The Ramp of Justice

Iñaki Urdangarín, the King of Spain’s son-in-law, descending Palma courthouse ramp with his lawyer (photo courtesy lavanguardia.com).

Ever since Infanta Cristina, King Juan Carlos of Spain’s younger daughter, was called into Palma de Mallorca’s courthouse for questioning over a corruption case involving her husband Iñaki Urdangarín, the question that is on everybody’s mind is whether the very Duchess of Palma de Mallorca will walk down the long ramp that descends to the courthouse entrance, like “ordinary” people, or whether she will descend the ramp in an automobile, which is what police are recommending for security’s sake.

Every day for the past week, this question has topped the news: will Cristina walk, or will she drive? In other words, will she be spared, in addition to the humiliation of having to appear in court, that of having to –heaven forbid!– walk? And if her motorcade is permitted to descend a ramp that is normally closed to vehicular traffic and only open to “emergency vehicles”, will she choose to walk anyway, in a public display of “I-have-nothing-to-hide” before the expected horde of reporters and gawkers? That’s exactly what her husband Iñaki did when he first descended that courthouse ramp two years ago, even stopping to answer reporters’ questions.

This is, after all, believed to be the first time in history that a direct descendant of the Spanish royal family has been called before a judge as a formal suspect in a criminal investigation. The Duchess is accused of fraud and money-laundering while the Duke is accused of embezzlement. Meanwhile, what is quickly becoming Spain’s most famous ramp can also be seen as a symbol of its sluggish justice system, which, like any sloped surface, does not always make for the fairest playing field. If he hasn’t done so already, Iñaki can perhaps tell Cristina a thing or two about tilted playing fields. He is, after all, a retired professional athlete.

About Rafael Gomez-Moriana

I am an architect, writer and educator. rafagomo.com chronicles my architectural making, writing, teaching and curating activity, while criticalista.com is an archive of my writings as well as a platform for venting personal rants and observations. I studied architecture at the University of Waterloo (Canada) and at the Berlage Institute (the Netherlands). I direct the University of Calgary’s architecture term-abroad program in Barcelona and teach at CIEE, and have previously taught in the Metropolis Masters Program in Architecture and Urban Culture as well as at Carleton University and the University of Manitoba.

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