Caveat Lector: I never thought I would find the time or stomach to sit down and write a piece on this douchebag and his mutant offspring, but considering all the unsavory shit already covered in this blog, and given the recent reappearance of this blight in the news, I have no choice but to tackle this unappealing task to the best of my abillity. As long as Ugly Persons such as these walk free among us, their efforts to crop the frame of their own portraits must be countered with rigorous facts, context and scorn in the name of body public hygiene. Since there are already many qualified people working with facts and context on the net, my Pretty Portraits will focus on the scorn angle, with all the subjective bias I can bring to bear on the issue. Anything less would be discrimination, and we’ll be having none of that here….
Now, enough with the small talk. Let’s meet our subject on his own terms, as he presents himself and his offspring to the world at large in the portrait below:
This first and richly deserved Pretty Portrait is, first and foremost, a Spanish tale. A tale that embodies the same rancid Iberian attributes that gave us the Inquisition, the Conquistadores, waterboarding, a civil war, mass graves and a forty-year fascist dictatorship. Not to be confused with the Spain home of universal artists, poets, thinkers, writers and tolerant citizens that has flourished despite the best attempts of the jackboot thugs and the pederast clergy to turn the country into an soulless wasteland. The uneasy cohabitation between the two Spains has been previously discussed here; this historical context is necessary to begin to understand how a freak like Ruiz Mateos (RM) can not only exist but thrive preying on the very society that spewed him forth.
One would be hard pressed to find a public figure that embodies the rancid Iberian attributes as completely as Jose Maria Ruiz Mateos. Let’s checklist. Greasiness, check. Lowbrow arrogance, check. Reflex kleptomania, check. Pious hypocrisy, double check… homeboy is a leading member of the God’s Work sect and has 13 (yes, thirteen) offspring to prove it.
What else…? Ah, yes: total absence of morals, shame and physical grace genes, banished by generations of inbreeding. Aristocrat? Wannabee, bought himself a title of Marquis from the tax haven micro-state of San Marino, check.
And, to judge from his track record, not the sharpest knife in the block, albeit pointy in a nasty kinda way.
As a young and ambitious blight, RM used his family connections to parlay a wine export business into Rumasa, the largest industrial conglomerate of its time with 230 companies and 65 thousand employees. With the arrival to power of the Socialists in 1982, Rumasa was first in line for a real visit from the taxman, who was so impressed by what he saw that the entire conglomerate was exproriated by the state the following year, and RM sent to the cooler –where he was known as “lizardo the toilet cleaner”– for not nearly long enough. Since then, he has been in and out of jail several times, most recently in 2007, for charges related to the original Rumasa ripoff.
Upon his release, still reeling from the unjustice of having lost everything he had so painstakingly stolen, RM decided to play the public opinion card by gatecrashing events in various suggestive guises to denounce the government conspiracy against his person, as illustrated below. His famous battle cry as he assaulted the Finance Minister in front of the TV cameras –“¡Que te pego, leche!”– live to this day in the Spanish vernacular of the absurd (leche or milk is the strongest cussword allowed by the God’s Work). With his freakish antics, he finally managed to convince public opinion that he was, in layman’s terms, a few clowns short of a circus. That was until his boys got all growed up…
The RM blight was in a tight spot. On one hand, he was actively procreating as per sect doctrine, and on the other, the Izod crew shirts didn’t buy themselves, even when handed down thirteen times. Faced with the tough choices of putting food on his family, RM understood it was time to rebuild his legacy lest his boys were to grow up thinking he was a loser that did an honest day’s work for a living. Having convinced banks and investors that his old Rumasa ponzi scheme days were over, he proceeded to build another identical ponzi scheme called Nueva Rumasa: same as the old, with none of the modern conveniences. The only difference was that the new Rumasa was allocated among the six male offspring (which is why only the patriarch is the only one showing his hands in the portrait: code that he has delegated the dirty work to the next generation).
The new Rumasa was to be the RM blight’s road to redemption as parasites worthy of the God’s Work, and indeed while the loans flowed during the boom years, it looked like it was well on its way, with 16 thousand employees in 50 companies and growing. But something started to go wrong, there was talk of providers not getting paid, rumors of financial difficulties in apparently solvent companies, worker unrest… the RM hive went into damage control, blaming the banks of closing the loan faucet, but it was too late. The game was up again, and as the group’s mainsail companies began to declare bankruptcy, it was discovered that large amounts of money had been moved, decapitalizing the most solvent to bolster phantom companies in overseas tax havens. The victims of the new Rumasa fit the same profiles as the victims of the old Rumasa: investors who thought RM was an actual businessman, investors who knew he was a ponzi artist but didn’t care as long as they got theirs, and thousands of employees of companies ransacked by the blight.
How the new RM debacle will end remains to be seen; the official bankruptcies began only a few weeks ago and five thousand investors (at 50K a pop minimum) are jostling for a seat when the payout music stops. The employees, on their side, are asking the government’s help in protecting the productive and profitable factories from bankruptcy –and themselves from unemployment– because of yet another RM criminal fraud. Meanwhile, the alleged party and his six replicants are observing lent and dusting off the cross for the foreseeable judicial via crucis that awaits them for the usual litany of charges: fraud, tax evasion, lying, cheating and all around criminal greasiness.
As they say here, La mona, aunque se vista de seda, mona se queda. Be it in pinstripes or prison blues, in a posh lobby or behind bars, the RM blight is still a blight no matter how you frame it. Pretty Portrait, check.