The story behind the shooting of politician Isabel Carrasco

The career of Montserrat Triana Martínez, whose mother admits to the killing, was progressing But then something went wrong in 2011, setting off a chain of events that led to Monday’s murder

Luis Gómez
Montserrat Triana Martínez (left) sitting next to Isabel Carrasco at León Provincial Council.
Montserrat Triana Martínez (left) sitting next to Isabel Carrasco at León Provincial Council.Mauricio Peña

The details about the working habits of Isabel Carrasco, the powerful Popular Party (PP) politician who was shot dead in León on Monday, will no doubt come to light when the mourning period ends and new local candidates emerge to fill some of the roles that she had occupied all by herself for years.

Because there was only one boss in León, and that was “La Carrasco.” To try to pass her murder off strictly as a matter of personal revenge is to be blind to the facts, as party sources admit when they try to explain the reasons for an assassination that has shaken the national political scene.

Everyone in the conservative PP was aware of what was going on in León, and the case of Montserrat Triana Martínez, the daughter of the self-confessed killer, would have normally gone down as just one more anecdote for internal party consumption. Martínez, a 35-year-old telecommunications engineer, wanted a professional and political career for herself under Carrasco’s protection. But something went wrong and she fell from grace, like so many others in the northern Spanish province.

It was La Carrasco, the head of the Provincial Council and leader of the León branch of the PP, who determined who did well and who did not in the area. There were no half-measures. She ruled over people’s destinies like a chess master moving pieces on a board, and expressed herself in the language of a trooper. Carrasco did not mince her words.

Carrasco ruled over people’s destinies in León like a chess master moving pieces on a board

Montserrat Triana joined the Provincial Council on a personal recommendation, occupying a temporary position in a technical capacity. She was qualified for the job thanks to her engineering degree from Cantabria University. It is unclear just how willing she was to accept the kind of submissive attitude that Carrasco demanded of her people, but for a while she was on her boss’s good side, resulting in a good salary, some extra jobs on the side and even a burgeoning political career: she became a card-carrying member of the PP and ran in local elections in Astorga in 2007. She was seventh on the party list and didn’t make it as a councilor by just one position, but nobody was to blame for that. She had taken the first step, and believed that sooner or later her time would come. Other party members say that Montserrat Triana was not a very open person, and that she had a strong character.

But at some point in 2011, something went wrong. No details have emerged yet to explain why the wind stopped blowing favorably. Carrasco used to impose technical decisions that not all civil servants were willing to follow or sign — the boss never signed anything herself, but rather forced others to sign her decisions for her.

However it happened, Montserrat Triana Martínez lost her job to another person with connections like herself. By chance, a councilor from Astorga, Andrés Mures, resigned over disagreements with the local party chief. His position would normally have been filled by the seventh person on the party list: Montserrat Triana Martínez.

But the position, strangely enough, remained vacant. The official excuse was that there was no rush to fill it because local elections were coming up again in three months. But the reality, and party sources in Astorga have confirmed this, is that Isabel Carrasco had issued specific orders not to let Montserrat Triana get the job.

The boss never put her signature to anything herself, but forced others to sign her decisions for her

In fact, her instructions went further: Montserrat Triana was to be barred from running again with the PP, ever. It was the end of her political career.

She was not the first one to suffer such a fate. Years earlier, Carlos Fernández Tejerina had undergone a similar experience. A deputy government delegate in Ibiza, one day he had the nerve to challenge Carrasco for the presidency of the León branch of the PP. In public, she called it an example of internal democracy. But all doors began closing for Tejerina, to the extent that he was denied access to membership lists. One day he showed up at party headquarters and demanded that he be allowed to send a fax to the regional PP authorities complaining about the treatment he was getting. His petition was rejected. Tejerina decided to remain where he was until they let him send the fax. He sat inside the building for over 24 hours, raised a ruckus, and had to clear the premises before the police showed up. He lost those elections, and a year-and-a-half later, when the episode had been forgotten, Tejerina and his supporters were ejected from the party.

In the case of Montserrat Triana Martínez, political death came with a subtle form of professional death as well. After being kicked out of the Provincial Council, no business or local government in the province wanted to hire her services anymore. But the council was not done with her yet: it demanded that she return certain amounts of money that she was apparently overpaid during the good times. Montserrat Triana’s request to be allowed to pay in instalments was not accepted. There was no mercy.

Thanks to Carrasco, Montserrat Triana was to be barred from ever running again with the PP

While the exact amount of money owed remains unclear, Montserrat Triana apparently began fearing that her apartment in León would be repossessed, and she fell into a depression, according to some party members. In any case, from 2011 onwards the local PP lost track of her.

Her departure coincided with the end of a court case over public examinations to fill auxiliary positions in the Council: it emerged that most of the 40 winning candidates were relatives of high-ranking officials, or members of the local PP. What’s more, these particular candidates had obtained extraordinarily high grades in the examination. But the judge ruled that there was no relevance to the fact that the winning candidates had personal and political ties to the PP.

The case of Montserrat Triana Martínez, which is a result of technical and political decisions, may appear as a minor episode in the internal life of a political party, but it has ultimately become a relevant story in León. It remains to be determined what the exact circumstances were that provided the arguments for the revenge.

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