The minutes of the Interterritorial Councils in which important decisions were made during the pandemic – the ban on traveling, moving around at Christmas or Easter, the hours of the hotel business or, later, vaccination – remain secret for a year and a half after the health crisis started. Also four months after the minister, Carolina Darias , promised to send them to the regional councilors , who for now have not been able to read the documents either.
The minutes of the Interterritorial Councils are on the way to becoming one of the great mysteries of the pandemic. These are 76 documents in which, until last June, the conversations between the successive Ministers of Health – first Salvador Illa and later Carolina Darias – and the councilors during the worst moments of the pandemic. Later there have been more Interterritorial Councils, but for the moment the autonomies hope to at least be able to access the minutes that they were promised four months ago.
The Ministers of Health and Territorial Policy, Carolina Darias and Miquel Iceta, in the Interterritorial Council.
They have not seen them yet and, therefore, they have not been able to give their approval or make comments for the Ministry to definitively approve them. Until this happens, Health claims that it cannot make them public so that citizens can have a more detailed knowledge of what happened in those meetings. This is the explanation that the Ministry gave 20 minutes in a response through the Government Transparency Portal, the way it requested them, without success, in the spring of last year.
“During the year 2020 and 2021, no ordinary session has been held for urgent reasons, so it has not been possible to approve them “, was the justification for not facilitating them.
Send them to the communities
This situation could have come unstuck on June 30, when Darias and the Health Councilors met in the Senate at the first ordinary meeting of the Interterritorial Council since 2019. For the first time, the meeting’s agenda went far beyond the pandemic and was thickened by up to 12 discussion points. One of them had to do with ” the reading and approval, where appropriate,” of the first 69 minutes , since this meeting was the first occasion to formally approve them.
It did not happen that way. Instead, it was agreed that the Ministry would send them to the Health Councils earlier so that the councilors could read them and, where appropriate, amend them. Then they would go back to Health and be approved. The councilors did not find the idea a bad idea, to round off some documents that would enclose “the history of the pandemic” , as pointed out by the councilor of Castilla y León, Verónica Casado. Nor was the Community of Madrid dissatisfied , one of the most critical of Health in these meetings and that already warned then that surely would want to introduce modifications.
However, none of this has happened yet. There is no “history of the pandemic”, nor have the communities – most of which have their own minutes, taken by the councilors themselves or by their staff on the other side of the ‘zoom’ video calls – have been able to ask for changes to Health, for the simple reason that still they have not yet left the Ministry’s headquarters, located on the Paseo del Prado in Madrid.
In all this time, the Ministry of Health has downplayed the content of these documents. More recently, the department of Darias has refused to explain when the minutes are being prepared or their transfer to the communities.
There are councilors who have not given up their efforts and who do not stop claiming them, meeting after meeting, from Darias. One of the last responses that the minister gave to these requirements was that the delivery will take place at the next Interterritorial Council to be held in person, a meeting that currently has no date.
Meanwhile, the communities are forming their own theories about why Health has not delivered , four months, documents to which the Ministry downplays. Among the hypotheses is that perhaps not enough notes were taken at the time and there are no minutes, or that the sessions of the Interterritorial Council were simply recorded and that they still have not had time to transcribe what was said in those meetings. Be that as it may, the history of the pandemic remains unwritten and unavailable to citizens.