“Because of who we are, more is asked of us. Sometimes it is hard, heavy, and being a woman of humble origin, some adversaries have allowed themselves licenses that they would not be allowed with others ”. The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau (46 years old) believes it, who in six years managing the City Council has lived the you process, a terrorist attack on La Rambla and now the pandemic.
Question. Barcelona has shown an understanding with the Generalitat during the pandemic. What do you think when you see the situation in Madrid?
Answer. A pandemic requires that all public administrations row together because we are in a health emergency. Citizens do not understand when partisan interests or confrontations such as the one being led by the Madrid Government are put forward. It is not what people expect of us.
P. Catalonia has taken one of the most drastic measures with the closure of bars and restaurants.
R. We are in a health emergency and the speed of contagion must be contained. I am not going to question, but I do demand equally drastic measures to support this sector, so that it is not a victim. They are not to blame and there are thousands of jobs.
Of course I don’t like Jersey fences, I don’t think they are the best element to intervene in public space
P. Have you had to bite your tongue before the independence government and its measures?
R. Discrepancies occur and more in a new situation like this, The question is with what attitude they face. First you have to try to solve them from discrete and collaborative work. Publicly, when the competent authority during the state of alarm is the central government and now it is the autonomous communities, we have to go to one. People are suffering enough with what has happened; the last thing he can understand is that differences are not resolved and used as a throwing weapon. We with the Generalitat had discrepancies with the residences, but we offered help because they were our elderly.
P. It is surprising that the country with the worst results is unable to overcome that confrontation, in a government in which you are.
R. I do not think that tension has been shared by all Administrations equally. We are facing a radicalized right that does not accept that there is a progressive coalition government and that uses the health crisis to try to erode it. That seems immoral to me. The government is doing very good policies, which can always be done better; I ask for more things. It has shown a social sensitivity that has not been had in previous crises. I am concerned about the role of the PP: I see a [Pablo] Married with a complexion with Vox and a PP dragged by his strategy.
P. He came to the mayor’s office almost six years ago with the banner of fighting inequalities and guaranteeing access to housing, but the situation is getting worse. Was your promises lacking in realism?
R. I am proud that the Barcelona City Council is the public Administration of the entire State that is doing more housing policy: in quantity, in budget that is allocated and in innovation. We do it alone, the Generalitat has abdicated.
I demand equally drastic measures to support bars and restaurants
P. It had an anti-tourism era. Now Barcelona is empty. Did those policies put us at a disadvantage?
R. We have never been anti-tourism. We said that we came to save the economy of the city, in clear danger due to excessive dependence on tourism. Other neighborhoods have better resisted this crisis, the center has been less resilient and must change to a more mixed model, with new economic activity, such as the technology center in the Post Office building, or the pending reforms of La Rambla or Vía Laietana . Now we must accelerate that process in which we were already in order for the model to be sustainable. It was not realistic to think that only by promoting tourism would be the goose that laid the golden eggs forever. We all knew it.
P. With tactical urbanism, he has managed to have half the city angry with the paint and elements in the streets. Is it temporary?
R. When changes are made, controversy is generated, welcome is the debate. But you have to distinguish the transformations. There are ambitious and structural changes that we were already promoting in sustainable mobility, to gain space that cannot be reversed. All European cities do it because the levels of pollution and noise are unsustainable and it is necessary to gain space for life. The example is the superblock model. Another change is to protect schools with pacified environments. With the pandemic and the lack of public space, tactical urban planning has been used, but it is not definitive. Are the Jersey cement fences that nobody likes going to stay? Obviously not.
P. You don’t like Jersey fences?
R. Of course I don’t like them, I don’t think they are the best element to intervene in public space. They were the available and the safest. In a second phase it will become more beautiful.
P. He has always spoken of two terms. Will there be a third?
R. It is true that I considered a temporality, but we have had an exceptional time. We had a series of projects that have been difficult for them to start because we have lived the you process, an attack on La Rambla and now the pandemic. I do not rule out, if necessary, accompanying a third term because the important thing about the commitment is that the program of transformation of Barcelona towards a more sustainable, fair and democratic city and a leader in social innovation, can be materialized.
P. Do the votes of Manuel Valls continue to weigh on his investiture?
R. It was not desired. Now, I do not regret having legitimately defended my aspiration as a political formation. We had the right to run for mayor so that the project to transform Barcelona is not an anecdote in the history books, but a confirmation that politics could be done in a different way.