“If she starts making cookies, she will be number one making cookies.” They tell of Isabel Rodríguez that she is a tireless worker with a great sense of responsibility. That when something is proposed, it does not give up its efforts until it is achieved. They count of the new Minister of Territorial Policy what is an authentic “Political animal”. Which it always has been: since he distributed Socialist Youth sheets for towns in La Mancha at the age of 17, until today, where he has a seat on the Council of Ministers.

In between, Isabel Rodríguez has been a waitress, law student, councilor, senator, deputy, spokesperson for the Government of Castilla la Mancha and mayor of Puertollano (Ciudad Real). Their neighbors say that it was not uncommon to see the mayor’s office with the light on at nine or ten at night.

Outside of politics, Rodríguez is a wife and mother, the oldest of three sisters, a yoga fan and a great lover of reading and the outdoors. This is the story of one of the lesser-known faces of the renewed Government of Pedro Sánchez, who has appointed her as the new Government spokesperson. The position suits him like a glove, since no one has a single bad word for her.

The young activist

Isabel Rodríguez was born in the small town of Abenójar (Ciudad Real) on June 5, 1981, into a humble family. She is the eldest daughter of Isabel García and José Rodríguez, who ran for years a bar in the town called Step 2000 and that closed about two decades ago.

The young Isabel attended her first studies in the public school Our Lady of the Incarnation, where it was one more, without remarkably standing out. “She was a very normal girl, maybe a little restless”says a classmate who grew up with her. At the age of 15, he went from school to high school, already in Ciudad Real. In the IES AthenaIt was in the middle of his adolescence that his political vein woke up, and he never slept anymore.

At that time, Rodríguez joined the Socialist Youth and turned to local activism. “We did a newspaper and everything”remembers her close friend Pilar, companion of work in that company. “Maybe we would go to bed at 5 in the morning and at 7 we would take the car and go out there to hold a meeting or distribute the newspaper.” The header in question was called Progress, a recurring name in the Hispanic press.

Aerial view of Abenójar (Ciudad Real), Rodríguez’s hometown.

Abenójar City Council

“My boyfriend was the only one who had a license and he took us everywhere,” recalls Pilar, who currently works as a baker in the minister’s hometown and is married to her boyfriend at the time. The same happened to Rodríguez: in her time in the Youth she met the one who today is her husband and father of her two children, Ivan Molinero. He is a native of Puertollano, which is 30 kilometers from Abenójar and that led Rodríguez to settle there. But that was later.

Senator at age 22

After finishing high school, Rodríguez went to work as a waitress in her parents’ bar. This is how the law degree in Ciudad Real was paid. “She also received scholarships because she was very good,” recalls Pilar. Her future husband was also a classmate.

“Pilar, would you have imagined that I was going to become minister?”

“Back then, I never would have said.” But later yes.

Never has a neighbor of Abenójar, a small town of 1,300 inhabitants, reached so high in politics. His first milestone came in 2004. The same year that Rodríguez finished his degree, it was elected senator with only 22 years, which made her the youngest senator in democracy. She was there until 2007 and, the following year, she was appointed spokesperson for the Castilla la Mancha Community Board. She lasted three years in that position until the 2011 general elections, where she was included in the PSOE list for the Congress of Deputies and managed to be a deputy. Specifically, it occupied seat number 1403 of the hemicycle.

The sources consulted are not clear when exactly Rodríguez settled in Puertollano with her husband. What is clear is that in her time as a deputy she already lived in the mining town. Their children were also born there, at the Santa Bárbara hospital.

The minister on one of her many escapades to Mt.

The minister on one of her many escapades to Mt.


In the municipal elections of June 2019, Rodríguez was elected mayor of Puertollano with a vast majority. The town – one of the few industrial oases in La Mancha – has always been ruled by socialists since the end of the dictatorship. The result was not a surprise.

Rodríguez went in less than a month from occupying a seat to occupying the mayor of Puertollano. “She suited all of us and the city perfectly. We do not have the curriculum that she has, we are more normal, that we come from the private company or the administration ”, she says Ana Carmona, Councilor of the City Council and third on Rodríguez’s list to govern the municipality.

The task was not easy, for various reasons. Since the end of the 19th century, Puertollano has had one of the most important coalfields in Spain, which makes the city an enclave with an enormous mining tradition. Without going any further, one of the most famous elements of Puertollano is the Monument to the Miner, located on the hill of Santa Ana.

Monument to the Miner of Puertollano.

Monument to the Miner of Puertollano.

Puertollano City Council

Just one year before Rodríguez’s arrival to the Mayor’s Office, the Government approved Spain’s decarbonization plan, which forces Puertollano to an unprecedented reconversion. That herculean task fell directly on Rodríguez, who throughout his tenure has fought for the city to pass from being a benchmark in coal to being one in green hydrogen. This has been one of the pillars of his mandate and it will also be one of his successor, Adolfo Muñiz.

