Saturday, May 21

unmasked


Years ago, an infamous Colombian president made a solemn commitment to reduce corruption “to its fair proportions”, convinced that its complete elimination was impossible. He never quantified those proportions, but in his four years of venal mandate he made it clear that they were generous enough to allow friendly political machines to profit freely from public coffers. Emulating the cynicism of that president, the PP should be advised that, if it is so difficult to eradicate corruption, try at least, out of decorum, to put limits on it.

What happened in the Community and the Madrid City Council with the contracts for masks against the coronavirus – both cases advanced exclusively by this newspaper – is the icing on the cake of a string of corruption that has not stopped putting the main opposition party in the focus of justice. This same Friday, the National Court issued its third conviction for the Gürtel soap opera, stating that money from ‘bites’ was used to pay for PP events and that party officials set up a “mutual benefit dynamic” to “protect themselves in their positions” . However, the cases of the masks have the added ignominy that they allowed some living people, with the alleged collusion of administration officials, to cover themselves in the worst of the pandemic, while hundreds of Spaniards died daily in the solitude of their homes. or from hospitals by a still unknown plague.

Until the closing of this column, the new president of the PP, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, had not spoken on the subject, not even to ask his hosts to reduce corruption to its fair proportions. A resounding silence, especially considering that the extraordinary congress that consecrated him as party leader was precipitated precisely by a confrontation over one of those corruption scandals, when his predecessor, Pablo Casado, denounced that Isabel Díaz’s brother Ayuso had obtained a juicy profit with a contract for the supply of masks hand-picked by the Community of Madrid.

According to Casado, Tomás Díaz Ayuso received 283,000 euros for three contracts obtained by Priviet Sportive SL, a company in the textile sector with no experience in marketing medical supplies. The Madrid president has argued, as if that settled the matter, that only one of those contracts was with her government and that her brother received 55,850 euros for him, not as a commission, but as compensation for his work in the winning company. The masks that Priviet Sportive imported from China were of a different brand and with a lower quality control than what was specified in the contract, which surely increased the profit margin for the successful bidder, and despite everything they were received without objection by the management. The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office is investigating, among other things, what role the head of health material contracts in the Community played in the case, whose right arm, curiously, had been a salesperson in the Díaz Ayuso family company.

The case of the Madrid City Council is even more brazen. Two rogues –Luis Medina, brother of the Duke of Feria, and his partner Alberto Luceño– mediated before the Martínez-Almeida government in the award of a contract by hand for 15.8 million euros to a Malaysian company, Leno, for the supply of masks and antibody tests, which were sold on the market at much lower prices. For this management they received from Leno an exorbitant commission of six million, which neither short nor lazy invested in luxury cars, yachts and flats, which reveals the fabulous profit margins left by the business. According to the Prosecutor’s Office, the two intermediaries contacted a cousin of the mayor, Carlos Martínez-Almeida, who provided them with the name of the City Council contact to present the proposal. Medina, a regular in gossip magazines, said he was “super calm” because there is “nothing illegal” in what he did.

Beyond what the courts say, the scandals show, paraphrasing Shakespeare’s Marcelo, that something is rotten in the Community and the Madrid City Council. We are talking about a shameful robbery of public goods at a dramatic moment for the country, when the deaths from the pandemic were piling up without ceasing. You don’t have to be a lynx to know that these shady deals could only have been possible with the complicity, or at least with the lack of vigilance, of the Administration. But the reaction of Ayuso and Almeida after the outbreak of the scandals has focused on trying to get rid of any responsibility, without it seeming to worry them or their loyal ones. fansthe seriousness of what happened. Núñez Feijóo, for his part, remains in marble silence, as if none of this concerned him. The president of the PP seems determined to maintain the doctrine that he has applied to his past relationship with the drug trafficker Marcial Dorado: that nothing is politically or ethically objectionable as long as there is no record of any ruling from the courts. In a fit of spite against his ultra-rival from Puerta del Sol, Casado broke that golden rule by publicly denouncing the adventures of Tomás Díaz Ayuso. And so it was.

In the absence of any act of firmness by the ‘new’ PP against corruption, all that remains, then, is to wait for the result of the investigations by the Prosecutor’s Office.



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