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The statement from deputy prime minister Carmen Calvo that the Spanish government isn't ruling out fining the boat Open Arms for up to 900,000 euros (£800,000; $1 million), basing this high sanction on them not having permission to conduct rescues, has sparked a wave of indignation similar only to those caused by the leader of Lega Nord, deputy prime minister and interior minister, Matteo Salvini, in Italy every time he opens his mouth. Calvo, an expert in getting involved in all political scuffles, whether they call on her or not, has offered, whether she wanted to or not, an image of the Socialist government as being cruel and inhuman in a way that offends common sense and the values it continuously claims to defend.

After the Spanish government's pitiful management of the Open Arms crisis, trying to pass all responsibility on to the Italian government when it wasn't missing in action, something more was hoped of from the deputy prime minister. Not a quote which, looked at literally, legitimises letting the occupants of Open Arms die. Attitudes like this are those which give life to the xenophobia they claim to repudiate and merely confuses PSOE's rhetoric with that of PPCiudadanos and Vox. Maybe it's campaigning for a second general election and prepared to scrape votes from the right to get closer to its longed-for majority, but that doesn't make her words minimally acceptable.

A politician's biography is shaped by many factors, including the things they say that are stupid or slips of the tongue. So, Mariano Rajoy was pursued from 2002 by the remark that "a few small trickles that look like plasticine are coming out of the Prestige1"; José María Aznar is still reminded of when, in 1998, he said "I've personally authorised contacts with the Basque Movement for National Liberation"; José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero of his peculiar way of defending king Juan Carlos when he said: "I'm very comfortable and very calm because we've got a fairly republican king"; Ana Botella of her "relaxing cup of café con leche in plaza Mayor" when she was supporting Madrid's candidacy to host the 2020 Olympics; and Eduardo Zaplana that he said he had to get rich because he needed a lot of money to live. Calvo, who was only known for the side of her that's a negotiator who has as many failures as assignments, now has her phrase that will go down for posterity.

 

Translator's notes

1. The MV Prestige was an oil tanker that sank off the coast of Galicia in November 2002. For the quoted comment, then-deputy PM Rajoy was accused of downplaying the resulting spill.

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