they begin to feel they are entitled to a percentage of what they bring in. Let us imagine that on this basis they keep a modest 10 percent; then the hard-earned 22 million scraped together by the sweat of his brow is the reflection of perhaps 220 million brought into the party coffers by his revenue-gathering labors - for which he has received the PP's congratulation and praise.
Let us repeat two basic principles. First, that political representatives cannot look the other way and smile, because they are also responsible for the conduct of those around them. Here personal honesty is a necessary condition, but not a sufficient one. Second, ignorance is not a sufficient excuse.
Some texts may help us in understanding the case. The classic manual of the Civil Guard, dating from the founding of this rural police force in 1845, says that "in due compliance with the duty of Civil Guards, the officers stationed in a town must watch and keep note of the names of those persons who, by their shiftless way of life, conspicuous expenditure and vicious habits, and apparent lack of respectable means of support, attract suspicion in a town."
Here, however, Bárcenas accumulated millions without attracting suspicion. It is as if the national leadership of the PP worked according to the system of Bankia, where the board member Arturo Fernández admitted he had voted for approval of the accounts without reading them, as if the act of approving them unseen did not compromise him.
Recent years have seen a regression in civic habits, and attenuated the reflex of basic decency. This is why you must read the instructions enclosed with this medication with care, and if in doubt, consult your pharmacist.