Olga Ruiz, new President of FACUA

The 50 delegates at FACUA's 4th Congress unanimously approved the candidacy of the former secretary general of the organisation, who takes over from its founder, Paco Sánchez Legrán.

Olga Ruiz, new President of FACUA

Olga Ruiz (Seville, 1968) is the new President of FACUA-Consumers in Action. The 50 delegates at the organisation's 4th National Congress, held this Saturday, unanimously voted for the candidacy led by the former Secretary General of FACUA, who takes over from its founder, Paco Sánchez Legrán (Seville, 1949).

"The consumerist struggle", said Ruiz in one of her addresses, "is the struggle for equality, against the excesses and unfairness of the market. The fight to demand and achieve public policies aimed at avoiding exclusion and inequality, guaranteeing consumer access to goods and services in conditions of non-discrimination".

The new President of FACUA has stated that she accepts "the enormous honour and challenge of being at the head of an organisation where collective leadership and independence from business and political powers will continue to be our hallmarks, those that Paco Sánchez Legrán embodied in the project and thanks to which we are today a strong, cohesive and useful project for society".

Rubén Sánchez will be the new Secretary General of FACUA. He had been Vice-President of the organisation since 2017. The Vice-Presidency will now be assumed by Miguel Ángel Serrano. The position of Treasurer will continue to be held by María Ángeles Ayerbe. The new Board of Directors has 21 members (10 women and 11 men).

Inauguration by the Minister Alberto Garzón

The Congress was opened by the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Alberto Garzón, who praised the "vital biography" of the founder of FACUA, in "defence not only of consumer rights but also of the working class as a whole and of democracy itself". A lathe mechanic by training, Paco Sánchez Legrán began his activism in defence of civil and political rights at the age of 17 and joined the ranks of the Unión de Juventudes Comunistas (Communist Youth Union, a communist political party) and Comisiones Obreras Juveniles (Youth Workers' Commissions, one of the two main Spanish unions). His fight for freedom and democracy led to his persecution, torture and imprisonment during Franco's dictatorship.

In his speech, the Minister stressed that "the existence of the new Ministry of Consumer Affairs responds to a historical demand from the consumer defence movement". Reviewing the actions carried out by his portfolio since the beginning of the legislature, Garzón valued "the commitment and loyalty of FACUA in the presentation of its demands to the Ministry" and recalled that the measures announced this week by Consumer Affairs to put an end to special rate phone numbers with 902 prefix fraud "respond to a historical demand of FACUA".

Farewell to Paco Sánchez Legrán

In his farewell speech, Sánchez Legrán quoted Spanish poet Antonio Machado, SouthAfrican civil rights activist and ex President Nelson Mandela, Spanish unionist Marcelino Camacho and guerrilla fighter Ernesto Che Guevara to ask the new leaders of FACUA to "continue fighting from hope, not bowing to any political or economic power, with independence and non-partisanship, but without being neutral in the face of injustice or ever giving up politics".

The outgoing President also had words for the women and men who accompanied him in the founding of the organisation in the early 1980s: "without their valuable contribution, the FACUA of 2020 would never have been possible". The veteran leader will continue to be involved in the project at the head of the FACUA Foundation for International Cooperation and Sustainable Consumption.

The Congress delegates endorsed FACUA's action programme for the next four years and its annual budgets, in addition to endorsing the balance sheet of activities and financial statements for the last financial year.

Following the approval of the Congress reports, FACUA will publish its 2019 Annual Report, as will each of its regional organisations following their corresponding affiliate assemblies, which also had to be suspended during the state of alarm. These will include, among other information, the balance sheets of the enquiries and complaints dealt with and the financial statements of each organisation.

FACUA closed 2019 with a total of 228,532 members. Of these, 154,859 were subscribers, 50,756 were fully paid-up affiliates and 22,917 were full members with at least one pending membership fee.

The income of FACUA and its regional organisations last year from ordinary membership fees was more than double what they received through public funding and agreements with public entities. The association's code of ethics establishes the refusal to receive money from private companies and political parties. The affiliates contributed 2,062,416 euros, compared to 1,003,409 euros of public money received for the implementation of actions to defend consumer rights: training, advice, promoting the improvement of legislation and anti-fraud actions.