This is a translation of the speech by Ada Colau, in the video above, made 16th September during the presentation of the citizen platform Guanyem Barcelona (‘Let’s Win Back Barcelona’) as candidates in the municipal elections of 24th May 2015.
And they’ll ask us who we are – Ada Colau
We know that those who have power today are very well organised, because they’ve had power for a long time, and they are well used to having it and having it with impunity. And obviously, as soon as they see that we citizens are organising among ourselves, it’s clear they will not make it easy for us.
They’ll call us idealists, they’ll say we’re good people, that we’re nice, that we’re activists, they’ll call us ‘anti-system’, they’ll call us ‘alternative’, and they’ll try to ridicule us, silence us, criminalise us. And they’ll treat us as trespassers, in what they say is a democracy, when it ought to be the best of news that the citizens are organising themselves- to decide what it is that they want and how they want to do it. This is democracy, and everything else is just words.
We are not trespassers, we are protagonists, and we want to be protagonists in this city and in the democratic revolution that is underway.
They’ll say to us: “who are you?”
We will not be so arrogant as to say “we are everyone”. But we are the people who are out on the streets, we are normal people, ordinary people, who speak with our neighbours each day, who in contrast to professional politicians get onto public transport every day, we go out to precarious jobs every day, and we see what’s going on every day, and hence we are far more in touch as citizens with everyday reality than many professional politicians.
And who are we?
First of all let me say that we are women. We are many women who are under-represented in spaces of decision-making, in the spaces of political power, and we are over-represented in the invisible care work that makes life possible for all, for rich people and for poor people.
We are the neighbours, we are the neighbourhoods who have taken the lead in the finest victories of this city, which would not have happened if it were not for the neighbourhood struggles of recent decades. And we are also the neighbours who are getting organised today to confront the disasters that are being created by the political institutions in connivance with the economic powers that be.
We are also the working people, the people who have to work to get to the end of the month, because we don’t live off rent. And we are also the people who are unemployed, but although we don’t have a job, we have all the ability in the world and every right to take part and be protagonists of the democratic revolution and we have the right to a guaranteed income because everyone has the right to a decent existence.
We are also the people who are defending the economy of the future, the people who have and who defend small businesses, traditional commerce, economies of social solidarity, co-operatives, which are attempting to fashion a sustainable economy in the face of the speculative, predatory, plundering economy of the multinationals that come to Barcelona, reap all the profits and then take them off to tax havens.
We are also the education community and healthcare professionals who, at a time of absolutely unbearable cutbacks that are endangering basic rights and services, in our hospitals, crèches, schools and universities, well beyond their contractual obligations, are giving their all to guarantee our rights.
We are the migrants, those whose rights are not recognised, and here, no person can be illegal, and we will win back Barcelona because we want to shut the Internment Centre, a hole of shame, a hole that denies human rights, and we will not stop until we close the Internment Centre and we will do all that we can so that all migrants are full citizens and not just for them to have their social rights guaranteed, but also their political participation at all levels.
We are also the municipal workers. Many municipal workers have got in touch with Guanyem Barcelona because they are sick of seeing how the political parties make use of the institution, and because they want to place all their knowledge and all their experience in the service of this city, and of their neighbours.
We are many families and very diverse groups of coexistence, there is no longer any single family unit, this is not just a case of mums and dads with their children, here there are many families, many units of coexistence, diversity and plurality of sexuality and affections that enrich the city and they must have all their rights and their recognition guaranteed.
We are also, and first and foremost, the boys and girls of this city, the boys and girls who deserve to be able to enjoy the city, to have their rights guaranteed, but who also deserve to be seen as the bearers of rights, as protagonists. Very often boys and girls have a lot more common sense than many adults who have been warped as they grew up. We do not only need to look after our children and guarantee their rights, but we must listen to them and allow them to speak.
We are older people, our grandfathers and grandmothers, pensioners. Not only do we have to win so that every person has a decent old age, in which they are guaranteed all the attention that they need, but also because older people have a lot to say and they are not being listened to. Policies are being implemented for older people, in the name of older people, but without consulting them. And not only do they have a lot to say, about what policies they need, we also need older people, and enough of treating them as a nuisance when they are a mine of experience, of historical memory that we need to improve our present and our future. We need our older people and we need to look after them.
I’ll finish now. So, we are many people, as you can see we are a great many people. We are also our young people. Our young people who have been asked to make huge efforts, to get training, to do all sorts of studies, masters degrees.. But then they are given no opportunity to contribute with their knowledge, their strength, their energy, their ideas, and we are expelling them from our city. We want our young people to remain here and to give the best of what they have for the common good.
Let us never forget who we are and why we are here. Let us never forget it and let us never stop being who we are. Thank you.