Barcelona is a city of peace, of dialogue, of rights, of respect for plurality, but these days we have experienced moments of great tension, the most serious in recent years, which is why I am making the following statement:
The last few nights the city has experienced situations of great tension and violence and Barcelona does not deserve it:
We have seen great peaceful demonstrations, which are always welcome in the city, but at the same time we have seen fires in our streets and violent attitudes which must be condemned. And yesterday we proudly watched as many people shouted “we are people of peace”, calming the spirits and avoiding violence. In the name of the city I want to thank these brave people.
What worries me most these days are the wounded people and especially the 7 people who are in a serious or very serious state, of which a national police officer in a very serious state and a girl in a critical state. From here I want to send all the support to their families and I hope they recover well soon.
We also know that among the seriously injured several people have lost sight of an eye, injuries most likely caused by rubber bullets, a material that had been discontinued in Catalonia, precisely to prevent these types of injuries. I ask that the protocols that have been used in the use of this material be reviewed and that the appropriate investigations be opened.
We have also seen how journalists who did their job were repressed, and how a journalist who was perfectly accredited was even arrested, a very serious fact. The right to information and freedom of the press must be guaranteed, guaranteeing the safety of information professionals.
Yesterday we heard the interior minister state that the police have a monopoly on the use of force, that they have acted proportionally and that the images and complaints that have been made about cases of police malpractice are all false. I am the first one that during the whole week I have recognized the difficulty in which the police task has had to be developed and that generalizations cannot be made. But precisely because the minister is right and in a democratic state the police exercises the monopoly of force, we must be exemplary and we must not be afraid to investigate possible cases of malpractice.
It is in the most difficult moments that the best in the whole world has to come out. We all have a lot to contribute to get out of this situation. First and foremost the political and institutional leaders, also the media, the entities and all the citizens.
As mayor, I ask that we take care of Barcelona. Its diversity. Its tradition of vindication, defence of rights and freedoms and dialogue.
I would like to pay special tribute to all the municipal workers who are making efforts these days far beyond what is required: urban guard, cleaning, firefighters, mobility, care services (CUESB). Professionals who have understood the exceptional situation and who day after day and night after night work to take care of our neighbors and our city and to make that, in spite of living through very difficult moments, the city after a few hours returns to work. From the bottom of my heart, thank you very much.
These days, many neighbours, merchants and entities of all kinds turn to the City Council asking how they can help. Barcelona has in its form to be this collective spirit of solidarity and cooperation that appears in the difficult moments. It is a source of pride to be mayor of a city that never abandons these principles and this way of doing things.
Let me also stress that we have to listen to what young people are saying these days. Not to criminalise, to know how to separate what are violent attitudes from what is a very serious, deep malaise, which comes from the frustration of a generation that does not feel represented or listened to and that has a lot to contribute. A generation that is the future, but also our present, and whom surely has not been heard enough and whom we need to improve our democracy.
But let us be clear: only from the city will we not be able to find solutions in the conflict over the relationship between Catalonia and Spain, and over the political management that has been done. It is clear that they need solutions that go beyond what happens in Barcelona. We can contribute a lot, we can collaborate, and we will do so, but the responsibility lies above all with those who lead the institutions that have to play a leading role in negotiation and unblocking.
It is in this sense that I ask, as mayor, that the acting President of the State, Pedro Sánchez and the President of the Generalitat, Quim Torra, dialogue. If the Catalan and Spanish governments can speak to coordinate police operations, how is it possible that they will not be able to talk about the fundamental political problem we have? I think a lot of people are asking this question. I would ask them, please, to speak in private, that every time they question each other through the media or social networks they are making the dialogue less credible. We all know that in order for there to be real dialogue there has to be discreet and serene contact.
Barcelona is a city with a strong feminist tradition and a culture of peace. Some traditions from which we have learned that for real dialogue we need, in the first place, empathy and listening: understanding the reasons of the other and abandoning maximalism. That is why I call for dialogue and to generate the conditions for it to be a real, effective dialogue that leads us to solutions. And this will only be possible if everyone assumes the following:
We must abandon extreme positions, red lines and blockades. It is difficult in an electoral context, but we have to abandon short-term electoral calculation and raise our eyes to understand the complexity of the situation. The stakes are much higher than elections.
We need to be sincere and speak plainly, because we all know that the political solution to the fundamental problem that Catalonia is experiencing with its relationship with the State will not come soon. But at the same time we have to work towards a short-term solution that will allow us to unblock and move forward.
We must take a few first steps immediately, to demonstrate that the institutions and political parties serve to offer solutions and not to generate problems. It is necessary to talk with serenity and generosity about how to solve the situation of having social and political leaders imprisoned, because we all know that without their freedom it will be very difficult to find solutions to the conflict in which we live. I ask that we do not deny this and that we do not use maximalist rhetoric about how to obtain their freedom.
Incendiary political discourses, which do not represent the majority of the population and which only generate more tension, must be isolated and minimised.
We therefore need a dialogue table, both at state and Catalan level, which generates a new climate, rebuilds bridges that do not exist today, and is based on the commitment to be a permanent and stable table, that moves away from gesticulation and brings us closer to solutions.
As Mayor of a city that has lived through very difficult days with sadness, but at the same time a city that is hopeful because at no time has it lost its pride and its essence of dialogue, open and capable of coming out of difficult situations, I will work on everything in my hands to facilitate dialogue in these terms that I have described. From empathy, from listening, from the willingness to add, away from constant reproaches, I call for political dialogue and to abandon verbal, physical and all kinds of violence. As a society, as a country, as a city, we have to get out of here. We are working to make this possible.
Translation Pressenza London