There is no other topic of conversation in Don Benito and Villanueva de la Serena. On the terraces of the bars, in the workplaces, on the benches of the Plaza de España in both towns, in WhatsApp groups and on social networks, where there are memes for all tastes, only the two are talked about name proposals for the new city that they will constitute after their union, Concordia del Guadiana or Mestas del Guadiana. The interest was such, not only for the 66,000 residents of these towns in Extremadura, that place names immediately became a national trending topic after being announced on Tuesday night.
The merger of Don Benito and Villanueva de la Serena: And now what?
And if it is difficult to find another topic of discussion, it is also difficult to find favorable opinions for the possible denominations. Neither Concordia del Guadiana nor Mestas del Guadiana convince in Don Benito and Villanueva. Both cities have been reunited, but this time because of the ‘no’ to the proposed names. Now it will have to be the municipal corporations that in the plenary sessions, which will be convened separately and at the same time, vote for the definitive option. But there is no date for it.
“Difficult to pronounce”
The neighbors are very clear about it. María Ángeles Mera is from a colonization town belonging to Don Benito, where she practices gymnastics two mornings a week, like this Wednesday with her daughter. Both agree that the chosen toponyms are “ugly and old-sounding”. Instead, they considered Vegas Altas del Guadiana, a region in which the two population centers of Badajoz are located.
And it is that Concordia and Mestas sound “strange” and even “difficult to pronounce”, as María José Mera explains while cooling off on the terrace of a downtown bar in Don Benito. “I don’t like them and they’re not going to convince us, I voted for the merger and I think the name should have been La Unión”. This proposal is also defended by other people at the tables around the terrace.
In Villanueva de la Serena the assessments are similar. Javier Hidalgo is blunt: “I don’t like anything, that doesn’t represent anyone.” Instead, this retiree would have liked the toponym of the city resulting from the merger to be Don Benito-Villanueva to “respect names and identities.”
However, this option was impossible by mandate of the town councils, which commissioned the expert commission to ensure that the new denomination was “different and differentiating” from the current ones and to seek common elements of roots. Mainly to avoid suspicions between the residents of both towns, who have historically lived on their backs, but who have now decided to take advantage of a unique opportunity to grow and become the third largest city in Extremadura, after Badajoz and Cáceres.
But Manuel Díaz does not like names either, although any other option would not have convinced him because “we have been Don Benito and Villanueva all our lives and that cannot be erased”.
This same feeling of identity is defended on Tuesday night by around fifty people, who demonstrated with saucepans at the door of Don Benito’s plenary hall during the announcement of the experts’ proposals, shouting “Don Benito disappears today” and between accusations of “caciques”.
“They are not names for a modern city”
Entrepreneurs and freelancers from these towns in Extremadura do not hide their surprise and even disappointment after learning that, finally, Concordia del Guadiana or Mestas del Guadiana will be one of the names of the new city. The president of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises Vegas Altas-La Serena (Apyme), Javier Dorado, claims to be “surprised, like many of our partners” by the announced proposals, which “have not been to the liking” of Many. He admits that it has been “shocking” and there are businessmen who would have chosen to call him “Don Benito-Villanueva because the current names and identities would be maintained”, but he believes that “whatever happens, it will be assimilated over time because the important thing is the union of our peoples, which will be very favourable”.
Fernando Segador, the president of the Association of Professionals, Self-Employed and Merchants (Apac) of Villanueva de la Serena also insists that the important thing is the union because “the name is secondary and even if there had been other options, people would not have liked it.” liked. In his opinion, the name of the new city “has no business relevance because the only important thing is that this union entails an attraction for private investment.”
The president of the Don Benito merchants, Vanessa Casado, assures that nothing else is being talked about because “quite a controversy” has been generated because “another more modern name was expected, although we are going to maintain different postal codes, since there are denominations of streets that are repeated, to me the final name of the city seems quite secondary”.
Whether it is Concordia del Guadiana or Mestas de Guadiana, the future city will be the main economic hub of agribusiness in Extremadura. The president of the Association of Farmers and Ranchers of Don Benito, Natalia Camacho, believes that they were already recognized in the sector and outside of it, so the possible toponyms do not seem “correct” to her because, in addition, “they are not in line ” with which both towns have decided to start building with their merger.
His counterpart in Villanueva de la Serena, Herminio Íñiguez, believes that “it makes no sense” to call the new city Concordia or Mestas “if what we want is modernity, prosperity and attracting industry.” Íñiguez believes that the experts who have proposed the possible denominations “have based themselves too much on history and have not looked at anything to the future.” “To call it that, I would have preferred Don Benito-Villanueva because the names that have been known break with everything and are nonsense.”
The 42 councilors of both municipalities, 21 for each locality, now have the last word. Whatever your decision is, and assuming it is the same, the city that results from the merger will not be a reality until 2027. In the municipal elections of that year, the residents will elect a single mayor or mayor, who will be from Concordia del Guadiana or Mesta del Guadiana.