Updated 18 September: The legal appeals by Santa Cruz politicians against jail sentences might be ongoing but the actual building itself is coming down. Finally, and thanks primarily to the efforts of the pressure group Plataforma por el derribo del mamotreto y contra la corrupción, work has started today to demolish the rough construction that was supposed to be a multi-storey car park serving Las Teresitas beach.
It has variously been called an eyesore, a white elephant, and a useless great lump – a mamotreto – and those were the polite names. Worse, it has introduced stress, unsightliness and frustration into the life of residents of San Andres. At last the controversial monstrosity that the Courts have ruled was put up illegally and corruptly in 2008, and at enormous public expense – around €10m – is going down. Perhaps that will end up being the fate of the politicians behind it too.
Updated 27 April 2017: The arguments continue about whether the “mamotreto” is demolished or can be legalized, but the whole case behind it, the Caso Las Teresitas, has now seen the Courts sentence the former mayor of Santa Cruz, Miguel Zerolo, to seven years in prison for embezzlement and corruption. The case revolves around an investment company where the Ayuntamiento headed by Zerolo bought land bordering Las Teresitas beach at three times its value according to council technical valuers – some of the land already being owned by the council. It has long been seen as a pocket-lining exercise in a class of its own, and now the mayor is facing jail and has been disqualified from public office for 17 years.
Also receiving the same sentence in the case was the former Urbanism councillor Manuel Parejo, while businessmen Ignacio González and Antonio Plasencia were sentenced to 5 years 3 months imprisonment and a 21 year ban from running businesses. Other public servants implicated in the case have also been sentenced to lesser jail terms and bans from employment in the public sector. All will also have to pay compensation between them totalling €61.6m plus legal interest to Santa Cruz Ayuntamiento, while the company Inversiones Las Teresitas will also have to pay €52.5m.
All have been given leave to appeal the sentences to the Supreme Court.
Updated 25 June 2016: The Mamotreto must come down now, the Court has told Santa Cruz Ayuntamiento in its final judgment. So despite years of fighting the demolition order, and various judgments for corruption and planning irregularities, and a rearguard action by the council to avoid demolishing the building – at least in entirety – and to avoid having to pay for it, the final verdict of all has now been given.
The action group Plataforma por el derribo del mamotreto y contra la corrupción (which hardly needs translating!) says that the judgment “puts an end to the plot hatched by Santa Cruz mayor José Manuel Bermúdez and his governing group which was designed to obstruct, if not directly sabotage, the execution of the court order – confirmed after appeal – to demolisih the urban eyesore” … and the €700,000 demolition cost must be borne by the six officials condemned in the earlier judgment.
The Plataforma says that it has only today found out about the judgment even though the council knew four days ago, but had sat on the information to try to avoid damaging the governing group’s party’s chances in tomorrow’s General Election. The action group said it congratulated everyone – individuals, parties, Unions and associations – who has joined with it to fight for democracy and justice, and against the impunity that these politicians bestowed upon themselves.
Original post 22 February 2014: The first verdict in the Canaries that will see politicians and local government employees go to prison for planning corruption has been given in Santa Cruz over the so-called Caso Mamotreto, the monstrous and controversial building that was constructed in 2008 – completely illegally and corruptly, it has now been judged – and which came to be called a mamotreto, a “white elephant”. Of the seven defendants, six have been sentenced to prison (between two and three years), demolition of the illegal buliding at their own personal expense, and a ban on holding office.
Activist party Sí Se Puede, indeed, congratulated the two social collectives for starting the whole process of denuncias against the “mamotreto” and the municipal planning crimes behind its construction. More importantly given the pressure that must subsequently have been brought to bear, the party congratulated them for not capitulating in the fight. The two organizations which led the campaign are the Asociación Tinerfeña de Amigos de la Naturaleza (ATAN) and the Asociación de Amigos de la Playa de Las Teresitas, Anaga y su Litoral.
Si Se Puede called yesterday’s judgment “exemplary”. According to the judge, in the era when Miguel Zerolo (Coalición Canaria) was mayor, “irregularities were normal”. This might therefore not be the last such judgment that comes out of further similar investigations in Santa Cruz, and elsewhere of course …