Wednesday, October 4

The case of the former deputy of Ciudadanos Melisa Rodríguez fuels the debate on donations to La Palma and the picaresque

The former deputy of Citizens Melisa Rodríguez has been the subject of controversy in recent days for a publication in a local media (the time) in which it was ensured that he has no habitual residence in the areas affected by the La Palma volcano. Rodríguez was evacuated from a house in El Remo on the same day of the eruption, a house that she has always assured is hers and in which she was staying at that time. There are images from the first day of evictions of her queuing with her vehicle to salvage some belongings. In the declaration of assets that she made in Congress in 2019 when she was a deputy, it is stated that she has owned a home in the Canary Islands since 2015. A property that was not ultimately affected by the lava, as was the case with the one in other relatives in Todoque with whom he has assured that he stayed after this first evacuation.

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The former political leader has been very critical in recent weeks with the distribution of donations and with the slowdown in aid and, although she has insisted to this newspaper that she does not want to “make any kind of statement”, she does consider that this “campaign” to discredit his complaints and that data protection has been violated, since he has disassociated himself from the political sphere and is no longer a public figure. Likewise, it invites to investigate what is the criterion used for the distribution of donations and to speak with many other evacuated people who do not agree with this management.

The City Council of Los Llanos de Aridane, the municipality where Rodríguez’s house is located, has explained to this newspaper that the distribution of donations has been made after the interviews carried out by the social workers of the Government of the Canary Islands. From the Consistory they emphasize that in the bases it is pointed out that in order to obtain the proportional amount of these donations, the situation of vulnerability will be taken into account “due to loss or eviction of their habitual residence as a consequence of the eruption of Cumbre Vieja”. It is the Local Police that certifies whether it is the habitual residence with a certificate of coexistence, which may be “negative or not”, says the councilor for Security of the municipality, Lorena Hernández, who points out that she will not confirm or deny the Rodríguez’s situation nor that of any other individual.

If this criterion is met, a person who cannot prove that the home from which they were evicted is not a habitual residence would not be entitled to this donation. However, the census is not the only way to prove this, but also utility bills such as electricity, water, garbage, the rental contract… Normally, when the Police make these certifications, they talk to the neighbors of the neighborhood in particular, something that is complicated these months when it comes to evacuated areas. It is not the fact of being or not owning a home that gives the right to the accreditation of affected or affected, since the people who lived for rent have also been affected by the eruption.

Rodríguez shared on his social networks last Saturday the statement from the City Council in which he assured that he had already distributed all the donations with the following criticism: “More than four months evicted without being able to use my house, nor my apartment… Me=0 euros”, he made ugly. However, he clarifies to this newspaper that it is not that he is requesting aid for her, but that he intended to show that it is an example that this money does not reach everyone and insists that there are many people who do not agree that the criteria are not clarified and that the affected people have not been taken into account in decision-making. Likewise, she insists that she is not the spokesperson for any platform and that she has made it known to all the national and local media that have interviewed her as affected.

More transparency

This same Monday a caravan of vehicles toured the capital of La Palma to demand “transparency” and that the right of those affected “to participate in public decisions” that affect them be respected. It is the second act of protest that has called Citizen Support Initiative whose members have announced that they are going to demand in writing the creation of the Sectoral Council of Those Affected by the Volcano and for the Reconstruction of La Palma, “which must accommodate the different social, business and economic groups that represent those affected and the palm economic fabric damaged by the volcano”. A few days before they had also protested for that right to participation and began with a collection of signatures.

The Cabildo de La Palma, for its part, announced this Monday that it would begin with the distribution of 6 million euros in donations from individuals and companies that will go entirely “to those affected by the volcano.” The Minister of Social Action, Nieves Hernández, explains that they have opted for the use of the Single Registry of the Government of the Canary Islands, which is the one who provides the information to the Cabildo without the affected party having to do any other paperwork or justification. The Corporation plans to finish the payment of this first part this week and asks that in the event that any person affected on January 31 has not received the income or the information that their file is in process, they contact the Cabildo and the certificate of being affected by the volcano is attached, as well as a telephone number to evaluate your case, as long as you have previously passed through the Single Registry, located in Casa Massieu.

The picaresque of 10% of housing applicants

The President of the Government of the Canary Islands, Ángel Víctor Torres, advanced this Sunday in the Trópico Report program, on Radio Televisión Canaria, that “a single guarantee office has been created because there can also be deception.” As he stated, “there have been those who have said that they have lost the house and it turns out that they have not said that it is inherited and you have to confront these data because you cannot give a house to someone who does not deserve it.” In addition, there are those who have delivered an account but have not said that they are in a divorce situation with community property or who have claimed to lose a house and this is not the case. In statements to Cadena Ser, this Monday the president of the College of Social Workers of Santa Cruz de Tenerife has indicated that fraud has occurred in 10% of the housing application processes. From the Office of Attention to the affected people they confirm that, according to data from the Canarian Housing Institute, there have been 130 people out of a total of 1,300 applicants who have committed this picaresque.

Sources from the Office tell this newspaper that among the cases that have been found are that of families whose parents and children lived in the same residence on September 19 and who, however, now assure that they lived in different addresses in order to access to separate houses. They also point out that there are marriages that now allege that they are separated and it is not true. Likewise, it highlights that fraud has been detected and that in only one case a person said that their home was affected and it was not true. From the office they emphasize that in 90% of the requests for housing demand the data was correct and they insist that the picaresque, although it exists, is much lower than the number of people affected and that they have not tried to commit any fraud.

“There is an affidavit and a responsibility if you lie, but the officials are the ones who end up signing a delivery of a house,” Torres remarked in Informe Trópico, where he regretted that the Executive has been criticized for delivering ten houses a week, when in one Normal situation takes years. “When you listen to an opposition party that criticizes the fact that it took us two months to deliver houses and in 2005 we had a Delta (tropical storm that caused numerous damages) in which it took not months but years for aid to arrive, a little blush can have,” he said.