Another problem that Rodríguez has had to face is the high debt of the City Council. At the end of 2019, the outstanding debt (only banks and savings banks) of the Consistory was 53 million euros, as recorded in the budget execution reports, compliance with the adjustment plan and payment to suppliers presented by its own Government team. Rodríguez – pandemic through – managed to reduce this debt in 9.9 million euros throughout 2020 and place it at 43.1 million euros.

The third problem, logically, was the Covid-19 pandemic, which has greatly slowed down all the mayor’s plans and which led to an ERTE at the Repsol refinery, a fundamental pillar in the Puertollano economy. She herself suffered the virus attack at the beginning of the state of alarm. “At the end of March of last year she caught the Covid. We had a monitoring commission, when we were all confined. I can assure you that that follow-up commission did not miss a single day”Says councilor Ana Carmona.

“The disease did not attack her much but it did feel bad. I remember one day he called me at 9 or 10 at night and said: ‘Hey, I’m going to the ER, I can’t breathe.’ That was a moment of concern on everyone’s part. We were just beginning the pandemic without knowing very well what was happening. Well even then, it was there every day. We met telematically from Monday to Sunday at 8:30 in the morning ”.

Yogi and hiker

Carmona only has good words for the one who has been his boss until, as they say, the day before yesterday. The whole town, including her team, learned of her appointment as minister from the press. “If I had to define her with one word, I would say that she is a very hard-working person.” Well, that’s two words, but it is understood.

“She is very rigorous in all things. Take a topic and go deep into it. It is very thorough. She is so hard-working that sometimes it is difficult to keep up with her. That intensity often exhausted the rest of us ”, explains the councilor. This opinion is shared by the chief inspector of the Puertollano Local Police, Antonio Fernández. “When he sets goals, he focuses a lot on their achievement,” says the inspector, while defining Rodríguez as a person “Very humble, very simple and close.”

Rodríguez with Pedro Sánchez in October 2015.

Rodríguez with Pedro Sánchez in October 2015.


“Something that I admire a lot about her is that, wherever she is, she will do well because she has a lot of professionalism. If she starts making cookies, she will be number one making cookies, ”says Carmona, with whom Rodríguez has also shared yoga classes. “We have been around for a year or a year and a half. He likes a lot. Now I don’t know if he’s going to be able to do it. And he has a medium-high yoga. He is a very flexible person “, literally, of course.

The minister is also a voracious reader. The last book that has passed through his hands, according to Carmona, is Sira by María Dueñas when we have the information. “She gave me a copy on the day of the book and she gave another one to herself,” she recalls.

To top off the taste for healthy hobbies, Rodríguez is a great lover of the mountains. “He really likes being in contact with nature. She is a great walker. He likes hiking a lot. During the perimeter closure he made many routes. Sometimes alone, sometimes with me or with other colleagues ”.

Rodríguez reading a book by Miguel Hernández.

Rodríguez reading a book by Miguel Hernández.


The gap that Rodríguez has left in the Puertollano mayor’s office is large, in that the entire town agrees that, we remember, elected her by a large majority. “We have lost a great mayor, but we have won a great minister. He will be tireless in doing his job well”.

—And how is it that now Adolfo Muñiz, who was fourth on the list, has ended up as mayor?

—Well… that’s another topic…

Carmona avoids touching the only thorny issue that is addressed in this report: the succession of Rodríguez.

Noise of sabers?

The new mayor of Puertollano, Adolfo Muñiz, was sworn into office this Thursday, in a ceremony attended by his predecessor as well. But Muñiz was fourth on Rodríguez’s list. The second was Félix Calle and the third, the aforementioned councilor, Ana Carmona. Officially, these two people have resigned from the mayoralty in favor of Muñiz, but an opposition source assures that they have been pushed aside against their will. “If there has been no saber rattling, at least there has been tension,” sums up a veteran journalist from the municipality.

If there have been tensions, it has been from the inside. Looking at the gallery, Rodríguez’s succession has been a notorious event in Puertollano, held this Thursday in a municipal auditorium packed to the brim and with a lot of media presence. Muñiz has sworn the position assuring that he intends to follow Rodríguez’s line in the management of the municipality.

Family photo of the mayor's inauguration, with Muñiz and Rodríguez in the center.

Family photo of the mayor’s inauguration, with Muñiz and Rodríguez in the center.

Juanma Romero / EFE

The new mayor, 56 years old and born in León, has affirmed that he has the same will as his predecessor, who “always had on the horizon the institutional alliance that this town needs” and has reiterated his intention to continue on the path of “new impulse “that the former mayor started.

Muñiz inherits almost all the problems that Rodríguez received when he became mayor, with the difference of not having to govern during the worst moments of the pandemic. For his part, Rodríguez arrives at the central government in an unprecedented renewal of positions in the face of the remaining two years of the legislature in collapse. Will there also be light until late in your new office, at number 3 Paseo de la Castellana in Madrid?


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