Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Ballena blanca

This is the surprisingly apt name given to the anti-corruption and money laundering operation launched in 2004. Now we all know there is corruption here, but the scale of it compares to Russia's Yukos oil scandal.

Already, one of Marbella's leading lawyers, Fernando del Valle is facing jail over organising the laundering of hundreds of millions of euro through property deals for dozens of organised crime syndicates. The fallout has cost one Marbella mayor, Julian Muñoz his job and he's been convicted on corruption charges. Marbella's planning control has been taken away by the Junta de Andalucía. The (former Gil party) mayor, Pedro Tirado is in jail also facing corruption charges. And now his socialist successor, Salvador Zotano has been arrested on similar charges.

The Junta has criticised almost every town hall in Málaga province for planning irregularities, and now insists that every planning application for rural land goes through them. One of the few town halls not to have been caught up in this is Casares. It seems thay have a more pragmatic approach - The town iteslf is inland and the district has a tiny coastline, about 1km. All the housing developments on the coast do not spoil the town itself. Furthermore, the developers pay the town hall a premium for the land which funds the town´s infrastrucure. At the moment there are two new car parks, a community centre, a Guardia Civil barracks and sheltered housing all being built on the back of costal land sold for housing development. True this means we have five tower cranes (practically a motif for the Costa del Sol) in town, but it means somewhere to park the car. Until now the town had 80 parking spaces for over 400 cars in a mountain town with mediaeval narrow streets (see town photo from my first post).

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