Rita Barbera dies of a heart attack in Madrid hotel

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© By mercedesalonso via Wikimedia Commons
Rita Barbera.

RITA BARBERA, ex-mayor of Valencia and current senator, passed away early this morning (Wednesday November 23) after suffering from a heart attack.

Barbera, 68, was staying in the Villa Real hotel in Madrid, which is located only metres away from the Congress of Deputies. Emergency Services 112 received a phone call around 7am that a woman was going into cardiorespiratory arrest. Paramedics went to the hotel and tried to resuscitate Barbera for 30 minutes, but were ultimately unsuccessful.

President Marino Rajoy quickly took to Twitter to offer his condolences and claimed that he had spoken with Barbera recently. Several PP representatives have gone to the hotel, including Ministry of the Interior Ignacio Zoido, who refrained from making a statement. Meanwhile, President of the Congress of Deputies, Ana Pastor, asked for a minute of silence in the wake of Barbera’s passing.

Left-wing party Unidos Podemos elected not to participate in the tribute, however, refusing to honour the ex-mayor over her “trajectory marked by corruption.”

Party leader, Pablo Iglesias, said that it was “terrible” for someone to die but added: “Perhaps it would make more sense for us in this Chamber to pay homage to the victims of energy poverty or corruption.”

Barbera was a PP mainstay and a point of reference for the party, particularly in the city of Valencia, where she served as mayor for almost 25 years, between 1991 and 2015. Several months ago, she chose to leave the PP and become an independent senator, although she maintained strong ties to the party.  

In recent times she had been accused of money laundering in the highly-publicised Operation Taula corruption case. She had given a statement in the Supreme Court as recently as Monday November 21 as part of this ongoing investigation, which revolves around alleged illegal banking operations that were taking place among PP representatives on the Valencia City Council. Barbera denied having had any knowledge of the alleged illicit dealings and had repeatedly proclaimed her innocence.

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