“The mistakes that have been made are exclusively mine”

Defense Minister Margarita Robles has stated that the mistakes that may have been made in Operation Balmis against the coronavirus are “exclusively” her own, and she has attributed the successes to the Armed Forces, which will occupy a “very important place” when write the history of this pandemic.

Robles has appeared at his own request and by several parliamentary groups in the Defense Commission of Congress, where he has summarized the Army’s action in the fight against the virus and has assured that “the criticisms and defects” of what is done are for her.

“The errors that have occurred are exclusively mine. All the positive is theirs (the military); the negative that may have been is mine,” he reiterated.

The minister stressed that “in no case has there been any orientation of a political nature” in her actions and thanked the “hundreds of mayors” who have thanked her, as well as the “councilors of all the autonomous communities” with those who have spoken and felt unity. “Because this,” he said, “is not a political drama, it is a human drama.”

And he has especially mentioned the Barcelona City Council; to the Madrid president, Isabel Díaz Ayuso; and the Mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez Almeida, with whom, as he has said, he has worked very closely.

“This is the time for all political forces, beyond political criticism, which is good, reasonable and sensible in democracy, to work together as soon as possible. This virus we will all overcome together,” he said.

“When history is written, this history of the coronavirus, a very important place will be occupied by the men and women of our Armed Forces,” said the minister.

Robles has reported that throughout Operation Balmis the three armies and the UME, as well as the Royal Guard, have carried out around 17,000 actions in 2,800 locations, with an accumulated participation of 120,000 troops.

70% of these actions have been disinfections, especially in nursing homes. The military have intervened in some 4,000, which has highlighted, said Robles, that nursing homes are “a pending issue.” “When this happens, we will have to address how our elders are treated,” he added.

The military have transported sanitary material, food and furniture, as well as biological samples, patients and also deceased by land and air, the latter a mournful task in which Robles has highlighted the “exceptional behavior and treatment of mortal remains” of the victims by the UME and the Army.

“At all times this painful operation of the transfer of corpses has been done with the utmost dignity, the utmost respect, pretending that, even if their families were not there, they felt the love and respect,” he said.

As for those infected by the Armed Forces, according to the Minister in the Army, there are 1,250 soldiers affected by COVID-19, 1,057 of them doubtful and 193 diagnosed, which represents 2% of the members of this army.

In the Military Emergency Unit (UME), 3% of those infected have been counted out of its around 3,000 soldiers, while in the Navy there are 533 isolates, of which 49 are confirmed and 19 have required hospitalization.

Finally, the Air Force is where the least infected have occurred, a total of 84, although one of the three deceased soldiers is from this army, specifically a second lieutenant. The other two are a corporal in the Spanish Army and a member of the Defense labor staff, for whom Robles has had a special mention.


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