"In just two hours the whole town had seen the video"

News teams from around the country have descended on this community of 6,400 people after the private video was made available online

Olvido Hormigos at last Thursday's council meeting in Los Yébenes
Olvido Hormigos at last Thursday's council meeting in Los YébenesBernardo Pérez (EL PAÍS)

Los Yébenes had never seen anything like it. Last week, news teams from around the country descended on this close-knit community of 6,400 people close to the historic city of Toledo to cover the council meeting that was set to discuss, among other matters, the resignation of Olvido Hormigos, following the posting online of a homemade video featuring the councilor in intimate poses.

Vans with satellite dishes transmitting the story blocked the road outside the town hall, while reporters paced up and down, practicing their lines in front of camera, and a root system of cables running into the building made getting inside the building a hazard.

At the same time, watching from the terrace tables outside the several bars on the town's main square were groups of local people, all busily engaged in debate as to whether Olvido Hormigos should step down, or stand her ground and remain a local representative for the Socialist Party.

It had been a long week, but eventually, the councilor had decided that she would not resign.

How can this have harmed anybody? I am the victim here"

"I have thought long and hard about this matter, and I have decided that I am not going to stand down. There are a great many worse things going on in politics at the moment, and at the end of the day, I have not done anything wrong, nor committed any crime. How can this have harmed anybody? I am the victim here," she later told EL PAÍS of her decision to stay on.

Hormigos says that she still has no idea how the video she filmed of herself on her cellphone ended up on the internet, where it has since seen by virtually everybody in her community.

"My phone hasn't been stolen. To be honest, I do not know how this happened. All I know is that it was being shown via WhatsApp, and that in two hours, the whole town had seen it, along with neighboring villages."

That was on August 8. For the following weeks, Hormigos was the subject of intense scrutiny that eventually began to die down. Then, last Wednesday, it was picked up as a trending topic by a number of social networks.

The worst thing is the chat rooms - people have said really horrible things"

Hormigos says that an email was sent from the town hall with a copy of the video. "How do I know that? Because the message, which was dated August 13, was also received two days later by a friend of mine, who warned me."

The mayor of Los Yébenes, the Popular Party's Pedro Acevedo, has refused to comment on the accusation, and has instead issued a statement "strenuously denying" the town council's involvement in the affair. Speaking to EL PAÍS earlier last week, Acevedo expressed his support for Hormigos, saying she should be "left in peace."

Hormigos says that the affair has affected her family. "We are overcome by all this. But we will have to deal with it, and get over it," she told EL PAÍS after deciding not to resign.

On Monday of last week Hormigos had decided to resign, saying that she could no longer handle the pressure. But two days later, on Wednesday, with the social networks filling up with messages of support, among them many from politicians from her own, and other, parties, she decided not to step down.

"I am very grateful for all these messages of support," she said. Elena Valenciano, the Socialist Party's deputy leader, gave her backing, using Twitter, although she did not get in touch with Hormigos personally. Hormigos says that nobody from the party has approached her personally to discuss the matter.

She adds that she has been "frightened" by the power of social networks to set a public agenda.

"The social networks are very dangerous. The whole thing had pretty much been forgotten in Los Yébenes. People have better things to think about. The response from most people was simply that these kinds of things happen and that the best thing to do was to just carry on. The most unpleasant side of all this has been the internet, and the chat rooms - people have said some really horrible things."

As for her political career, some observers say that as soon as the cameras have moved on, she may find that she will be quietly asked to step aside. Others say that once the public spotlight is removed, life will return to normal.

At 8.30pm, Olvido Hormigos entered the council chamber. She seemed serious, but held her head high as she pushed through the mêlée of journalists, local people and fellow councilors. The scene was reminiscent of a trial. But Hormigos was not about to be tried; she was simply attending a council meeting due to discuss budget cuts, and land disputes.

But outside in the real world, she still faces the court of public opinion.

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