“After what we have suffered these months, that this is his departure is absolutely unfair.” In the governing council of Murcia, the feeling is mourning. Everyone recognizes that there was no other way out for the head of Health, but they cannot hide their personal discomfort either. Manuel Villegas, a prestigious cardiologist in the region who entered the regional government in 2017, was vaccinated last week against the coronavirus. In total, 400 workers from his counseling did so, including his wife, hiding behind the fact that they belong to one of the groups that fight against the pandemic every day. Ended up presenting his resignation to the president, Fernando Lopez Miras, yesterday afternoon.That same morning, he appeared to apologize. Nothing else. He justified having given the first dose of Pfizer without qualifying for any privilege and defended that all the protocols were complied with, because he had already been vaccinated in nursing homes (and their workers) and first-line toilets in public and private centers. “He has done very badly. It’s a shame, because it has spoiled its own management, which has been very good ”, laments one of her colleagues in the cabinet.
Murcia has not had any controversy in more than 10 months of pandemic. He took measures quickly, asked to close borders when many autonomous communities still did not see him before the exodus of Madrid with second homes and managed to maintain the numbers of deaths in residences well below of the rest of autonomies. Probably because of that and because of the friendship relationship which has ended up uniting the counselor and the president, López Miras appeared on Wednesday afternoon recognizing that it was the most difficult intervention he had experienced so far “on a professional and personal level.”
Manolo, as they call him in the governing council, he resigned because there was no other way out. The national leadership of the PP was silent throughout the day and left the steps to follow in the hands of the autonomous community. In Genoa, they recognize that from the first moment “it was quite clear” what had happened and they consider that “The decision taken was the correct one”. Ciudadanos, partner of the coalition in Murcia, demanded the resignation of Villegas since he learned from the press of the vaccination scandal.
The former Health Councilor of the Community of Murcia Manuel Villegas. (EFE)
It was done by the party leader in the region, Ana Martínez Vidal, who is also the spokesperson for the regional executive. And also Inés Arrimadas publicly launched a very clear message: “There is no other possibility”. Orange party sources assure that there were no conversations between national leaderships, nor did they launch a ultimatum that put the continuity of the Government at risk. “It didn’t take that long”, they assure. But the order was decided. In fact, Ciudadanos will continue to ask that everything that happened be thoroughly investigated and will not settle for resignation.
“He had to go, he had no other choice. But the reality is that he has done a great job, despite how hard the year has been for him”, Explains another of his government colleagues. The Health Councilors of all the autonomous communities have suffered in their own flesh the management of a pandemic that devastated everything in 2020 and that has given a bad start to 2021. The figures speak for themselves. Murcia hasn’t had a break since August and its second wave has practically merged with the third.
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The Health Minister lost his brother, also a doctor, in the summer and his closest environment within the Government acknowledges that he has spent a few “very hard” months. “And despite that, it hasn’t stopped. He is hardworking, serious, delivered. It has nothing to do with the image of a shameless politician who takes advantage of his position, ”they insist.
A message very similar to the one that President López Miras tried to launch with his appearance. “It has been an example of delivery, of work. For him there are no holidays, nor weekdays. His management has been exemplary and his performance has been impeccable, “the popular leader went on to say, without hinting at a single reproach for misconduct with vaccines. “I’m not going to get into the political game,” he repeated, trying to shelve the matter and without going into criticizing the actions of the council.
“The president was devastated”, say members of the Government who spoke with him during the day. He did not attend the Assembly to attend the appearance of the Minister of Health. The rest of the cabinet did. But then the calls and the messages came. The decision was made “even if it did not deserve it”, they repeated. There was no other way.