José Luis Martínez-Almeida has removed Fernando Benzo from his position as CEO of Madrid Destino. As this newspaper has learned, the mayor of Madrid has not justified the dismissal, which has ended by surprise and when he returned from vacation with the position that Benzo had held for two years. Andrea Levy, delegate of Culture, Tourism and Sports of the Madrid City Council, had supervised his appointment as the head of the municipal public company, and with her he has carried out controversial decisions such as the dismissal of Isla Aguilar and Miguel Oyarzun from the management Conde Duque, the closure of Radio M21 and, above all, the controversial closure of Medialab Prado. Internal sources of the City Council confirm elDiario.es that the firing is not a decision of Levy, but of Almeida himself. Objective reasons have not been justified to dismiss the cultural manager with the most curriculum within the PP and it has been executed with the most recurrent excuse in these cases: “reorganization”.
Telemadrid approves the final ERE of 860 workers
Sometimes a long career in politics is not a guarantee of a professional career with a future. Benzo has been closely linked to culture since 2012 as Undersecretary of the Ministry of Education and Culture with José Ignacio Wert and as former Secretary of State for Culture with Íñigo Méndez de Vigo. But in this time, not all have been allies of his management modes within his party and in the first week of September the mayor gave the order against his work at the head of Madrid Destino, which will return him to his career as a civil servant. Fernando Benzo has declined to comment on his dismissal to this newspaper.
From the department of communication of the Area of Culture they give another version of the facts: “The departure of Fernando Benzo has been agreed between the parties, how could it be otherwise, since it is necessary to value the work that he has developed as CEO of Madrid Destino and that has allowed, among other things, to keep the municipal cultural centers open and the organization of Christmas in a very complicated unprecedented context “. However, there are no personal reasons that have kept Benzo from Madrid Destino, and the City Council clarifies that “in the removal process it is not necessary to state reasons to justify it.”
This Wednesday the Madrid Destino Board of Directors will hold an extraordinary meeting to resolve the new appointment. This newspaper has learned that he is Ángel Martín Vizcaíno, with a degree in Economics and no experience in cultural management, but that he has been director of Televisión Española with José María Aznar and of Telemadrid with Esperanza Aguirre and Ignacio González. It is in this position where his management has been recorded in the history books of the Madrid public channel, for executing together with José Antonio Sánchez an ERE, in 2012, which ended with 861 workers on the street and for which he alleged economic causes. The TSJM ruled against the ERE and the decision of the Madrid Justice was finally ratified by the Supreme Court, which forced the compensation of all those dismissed.
The origin of the management that struck down 85% of the Telemadrid workforce is in Manuel Soriano, responsible for the creation of a company together with Caja Madrid to buy the football rights in 2007, which led to the ruin of the public entity. Ángel Martín Vizcaíno, the next Managing Director of Madrid Destino, arrived at Telemadrid at the age of 34 by the hand of Manuel Soriano, in 2004. The Governing Council of the Community of Madrid ratified in 2014 the appointment of Vizcaíno as general director of Telemadrid in replacement of José Antonio Sánchez, who left the post to be president of RTVE. The appointment came after the ERE and Martín Vizcaino decided to raise his salary to 134,425.20 euros, the public position with the highest salary in the Community of Madrid in 2014 and 2015.
Martín Vizcaíno has also held the position of Secretary of State for Immigration with Ángel Acebes as Minister of the Interior and during his time in the Community of Madrid he appeared as Ignacio González’s trusted man. This was pointed out by the unions of the Telemadrid Company Committee, who they said was “the intellectual author of the ERE” who put 861 “excellent professionals” on the street and that the Supreme Court sentenced as “not in accordance with the law.” “That is to say, illegal,” the unions pointed out when they learned of his arrival at the general management of Telemadrid.
In 2017, former President Cristina Cifuentes replaced him with José Pablo López Sánchez and Martín Vizcaíno returned to the Madrid City Council to occupy his position as a Treasury official. However, with the arrival at the Consistory of Manuela Carmena, he decides not to return to his post and the PP appoints him as technical advisor of the municipal group. Until this Wednesday, Martín Vizcaíno has worked as an advisor to the administrative unit of the PP.
From Más Madrid they consider “unacceptable” this decision that the PP will undertake with the support of Ciudadanos and Vox and qualify it as a “setback in the cultural management of the City Council.” “He has never had a professional relationship with cultural creation or management other than audiovisual production and management”, explains Pilar Perea, deputy of Más Madrid.
The PSOE spokesperson, Mar Espinar, asks the PP for transparency and takes a question to the Commission to ask the area headed by Andrea Levy about it. “There is no known cause and citizens deserve to know what are the reasons why a position of trust disappears overnight at the head of the management of the vast majority of public cultural centers in Madrid,” Espinar tells elDiario.es
The new manager of Madrid Destino will meet with the management of a team of almost 600 workers, more than 400,000 square meters of management spaces, the Christmas, San Isidro or Veranos de la Villa campaigns and eight centers. The workers of Madrid Destino fear with this political movement of Martínez Almeida a reduction in their workforce, after a year in which the second source of income for the department, events, has been diminished by the pandemic. The structure that the 2013 merger left in Madrid Destino is problematic: workers with three different agreements, functions that overlap and a growing board of directors, with a volume of skyrocketing salaries that contrasts with the low salaries of the workforce.