Text in which the author defends ideas and reaches conclusions based on his / her interpretation of facts and data

Don't confuse them

The Gregorio Marañón hospital is like one of those science-fiction cities where a single building shelters a whole town

I have been visiting my father in the Gregorio Marañón hospital daily for a week. It is like one of those science-fiction cities where a single building shelters a whole town. These days, while we hear a government minister congratulating the police on the beating they gave to the demonstrators, and Madrid Mayor Ana Botella sourly remarking on the money it costs good Madrileños when the bad ones demonstrate, the hospital is facing budget cuts right and left: a sort of metaphor of the world outside.

I cannot adjust my experience of recent days to the space of this article. It would be impossible to compress everything into it. I think, for example, of the words of F., a small businessman who has ended up living in a municipal hostel. He abounds in praise of the chicken on the Hospital Marañón menu, which, he says with expert knowledge, is far better than that of the Hospital Clínico. I believe I don't need a notebook; memory will do. Someday our dialogues on chicken may find new life in a fiction for the stage, the best vehicle for tragicomedy.

But for this more prosaic space I have reserved another message. Spain has been in the international news of late. The description of the ongoing disaster is often limited to the action of the political class, in disregard of the workers who are bearing on their shoulders the heavy throne of the crisis. We often perceive, too, a scarcely dissembled irony about the workers of the South, with their fiestas and siestas, to be paid for by the steady workers and savers of the North.

But the writers of these pieces would do well to spend a few days in the Gregorio Marañón. A building that is busy, noisy, overpopulated, its furniture declining into a decrepitude reminiscent of the 1960s in Spain, often at the expense of its mere functionality. But in these corridors that have seen so many recoveries and terminal ends of the road, you watch cleaners, doctors, nurses, orderlies and other hospital personnel, working away with patient, steady efficiency, heedless of cutbacks in the hospital budget. Often the patients experience an upturn in the afternoon, with flourishes of color in the face, while healthcare personnel droop with fatigue as the day goes on. Sometimes you feel like asking a nurse to lie down for a while on a cot, bring her a glass of milk and lower the window shade.

Journalists would do well to spend a few days in the Gregorio Marañón, a building that is busy, noisy, overpopulated

But above all, you feel like crying to Heaven, calling on people not to confuse the political class, a high percentage of whom have been guilty of corrupt practices, favoring their own adherents and robbing the country, with this other class of people who with shrinking salaries do their best day by day, to keep people's lives afloat. This is not demagogy; it's just truth. Don't confuse one lot with the other. They live in the same country, but these don't deserve the others as compatriots. The clamor about the political class in Spain has to turn to a clamor against confusing the good with the bad. Now and then we hear a voice warning of the danger of demonizing the politicians, lest we be encouraging a comeback of the fascists who talk of "saving the country" from the mire of parliamentary politics. What should we do then - shut up and stay at home?

On the contrary, I think we have to point, time and again, to those workers who still supply to the rest of us the well-being that the politicians have robbed us of. Because they are the majority. They are underpaid and overworked. If they are young, they cannot plan on having children; if middle-aged, they will support their children until thirty or more; if about to retire, they know their old age will not be very long. You have to watch them at work, to perceive that this does not wear down their dedication. Why have we chosen the worst people to make important decisions? This is the great question.

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