"Everything on track for José Andrés's dinner at the Prado Museum". It is 1:30 a.m. on Friday, June 17, when Pedro Sánchez returns by car from the closing of the campaign in Seville and receives a message on the COM Sec application, a kind of restricted and secure WhatsApp with which they communicate in the Government . The sender is Francisco Martín, the Secretary General of the Presidency, a man almost invisible to the public and the media, but whom Moncloa defines as the "father" of the organization of the NATO summit that has given the president a of the greatest joys since he took office in 2018.
All the details have passed through his hands before receiving the approval of Sánchez, who has closely followed the preparations for what has been the event with which intends to relaunch the government. Twelve days after receiving that call from Washington in which a chef's collaborator confirmed his availability to offer a tasting of Spanish gastronomy to the leaders of NATO and the EU on the Paseo del Prado and at an affordable price for government contracts. The dinner ended up becoming the image of the Madrid summit, despite the fact that it had raised doubts among those responsible for the Prado.
"It was the worst speech of my life," said the chef after addressing the leaders, to whom he briefly presented the "Flavors of Madrid" menu and made a call, before the leaders of half the world, for solidarity and the importance of social organizations. He almost didn't get to pronounce it, because when Sánchez gave him the floor he wasn't in the room and they had to run to the kitchen for him.
José Andrés has ended up having a leading role in the three days of the summit. It was he, who has been in Ukraine in his humanitarian work, who called Francisco Martín to tell him that Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, wanted to have an aside with Sánchez. Moncloa decided that the prelude to dinner at the Prado Museum was a good time. The kyiv symphony orchestra also played there, a recital that left curious moments for those present such as the caresses to his granddaughters of a Joe Biden lost in the middle of the melee of leaders or to the president of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Layen , climb to one of the benches in the room to see the artists.
At the end, the director of the orchestra took the opportunity to tell his mayor that the musicians had not been paid for three months. “The mayor solved it right there and the next day they got paid”, Martín recovers, for elDiario.es, one of the moments that caused him the most emotion and that will not appear in the chronicles of the appointment.
The former Secretary General of NATO, Javier Solana, today, things of the treadmill of public office, president of the Prado Museum Foundation, also joined the discreet role. It was he who was in charge of receiving the leaders at street level, so that Sánchez could greet them already inside the rooms. “I was blown away by how they reacted. Everyone knew him, they picked him up, hugged him and he did all the walk with them. I had to act as Solana's stopper because we didn't have time. He told me: I can't be less, they are my friends, ”Martín comments on those difficulties to square a program that was measured to the millimeter.
For Madrid to have been the capital of Western countries for 72 hours required months of coordinated work involving various ministries and brainstorming to plan parallel activities where many people gave their opinion. Casa Real -which organized the dinner on the first night presided over by Felipe VI and Leticia Ortiz- turned to chef Paco Roncero-, the Community of Madrid and the City Council, Díaz Ayuso y Almeida, also made facilities in a kind of armistice with the Government de Sánchez, who has congratulated both by letter, as well as the Government delegate in the Region, Mercedes González.
The first preparatory talks date back to October when Martín, the Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albares, and Sánchez's chief of staff, Óscar López, took advantage of their presence at the Congress that the PSOE held in Valencia to discuss the issue, which has forced to retouch the organization chart of the Presidency of the Government or to approve a contract that would serve as an umbrella for the expenses of the summit, which will be around 40 million euros, of which 32 are for the rental of Ifema facilities. Sánchez will receive the nearly 100 people who have made up the Spanish task force this Monday as a sign of gratitude.
But there are more than 1,000 people, including workers, technicians or architects, who have participated in the construction of the summit spaces in which every detail has been closely scrutinized: from the decoration with paintings such as the emblematic ' The Embrace' with which the Government intends to convey a message of "coexistence in peace" or the placement of olive and lemon trees in the rooms (the orange trees were discarded because they bear fruit at this time of year) to the suitability and cleanliness of the toilets of leaders or journalists. Parallel to the dinner at the art gallery, for example, the headquarters of the Ministry of Social Rights, which is opposite, served for the catering of the nearly 500 workers of the delegations (security personnel, drivers, etc.).
