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Sunday, September 20, 2020

An American officer and a Spanish doctor

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The numerous critics of how President Donald Trump is handling the current pandemic crisis, which by now has caused more than a quarter of a million infections in the USA alone, have another reason to cheer: the US Navy just removed Captain Brett Crozier, the commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt from his post. There are at least 100 confirmed coronavirus cases on the aircraft carrier currently anchored at a naval base in the Western Pacific island of Guam. Uninfected members of the ship’s more than 4,000 crew are now being quarantined at that former Spanish colony, annexed by the USA after the Spanish-American War of 1898. The territory’s governor granted them permission to stay as long as there would be no interaction with locals. Crozier had raised alarm about the accelerating outbreak aboard his ship, where his men were living in confined spaces, warning that sailors don’t need to die in peace times. His superiors accused him of creating the false impression that the American Navy was not responding accordingly to this emergency, and allegedly leaking a confidential letter to the San Francisco Chronicle.

This situation reminds me a lot of José Antonio Nieto, a Spanish doctor specialized in work medicine and former head of Spain’s Police Services for the Prevention of Occupational Risks, which interestingly enough included police coordination tasks during a sanitary crisis. Nieto was dismissed on March 14th 2020 by the Police Directorate General, also accused of leaking classified information to the public. Ironically enough, as early as January 24th he had recommended to buy masks, gloves and hidroalcoholic gel to protect the various security forces, especially those dealing with passengers arriving from China at the airports, and guarantee public services. The specialist also suggested to avoid agglomerations, but the left-wing Spanish government under Socialist Pedro Sánchez was unhappy with somebody raising what it considered unnecessary social alarm at that time and determined to go on with its original political agenda. It included a feminist demonstration in Madrid, attended by 120,000 people on March 8th, to celebrate International Women’s Day. Considering the catastrophic handling of this pandemic here in Spain, where almost 11,000 people have died so far, the unrepentant Left in power probably took the first chance to get rid of a whistle-blower. After what was most probably an internal misunderstanding regarding a document he didn’t consider merely a draft and passed it on, Nieto lost his job just three months before his retirement. Evil to him who evil thinks.

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