For the last 150 years, autumn has brought La Mercè with it. Like last year, this year’s event is not the annual festival we would wish for, but by respecting some necessary prevention measures we can continue to celebrate our festival. We have been through some unimaginable situations together over these months, albeit it physically apart in our homes. Culture helped us resist and now it must help us to enjoy and share good times together again.
Over this century and a half our patron has seen us overcome very testing times, from a civil war to the Francoist repression and now the pandemic. This time has also seen us bounce back and grow, steadily becoming stronger and more united. It has seen us fight for our rights in factories such as La Canadenca, defend and regain democracy in our streets, stand up for equal opportunities, from El Raval to El Carmel, without it ever mattering where people are from or where they are heading.
This year's opening speaker is Custòdia Moreno, a fine woman who has spent her life defending and fighting for the dignity of neighbourhoods. She is the finest example of a real, open, solidarity and people-driven Barcelona.
Traditional culture will be the cornerstone for this edition of La Mercè, just as it should be. The restrictions for the pandemic have been particularly tough for the neighbourhoods, where the vitality of culture largely relies on the activity of local people. Barcelona cannot be understood without its neighbourhoods, and its neighbourhoods cannot be understood without culture. Popular culture is at the heart of Barcelona, from local residents’ associations organising concerts and dances large and small, to enduring artists which the city has seen mature. Present in our streets and squares, to the rhythm of rumba, havaneras or trap, painted on canvasses or walls, with giants and devils, leaning on a colleague to build a human tower so that little ones can reach for the sky with their hands.
Our annual festival has two new venues this year, in the Parc de Turó de la Peira and the football ground in Vall d’Hebron, helping the event to reach more districts and recognising the role that neighbourhoods have in the real Barcelona, which doesn’t appear in postcards but which give the city its heartbeat.
Once again, we must remember to exercise extra caution. Please follow the indications from the organisers and the health authorities. Let’s avoid crowding, look after the streets and respect the hours of rest and well-being of our local residents as if we were at home.
Let’s enjoy the festivities for La Mercè with empathy, taking care of each other. We want the celebrations to be full of love and respect, free of sexism, racism and LGBTI-phobia. Let’s stand up for a proudly diverse Barcelona.
This is our Barcelona, which never gives up, which keeps on fighting every day and comes together to overcome any sort obstacle. A solidarity and generous Barcelona, which looks after its own and leaves nobody behind. A powerful Barcelona, rooted in history and tradition, which looks to the future boldly, as reflected in the beautiful poster by Malika Favre.
Being your fellow citizen and your Mayor fills me with pride.
Long live La Mercè and long live Barcelona!
Ada Colau Ballano
Mayor of Barcelona