With so many civil servants having gone out of their way to keep providing citizens with government services during the pandemic, those who are letting down the side are even more conspicuous in their dereliction.
In the unsettling days of the second half of March 2020, no less, I still received a birth record posted on the 16th of the month, from a registry office in Asturias to which I had sent the request a few days before the entire country was put on lockdown. I fondly remember the small ray of hope its delivery represented amidst so much uncertainty.
And then there are... the others. I'm well aware that in many places, especially large cities, Civil Registry office staff were overwhelmed by the avalanche of recording duties the swelling death toll imposed upon them; in other cases, government agencies simply shut down altogether (I know of a certain office under the Ministry of Justice that only issued documents on one single day between mid-March 2020 and well into June). Almost simultaneously with the request mentioned above, on 10 March I requested a death certificate from the Civil Registry in Malaga city, providing the name and surname of the deceased and the exact date of his death; all from a source of the utmost credibility, his military pension file, the deceased having been an officer. I naïvely assumed that the "New Normal" trumpeted by the government as beginning 21 June would extended to all branches of the civil service and that I would in due course receive the certificate.
What I received at the end of July 2020 was a photocopied form letter summarily dismissing my request. The letter itself is a poorly written hotchpotch of negatives, in the spirit of piling one refusal on top of another, and implies that Judge María Dolores Moreno-Torres Sánchez ordered the Registry not to process any requests 'for genealogical purposes' at all, until further notice. OK, I thought, "new normal" will take a little longer to reach some areas than others. I shuffled this request on to the back burner, more waves of the pandemic came and went, and this April with the end of Spain's State of Emergency in sight - at least, in name - I came to the ridiculous conclusion that a further 9 months' gestation may finally have seen the Civil Registry of Malaga fit to send forth the requested certificate.
Wrong. Another request, another lightning-speed rejection, with an almost identical letter, but one which now makes it clear that they don't even bother to evaluate these requests, since I did NOT ask for a birth certificate (as their letter states) but rather a death certificate, I did NOT tell them why I was requesting it, and I did NOT lack sufficient details for the record to be located. Yet on the mere suspicion that the request may be for genealogical purposes, up pops their rejection form letter, as if incoming requests and outgoing rejections cross in some grotesque revolving door of bureaucratic disdain. Until when?
Given that the Order cited in their letter suggests that requests of this agency are not being evaluated on their individual merits but rather dismissed outright upon receipt, I might wonder if this could constitute prevarication; I'd hate to think it's something even worse, using the pandemic's dead as an excuse not to work.