Last Sunday, June 19, the Torico de Teruel column woke up destroyed. As a consequence, the emblematic statuette and symbol of the city, the ‘torico’, also ended up on the ground and suffered serious damage. The incident occurred when the ropes tied to the column were removed on the occasion of the National Congress of the Rope Bull. A fact that has put Emma Buj, mayor of Teruel (Popular Party) in the spotlight. In her second term, Buj is facing one of the most sensitive moments in her mandate.
Emma Buj was born in Teruel on May 10, 1972. Her father, Comptroller of the Town Hall of Teruel, instilled in her the knowledge and problems of the city. She studied Social Graduate at the Teruel campus of the University of Zaragoza and in 1995 she began as a civil servant in the Provincial Council of Teruel (DPT). Four years later she became part of the municipal list of the PP, but it would not be until 2003 when she was elected councilor of the city council.
Since then he has held numerous positions. During the 2003-2007 legislature (PSOE), Buj was the spokesperson for the popular group in the consistory, as well as during the 2007-2011 legislature (PAR), in which she was also elected provincial deputy.
Already with Manuel Blasco as mayor (2011-2015), the current president carried out multiple tasks -in addition to serving as spokesperson for the popular group in the DPT and provincial deputy delegated to the Institute of Teruel Studies and the Municipal Assistance Service-: councilor Delegate of Contracting and Patrimony; deputy delegate of the Treasury and Public Function area; and delegate of cultural, social and sports aid.
In the municipal elections of May 2015, Blasco was re-elected and appointed Emma Buj deputy mayor and Town Planning delegate, placing her as his successor. Shortly after, in February 2016, Blasco resigned to dedicate himself exclusively to his work as a deputy in the Cortes for Teruel, raising criticism among the opposition, and Buj was sworn in as mayor with the support of Ciudadanos. To this day, and since 2019, Blasco has been a Senator in the Cortes for Teruel.
The current mayor renewed her mandate in May 2019, being re-elected thanks to the support of Ciudadanos and Vox and appointing Ramón Fuertes (Cs) deputy mayor.
An incident that could end one of the PP’s strongholds
The PP has been the party with the most votes in the city of Teruel since the 1995 elections. A majority of votes that has not always translated into a popular government. Luis Fernández Uriel (1995-1999) was followed as mayor by the aforementioned Manuel Blasco (1999-2003).
However, in the 2003 elections the PSOE obtained the same number of councillors, and since neither of the two parties had an absolute majority, the Socialists governed thanks to the support of other parties. Something similar happened in the 2007 elections, in which the Aragonese Party (PAR) candidate would be appointed mayor. In 2011 the trend would return to normal and Blasco was elected mayor with an absolute majority for the first time in the history of democracy in the city.
The destruction of the column and the “torico” of Teruel has brought much controversy and has raised the following question: “Accident or negligence?”. The incident has raised the outrage of citizens, politicians and heritage experts. From the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage of the Government of Aragon, a letter was sent to the Teruel City Council according to which the actions “would have required authorization from the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage, following a report from the Provincial Commission of Cultural Heritage of Teruel” .
From the opposition they have asked for responsibilities, but Emma Buj has ruled out carrying out resignations or dismissals. Despite the fact that the column has already been repositioned, the ‘torico’ has not yet returned to its place. And all this in view of the Heifer festivities and with elections that, if all goes well, should be held next year.
Emma Buj was already mired in controversy early in her term. The Teruel City Council threatened in April 2016 the satirical and humorous newspaper The Today World with “legal actions” for publishing a story with the headline: “The mayor of Teruel stole public funds taking advantage of the fact that the city does not exist”.
From the city council they urged the satirical newspaper to “suppress or modify the news” alleging an “illegitimate interference with the honor of the mayor” and the Consistory. However, in a statement to PublicBuj explained that it was to “prevent” and that they did not want “a rectification”.
Another key moment was November 2021, when the Espacio Municipalista de Teruel formation demanded the dismissal of the deputy mayor Ramón Fuertes due to his private business. According to information revealed by the newspaper ABC, Fuertes “weaves businesses in the shadow of his public positions” since “he works for entities subsidized by the city council” while serving as a delegate councilor for companies, self-employed, commerce and employment. From Espacio Municipalista they criticized the “silence” on the part of the PP and Emma Buj herself, pointing out that it is an “unethical behavior” of the deputy mayor and that the mayor was “fully aware of it.”