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A political whirlwind

Both feared and admired by her allies and opponents, Isabel Carrasco had a passion for politics

The politician, who was shot dead on Monday, was never afraid to face up to criticism

Foto de archivo de Isabel Carrasco.
Foto de archivo de Isabel Carrasco. EFE

Isabel Carrasco was a political whirlwind; a bundle of energy. On a personal level, she was accessible but forceful. Her public statements were often untimely, and were used to batter her opponents. But despite all of that, the head of the León Provincial Council had her faithful followers.

Born in 1955 in Campo y Santibáñez, a municipality close to the city of León, she never stopped measuring herself against anyone who tried to outshine her – or anyone who got up her nose; or anyone who told her what she didn’t want to hear. But even those who criticized her described her as “very smart.” Those who had praise for her would often say that “she couldn’t be stopped by anyone or anything.”

Isabel Carrasco was shot dead on Monday between her home and the headquarters of the Popular Party. She was headed to one of the offices that she occupied, given her role as the head of the provincial branch of the party. She was in the midst of preparing for elections, something that was providing her with plenty of motivation.

Politics was her passion, and she entered into that world in 1987 thanks to future prime minister José María Aznar

Carrasco had a degree in law from the University of Valladolid, although her subsequent career was more focused on finance and tax. She was lecturer in tax law at the University of León, a tax inspector and an auditor. Her true passion, however, was politics. She entered that world in 1987 thanks to José María Aznar, who at the time was the regional premier in the Castilla y León region, but would later become prime minister. After occupying a regional government role until 1991, she returned to the Tax Agency as an inspector.

Sources who prefer to remain anonymous say it was then that she began to accumulate political power. Via her position at the Tax Agency, she got to know many of the major business leaders in the region, mainly in León.

In 1995 she returned to regional politics, and became the first woman to head up the economy and tax department. There she made many friends and many enemies, both personal and political. Her attitude and her approach with colleagues and consultants meant that she lost many of them in a short amount of time, as a result of either resignations or sackings. But that was Isabelita, as many of her party colleagues from Valladolid referred to her.

She spent eight years in that role, before she was named as a senator for the PP. But Carrasco enjoyed the frontline of politics, the day-to-day activity, rubbing shoulders with voters and with opponents. In 2007, she returned to León, as head of the Provincial Council and the provincial branch of the Popular Party.

In 2011, she gained notoriety as “the politician with 12 jobs,” after the opposition Socialist Party denounced the fact that she was simultaneously occupying roles in 12 areas: the Provincial Council; the León Airport Authority; the Culture Institute of León; the Provincial Tourist Board; savings bank Caja España and related companies; the Caja España assembly; León City Council; and Gersul, the provincial waste-management consortium.

Sources say that it was when she worked as a tax inspector that she began to accumulate political power

In January 2013 she was named as an official suspect in a case involving the misappropriation of public funds, related to travel expenses as well as the use of her official car to attend meetings at a savings bank. She denied any wrongdoing.

Her boldness knew no bounds. If she was criticized in León, days later she would appear there to present or inaugurate new public works. She was once attacked in the municipality of Bembibre for supposedly misspending funds destined for the struggling mines in the area, but that ended up going towards repairing damaged roads. But she was not afraid to turn up there, show her face, and weather the criticism.

Carrasco was a woman with a huge amount of character. She was impetuous and “far too” vehement, according to a former councilor in León, who would rather remain anonymous. Because the memory of the fear she could inspire persists. Fear of her reactions, fear of how she could be. Isabel Carrasco was like that: a whirlwind, a bundle of energy…

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