The Popular Party mayor of Madrid, Ana Botella, reshuffled her city cabinet on Wednesday in line with her interpretation of the Madrid Arena tragedy, throwing out her all-powerful number two, Miguel Ángel Villanueva.
The decision relegates Villanueva — who had been singled out for his alleged links to the promoter of the Halloween night party at the venue, where five young women died in a human crush — to the lowly position of councilor.
To salvage some honor, Villanueva had the removal rebranded as a voluntary move. “I hope my resignation contributes to providing some much-needed serenity in a moment such as this,” he explained in a news conference.
At the same time, Botella demoted security chief Fátima Núñez by just a single notch — she will now head up the Carabanchel district — while Núñez’s boss, environment department head Antonio de Guindos, effectively escaped unscathed.
Núñez had been responsible for the municipal police and Samur emergency medical service, one of the most-criticized aspects of the city government’s response to the tragedy.
Meanwhile, De Guindos has received calls for his resignation for his role in the tragedy from both Socialist opposition leader Jaime Lissavetzky and the families of the victims. The families have even gone so far as to demand an official investigation into him. The public prosecutor has not ruled this out, but says it is still “premature.”
De Guindos, who is brother of Economy Minister Luis de Guindos, was, however, stripped of his responsibility for security, which Botella had placed under the aegis of the environment department to save costs after she became mayor at the end of 2011.
Lissavetzky and Union, Progress and Democracy councilor David Ortega demanded Botella “clarify and explain” her motives for Villanueva’s “dismissal or resignation,” and called on her to resign.