From rage to utopia. That is the message of Custodia Moreno for all the people of Barcelona, who start their La Mercè festivities this Friday, the second in pandemic. From the solemn Saló de Cent, in the Barcelona City Council, this veteran activist against the barraquismo has taken over from the clown Tortell Poltrona (who took it from Manuela Carmena, and this from Leticia Dolera and Carmen Juares …) to sing the proclamation with more essence of the neighborhood – those that were “fists” – and of the neighborhood struggle of recent years.
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Moreno, born in Granada in 1947, recalled during her speech her arrival in the city, on board the ‘Sevillano’ train like so many other Andalusian immigrants, and her years of life in the Carmel shacks. From there he has jumped into rage, due to the housing problem that has dragged on since then, but also due to femicides, xenophobia and the rise of the extreme right. And he closed with a hopeful proclamation: “Be utopians. Yes, utopian “.” The improvements in our neighborhoods are the result of many utopias, but there are still many to be done, “he recalled in front of the mayor Ada Colau, the different local authorities, the president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès or the president of the Parliament, Laura Borràs.
At the beginning of the speech, Moreno acknowledged that she was tempted to say ‘no’ to Colau’s proposal for the proclamation. The ‘no’ weighed more than the ‘yes’. “But suddenly I remembered all the women in the world who have neither voice nor rights”, he started, “I also thought of the women of our neighborhoods, who in silence and often also without voice do their jobs day by day, and that so much they have collaborated for the enlargement of this city ”.
Thus, against the “glass ceiling” and against the impostor syndrome, this neighborhood activist has fired her first words, encouraged by her “Andalusian vein”: “Let’s see, Custodia. Do you want to tell me what you have been doing? most of your life, if not being on the street acting as a herald, defending rights and denouncing injustices? “, he has become emboldened.
Moreno, Medal of Honor of Barcelona in 2009, independent district councilor with Pasqual Maragall, former president of the Carmel Neighborhood Association and retired nurse, has pulled the memories of his arrival in Barcelona to declare his love for the city. A land that gave him opportunities but did not give him anything. A lifetime of aspirations condensed into an innocent memory: Christmas when their mother, after spending every day in front of a window full of cakes, was able to buy them one. “As I grew older I understood what those tears meant,” he recalled. “For us, arriving in this city was like arriving at a small oasis of opportunity in the middle of the terrible desert from which we came.”
Already in the present, the Carmel activist has praised the front-line workers against COVID-19 and has charged with equal intensity against the politicians “piquitos de oro” who have promised them improvements that have not arrived. “In our hospitals and health centers there is still a shortage of staff, our teachers have started the course with the same ratio they had before and many workers who continue to receive miserable salaries,” the hawker remarked.
Moreno, who according to Colau represents the “soul” of the city, has hardened his speech at that point to express the “anger” that he continues to feel today, at 78 years of age, especially due to evictions, but due to many other injustices. “I feel angry, very angry, when we have to go out protesting against gender violence”, “when we go out to ask for fair wages and pensions”, “when we continue to use the word ‘fag’ in a pejorative sense” … he has listed. And also for xenofobi, especially when it comes from those who came with her to Barcelona in the 50s: “I feel much, much more anger, when I see how they react to this new immigration.”
In the end, Moreno has chosen to close the speech with a plea in favor of listening and empathy, encouraging politicians to be brave and citizens to be utopian. “They called me utopian when I asked for a library for my neighborhood, instead of the parking lot that many asked for. And today we have one of the most beautiful libraries in this city: the Juan Marsé Library ”, the hawker has given as an example.
Without steed, nor parchment, nor trumpet, as he has joked, Moreno has not hesitated to put on the role of traditional hawker to close, solemn: “It is known, by order of the authority, that our parties begin, with joy, pride and dignity. Visit Barcelona and visit the festa major ”.