Tenerife man remanded in custody after his mother appears to starve to death

A Santa Cruz man has been remanded in custody, and his wife imputed (named as a formal suspect in an investigation), over the death of his 76-year-old mother who was found in filthy conditions and with appearances of having starved to death. Police and emergency services were called after a doctor had attended the poor woman in the family home in the Los Gladiolos area of the capital. He confirmed that at death she weighed just 25 kilos, and had multiple bedsores.

National Police say that the investigation is still ongoing and so there will be no further information at present, but social networks are full of comments from posters furious at the apparent neglect. I say “apparent” because Santa Cruz Ayuntamiento has now confirmed that the son approached them back in February begging for help with food for his mother and family, and they sent him to a food bank. In further recognition of the penurious state of the family, the costs of the funeral will be paid by the council, normal when local residents die destitute.

Back in 2009, then mayor Zerolo of Santa Cruz declared a municipal state of emergency due to the economic crisis (link): little has improved, and much worsened, since then, and as I regularly post HERE, for all the slight falls in unemployment figures over the past several months, over half of the unemployed have no income whatsoever because they have come to the end of their benefit and the government’s extra help. Many say that these people must have some income, and that they work on the black market, but in many cases the desperation and destitution these figures represent cannot be denied, as was the case in a post earlier this very month about a homeless British woman who died living rough in Santa Cruz (link).

For those in severe difficulties, do remember that Tenerife is now part of the national voluntary network of Hope Lines (Teléfono de la Esperanza), a telephone service aimed at providing immediate and free advice and support to people in crisis, whether through isolation or personal, family or social difficulties. It is based at 9, Calle Villalba Hervás, Santa Cruz, and includes a a technical director, a Clinical Psychology specialist, two group coordinators and five technical counsellors.  The free phoneline – 922 334 050 – is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for people in need: HERE is the national organization’s website.. There is also a free Samaritans helpline in English in Spain – 900 525 100.

For this family, desperation and destitution has already had a tragic and fatal result, and no doubt there will be much more said about the case in the weeks and months ahead.

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