With the deafening background sound of the horn that was sounded by union members of the UGT and Workers’ Commissions from the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, but sheltered in the plenary hall by her husband, her two children and other relatives, Ana Belén Castejón said goodbye to the mayor’s office this Friday after four years. Excited to summon her own and the team of the mayor’s cabinet, the councilor expelled from the PSOE in 2019 for agreeing with PP and Citizens without permission from her party wanted to emphasize that this is “a point and followed” in his municipal trajectory, after the stage of coalition with MC, that of the government alone and that of the current ‘tripartite’.
«Two years ago I acquired a solid and unbreakable commitment to Cartagena, which I put before my own interests and it has cost me many troubles, so that Cartagena had the future it deserved and for which I will continue working, “he said in plenary session. In the communicated his resignation from the position, in accordance with the pact by which, as of this Saturday and until June 2023, It is relieved by the councilor of the PP Noelia Arroyo (from today acting mayor). As soon as the session ended, he lavished himself on hugs. In one of them, long merged with Arroyo. Like everyone present, both wore the corresponding mask for the pandemic.
In his speech, Castejón affirmed that in the second part of the mandate, where he will continue as councilor for Urban Planning in the Arroyo Executive – which this Saturday will be invested unless he does not obtain the votes of 14 councilors -, he will face important challenges. One will be the drafting of the new Municipal General Plan for Urban Planning.
Before a speech where Castejón cited Felipe González and Carme Chacón as socialist referents, the secretary general of the Plenary read the letter of resignation of the mayor. In it, she stressed that the government pact sought to “give stability to the municipality” and that she feels “especially proud of the management of the coronavirus.” Among the “greatest hits” since 2019, he mentioned the opening of the Roman Forum Museum, the excavation works of the Amphitheater, the unblocking of the Rambla Plan and the expansion of the Local Police staff.
Precisely, at the gates of the City Hall – where capacity was restricted to ten people due to the pandemic -, fifty off-duty local police officers and other municipal employees gathered with banners and whistles to demand the reactivation of the Agreement of Working Conditions of the Consistory. They demand the payment of 1.5 million euros in arrears to 1,400 officials and apply the salary increase agreed with Castejón before the elections. The increase was suspended in 2019 after several official reports on the unfeasibility of the expenditure compared to the income of the institution. To ensure safety, the square was guarded by municipal agents and the National Police.
The plenary kept a minute of silence in memory of Olivia, the 6-year-old girl allegedly murdered and thrown into the sea by her father in Tenerife; de Rocío, the 17-year-old girl who died at the hands of her boyfriend in Martín de la Jara (Seville); and Army Sergeant Rafael Gallart, 34, who lost his life in a parachute jump in La Manga.
There was no turn to speak for the opposition. MC councilors protested turning their back on the local government. However, throughout the day, the groups made their positions public. The Citizen Movement said that Castejón “has been the tool that the PP and its client network needed so that MC does not govern and be able to suffocate Cartagena.” The spokesman for MC and former mayors, José López, regretted that “no municipal project or strategy has advanced, while the City Council’s debt has increased without improving services. He cited «the General Plan, the ZAL, the AVE, the decontamination of the industrial belt of the city and the Sierra Minera, the recovery of heritage and mobility.
Reproaches of the opposition
United We Can IU Equo focused on the fact that, no matter how much Castejón presents himself as “progressive”, their policies “have little or nothing to do with those that a party would have made” of this kind. «This government owes more to the large concessionaires than to the citizens, as shown by the favorable treatment received by companies such as FCC [concesionaria del servicio de limpieza viaria y basuras] o Hydrogea [agua]», Said the mayor spokesperson, Leli García.
Pilar García, from Vox, stated that “if there was a formula to make citizens repel politicians and lose faith in us, that formula was found by Castejón and Arroyo: one for their ineptitude for absolutely everything they have managed and the another for agreeing with the same people who pardon, shake hands with the pro-ETAs and speak of various nations in Spain. Gonzalo Abad, expelled from Vox, did not speak.