Barcelona 17 JUN 2019 – 12:44 CEST
Pro-Catalan independence supporters have been accused of yelling sexist insults at Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau at her investiture ceremony on Saturday. Colau, of the leftist Barcelona en Comú party, the Catalan branch of the left-wing Podemos party, was reelected as mayor thanks to a deal between the Catalan arm of the Socialist Party (PSC) and center-right Ciudadanos (Citizens), which is led by former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.
But the deal has angered pro-independence supporters, who argue Ernest Maragall from the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) should govern Barcelona because his party received the most votes at the May 26 regional election, even though it failed to secure a majority. The ERC won 21.35% of the vote, while Barcelona en Comú took 20.71%. Both picked up 10 councilors, making it a technical tie. Colau had pushed for a deal between ERC and PSC, but both parties rejected the proposal. In the end, Colau accepted the three votes from Ciudadanos, offered by Valls to ensure that City Hall did not fall into the hands of Catalan separatists.
Hundreds of supporters of the independence movement gathered in Sant Jaume plaza to protest Colau’s investiture. According to Laura Pérez, a councilor with Barcelona en Comú party, after the ceremony, the pro-independence protesters called Colau and other members of her group “whores, sluts and bitches” as they left Barcelona City Hall and to the headquarters of the regional government, located just a few meters away.
In a Facebook post, Pérez said: “Despite the joy of beginning a new mandate at the service of Barcelona yesterday [Saturday] was a very hard day. The mayor and several female councilors suffered verbal violence that is specifically used against women.”
According to Pérez, some of the protesters also threw coins, bottles and paper bags at the politicians as they crossed the square.
Despite the joy of beginning a new mandate at the service of Barcelona yesterday was a very hard day
Barcelona councilor Laura Pérez
“As a public representative I am used to people coming up to me in the street and in participation spaces. Sometimes it is to severely criticize our political actions. I think that is part of democratic life, but what happened yesterday was painful, and more than anything, an attack against all the women who have taken the step to enter into politics,” Pérez added.
The message ended with Pérez promising “to do everything in my power to ensure personal attacks and sexism have no place in the political life of Barcelona. I know the majority of us think this way in all parties.”
According to Barcelona’s local police force, the Guàrdia Urbana, 2,300 people watched the investiture ceremony at Barcelona City Hall from Sant Jaume square. While some were there to support Colau, most were there in protest, waving posters against Colau and yelling chants against her. When Colau left City Hall with the rest of the councilors to walk to the regional Parliament, the shouts rose dramatically.
Pérez told EL PAÍS that she respected the right to protest but was upset that “female councilors received a different attack on Saturday for being women. Not only did they call us ‘traitors,’ and scream ‘out, out,’ we were also called ‘sluts and whores’.”
Pérez argued that this type of sexist violence, including verbal violence, cannot be normalized. She added that while some councilors were being insulted, representatives from the separatist parties ERC and Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia) were applauded by the protesters.
English version by Melissa Kitson.
Ada Colau suffered male chauvinist insults when crossing the Plaza Sant Jaume on the part of radical pro-independence demonstrators / CCMA
“Whores and foxes shouted at us”: The story of a Colau councilor about the ‘indepe’ harassment
Laura Pérez, lieutenant of the mayor of the new City Council, has explained in social networks the serious and sexist insults suffered in Plaça Sant Jaume from radical secessionists
María Jesús Cañizares @MJesusCanizares
16.06.2019 20:52 h.
“Crossing the square with hundreds of people screaming at us whores, bitches and sluts. This was also the investiture of yesterday”. This is how Laura Pérez, Councilor of Barcelona en Comú, describes the journey that the municipal committee made between the City Council and the Generalitat, amidst insults and boos from radical pro-independence demonstrators. These had come to the Plaza Sant Jaume to protest against the pact between the Comuns and PSC, supported by Manuel Valls, to prevent Ernest Maragall (ERC) from being invested as mayor.
“Despite the illusion of starting a new mandate at the service of Barcelona, yesterday was a very hard day, the mayor and various councilors suffered verbal violence, the specific kind reserved for women. Some of us went to the Town Hall and, afterwards, we crossed to the Generalitat between cries of bitches and whores. Launching of coins, a bottle of water and separate balls of paper”, wrote Pérez, recently appointed third deputy mayor of the Area of Social Rights and Feminism.
“As a public representative”, she adds, “I am used to being questioned on the street, in spaces of participation, sometimes to criticize our political actions harshly. And I think that is part of the democratic life”. But “what happened yesterday was very painful and, above all, an attack on all the women who have taken the step of entering politics”.
The councilor is grateful, however, for the support. “For my part I will do everything in my hands so that personal attacks and machismo have no place in the political life of Barcelona. I know we are the majority thinking in that way within all the parties. We continue!”