The other Pandemic

Last Sunday 27 September 2020, Antonio Muñoz Molina, a Spanish writer and collaborator of EL PAIS, published a very interesting article about the present situation in Spain with the COVID Pandemic and the fights between the different political parties that are making the situation even worse. 

Antonio Muñoz Molina considers those political fights a sign of their stupidity and as bad for us, simple citizens, as another PANDEMIC 

Here is my own version - with the help of Google translator- of this article.  


In this moment Spanish politics is becoming more toxic than the virus of the pandemic. Day after day, since the beginning of this devastating September, the news about the increase in infections and deaths have been aggravated by the filthy spectacle of political disagreement, of inefficiency allied to sectarianism, of frivolous irresponsibility that little by little is mutating into criminal negligence. Spanish politics is as destructive as the virus. A vaccine will come against the virus, and palliative treatments will improve, but there seems to be no remedy against the Spanish poison of low politics.

Scientists tell us that our country has greater vulnerabilities than others. Epidemiologists compare figures that place us at the forefront of Europe in sick, dead or infected health workers. International economic institutions warn us of a recession more serious than that of any other country in the European Union.

Our economy hadn't fallen that much since the Civil War. An entire generation has its future in suspense because it is not known if the schools will be able to continue open.

But the Spanish political class, the parties, the media that air their fights and their bravado, live in a kind of bubble in which there is no more attitude than aggressive boasting and the impulse to do harm, and they use empty vocabulary which only serves to further poison the collective atmosphere, to avoid responsibilities and to look for scapegoats to blame for all mistakes.

 It is the virus that does kill, but it would kill much less if incompetence, corruption and political patronage had not weakened public administrations for many years now,  expelling many capable people from them, sinking those who remained into discouragement, depriving them of the necessary resources that end up wasted in tricky privatizations or in sumptuous payrolls of parasites.

Good government and social justice need first of all an honest and efficient administration. The best intentions are shipwrecked in nothingness or nonsense if there are no effective and flexible structures and civil servants capable to keep them going.

An achievement as necessary as the minimum vital income is bogged down by the lack of resources of an overwhelmed administration. Spain is a country of loud speeches and official telephones that never answer, of countless advisers and health centres that lack sanitary  and even cleaning supplies, a country of political leaders who promise the paradise of independence or equality, and doctors who have to sign one-week or one-day contracts to survive.

The Community of Madrid has the highest rate of contagion in the world and its pompous vice president inaugurates a hydroalcoholic gel dispenser in a metro station.

One hundred and fifty top-ranking scientists publish a manifesto in The Lancet in which they request that Spanish administrations carry out a complete, rigorous and independent review of the management of the pandemic in our country. The manifesto appears at the beginning of August, when the contagion curve is already ascending: not a single institution echoes it; in mid-September, and only after a second even more alarmed manifesto is published, the Minister of Health proposes a meeting for scientists in October. It is obvious that there is no need to hurry.

Health workers gave their lives...

Doctors, nurses, cleaners, food delivery people, supermarket replenishers, police, military, nursing home caregivers, teachers, pharmacists: the number and quality of people who gave their lives doing essential jobs during the darkest days of confinement, they give us confidence in the strength of our country, more valuable still  because it is maintained despite a destructive and sterile political climate, in spite of a political class,in which there will undoubtedly be honest and capable people, but who as a whole In the daily reality of its operation, has become an obstacle not only for civilized coexistence, but for the very sustainability of the country, for the survival of the institutions and the norms of democracy. 

Old flags
The fact is not only that they are incompetent or irresponsible every day in managing the problems that overwhelm us, but that they are also actively engaged in aggravating them, in preventing any form of constructive agreement, and very often in creating others that only exist because they have invented them, in order to add fuel to the fire of the daily quarrel.

They live so locked in their interests that they do not have the ability to speak generously and eloquently to the common citizens they represent and from which they live. They speak in public and only speak to their own. By damaging the adversary they are able to sabotage what would be beneficial to the majority. Instead of public debate, exchange of ideas, or the search for best practices, they prefer the poisonous circus of social networks, which are the toy and the showcase to which they have all joined.

Nobody remembers any more, but a year ago we had to repeat elections, because the parties most favoured by the citizenry in the previous April elections were unable to reach a government pact and this forced us to a long term with no government of which we were only beginning to leave in a fragile way when the pandemic broke out and put it in front of us, without excuse, all the fragilities that have dragged on for many years due to the negligence and incapacity of our political class.

  Then towards the beginning of March it seemed that the brutal weight of reality would force a degree of good sense, a sense of responsibility,  between the leaders and the parties similar to that of the citizens who, from one day to the next, changed their habits and abided by the confinement.  The same as the health workers and public servants who, often in really hard conditions, exercised quiet heroism for months.

It was so obvious what we needed that it seemed impossible that great pacts were not forged to achieve it. But I remember that in the darkest days the Spanish right was as scary in its destructive fury as the coronavirus, and it was perfectly in cahoots with that other fundamentalist right that seems to some to be left-wing just because it declares itself anti-Spanish. (....)

 I honestly do not know what normal citizens can do, those not infected with hatred, those of us who would like to see political life governed by the same principles of pragmatism and harmony by which almost everyone is guided in daily life. We put on the mask, we keep our distance, we go out little, we wash our hands, we do our work the best we can. If we don't do something else, these people are going to sink us all.

Dark perspectives ahead


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