Presentation

A Mercè looking into each other’s eyes!

Looking into the eyes of the person in front of you is a challenge. An act of valour. It sounds easy, but it isn’t. And it’s so important! There aren’t many opportunities to do it, to really do it. But the feast that brings us all out into the streets of Barcelona, La Mercè, “our feast”, is a good moment.

I suggest to you and I urge you to go out into the street, go to any of the huge variety of activities that the city has prepared, in the centre and in the various neighbourhoods, and look into the eyes of your neighbours, of people you know and people you don't. We must look into each other’s eyes, because it’s the best way of sharing not only the festivities but the feeling that we all belong to the same community where, whether we know each other or not, we all have a lot in common: to begin with, love the city where we live together and be responsible for the wellbeing of the citizenship to which we belong.

The year we are leaving behind has been a particularly intense year, where we have looked each other in the eyes in difficult times and we have recognised ourselves as a community that defends living together in diversity: on the Rambla, to assert ourselves as a city of peace that loves life; in the schools, in defence of the right to vote and freedom of speech; against all forms of authoritarianism and calling for the freedom of people who are in prison for political reasons; and on the streets of the whole of the city, to proclaim ourselves as a feminist city and demand the change of structures that are still patriarchal today.

Looking at others in the eyes has an effect if we do so bare of prejudices: for a few seconds, all differences disappear and you see the other person as they are. And you immediately see that they are not so different from you, woman, transsexual, be they white, black or any of the beautiful shades that people’s skin can have, wherever they are from, whatever they believe. Let us look at each other with the conviction that we share one of the most important things that we can share: a city. Because it is precisely this that we celebrate with the La Mercè festivities. I invite you to put conflict and worries aside for a few days and to place the emphasis on everything that unites us.

This year, La Mercè has as its guest city Lisbon, a European capital with a great deal in common with Barcelona, outstanding among which is a clear desire to be a sustainable and inclusive city that is open to the world. Just like Barcelona, today the capital of Portugal is committed to culture and to becoming one of the most vibrant and creative artistic centres on the continent. Beyond the geographical distance that separates us, the great European cities today share common challenges: becoming refuges for coexistence in a diverse world and becoming epicentres of cultural and economic activity and of transforming initiatives that bring us closer to the democratic, fair, habitable and creative cities that we want to be.

Find each other, look into each other’s eyes and care for each other: remember that the city is the common space where fears can be turned into hopes. Come and enjoy the party and enjoy the challenge of making Barcelona a better city.

Long live La Mercè and long live Barcelona!

 

Ada Colau Ballano

Mayor of Barcelona