Wednesday, July 6

‘Concordia del Guadiana’ or ‘Las Mestas del Guadiana’, this is how the merger of Don Benito and Villanueva de la Serena in Extremadura will be called

‘Concordia del Guadiana’ or Las Mestas de Guadiana’. One of them will be the name of the new city of Extremadura, the third in the community in number of inhabitants, after the merger of Don Benito and Villanueva de la Serena. It has taken two and a half months for the 14 experts who were commissioned to propose two options to the municipalities to reach an agreement, which has caused unexpected surprise. Now it will be the municipal corporations that will have to choose the final proposal.

The aim was for these research, teaching, philology and culture professionals to take into account denominations that represented and identified with the historical, cultural and toponymic values ​​of the geographical area of ​​influence of the new municipal area. There was only one condition imposed by the plenary sessions of the town councils: that this new denomination be “different and differentiating” from the current ones and seek common elements of roots. Hence the proposals made known by the mayors, José Luis Quintana and Miguel Ángel Gallardo, late on Tuesday surrounded by great expectation.

The chairman of the committee, Julio Carmona, has been in charge of revealing one of the biggest unknowns in this merger process. As he explained, in both proposals the referent ‘del Guadiana’ appears because it is the one that “unites the two towns with greater intensity and strength from all perspectives and represents the fertility of the territory”. In addition, this river is the main factor of economic change in both municipalities and its economic engine, as both are located in Las Vegas del Guadiana.

Experts have chosen the term ‘Concordia’ for the “project of hope and future” that both towns begin with their merger. According to Carmona, in Spain there is no locality with this name and there are only 14 in the world. The name would be concordense.

For its part, ‘Las Mestas’ refers to the historical past of the two cities and highlights the historical importance of both municipalities at different times in history. The demonym of the neighbors would be mestenses.

The secrecy of the meetings of this commission has been absolute. No details of any of the meetings, face-to-face and telematic, that its members have held, aware that the name of the new city of Extremadura is one of the most sensitive and emotional issues of the union process, have emerged. None of the other works that are being carried out have aroused so much interest among the residents of Don Benito and Villanueva de la Serena: neither what urban development will be like, how the duplication of powers and public employees will be managed, or how the new taxes will be and municipal fees.

So much so, that after learning of the press call, around fifty people have demonstrated with saucepans at the door of Don Benito’s plenary hall, where the appearance took place, shouting “Don Benito disappears today” and between accusations of “caciques”.

The new city, in 2027

Everything should be ready in 2027. In the elections of that year, it will be the first time that Dombenites and Villanovans (waiting to know the definitive demonym) will vote for a single mayor and a single municipal corporation, which will make effective the merger that the neighbors approved in a referendum last February. The result was uneven in the municipalities. The consultation established that it was necessary for the votes in favor to reach 66 percent in each of the two municipalities. In Villanueva, the yes was resounding with 90.49 percent, while in Don Benito it was 66.2 percent.

The vote aroused the interest of many experts who saw in the union of two municipalities an “example for the optimization of public resources.” The merger had the backing of the Government, which had to authorize the popular referendum, and of all the political parties. However, after the approval, contrary voices arose, led by the extreme right, mainly Don Benito, who consider that the counting of votes on the night of the referendum was not transparent.

The future municipal nucleus will have an area of ​​about 700 square kilometers and a population of close to 63,000 neighbors, which will place it as the third Extremaduran town in number of inhabitants, only behind Badajoz and Cáceres and displacing Mérida and Plasencia to fourth and fifth place. According to a study by the University of Extremadura, the municipality will become a first-class economic and business hub in both agribusiness and business services.