Not only political and military program has caused headaches. Also, the design of the escort program has taken months of preparation. It was even thought that they would visit different parts of the Spanish geography, such as Catalonia, Galicia or Andalusia, but security and time saving reasons limited it to Madrid and surroundings. "We wanted there to be a common logic, we had to put Spain at the top and explain the country we want to be," the Secretary General of the Presidency now explains proudly. And that led them to receive the spouses in Chamartín, "a station under construction". "We explained to them the moment of transformation of the infrastructures of Spain and then they went on the latest AVE model to Segovia", he adds.
From there they went, seeing the landscape of the Sierra de Guadarrama, to La Granja, where the first attraction was the fountains. “They are a prodigy of hydraulic engineering, they work without a single electric pump,” this engineer (from Montes) recounts with enthusiasm, who now dedicates his full day to Sánchez, whom he joined in the 2017 primaries as head of the finances of the candidacy and that after his victory against the apparatus and the motion of censure against Rajoy, he was taken to the Moncloa cabinet in 2018. In La Granja, wives and husbands of the leaders, and even Biden's granddaughters, accompanied by Queen Letizia, They also visited the tapestry factory and the glass factory, where they saw how a bottle was made, which they later received in their respective hotel rooms. The plan also included visits to the Reina Sofía Museum or the Royal Theatre, olive oil tasting included.
The choice of itineraries in a besieged capital was not easy either. The US secret services visited the facilities several times until they approved the presence of Jill Biden, who left one of the unwritten anecdotes (until now) of the summit. The first lady met with Sánchez's wife, Begoña Gómez, on Monday afternoon. The White House team had asked Moncloa if she would exchange gifts and the answer was yes. Gómez had the idea of giving her some handmade espadrilles made in La Rioja with the intention that she would wear “brand Spain” the next day (the embassy informed them of Mrs. Biden's foot size on Friday night).
But once in Madrid, the White House announced that they had forgotten the gift for the wife of the Spanish president. There was no official exchange but Moncloa sent the slippers to the hotel anyway. After the talk, the American first lady went shopping on Claudio Coello street and bought some espadrilles that monopolized many minutes of television. The attentive viewer was able to verify that the ones worn by the first lady the next day were not the ones bought in the center of Madrid, but the ones that Moncloa had sent her. It was not an impediment for the store in the center of Madrid to run out of stock of the model that Jill Biden bought. Ten or twelve pairs, in one day, count the owners of the store, who continue to receive orders.
The one who did deliver his gift was Joe Biden. It is not known if the White House was aware of Sánchez's fondness for basketball, but the president gave him a ball from the Leather Head brand, a Naismith model (who was the inventor of that sport), sewn by hand, and with Biden's stamp and signature. He will undoubtedly have a prominent place in his collection, where he also has the one he recently asked the laureate Pau Gasol to sign for him. The socialist, for his part, gave Biden a shirt of the Spanish basketball team with 46, which is the number he occupies in the US presidency.
Beyond certain inconveniences for the people of Madrid due to the closed streets and some restaurants in the Plaza Mayor whose box was restricted because it became an improvised parking lot for dozens of official cars, the Government - at least the socialist part - celebrates the success of a summit that has even deserved the recognition of the PP. Without a single detainee or relevant incidents.
In Moncloa, those officials and senior officials who do not appear in the photos breathe a sigh of relief after having fulfilled Sánchez's demand when they began to plan everything: "We have to present the Spain we want to the world." At 1:30 in the morning, Martín, the man who coordinated everything that happened at the Atlantic Alliance meeting, closes the circle. “I was woken up by a message from a friend who has lived in Phoenix for years thanking me for how proud he was to be Spanish”, a reward for many weeks of dedication.
An oxygen ball for a government in low polls, which is already working on the State of the Nation Debate in mid-June and the tribute to the victims of the coronavirus immediately after.