OPINIÓN

Invitation to crime

The right is tough on immigration but soft on mafias and casino tycoons

Every time a government, generally one of the left, does something humanitarian for illegal immigrants; every time a government fails to follow Aznar's example and deport them sedated or shackled, the voices of the rabid right howl about the "pull effect" of such mollycoddling, which causes illegal immigrants to flood into our country, where they then lead a life of crime or beggary, benefiting from our public health system, taking jobs from Spaniards, paying no taxes, etc.

As it is the Popular Party (PP) that is now in power - not governing, just in power - these voices are saying nothing about the "pull effect" the conservatives are exerting - not on Sub-Saharan Africans, but on international organized crime, as long as they bring money with them.

On the one hand the PP is going to grant immediate residency papers to foreigners who purchase houses here, which amounts to simply selling these documents. It has said that this is aimed at Russians and Chinese, who will presumably buy up some of the fruits of the demented real-estate bubble propitiated by Aznar. Some of these people may have earned their money in clean, honest ways, but no one is unaware that most of the substantial Russian and Chinese fortunes in question here are eminently dirty and corrupt in origin. Many such people, Russians in particular, are already settled here. Now we are to sell them residency papers, for sums that to them are small change. If this does not constitute a "pull effect" to organized crime, Rajoy is an unpaid social worker.

Yet more barefaced is the Madrid regional government's invitation to a problematic character, Sheldon Adelson of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, to build a casino complex near Madrid, under the name of Eurovegas. Unprecedented concessions are planned for this project, which was initially supposed to create 164,000 direct and 97,000 indirect jobs - a claim that has recently been reduced, with no explanation, to 72,000 and 15,000 respectively. In exchange for these rapidly shrinking job prospects, the gambling tax has been reduced from 45 to 10 percent. But, thanks to a series of measures approved by the regional government, it is unlikely that the taxes paid by Eurovegas will ever be more than one percent. Eurovegas has been forgiven 95 percent of the tax on asset transfers and notarial fees. And the land on which Adelson may wish to build can be expropriated in favor of a private person, so that he will not have to negotiate with the owners. Town-planning changes must have a municipal license, but if the council does not grant it within a month, a subaltern official can do so.

But the most shocking pull effect is this: the regional government has reserved the right not to apply the legal sanction law when Eurovegas commits a grave offense, such as coercing betters, not paying them their winnings, or using non-regulation roulette wheels or cards. It can also, at its discretion, overlook the criminal record of a casino manager or his employees. If such things are announced beforehand, it is because crimes and criminal records are expected to come into the picture, and a red carpet is rolled out for them. Similar conditions must have been offered in Catalonia, where Mas and CiU courted Las Vegas Sands with similar servility. Oh yes, and Madrid will allow the casinos to invent any game of chance and play it without approval from the authorities. A fling at Russian roulette, anyone?

It is unheard of for a government to give open encouragement to crime, cheating, coercion, robbery (refusal to pay), marked cards, rigged roulette wheels; to promise to overlook criminal records, thus inviting the employment of undesirable individuals. It is hard to see how the Madrid regional government was not at once removed from office, or denounced for contravention of the laws and for connivance - preventive, before the fact - with crime. Has Rajoy nothing to say, or the judges, or the people of Madrid?

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