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Alejandro Lecumberri

Alejandro Lecumberri, student 1st year Philosophy, Politics & Economics,
reflects on the current government's skill in the period of quarantine and the Spanish social conscience
quarantine period and the Spanish social conscience destined to flourish (someday).


Kano Eino, Birds and Flowers of Spring and Summer
Edo period, latter half of 17th century (fragment)

If only a few months ago someone had proposed a status like the one we are living today, it would be labeled as something out of a movie. Locked in our homes? Fined for going out in the streets? No university? Hospitals overflowing? It would certainly seem to be an idea of minds sympathetic to the idea of an apocalyptic future.

However, this previously unimaginable status has allowed us to contemplate the fragility of the purely human world. As nature takes its course... here we are! Watching as our experience of reality seems to collapse like a house of cards.

The above sentence may be somewhat alarmist. I apologize. If there is one thing that characterizes our species, it is resilience: there has not been a single moment in our history in which human beings have not known how to project themselves into the future and recover after a catastrophe. We will experience an economic crisis -some say an unprecedented one- and then everything will return to normal... As it has always happened. 

And, indeed, we are already recovering. At least emotionally. Although the issue of contagions continues to increase -at a slower pace, of course-, the general attitude is very positive: the joy of our people is visible in the streets crowded with passers-by. I was the first one who could not help smiling. Coming out after 48 days was a very emotional experience. 

It would be nice to do a little reflection. I believe that the vital attitude of many of us has grown with the rhythm of spring. In winter, we shut ourselves in. But while we were at home, the green of the trees and parks began to sprout. And when we finally go out, the cities open their arms to us, full of life, color and the most pleasant aromas. They welcome us! 

Contemplating this joy, I have reaffirmed that the human being as a species has almost always known how to adapt to adversity. In recent times, at least in Europe, it has been thanks to the solidarity characteristic of our western society. A solidarity of which we have all been a part: we only have to look out of the window at 8 pm to see a whole nation united in support of our health professionals. 

This very "spring-like" value is deeply rooted in the spirit of our country, and like others must materialize in consensus and partnership through the political institutions that represent the will of the people and their values

For the same reason, the governments of almost all the countries of the world -to a greater or lesser extent- had turned to the defense of life against the invisible evil that came upon us. They had manifested themselves as society's faithful shield... And what happened to Spain?

At the beginning of the confinement, I found it surprising that, being one of the countries with the strictest measures, Spain was ranked issue eight in the world in terms of the proportion of contagions. The most affected countries were the so-called "microstates": Vatican City, Andorra, San Marino, Luxembourg, Iceland, Faroe Islands and Gibraltar, in order. Then, in eighth place, was Spain: second in terms of issue total number of infections, issue total number of deaths (after Italy) and deaths as a proportion of the total number of inhabitants...

It is sad to think that, being a country that boasts a public, universal and quality healthcare system, we were among the highest in terms of issue of infections and also deaths. Today, little has changed, and it is true that the figures are already in writing. The goal now is to face an organized de-escalation.

Even so, I find it hard to understand the reason for this status. At no time do I lose faith in Spanish healthcare, nor should I: I have been a participant in the vocation and commitment of our healthcare professionals since I was a child, within my own family. The attitude of our professionals has always been exemplary, and their exemplarity is being multiplied during this healthcare crisis. 

Nor do I think it is a problem of resources. Of course, any crisis involves a whole chain of minimum causes, among which there is always one that stands out the most. In this case, many of us will agree with agreement that it has been a problem of management on the part of our government. 

From the very beginning his response seemed insufficientThe pandemic: action was taken late, drastically underestimating the seriousness of the consequences, even though the extent of the pandemic in other countries was well known. Mass demonstrations were allowed and political events were organized at a time when the World Health Organization was stressing the importance of taking preventive measures. Unfortunately, these events reveal a selfish attitude, prioritizing political and partisan interests over the health of citizens.  

There is another fact that is also unfortunate. Some political leaders, who should be an example of conduct for the institutional position they hold, showed symptoms of contagion days after attending these events and demonstrations. This is the face of our people before the world...

There is also a discussion about the consequences of the centralization of sanitary material. The goal of this measure was to ensure that all the necessary protective equipment was available at available.

