The Ombudsman, Ángel Gabilondo, has opened a ex officio action in response to Petition of the Citizen Support Initiative for People Affected by the Volcano of La Palma, which includes the five neighborhood and business associations that last December convened a concentration in Los Llanos de Aridane.
Between satisfaction and surprise at the promptness of the response, were some of those affected who lead this initiative, who have recalled that “despite the fact that weeks have passed since we sent the same document to all the administrations, we had only received answered the Deputy of the Common, but no politician”. Those affected are hopeful and believe that this can be a tool for reconstruction management to improve substantially and get them out of a situation of uncertainty in which, they say, many of the families continue to live in caravans, others with relatives and friends, while all the solidarity donations have not arrived, with more than 10 million euros in the case of the Cabildo, which, for the moment, has made the payment of 2.6 million euros according to a scale that took more than a month to be drafted and in force. The delay has attended, they have reiterated from the Cabildo, to the opening of the Single Registry that allows access to fiscal and socio-economic data of the victims.
Just two hours it took the Ombudsman, based in Madrid, to respond affirmatively to the demand for his intervention before the state, regional, insular and local administrations. They say from the Citizen Support Initiative of People Affected by the Volcano, that this intervention is essential “because one thing is those who legislate and make decisions, and others who are going to defend us; We can only feel great hope and welcome this as good news in this long wait for solutions”.
They explain that in the document “we have collected the demands raised after 117 days of catastrophe”, which they understand as “a disastrous management of the administrations, very far from the vital needs of those of us who are affected by the volcano”, and in a situation They say “it is causing a very serious social fracture on the island of La Palma that directly affects the dignity of the more than 7,000 people evacuated, as well as the hundreds of businesses and companies that are suffering the consequences.”
In a letter that they have also sent to the Ombudsman, they point out that “to this day there are still neighbors who sleep in garages and in caravans, older people without access to specific diets for ailments such as diabetes, young couples who have lost their home and work, who do not have the resources to feed their babies or the more than 12 million euros in donations that do not reach their recipients. They are what they come to describe as “serious irregularities that affect transparency and the democratic participation of those affected, in the reconstruction processes after the volcano.” What for the State and the regional Executive, Cabildo and municipalities is a transitory housing response while planning is adapted and works are carried out, for those affected it is a solution with “substandard housing that does not solve housing problems.”
Some of those affected have raised the possibility of going to court to claim the recovery of their homes and assets, because the Administration “had information on the risk maps and evidence of volcanic activity, it endorsed the projects and gave us the licenses and certificates of habitability, while we pay our taxes and now it seems that the patrimonial responsibility does not go with it, paying misery for the loss of the properties”.
Among the complaints, the abandonment of psychological care for those affected, after the contract of the 15 psychologists who provided assistance to more than 300 people and who have not been recovered, has ended, preventing the conclusion of the process of recovering from grief. and causing the suspension of all appointments. Despite the fact that the Administration has proposed that psychological care be transferred to the Health Department, those affected understand that it is a lack of respect for the users of the service, forcing them to change professionals and conditioning their recovery.
The funds that have been mobilized
Almost parallel to the response of the Ombudsman in Madrid, the Government delegate in the Canary Islands, Anselmo Pestana, presented a balance of data from the accountability report, including the response to emergencies and the millionaire investment that is arriving La Palma had a prominent place.
“The Executive has mobilized, in record time, aid and actions involving more than 440 million euros for the Island, of which 250 million have been used so far. Investments that have made it possible to take measures to alleviate the damage suffered and promote the reconstruction of the Island”, said Pestana. The creation of coordination and information exchange bodies, the Interministerial Commission for the Plan for the Reconstruction of La Palma and the Mixed Commission for the Reconstruction, Recovery and Support of the Island were some of the mentions of the coordination work of public administrations , among which are the activation of extraordinary measures for companies and workers affected by the volcanic eruption recorded in the Cumbre Vieja area, through Royal Decree-Law 18/2021, of September 28; urgent measures for job protection; economic recovery, and improvement of the labor market.
In addition, five million euros to meet essential expenses and 5.5 million for the purchase of homes, as well as 17.6 million euros in a subsidy to the Autonomous Community to finance a Plan for the recovery of the tourism sector and of support for small and medium-sized companies are part of the package of the 250 million euros mobilized, as well as another 500,000 euros in aid for the financing of preventive measures and care for victims of gender violence.
Likewise, it adds, an extraordinary financing is included for the Autonomous Community amounting to 500,000 euros for the basic provision of social services. And, adds Pestana, “reinforced systems of legal, notarial, judicial assistance and consultation in the property registry have been created to help those who have lost their homes due to the volcanic eruptions in La Palma”.
In a statement, it is noted that an item of 18.8 million euros has also been approved to alleviate the damage caused by the laundry and ashes in agricultural and livestock farms, as well as aid for the fishing sector affected by volcanic activity. . In addition, he continues, there will be fiscal measures through the reduction of the net yield indices in the Personal Income Tax and subsidies for obtaining guarantees, through the State Limited Agricultural Surety Company and another 63 million euros. to finance an Extraordinary Training and Employment Plan and the activation of the ERTE from which 1,382 people are benefiting and aid for 400 self-employed.
Palm tree tolerance disappears in the face of long-term solutions
The potential social exclusion by which thousands of families feel threatened and the manifestation of a social outbreak are the fears of some administrations that, despite having mobilized millionaire amounts for reconstruction, do not satisfy those who continue to live with relatives and in caravans , an option that they have preferred to the complexity of proving the payment of rents whose prices have skyrocketed in the Valley. The traditional social tolerance of the clappers in the face of delays and announcements of long-term actions is non-existent.