Tuesday, May 24

while my father was dying

My 93-year-old father spent 35 days in a COVID ward of a public hospital in the Community of Madrid. The statistics and analyzes on the pandemic from that plant are understood differently. After three four weeks there, we were told to go say goodbye. At the hospital door the entrance was filtered with a “where are you going?”. Responding to the third was an immediate, “I’m so sorry. Be careful that you get into the lion’s den. You need a good mask.” In the hall of the floor all was silence. We were only those who came to see the most serious. You had to wait until someone from the staff came in or out to tell you that you had to come in. Then wait again for the toilets that were in permanent activity, to have a hole to give you the PPE. At that time there was silence, each one was involved in their own pain. The pain behind the pandemic. A mixture of sadness, helplessness and hopeless waiting. It is difficult for me to express the sum of feelings.

My mother wanted – she had to – come in to say goodbye. They have been married 60 years. She is a person who does not take care of herself and she needed us to go in with her. “We don’t have PPE for so many.” There was another woman who came to say goodbye to her grandmother. A nurse went looking on other floors and got what she could. We distributed the PPE to each other with the solidarity that the moment required and we used our own masks because she could not find others. For the rest of the family, the farewell was a video call. There was a goodbye and also a “I will fight until the end”.

While my father was dying, Tomás Díaz Ayuso, Luis Medina and Alberto Luceño were speculating on the masks we needed.

For two years I chaired the Indebtedness Commission of the Madrid Assembly. There, the extra cost of 2,700 million euros of the hospitals mortgage of Esperanza Aguirre, the 700 million extra cost of the shadow tolls of the M45 that is now recognized by the Court of Auditors or those of the City of Justice that is still closed. At the end of the legislature, the Plenary Assembly approved a report that was sent to the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office. I have no doubt that in Madrid there is a problem of institutional corruption. For almost 30 years, a political culture has been generated that has permeated the administration, facilitating cost overruns, business between friends and family, and meaningless projects. However, it does not seem to have an impact on public opinion.

Do we like being robbed? Why don’t we react? With the distance that time gives, and not being in politics anymore, it seems to me that pointing exclusively to institutional corruption has two problems. The first is the dimension. Quantities with so many zeros that they become incomprehensible to us. When they talk to us about billions, we have no idea. The second is depersonalization. Behind the waste and corruption is the management culture of the PP, but there is no face, no person. The responsibility is diluted in the intangible of a brand.

The PP has always maintained that its corruption is isolated cases, bad apples. I think that is not true, that it is a way of doing things and justice has condemned them for corruption as an entity for the third time a few days ago. But they are not without reason to notice people. In the Commission, only when we approached what had happened in the Canal de Isabel II from another perspective, there were consequences. It was understandable –21 million in the purchase of a company in Brazil– and behind which there were faces. Money moving in garbage bags, which could be seen. It ended with former president Ignacio González in jail and scandalized Madrid society.

This time we are seeing the consequences of institutional corruption in a specific situation, which each and every one of us has suffered. What has made us have a bad time. We also know how much they have speculated on with the masks and the obscene purchases they have made at the expense of our pain. We know their faces. Actually, not all. That of Isabel Díaz Ayuso’s brother, no. They hide that from us. Likewise, she, who at some point participated as a deputy in the work of the Commission, makes the same reflection as me. For all this, I believe that we must address this matter from the concrete, from experience and, for once, not make a structural analysis – which has already been done.

My father, as he told us, spent all his energy getting out of the hospital. He passed away a week later at home. But he was able to say goodbye to all of us and die where and how he wanted. Life granted him that it was so and my being with him at the last moment. He belonged to that generation with an iron willpower that gets things done without noise. The generation that has borne the pandemic; to which he was left to his fate in many residences in Madrid.

Now I know that while he used his two hands to cling to life, there were people who used theirs to get rich. Raising the costs of low quality masks and charging indecent commissions in a life or death situation. That while the anguish accumulated at the doors of the COVID unit to have PPE and be able to go in to take care of our own or say goodbye, someone was making money on our pain. A lot of anger has been added to my pain lately.

Let’s not let what has happened go by. I do not know if it is illegal – the European Public Prosecutor’s Office will say – but it is undignified. We have to position ourselves for justice, for dignity, for decency. Because we are not facing a political issue, we are facing an ethical issue that has affected each and every one of us. Because we have suffered a lot. The 100,000 Spanish men and women who have died from the virus are your daughter, your brother, your grandmother, your friend and my father. Behind each one there is pain and rage like the one I feel. Because my daughters, your sons, your granddaughters and all of us deserve better.

I wonder how many of these brokers, who have been living off their relationships for thirty years, are there? I wonder if at this moment any of them are thinking how to make money from the suffering of Ukrainian families fleeing the horror.

We have to do something.



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