The political pressure was unbearable. He couldn’t bear it anymore so he took the step that he had rejected only hours before: resignation.

Murcia’s Minister of Health, Manuel Villegas, handed in his resignation on Wednesday following the controversy he caused within the Murcian Health Service (SMS) for receiving vaccine against covid-19, despite it being against the protocol of the Ministry of Health

The news, which was revealed on Tuesday by the newspaper La Verdad, provoked a cascade of criticism and created a crisis within the regional government, whose Ciudadanos spokesman was the first to call for the resignation of the head of Health.

Shortly after it became known, the Ministry of Health issued a statement saying “The health management team is an essential part of our ability to control of the pandemic, they are on our front line so it is eminently sensible that they are vaccinated. The manager himself is an essential part of the team,” following which, on Wednesday morning, the minister stated quite clearly that he would not resign.

However, as criticism began to mount, and media coverage became national rather than regional, despite the fact that Villegas is a cardiologist himself, it became clear that he was unhappy with the undue pressure he felt he was placing on the Regional government so much so, that in the late afternoon, he spoke to President Fernando López Miras, informing him of his decision to resign.

As he appeared at the San Esteban Palace to announce his resignation he was clearly upset. Trembling, and on the verge of tears, the minister thanked the president for the opportunity to participate in politics. “Believe me, I would have liked to leave with the pandemic over, but with so much criticism it’s impossible,” he said, his voice barely holding up.

Standing by his side, Murcia’s leader said, “I am accompanied by a good person and a good friend who has just resigned. It is my turn to say goodbye to an admirable man and an extraordinary person”. He described the director’s management as “exemplary and faultless”.


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