22 January 2004
OVIEDO – The minister who was linked to the Spanish government’s much-criticised handling of the Prestige disaster has resigned, it was reported Thursday.
Francisco Alvarez-Cascos, 56, the Minister of Public Works and a former vice-president of the government, said he would not stand at the forthcoming general election in March.
Cascos, who was linked to the government´s heavily critcised handling of the Prestige tanker disaster, said he took the decision after falling out with Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar.
The Prestige tanker sank off the coast of Galicia in November 2002, leaking 70,000 tonnes of oil on to the nearby coast and causing an environmental disaster.
The government was attacked for not acting quickly enough and not taking proper control of the situation.
Cascos, whose colourful private life has been featured in many of the gossip magazines in Spain, was also criticised for the expensive but still unfinished high-speed rail link between Madrid and Barcelona.
Cascos is thought to have decided to resign after realising that he would not have any serious position in the government if prime ministerial candidate Mariano Rajoy returned the ruling conservative Popular Party to power.
Significantly, at a press conference called to announce his resignation, Cascos refused to take questions and asked that his private life be respected.
He has recently started a relationship with the owner of an art gallery, Maria Porto, after splitting up with his wife.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news