I have first-hand knowledge of a very revealing case: a private clinic in Navarra took the individual initiative -even before the state of alarm was declared- to acquire the necessary materials to face this health crisis. It worked day and night to obtain the supply of materials. When the government made the decision to centralize, these materials were requisitioned and held in customs for 10 days.

We are faced with huge quantities of medical equipment delayed by centralization measures or held up in customs due to bureaucratic problems. This is still a problem today: we are faced with defective and in many cases insufficient tests. And, moreover, without being able to carry out general tests

The individual, or at least regional, initiative proves to be more effective. Each region knows its particular needs. It seems that centralization fails to respond efficiently to the general demand for equipment. It even seems to hinder distribution.

By all this, I do not mean that our politicians in charge are criminals, as has been claimed by certain groups on civil service examination. No one deliberately seeks to respond badly to a crisis status. I believe it is simply a problem of incompetence. And if this has been their response to the health crisis, I deeply fear for the consequences of the impending economic crisis.

The Economics is based on the confidence of citizens. If there is no confidence in the idea of a better future, consumption and investment levels will fall: this is the problem of uncertainty.

It is therefore difficult for the average citizen to trust a government that has shown that it is not up to the task. Added to this is the multitude of populist slogans of our vice-president aimed at dealing with this health crisis. In addition to infringing on the freedom of citizens, populist measures "Venezuelan style" do not usually bring positive consequences for the Economics: in fact, they often lead to misery.

On the other hand, the public deficit is soaring. At the same time that economic activity has almost completely stopped - which makes tax collection impossible - the State must pay billions of euros in ERTEs, unemployment, healthcare, etc. There is no income, but the public expense continues to increase.

Another added problem that arises when trying to break this destructive dynamic is indebtedness. In times of crisis and uncertainty, economic transactions, the main source source of tax revenues, decrease drastically. If the government is not able to raise the necessary money, it must go into debt. 

Ruling out the possibility of bankruptcy, the only way to refund the borrowed money is by means of cutbacks, decreasing the public expense . However, here we are confronted with a problem that affects the very sense of existence of the parties that govern us. How will the Socialist Party decrease the public expense ? How can Pablo Iglesias, advocate of a universal salary and abundance, cut pensions, health or Education? Will they be able to deny the core of their statement of core values in favor of the people? And what will be left of them then? It seems that we are led by parties that are hardly capable of making the decision that our country needs.

We need to generate confidence in a better future, on the one hand, and accept status without resignation, on the other. We need to appeal to a political pact in which all positions are truly heard. 

We Spaniards must become aware that it is impossible to get out of a crisis of such magnitude without a heroic effort and staff. If we achieve a political pact that rejects the most radical positions and shows that it knows how to respond to crisis situations, confidence will increase along with peace for all.

That is why the participation of all moderate parties in decision making is necessary, with the support of the citizenry. From unity comes strength. Only in this way will they be able to offer the country what it needs: this was demonstrated in 2012, after possibly the worst economic recession in the history of our democracy. Despite harsh criticism from some political sectors and a large part of society, Spain grew, thanks to the measures adopted, at a rate well above the European average .

The principle is basic: you can't take from where there is none. With a skyrocketing public deficit, a skyrocketing debt, a lack of confidence and a systematic decrease in GDP, it is simply impossible to maintain the same standard of living. It is necessary to reduce the expense, especially in those places where it does not bring any added value to society. And knowing that thanks to this, in the near future, we will once again experience economic growth. This certainty will encourage consumption, and thus we will enter an upward economic dynamic. 

Spaniards have shown, united, that they are capable of resisting a health crisis. Spaniards have stayed at home in an act of social conscience. They have demonstrated their capacity for cohesion. It is time to leave behind particularism and face this crisis united. This is a message of acceptance. It is a sacrifice we must make for our country and our people, and it will not be in vain. And in the not so distant future, we will remember this crisis as another example of the resilience that characterizes us so much. And just as spring continues to bloom while our lives seem at a standstill, a better future will take shape within us and then manifest itself. Everything will return to normal... As it has always been. And I will be the first one who will not be able to avoid smiling.



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