Sánchez opens a gap with the autonomies due to the paralysis of the economy and accuses their leaders of cutting healthcare

If two months ago someone had told Pedro Sánchez that their main support among the regional presidents was going to be Quim Torra, they would not have believed it. It's happening. The third videoconference of the Prime Minister with regional policy makers recorded this on Sunday. Torra, next door. Lehendakari Urkullu, opposite. And that the tension accumulated during the meeting, in which the paralysis of the non-essential sectors of the economy was announced, caused the President of the Government to abruptly interrupt and even leave the President of the Generalitat with his word in his mouth. .

Different regional leaders accuse the Government of having broken the consensus bridges that were still standing, despite differences of opinion on how to deal with the crisis.

To the string of reproaches of the autonomies for the imposed "hibernation" of the economy, Sánchez responded by charging the communities for the cuts applied in recent years in health spending and the poor management of nursing homes. "Now he intends to throw the Prosecutor's Office on us as if he were trying to prosecute all of us for what happened in the centers for the elderly," complain from the Madrid government, where the Public Ministry has opened an investigation into the deaths registered in some nursing homes after the Minister of Defense, Margarita Robles, It should be noted that in some centers the Army had seen corpses sharing stay with residents.

"If there have been cuts it is because the State has not fulfilled the commitments it has made, it has not paid off the 2,500 million pending VAT on time and because the regional financing system is insufficient," defends one of the Socialist presidents who came out of the Sunday quote with the impression that the president "is overwhelmed, like all of us" and that his defense mechanism has begun to be "the attack".

Unlike other recent ones, this Sunday's controversy over the closure of the economy does not distinguish between political colors. But, all in all, what remained after the meeting is that if the virus does not understand borders, the regional presidents do. All of them impute to a greater or lesser extent the under-financing of hospitals and social services in their territories to the Government of Spain, to this and to the previous ones, for the repeated failures to renew a financing model that expired years ago.

Sánchez now has 17 open fronts. One for each autonomy. And the Basque Country, not Madrid as until now, led the protest this Sunday, although the unrest is unanimous. Both due to the ineffectiveness of the centralized material purchasing system and the delay in the COVID-19 rapid detection tests, but above all due to the sudden announcement of the paralysis of the economy, beyond essential services and industry auxiliary that supplies them.

The Lehendakari, Iñigo Urkullu, who is always accompanied by solemnity and consideration in his speeches, noted a deep unease for what he understood an intolerable "imposition", after the Government the same day that announced the cessation of activity , I guaranteed hours before that in no case that scenario was on the table. He did not like the ways of communicating the measure - without prior notice - nor the measure itself, since, in his opinion, when one asks for unity in the face of the crisis, one must comply with "reciprocal loyalty". And so he said to Sánchez, according to sources familiar with the content of the video call, after making him ugly that he had taken that decision instead of other "less damaging" and more "surgical precision" for the economy.

It was the third time that the autonomous presidents learned of the government's measures through a press conference. And none of them, except Torra –who congratulated Sánchez this time for the decision, just like the Murcian López Miras, from the PP– liked the fait accompli policy nor the excessive centralization in the management of the health crisis, when they are autonomous, several of those affected maintain, who have the sanitary competences and know much more than the Ministry of Health the operation of the hospitals and the whole sanitary system.

In fact, when the crisis began, it was the Basque Country and Madrid who led the adoption of decisions to control the outbreaks of the infected, against the criteria of the Sánchez government, although in public it was tried to say that everything had been agreed upon.

Urkullu, who until now had loyalty and unity of action, has exploded but so have Galician Núñez Feijóo and Valencian Ximo Puig. The three defended that each autonomy should have participated in the catalog of essential services according to the specificity of its own industries and its impact on the regional economy. And they also demanded to know the decree in question before its publication in the BOE. All this delayed the information that had to reach the affected citizens, who knew the content of the text shortly before midnight on Sunday when it was barely a few hours before their work day began. Up to five different drafts of the text will reach the communities.

The Government, point out from the Community of Madrid, forgot to include among the essential services "until the collection of garbage, which would have generated an added problem of sanitation in the next 10 days." In La Moncloa it was necessary to work against the clock until the publication of the decree, despite the fact that the decision was announced at a public appearance by Sánchez 24 hours earlier.

Feijóo, more weighted than Urkullu, was just as forceful in criticism, understanding that the restrictions will seriously damage the productive fabric. And even Andalusian Juan Manuel Moreno Bonilla, who had been in favor of greater confinement, lined up this Sunday with his Basque and Galician counterparts to request a reasonable "blackout" of economic activity. This thesis was also defended by Isabel Díaz Ayuso, the most critical with the lack of sanitary material. And Emiliano García Page, who distinguished between "stopping and starting" productive activity.

"The Moncloa has passed, since this crisis began, from asking us for help so that we defended that schools should not be closed to make decisions to adopt measures through order and command without explanations or compromises," says one of the regional presidents, who recalls also that Moncloa maintains in public that the autonomies can make purchases of material while "they send us circulars from Health saying the opposite". And most agree that the economic hole and decisions not agreed or consulted by the Government of Spain "will pit us against each other."


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