Bilbao (EFE).- Rodolfo Ares, a key man in Basque socialism since 1990, has died at the Basurto Hospital (Bilbao) at the age of 68.
Ares had been hospitalized for several days in a very serious condition due to complications that arose during treatment for a disease he had suffered for a long time.
The funeral chapel for Rodolfo Ares, 68, a widower with two children, will open tomorrow at the funeral home on Avenida Zumalacarregui, in Bilbao.
The death of the Bilbao politician has been mourned by Basque and Spanish socialists, and his figure has been remembered by the political class of Euskadi.
Sánchez highlights his courage against ETA
The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, for whom he directed his campaign in the general elections of December 2015, has referred to Ares as a “historic figure of Basque socialism, a public servant who worked courageously for the end of ETA and in favor of of peace, freedom and coexistence.
The Lehendakari, Iñigo Urkullu, stated that he “sought the best for the Basque Country” and “did essential work in the fight against terrorism, putting his own life at risk. The history of Basque socialism “cannot be understood without his contribution.”
This last idea has also been highlighted by leaders of the PSE-EE such as Eneko Andueza or Idoia Mendia.
“Euskadi and Spain will always be in debt” to him, said Patxi López, who had him as “number two” in the party and in the Basque Government.
Jesús Eguiguren, who formed a triumvirate with López and Ares, recalled that he had many differences with Ares – “he was orthodoxy and the man from Madrid in the Basque Country” – which now seem “nonsense” and that they decided to “forget” them last time they were together.
“We told each other that we have made our little history, that we had to be proud and we gave each other a hug,” he commented.
They have also reminded him of numerous other socialist leaders, from Ramón Jáuregui, Isabel Celaá, the current leaders of the PSE-EE, and some of those who were his closest collaborators.
From the Basque parties, the words of the heads of the PNV, EH Bildu and PP have stood out; Andoni Ortuzar, Arnaldo Otegi and Carlos Iturgaiz, respectively.
Ortuzar has said that Ares is a “historical reference” for Basque politics, “a ‘political animal’ wherever they exist. A true socialist, attached to the street and old-fashioned politics; a tough politician, but always willing to negotiate.
Otegi has indicated that he shared “dialogue and negotiation spaces with him for a while. Since the divergence, we maintained a frank dialogue.
Carlos Iturgaiz has commented that “Rodolfo left his mark on Basque politics and I will always remember him with affection.”
Rodolfo Ares led and controlled the PSE-EE for three decades, from the early 1990s until 2014, when he withdrew from the party leadership together with Patxi López, and was the Basque Interior Minister when ETA announced the end of terrorism.
He was the classic “number two” who controls a political party from the shadows and never runs for the position of leader; in fact, he was only head of the list at the beginning of his career, when he was a candidate for mayor of Bilbao.
In addition to being a perfect secretary of the Organization, Ares has stood out for his ability to work, which led him to be in charge of both executive tasks and electoral strategy, as well as dealing with small issues of administration and logistics.
Rodolfo Ares Taboada, born in Orense in June 1954 and resident since he was a child in Otxarkoaga, the socialist stronghold in Bilbao, joined the Socialist Party and UGT in 1977 and participated in the founding of the Otxarkoaga Socialist Group.
His leading role in the PSE began in 1990 -although he was already Secretary of Organization of Bizkaia with Ricardo García Damborenea- when he became Deputy Secretary General of the Biscay Socialists with Nicolás Redondo Terreros.
He was his closest collaborator, both in the PSE-EE of Bizkaia and from 1997 when he became General Secretariat of the Basque Socialists.
After the defeat by Ibarretxe of the constitutionalist bloc with Jaime Mayor Oreja’s PP, Ares formed a new majority with the Gipuzkoan socialists led by Jesús Eguiguren to change the policy of the PSE-EE and bring Patxi López to the general secretary, with whom he directed the PSE-EE until they both parted ways in 2014.
In 2009 he had his greatest success when directing the electoral campaign that led Patxi López to become Lehendakari and him to become Minister of the Interior.
the end of eta
From this position, he had a great relationship with the then Minister of the Interior, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, with whom he shared, along with Jesús Eguiguren, the direction and design of the conversations with the nationalist left that led to the end of ETA.
At an institutional level, his time at the Bilbao City Council is also notable, where he became deputy mayor.
He played a crucial role in the creation of the Bilbao-Ría 2000 joint venture with the State, in charge of the urban transformation of the Biscayan capital.
In the PSOE he was part of the Federal Executive between 2004 and 2009 with Zapatero and was one of the leaders closest to Pérez Rubalcaba.
With Pedro Sánchez, he was vice coordinator of the Electoral Committee in the December 2015 general election campaign and also participated in the June 2016 general election campaign. EFE