The pandemic has conditioned everything in 2022, and this indicates that it will continue to do so in 2022. With a framework as limited as that, the mayor of Santa Cruz, José Manuel Bermúdez, defends, in this interview with DIARIO DE AVISOS, that the Capital has reinforced its role as the island’s economic engine. In this last month, it has also become the city with the highest number of COVID infections in accumulated incidence. He denies that the explosion of cases in the metropolitan area has to do with the revitalization in the streets of Plenilunio. He defends that, “between doing nothing and doing it with restrictions, we prefer the latter”, and adds that “we are here to do things, not to do nothing.”
-It is the first full year of management, what is your overall assessment of Santa Cruz?
“We have been marked by the ups and downs of the pandemic. The different levels that have been applied throughout the year have conditioned the policies we had, for example, with regard to cultural, sporting or economic activity, invigorating the city, etc … Even so, I think we have left adapting being at the head, leading the activities that have been carried out; For example, I want to remember the May Festivities, where 35 musical performances were performed, which was a great respite for many artists and for the culture industry. But we were also able to do the Full Moon, therefore, showing that if the pandemic conditions are the most favorable, we can do things ”.
-And how has the City Council been affected?
“Regarding internal activity, productivity, I have to thank the municipal workers for their efforts, because they have done their best to achieve achievements such as the execution of the investment budget, which has increased, almost three times what we had previously. As of October 30, we had executed more than half of the budget, it is triple what was executed in 2020 ”.
-With regard to projects, the opposition accuses them of making many announcements and few executions …
“Making announcements is already much more than what the PSOE Government did in a year. Unfortunately, the public administration has a series of deadlines, but you have to maintain objectives and be persistent. We, for example, have approved the asphalting project for the five districts, which began in the previous term, when I was mayor, in 2018, and we have approved the projects for almost 50 streets in the five districts of Santa Cruz ”.
-And what makes it so difficult to get an asphalt project?
“It makes everything complicated. Putting out the drafting of the projects to tender, awarding the different architects, plus supervising the drafting, assessing the drafting, to bring it with all the favorable reports to the Governing Board. All this is time in the public administration. But what I’m saying is that, despite everything, we have tripled our budget execution compared to 2020, so we are on the right track. And next year we have important challenges with almost 50 million in investment and the objective of executing them during the year ”.
-What will be the priorities in 2022?
“The priorities for 2022 continue to be people, you have to think that in 2021 we have more than 11 million spent in aid to families, of which almost 8 are only aid in food, and more than two in matters related to the living place. For that there will always be a budget. On the other hand, we have a lower tax burden. Next year, the self-employed and SMEs will not pay the solid waste tax, and it is reduced by 10% for families. We continue to be tractors of the economy with this investment of 50 million, of which an important part goes to housing management, and another to recovery of historical heritage to generate economic activity, and I am talking about the Masonic Temple, Palacio de Carta, the Viera and Clavijo, the Castle of San Andrés ”.
-What are the data of this growth?
“We are growing at twice the rate of Tenerife and close to three times that of the Canary Islands as a whole, and we need to maintain that progression, we are over 11,000 contracts. I think nobody disputes that we are the engine in the pandemic because the south have been lacking in activity and we have shown that Santa Cruz pulls the island. “
-Something in which Santa Cruz is also leading, as well as La Laguna, is in COVID infections, figures that some relate to Pleniluno or La Noche en Blanco …
“I do not agree with that because it is not what the scientists say. What they say is that the entry of the omicron variant, which is much more contagious than the rest of the variables, and also some relaxation in the measures, lack of legal instruments, or premature relaxation in the measures by the Spanish Government, are the causing this explosion of cases. The problem is that there is an absolute lack of instruments to control the pandemic such as the curfew or the state of alarm. This year, in July, the Government lost the mandatory certificate, from July to December, it did nothing, and now it used a mechanism that should have done it in July, and it was granted. We have lost almost 6 months. Both Plenilunio, and I suppose La Noche en Blanco, have been strictly celebrated with the measures established by Health, and I think that we have been exemplary ”.
-Don’t you think that the City Council could have done something else?
“We, faced with the situation of doing nothing or doing it with restrictions, it is true that we always choose the second option. It is legitimate, because we are here to try to do things and maintain economic activity with the restrictions imposed by health, but we are not here to do nothing. What I notice is a decompensation in the moments. When things could have been done, they were not done, and now that we are with the water up to our necks they want to do all of them at once ”.
-How is the relationship with your Government partners?
“It is a very good agreement. Whenever there is some kind of difference, we resolve it internally, and to date the program that we signed is being fulfilled, and we are in a situation of good understanding with both the PP and Evelyn Alonso. Frankly, the news we produce is from the City Council, not from the partners ”.
-Is it still an option to stand as a candidate for the Cabildo de Tenerife?
“I only think of Santa Cruz, the only thing that occupies me and worries me is my municipality, and I don’t think of anything else. This matter has not been discussed in the game, there is much ahead. What I do want to make clear is that I will be where the political project decides I should be. When he has decided that I go number two to Congress, in difficult moments, I have gone, when he has decided that I have to stay in Santa Cruz, I have stayed ”.
-What relationship does it have with Cs in general?
“I think it will be difficult to sit down with Cs, because I get the impression that he is not going to take too many minutes, and that is what the polls give, a disappearance. In any case, my style of doing politics has always been to be able to sit with all those who want to sit with me ”.
-And what do the CC polls say for 2023?
“The ones that I have been able to see give us a good result. Now, if I don’t believe the surveys that I order, I don’t believe the ones that the others order. In Santa Cruz we are on the rise, people value politicians who are dedicated to management, predictable and who maintain criteria, not the time of occurrences and gimmicky inventions “.
-The relationship with the opposition, how would you define it?
“They don’t want there to be a good relationship. His way of seeing things is the strategy of going against CC and PP, against the Government group even at the cost of going against the interests of Santa Cruz, because certain things do not go forward in the Government of the Canary Islands or in the Cabildo Where they rule, they think it wears us down more, and frankly, what they do is make us stronger. Relations with the PSOE are not good, especially on their part. They have not overcome that we returned to govern in Santa Cruz ”.
-Are you concerned about open issues in court such as Casa Siliuto or Emmasa?
“I am not worried because there is nothing to hide. In the case of Emmasa, in addition, we were the ones who commissioned the audit that made the City Council react and, therefore, we have calmly continued the file that the officials defended. Regarding the other matter, I am sure that everything will be clarified in the courts, because the PSOE has wanted it to be that way. It could have been clarified at the municipal headquarters, but if they want it to be in the courts there is no problem. They pursue an objective, which is what they have done in La Laguna or in other municipalities, to achieve through the courts what the ballot box did not give them ”.