Sunday, January 30, 2011


In my previous blog I wrote about the murder of 13-year-old girl, María Esther Jimenéz, in a small village I know well.

By a tragic coincidence a 28-year-old José María Caracuel also died in the village I call home just days later.

His death is the subject of an investigation and given the wild rumours and differing versions of events that are circulating it is best to leave any comment on that to after it has been concluded.

What is fact is that José María went to the health centre on the Friday afternoon to complain about the swelling in his leg. He was sent home with instructions by the duty doctor. Next day, the Saturday morning, he returned to the health centre still in great pain. The same doctor was on duty but was called away on an emergency. Before he could return José María died of a blood clot on his leg.

For any 28-year-old to die in such a fashion is a tragedy but especially when he was, I believe, the only person in his large family bringing in a salary.

On the Monday his funeral was held in the village’s cemetery but afterwards his family and friends gathered at the health centre in what can only be described as an ugly demonstration. Their anger and pain is understandable but cries of “assassins” aimed at the health centre staff were totally unacceptable and an assault on the building was only prevented by the presence of the Guardia Civil and local police.

Two other people at the demonstration were the mayor and one of his henchman councillors. I am reliably told by a journalist I trust that when the mayor saw the Europa Sur photographer and reporter he made himself scarce. Indeed he does not feature in the press photos.

Now it so happens that the mayor and his councillor for health had only a week or so before this tragedy met with the health authority to voice their fears over such a tragedy happening. They want an additional doctor as when, as in this instance, a medic is called away on an emergency there is no one on duty at the health centre. So in dreadful circumstances their fears had been proved true.

However, whilst to his credit the mayor attends the majority of funerals of his residents, his place at the health centre should not have been standing with the family but urging the crowd to disperse because the staff are bearing the brunt of the lack of personnel and need support not labelling assassins!

Yet this May there are elections for the town hall. The administration has been firmly PSOE but with the party’s slump nationally the PP, PA and IU all hope to win power or more seats. There is a lot at stake politically which brings us back to José María.

Whilst his family and friends have every right to vent their anger and protest the banners that have since appeared and the petitions in bars all bear the mark of political activists rather than the bereaved. It would seem politicians are at work and hope to benefit from José María’s death.

Meanwhile many in the village are rallying to the side of the doctor who has served them reliably for years. He knows he has enemies but till now didn’t realise just how many friends. The truth in the end will out and justice will be done. Whether another doctor is posted to the health centre remains to be seen. In the meantime those with political ambitions perform their own tragedy.

1 comment:

Prospero said...

As might be imagined, the local blog, TioJimeno, is overflowing with comments an articles about this unfortunate incident. Relatives and friends of the deceased write in with fury, spitting venom. The more reasonable, however, show their support for the doctor, who has not only worked in the village for about 15 years, but is also much appreciated as a decent man and a good physician, not least by local expats because he makes an effort to communicate in English.
The best of the comments on TioJimeno ( from one Alberto Gómez Corriente, who works at the health centre in administration.
One of the things Alberto says is that he witnessed the doctor doing his very best to attend to the patient after returning from another emergency outside the centre. Alberto also witnessed the doctor's despair when he came finally to realize that there was nothing further to do.
Since we last spoke, Sancho, a couple I know told me something I have no reason at all to disbelieve as they have known the young man who died since some time before he came to Jimena.
It turns out that José María (the deceased) sat with them having a coffee at the same bar you and I meet, and told them that he had been kicked playing football and his leg was very painful. Same leg, but two weeks before he died, and long before he went to the doctor.