Basque government criticised for mismanagement of Guggenheim

The PNV (the conservative Basque Nationalist Party) received serious criticism in the Basque parliament for the mistakes it made in managing the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. All groups in the parliament including one of its allies the EA party gave their backing to a report that places responsibility on the shoulders of the present minister for culture in the Basque parliament, Miren Azkarate. She is accused of lack of control, of endorsing decisions which went against the interests of the museum and of not paying enough attention to the management of public funds by employees and managers.

The conclusions of the investigative commission were approved by 48 votes with just 25 against. The report also points the finger at four politicians belonging to the PNV in the Basque government and the regional government of Vizcaya.

All the opposition parties in the Basque government, PSE, PP and EHAK except for Aralar, called for the resignation of Miren Azkarate who with the backing of Ibarretxe now occupies the positions of vicelehendakari (vice president).

The document also criticises the director of the Guggenheim, Juan Ignacio Vidarte, together with the director of finance for the museum, Roberto Cearsolo, for embezzling half a million euros and for the loss of 8.4 million euros in an operation which involved buying foreign currencies.

The PNV is likely to come in for more criticism because the management of public posts for the museum dedicated to the Basque designer, Cristóbal Balenciaga was the subject of a second investigative commission whose conclusions were discussed during yesterday’s sitting.