Some health workers in Spain are getting hate messages despite broad support for their work
“CONTAGIOUS RAT” read the message in large black letters painted on the side of Dr. Silvana Bonino’s car. The Barcelona gynecologist was shocked to find the hateful graffiti in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and she quickly filed a complaint with the Catalan regional police.
It didn’t take long for the police to identify a suspect, a man whom they put under investigation for an alleged hate crime, said a Catalan police spokesperson.
“We monitor social networks to prevent violence,” against health care workers, the police spokesperson said. “We can only take the complaints and act on them. Beyond this, there’s not much we can do.”
It’s hardly any comfort for some of Spain’s doctors who’ve received hate messages from neighbors who fear they are more liable to be infected from Covid-19, because of the doctors’ work with patients.
A spokesperson for Dr. Bonino’s private practice at the IDONA clinic said, “At this point, Dr. Bonino would just like to move on with her life.”
Elsewhere in Spain, the climate of suspicion came even closer to home for Dr. Jesus Monllor Mendez, who found a note on his apartment front door, encouraging him to move out. This was in the small city of Ciudad Real, in the region of La Mancha, where the famed Don Quijote novel was set.
“We know of your good service in the hospital,” the note read, “but you must also think of the children and elderly who live in the building. There are other places you can stay. We urge you to consider this.”
Dr. Mendez said, “It made me sad, but I understood it as Covid-19 has done a lot of harm to our country. The lady who did this acted impulsively – I hold no resentment.”
But Dr. Mendez, considers these incidents “exceptional and rare. Outside of this, the response from my community has been extremely grateful,” he said. “The mayor even brought me a thank you note. Another neighbor left a poster on my door saying, ‘here lives a hero’.”
Remember: There has been overwhelming support for the health workers on Twitter and in the media in response to the hateful messages. Across Spain, at 8 p.m. local time daily, millions of Spaniards applaud from their balconies and windows to thank the nation’s health care workers for their front-line battle against coronavirus.