Miquel Iceta replaces José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes and will be the new Minister of Culture and Sports. Until now, the Minister of Territorial Policy will go on to deal with the problems of one of the sectors hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. When you enter your office in the Plaza del Rey, you will have the files on your table to immediately attend to the investment of European resilience funds. Uribes already acknowledged that in this matter he was “as disoriented” as the sector itself and that it lacked sufficient personnel to attend the calls for aid and a complete methodology.
José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes: “We are striking a balance between fighting the pandemic and ensuring that culture does not stop”
The new minister, with no experience in the sector but an outstanding negotiator, assumes a rickety portfolio after a year and a half of discredit. Iceta will have to regain the trust of the cultural industry, which never recognized Uribes as a committed representative, and resolve the Statute of the Artist. Pedro Sánchez repeats his profile and prefers a man of confidence in a divided Council of Ministers to an expert on the matter. Iceta’s political skills can be a reason for hope in the cultural sector to resolve, above all, with the Minister of Finance. They expect an effective and executive minister, with less rhetoric and more solutions.
Nobody expected Pedro Sánchez to call José Guirao, on the way to Moncloa, to give him the ” kisses and ciao” José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes arrived a year and a half ago at the Ministry of Culture and not a day has passed without the sector having missed the substitute. On the reasons for the appointment, each one explains his own version, but no one can explain it to him. Uribes was an alien grounded in the culture, who lacked the minimum knowledge and whose profile was not that of a manager either. Before briefly occupying the Government Delegation in Madrid, he had been director of the Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Institute and his longest-lasting position was the General Directorate of Support for Victims of Terrorism. He was used to representing, to inaugurating, to talking about human values, but not so much to managing.
In the Ministry of Culture, he had the firm conviction to prolong his hectic diplomatic agenda as could be seen before the coronavirus ended all plans. At the beginning of his mandate he was recognized and defined in public as the prime minister in attending the Feroz Film Awards. And he repeated it because he needed the cultural industries to believe in their abilities to defend their interests in the Council of Ministers. The sector was suspicious of the new team because the minister was not accompanied by people who made up for his deficiencies in these areas. Neither the cabinet director, Mónika Serrano, nor the undersecretary, Andrea Gavela, had the slightest knowledge of the needs of culture. The omens worsened with the rescue of Javier García Fernández, whom José Guirao forced to retire when he turned 70. The Ministry of Culture has managed to keep in touch with its constituents thanks to the general directors who served the industries, with Adriana Moscoso, Beatriz Navas, María José Gálvez, Lola Jiménez and Amaya de Miguel.
Guirao offered to explain the demands and the issues in progress on the day of the portfolio transfer, but Uribes did not respond to the favor. The first consequence of the crisis in the Ministry was not long in coming. Carmen Cervera took advantage of the change to break the agreement she had closed with Guirao and took Kill Muaby Gauguin. With the permission of García Fernández, Cervera managed to turn the painting into a hostage to close a 20-year rental negotiation in exchange for 120 million euros, the signing of which is delayed longer than the owner of the paintings expected.
But if José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes will be remembered for something at the head of the Ministry of Culture, it will be for the press conference in which he used a risky quote from Orson Welles: ” Life goes first and then cinema, but life, without cinema and without culture, it makes little sense and is not very human. ” The pandemic was going through its crudest moment and Uribes recalled that the priority was not culture. In fact, the first measures decreed by the Government to help the Spanish left out the cultural workers, who invited a blackout in networks against their management. Some called it a “tantrum,” but the truth is that he managed to get the sector to be attended to in his first demand: that the Minister of Finance, María Jesús Montero, join the meeting in which they would present the urgent requests. Months passed, measures were lacking and newspaper columnists wondered what happened to the Minister of Culture, while he paradoxically focused on events and inaugurations for the sector to see.
It is not remembered until this legislature a non-law proposal approved almost unanimously to demand a minister to work and resolve the Statute of the Artist. When the PNV demanded in Congress to stop delaying the solution, the minister had his days numbered.