The 10 protagonists of the year in Spain

Music, cinema, theater, sport, everything has remained this year in the background by a pandemic that has left unexpected protagonists. This is how a 57-year-old epidemiologist with an overwhelming resume has come to see his image on mugs, T-shirts and street murals, to pose on a motorcycle and in a leather jacket or to become a television star and ‘caganer’ of the Catalan nativity scenes.

These are the ten characters of 2020 in Spain:


He is the face of the management of covid-19 as director of the Center for the Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies, where he was already with other governments and where he has already faced other crises, such as Ebola. The Spaniards have seen this Aragonese doctor day after day explaining the evolution of the coronavirus with a serene tone, his gray and wild hair and those wool sweaters unusual among politicians.

The media overexposure, with successes and errors, has earned him endless criticism from those who see him amortized and ask for his resignation, but also a multitude of followers, who flatter him as if he were a pop celebrity.

Simón, who did not get rid of contagion and isolation in March, defends the management of the pandemic and criticizes its politicization, has had to apologize to the nurses for unfortunate comments and admits that the doctors have the right to ask for their resignation. But he will remain in his post, until “his bosses” decide.


“We all, especially people with public responsibilities, have a duty to observe appropriate behavior, exemplary behavior.” “Fortunately, we live in the rule of law and any objectionable action must be judged and punished according to the law. Justice is equal for all.”

These are the words of Juan Carlos I on Christmas Eve 2011. At that time he was the head of state. A decade later, he is king emeritus, retired after the abdication of his son Felipe VI in 2014, and he hears those same statements about his behaviors. Because if historical events have accumulated in recent years, the current situation of those who played a decisive role in the Transition and the consolidation of democracy is one of them.

A king investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office, who has been out of Spain for five months, in the United Arab Emirates, who has had to regularize his debts with the Treasury and has been peppered by scandals that have put the Monarchy at the center of the political debate.

Once the mystery was cleared that Juan Carlos I did not return home for Christmas due to the pandemic, only his son’s Christmas Eve message remained. Felipe VI relegated the father to the background without naming him, and now some praise him and others criticize him for airing the matter like this: “The moral and ethical principles” oblige everyone “without exceptions” and are “above any consideration, of whatever nature, even personal or family “.


She reached the Presidency of the Community of Madrid promoted by the leader of the PP and in less than two years Isabel Díaz Ayuso has gone from being almost an unknown in national politics to leading the most critical opposition to Pedro Sánchez, sometimes ahead of Pablo Married, busy this year finding a place in the middle of his VOX and Cs competitors.

Opinions there are of everything. At 42, Ayuso is the “new muse of the Spanish right and the government’s black beast” for the French newspaper Le Figaro; Britain’s The Times called her “Iron Lady” – Margaret Thatcher’s nickname – and German magazine Stern called her “the Spanish Trump.”

To the international press and to the list of the 25 most influential Spaniards of 2020 from Forbes magazine -all women- Ayuso has arrived after months of clashes with the Sánchez government over health management, even in court. And it exhibits its model in Madrid as a bastion against the left and the independentistas.

Díaz Ayuso, who also spent the coronavirus isolated in a Madrid hotel, has dodged the controversial health crisis in controversy, from 8M to the Ifema field hospital, the funerals of the victims of the covid or the recent inauguration of his hospital for emergencies And, despite the controversies, no one rules out that it continues to gain ground.


That the Ministry of Health was the ‘Mary’ subject of the Government? Who said they had no powers? On January 13, the Secretary of Organization of the PSC Salvador Illa, whom some pointed to as a key in the negotiation with ERC that made the investiture of Sánchez possible, took office as Minister of Health after the tough negotiations between PSOE and Podemos, which rejected the first offer to occupy that portfolio.

Not even Illa should have been able to imagine what was coming. The new minister proposed to be faithful to the legacy of another Catalan socialist who held the position: Ernest Lluch, one of the ideologues of the Spanish health system, assassinated by ETA in 2000. But he ran into the pandemic.

And the black numbers of deaths and infections. And the single command in the alarm state. And the management of confinement and de-escalation in phases. And mobility restrictions and limitations. And the shortage of protective material. And the weaknesses of the health system. And the tests and PCRs. And the negotiations with the autonomous communities. And the appearances in Congress to render accounts. And the confrontations with the opposition. And the search for the vaccine …

Illa has received most of the criticism but she has also gained a charisma that many did not expect. A year later, he does not regret having taken on Sánchez’s job and confesses: “I have done the best I could.”


The rise in the minimum wage, the prohibition of dismissals for causes related to the coronavirus, the teleworking law or the ERTES – controversies included due to the delay in the payments of these aid – are some of the measures that have led to the front pages to the Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz, another of the women chosen by Forbes among the 25 most influential people in the country.

