Neither the central government nor the regional governments can evade their responsibilities.
By Rubén Tzanoff
The “new normality” is a lie. The consequences are soon to be seen: Spain is the second country in the European Union where the infection rate has grown the most. In fact, they tripled in two weeks, with Catalonia, Aragon and the Basque Country being the most affected regions. We went from a centralized, authoritarian and inefficient state of alarm to decentralized, contradictory, confusing and insufficient autonomous measures. The outbreaks, still focused, contain the latent danger of a second wave of infections and deaths.
In the first wave, the PSOE-UP government tried to hide its slow reaction by arguing that the virus took them by surprise in a new and unknown situation. These were unacceptable excuses: Covid-19 had demonstrated its speed of expansion and dangerousness in China and Italy. The claim that there was “an exemplary health system for the world” was also proved to be a gigantic lie. It was made clear by the lack of health inputs, facilities, infrastructure and personnel, as a result of government cutbacks and privatization over decades. The deadly victims of Covid-19 are the sad result of the austerity ordered by the European Union.
They were quick to decree the beginning of the “new normality” in order to receive tourists and once again move the wheel of business profits.
The authorities warned of the possibility of a second wave, but did not act accordingly. They rushed to decree the beginning of the “new normality” to receive tourists and to move the wheel of business profits again. Social, cultural and sports activities were limited, but it is still mandatory to go to work in any condition, including non-essential activities. Moreover, according to data published in El País, Spain only has 3,500 contact tracers, when more than 8,000 would needed in order to control the epidemic, and the performance of PCR tests does not reach the level required to be decisive. The measures adopted are so partial that they did not prevent outbreaks.
At the time, government officials (JxCat-ERC) were correctly critical of Pedro Sánchez’s health management. However, now that the responsibility is in their hands, they are showing the same slowness and inefficiency. The confinement of Lleida came late and the measures for L’Hospitalet and Barcelona too, while in the Metropolitan Area, where contagion is advancing most rapidly, the confinement is only of a “suggestive” nature.
On the other hand, public health did not improve, as the reinforcement staff incorporated for the first wave was reduced. Regarding the trackers, they lost time and money in Ferrovial’s hiring, which was cancelled due to the protests, and now there are only a handful of trackers. The social aid measures, like those of the Spanish state government, are not enough. But they were quick to compensate the private health sector for its “efforts” during the pandemic. The population continues to pay the cost of the successive destruction of public health. In the Spanish state, those responsible were M. Rajoy (PP) and Pedro Sánchez (PSOE). In Catalonia, the initial and continuing culprits were Arthur Mas (CiU), Carles Puigdemont and Quim Torra (JxCat). There is terrible management of public health and there are no great differences between the bourgeois governments.
… liability being placed on the individual responsibility of the people, fundamentally on workers, immigrants, temporary workers and young people.
Shamefully, once again, liability is being placed on the individual responsibility of the people, fundamentally on working people, immigrants, temporary workers and young people. Of course individual care is important, but the focus is on correcting or failing to correct the actions taken by governments, which are primarily responsible for managing the pandemic.
The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, (In Comú Podem) has not acted any different, her central campaign was for the arrival of tourism and the revival of the City, almost as if nothing happened, that’s why she resists the lockdown.
The differences between the government of the Spanish state, the government of Catalonia and the autonomous regions are diluted in their bourgeois character, at the service of the interests of capital and profit. To a greater or lesser extent, all the parties they represent are responsible for the cuts made in healthcare, “wash their hands” of their responsibilities and avoid or delay lockdown for political convenience in the face of the population’s weariness of the situation, especially in the middle of summer.
A universal and free public health system is needed, and effective and forceful measures must be taken without ignoring social and democratic rights, without cuts, with an increase in the education budget. There is money to do so, by levying progressive taxes to the rich, among other emergency measures. Layoffs, such as those under way at Nissan, must be banned, the labour reform must be cancelled and life must be given priority over capitalist profits.