Ten days ago, when the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, crossed the Puerta del Sol to meet with the president of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, it was crystal clear that, despite the gravity of the public health situation in the Spanish capital, the tenant of the Spanish government palace was becoming complicit in a great act of political escapism. The choreography prepared for the occasion, with the dazzling presentation of 24 Spanish and Madrid regional flags, distracted from Sánchez's incompetence in the matter and the danger that lay in Ayuso's show, with the risk of exporting the virus to the whole Iberian Peninsula out of irresponsibility. Today we are in a worse state than we were then, as Madrid continues to present grave statistics - very grave in fact - and it has also been demonstrated once again that spectacles are useful for theatre performances and not for politics: Ayuso ambushed the Spanish health minister Salvador Illa, having reached an agreement with him the previous evening but then refusing to put Madrid into confinement and put a stop to the spread of the virus.
In my editorial yesterday I mentioned this: the Madrid problem cannot be addressed as a Spanish problem. Café para todos* - the idea of the same treatment for every part of Spain - is an insult to those who have made headway in a situation like that of Madrid's by applying measures that are difficult, sometimes even misunderstood, but effective. The minister Illa tried to cajole Ayuso with a Spanish nationalist packaging that would address the problem by elevating it to national level. Thus, a series of measures were adopted that were to be applied uniformly across all cities with population of over 100,000 and which met three requirements: a cumulative 14-day incidence of more than 500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, a percentage of positive PCR results above 10% of total tests and a level of intensive care bed occupancy by Covid patients of over 35%. Ayuso seemed to buy Illa's plan as she could thus impose her narrative that it was not a solution exclusively for Madrid but one for all of Spain. But she knocked over the playing board when she realised the trick: which cities meet these levels? Only the capital and nine other municipalities in the Community of Madrid. No others.
In the end, two governments accustomed to throwing curve-balls have come face to face: llla saying he will impose lockdown and Ayuso rebelling against the measures and assuring that what the Spanish government is proposing is legally invalid. And in the middle, we, people from well beyond Madrid, who have supported our own government when it has had to adopt lockdown measures, significant in some cases, milder in others, in municipalities like Lleida, Igualada, l'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Viladecans, Sant Boi, Cornellà, Sant Just Desvern, Sant Joan Despí and Esplugues, watch as this farcical performance is acted out. Because Sánchez's café para todos is an impossible route which Catalonia is right to reject, for two reasons: for one, the Spanish government has no authority in this matter and, secondly, the Catalan government adopted significant measures in a situation less complicated than the levels established in the new rules, and obviously when its indicators were in better shape than those of the Spanish capital currently.
The way they are all playing games with the health of the people is nauseating. I cannot find a gentler word for such a serious situation.
*Translator's note: café para todos - literally, "coffee for everybody" - is, at face value, an instruction to a waiter which simplifies the process of taking orders from a large and demanding group. It is famous as a metaphor for the process of creating the Spanish state of autonomous communities in the 1970s, when the response to the varying demands of the communities was simplification: imposing the idea that everybody had to receive the same treatment.