Until now, all these measures have been the result of pacts between the Government and social agents that were missed in previous years and that have come from the hand of a Galician, labor lawyer, with skills for negotiation, who is now the minister United We can best valued by citizens in the CIS despite the lack of control of unemployment.

Daughter of a historical trade unionist in Galicia, she was a member of the PCE and IU, a formation that she left a year ago and, according to her, not because she had aspirations in Podemos. What remains immovable is his closeness and loyalty to Pablo Iglesias, even though he came to United Podemos from a more red than purple side.


The name of the president of the General Council of the Judiciary may not be widely known, but Carlos Lesmes is this time the living representation of the disagreement between the government and the opposition. The governing body of the judges has been in office for two years due to the blocking of the negotiation between PSOE and PP. Or between Sánchez and Casado.

An anomaly that feeds both the reproaches to the parties for wanting to share out the Council positions and to Lesmes and the CGPJ for having made judicial appointments with the expired mandate; This fuels criticism, especially from Podemos, which repeatedly attacks the “judicial right.”

The CGPJ has also actively intervened in this tug of war with up to five statements. First, to reproach Podemos and Pablo Iglesias for questioning the impartiality and independence of the judiciary and, later, to ask the Government to, if their powers are cut, at least consult them.

Unusual and not very well received interventions in the Executive, which has already promoted a reform so that the CGPJ cannot appoint judges while it is in office, and which understands that, if it is a question of legislating, the Judiciary has little or nothing what to say.


The protagonist of ‘Patria’, a television adaptation of the novel by Fernando Aramburu, Bittori – played by actress Elena Irureta – is also already the image of a part of the history of Spain and of the wounds left by ETA, many still without healing.

The story of decades of terrorism, turned into what has been the series of the year for many, came surrounded by controversy from its promotional poster and the anger on social networks that preceded the broadcast.

But the audiovisual product was successful in the risk and responsibility of reflecting the pain of two Basque families, that of the victims and that of the executioners, and a social environment that on many occasions stigmatized and even expelled those who had suffered terrorist violence. .

Almost ten years after the end of the gang’s terrorist activity, the reconstruction of coexistence in Euskadi is a slow and complex job, made difficult by old political confrontations on behalf of ETA and its victims.

One more year, in 2020, the reproaches of the opposition, and of some illustrious socialist leaders, have sounded against the Government of Sánchez for crossing a line until now insurmountable and agreeing on the budgets with Bildu, a party that they continue to accuse of equidistance in the face of crimes of ETA.


Is Nadal the best tennis player of all time? The Mallorcan does not stop giving us reasons to answer yes.

In 2020 he has repeated it: he raised the Musketeers’ Cup again in Paris and is the only tennis player who has won the Roland Garros trophy 13 times. He did it against world number one, Serbian Novak Djokovic, and with that he equaled Roger Federer’s 20 Grand Slam.

But, above all, in a year cursed by the pandemic and with the security measures that the coronavirus has also imposed on sports, he was able to make us jump off the couch to celebrate his victory, almost as always.

From milestone to milestone, the 34-year-old Balearic tennis player has won 35 Master 1000 titles, 5 Davis Cups with Spain, and 2 gold medals at the Olympic Games. Add and follow.


The agony that the pandemic has imposed on leisure, shows, cinemas and theaters has been replaced with an overdose of series that have filled hours of virtual comments, such as “Veneno”, by Javier Ambrossi and Javier Calvo.

The heartbreaking story of Cristina Ortiz, La Veneno, a transsexual who later became a character in television late nights, has crossed borders. The visibility of transsexuality and the struggle of this group for their rights has earned the ‘Los Javis’ project a multitude of awards.

This has not prevented the harsh confrontations between different currents of the feminist movement, precisely because of the future legislation prepared by the Ministry of Equality to guarantee the rights of trans people, a law that will end pathologization and include gender self-determination.


Without being ten years old, she arrived in March in a boat to Gran Canaria without any family member or friend to accompany her. His mother had died, his father lived in France. Masse is the African girl who crossed the sea alone. I was living in the Ivory Coast until someone sent money to go to Europe. A man accompanied her to Morocco, where she spent time with a family who abused her. Until one night they put her on a boat.

His story went around the world and it is also a story of second chances. Now she has a host family, goes to school, speaks Spanish and has learned to read, write and add.

Masse is the symbol of the thousands of anonymous immigrants who have arrived in the Canary Islands in recent months, victims of a humanitarian crisis as serious as the health one.

Anonymous like all the true protagonists of the year: health workers, pharmacists, the elderly, caregivers, teachers, children, young people, cashiers, cleaners, those who have left … And so many and so many others. Goodbye 2020.


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