Wednesday, July 6

Martínez-Almeida trusts everything to diplomacy to get the Retiro into UNESCO

A week ago it became known that the International Council of Monuments and Sites (Icomos), the international body that advises Unesco in the preparation of the highly valued Unesco World Heritage List, completely discouraged Madrid’s candidacy for considering that it presented a complex made up of a garden located in an area of ​​high pollution – the Buen Retiro – with no historical link with the Paseo del Prado. Despite this, Luis Lafuente, general director of Cultural Heritage of the Consistory, replied that he would insist on the joint candidacy of the two sites “until the end.”

The ‘oversights’ of Almeida with the candidacy of UNESCO

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This Tuesday, the mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, has summoned the spokesmen of the opposition groups to take a photo that the permanent delegate ambassador to UNESCO, Juan Andrés Perelló, can use. The image aims to demonstrate to Unesco members with voting power that there is political consensus in Madrid City Council before a cause that is increasingly reminiscent of the “relaxing cup of coffee with milk” by the former mayor of Madrid Ana Botella.

However, the leader of the opposition, Rita Maestre, assures that this meeting “is late.” The spokeswoman for Más Madrid understands that it should have happened before the dialogue with the opposition was broken, after the scandal carried out by Andrea Levy when he ordered the closure of Medialab Prado. They complain that they demanded an audience then, but he never sat with them. The consensus photo also resembles the Titanic photo: if it sinks with the candidacy, it will not do it alone, it will be a problem for the entire House. The local government thus tries to avoid the chain of resignations that the opposition will demand if the candidacy fails, starting with Andrea Levy and continuing with Luis Lafuente, as these groups indicate to this newspaper.

At the meeting, the mayor of Madrid and his team have recognized that, after the devastating report from Icomos, they do not have the best move to enter the List. The criterion works against them, but they bet everything on diplomacy: they unload all responsibility on the abilities of Perelló, who last week was in Madrid preparing the defense. Martínez-Almeida, Levy and Lafuente are convinced that the ambassador will be able to resolve in the “corridors” of the voting day the clouds that hang over the Madrid candidacy. Perelló has been in difficult situations, but perhaps not as much as this one.

In 2019 he had to defend Talavera pottery with intensity on the day of the vote and managed to get it on the Unesco List of Intangible Heritage of Humanity. However, this year, those responsible for the Consitorio see a black hand behind the Icomos report: they believe that the criticisms of the study are an Anglo-Saxon attack against the incorporation of what would be the first urban park on the list, ahead of Hyde Park (London ) and Central Park (New York).

The director of Heritage has also assured that if the double candidacy fails this year, in 2022 they will try again with the segregated one, without the Buen Retiro. They say that Unesco has let them see that the Paseo del Prado axis would not have major problems.

Despite this, the vote will take place at the end of July and they will try both places, because the candidacy cannot be reformed on the fly. They would have to let the current call go by and present themselves to the next one, with the project redone. If it fails, things will get complicated, because then they will have to compete again with the candidacy of the Ribeira Sacra, promoted by the Orense City Council and the Xunta de Galicia. This year they got off because they had a poorly developed project, but next year they will try.