The Spanish government took part in the operation two years ago when former king Juan Carlos I fled to the United Arab Emirates. But it eludes all suggestions of involvement in the matter when it comes to his return to Spain, scheduled for this weekend and centred on the Galician town of Sanxenxo, where he will participate in a yachting regatta. Sources from the Pedro Sánchez executive assert that this is a "private trip" by the former head of state, in which they are not participating, not even at the level of security. And they avoid giving views on whether it is advisable or not. This, however, is only the official version from the Moncloa government palace. And as always when it comes to the Spanish monarchy, there is rebellion from junior coalition partners Unidas Podemos, who considers that the king emeritus is "laughing at the Spaniards."
During the press conference after today's Spanish cabinet meeting, the minister-spokesperson Isabel Rodríguez dodged all the questions about it. The Socialist politician limited herself to repeating that the government has nothing to say because it is a matter that affects the Royal House exclusively. Asked for a second time if the emeritus should give explanations for the scandals which led him to flee the country - something that prime minister Sánchez has said himself - Rodríguez would only say that the statements made by the PM "are still valid". As usual, she wanted to stress "the transparency exercise" begun by Juan Carlos's son Felipe VI. "This is the way", she concluded.
But the other partner in the coalition does not see it the same way. This morning, at a press conference in Congress, the parliamentary spokesman for Unidas Podemos, Pablo Echenique, considered the news of the visit to be an "infamy" and a "humiliation" and affirmed that "it seems that he is laughing at the Spaniards" from the most absolute impunity. "Although there is no judicial reproach of him, there is social reproach", he concluded.
From the independence movement, comparisons were made between the situation of the former king and that of exiled pro-independence politicians, revealing a double standard. "Juan Carlos de Bourbón can return to Spain to see a yacht race after 40 years of bribery and corruption, but Marta Rovira cannot return to Catalonia to see her family after a referendum," said Gabriel Rufián, ERC spokesperson. Míriam Nogueras, spokesperson for Junts, considered it "incomprehensible" and "outrageous" that "the thief-king of Spain can return while someone who writes songs about this thief-king is persecuted by the Spanish justice system and the Spanish state", referring to the rapper Valtonyc.
No date for meeting
The return of the emeritus has a date, but the meeting between prime minister Pedro Sánchez and president Pere Aragonès over the Catalangate scandal still does not have one. The minister-spokesperson explained that the agendas of both leaders still "have to be specified" to set the date. In any case, regarding the massive espionage scandal against the independence movement with Pegasus, Isabel Rodríguez reiterated that the Spanish government has a "clear conscience" and she emphasized the "exercise in transparency" - borrowing the same phrase as on the royal family issue - through the appearance of Paz Esteban, the now-departed director of the National Intelligence Centre, and the assurance of being completely open to collaborate with justice. For the moment, they are not moving beyond this point, despite the calls - from both within and without Spain - for a commission of inquiry.