Spain is Different: Cristina Cifuentes, Master of None
Given the current news cycle, where Donald Trump gives you about three daily headlines, and he and Kim Jong-Un have more "will they-won't theys" than How I Met Your Mother, it's likely that you're not up to date on Spain's current situation. I'm not talking about Catalonia this time, since I've pretty much lost track of who's in jail, who's in exile and who's making up fake countries that will never exist to tell independentists "hey, two can play that game. Also we are babies".
I am here to offer you a detailed description of the ongoing epic of Cristina Cifuentes' master's degree.
Who's this Cristina Cifuentes anyway?
Cristina Cifuentes is the president of the Community of Madrid, a position that most closely resembles a Governor in the United States. She belongs to the People's Party, which you might or might not associate with all those people trying to vote getting bashed open by the police back in October.
Yeah, that was kind of harsh on my part, but not as harsh as that stomp.
The People's Party is as right-wing as you can get without actually saying that Franco wasn't that bad. But more importantly, it's corrupt as shit.
That's corruption cases per party. PP is literally and figuratively taking half the cake.
Now, as a left-leaning but ultimately non-political person, I had nothing against Cifuentes in the beginning. She seemed decent enough. She lowered the price of the transport monthly pass for young people. That's a measure I can agree with. Sure, she was part of the party that thinks that having "M. Rajoy" written on a list of people who are receiving illegal extra payments isn't that big of a deal.
Rajoy's actual, honest to god words: "Everything about me is untrue, except some things".
Cifuentes however, had managed to stay away from the corruption heat. She was honest. She even spoke against her own party when prevarication scandals started popping up left and right (although mostly right, as shown in Fig. 2). But then the unexpected happened...
On March 18th, a news organization broke the news: Cristina Cifuentes had forged her master's degree.
This is what happened: she had enrolled in the degree in 2012, but didn't show up for her two last courses. Yet somehow, two years later, an official who may or may not be a wizard changed those grades to a 7'5.
Of course, every side of the conflict had its explanation prepared. Unfortunately, the explanations were incompatible: the university said it was a "transcription error in the IIT system". Cifuentes' representatives, on the other hand, alleged that she had actually enrolled again and passed those courses, which would be all fine and dandy if there was any evidence of her paying for it. Then she said that she had in fact passed all those courses on her first try. Each subsequent version of her story so contradicted the preceding one that it would have been more believable if time travel were somehow involved.
Considering her constantly-changing appearance, I'm guessing it was
This all smells fishy, but there's still the unlikely possibility that it's all a big misunderstanding. The opposition parties, however, started getting itchy and asked her to step down. Meanwhile, the university began to investigate, and Cifuentes continued to deny it all, suing the media that broke the news.
A lesser man would have backpedaled to avoid any further legal trouble. But Ignacio Escolar, director of eldiario.es, isn't a lesser man.
That's the face of a man who doesn't give a fuck.
The new information revealed that Cifuentes actually enrolled the degree three months after the due date, which isn't as bad as any of the previous accusations, but gives us a hint that Cifuentes doesn't really care about how things are supposed to be done.
Much worse was the allegation that the document that Cifuentes used to disprove the claims -- a certificate showing that she completed her master's thesis -- featured two fabricated signatures.
"I don't know Rick, it looks fake"
This was too much to handle even for Cristina Cifuentes, who had told so many lies that she was probably starting to believe them. She called for a press conference to "defend her honor", but instead chose to say that she "didn't do any exams or go to class because [she] had agreed to that with the degree director". As a master's student myself, I've never heard of anyone graduating without ever doing a exam, so I'm going to call bullshit on that right there.
As the responsible people from the University started to resign, Cifuentes stood strong. Even when her degree director told the press that the University dean had asked him to "reconstruct her certificate", and even when professors started claiming their signatures had been faked, she didn't flinch, probably because her party gave her a standing ovation for her performance in playing the victim.
"Be strong, Cristina" - The mysterious man known only as M. Rajoy.
However, pressure from the other parties drove Cristina to the point of no return. She was being forced to choose a path that would leave everybody happy and whatever was left of her political career intact. But a person who goes to such lengths to deny the obvious possesses an audacity that can't be understood by us mere mortals. That is why Cristina Cifuentes went in the most unexpected, nonsensical direction.
Her choice? "You know what, I don't even want this degree anymore".
I can't even begin to comprehend how one has the ovaries to just go ahead and say that. It's like getting caught red-handed with a gun and a corpse full of bullets and saying "it's ok, I don't want this gun so I didn't do it". It's nuts.
That's the story so far. Everyone wants her gone, but her lady balls are so heavy they're going to need more than this. Cristina is now probably sitting in her throne, laughing: "you come at the queen, you best not miss".
ADDENDUM: As of April 25th, Cristina Cifuentes is no longer President of the Community of Madrid. This morning a video leaked of her attempting to steal revitalizing cream in a supermarket. The conspiracy theorists among us will have a field day since the media that offered this piece of news isn't the left-leaning eldiario.es, but OK Diario. For those who don't know, OK Diario is more likely to warn you about how Yoko Ono is trying to break up Spain just like she did the Beatles than it is to say anything negative about the current government. So people are rightfully starting to think her party had something to do with the leak, but who knows.
This is how their website looks today. That's four different articles and videos for the exact same news. Also I'm glad journalists don't have to try anymore and a headline as catchy as "She's caught stealing, then taken to a room, she denies it, they take away her cream bottles and she ends up paying" is now a thing.
This doesn't mean Cristina agrees with the accusation, more like the opposite. She still thinks it's all a smear campaign against herself, but I guess she's just too tired to fight.
While this is an obvious loss for Cifuentes, the Popular Party will stay in power in Madrid, which adds fuel to the "inside job" theory. Ciudadanos, which is pretty much "PP, only in orange", was only willing to support a motion of no confidence if Cifuentes insisted on staying, so now the PP just needs to find a replacement and everything will be fine again.
As for Cifuentes, she's lost a battle. In fact, she's probably lost the war. But there will be many wars in the future, and who knows when her party will need them. Meanwhile she'll just probably find a cozy position in some big private corporation (or the party will find it for her) and wait for her time to strike.
• PALADIN 769: The River and the Wizard-Knight
• The Trump impeachment inquiry is underway
• Donald Trump tells congresswomen to go back
• What's the first major news story you remember?