The mayor of Santa Cruz, José Manuel Bermúdez, does not wait any longer. It has been 48 hours in which the option that the Santa Cruz Carnival would run out of space for the celebration of galas and contests was a reality. The Port refuses to cede the Los Llanos Dock to install the party scene. That was his position at the Port-City meeting last Tuesday, and from there he has only moved until he gave up the land for 45 days and not 60, as requested by the City Council, and that with the intermediation of the president of the Cabildo, Pedro Martín, at the request of Bermudez. “When I understood that the refusal had a political origin, I asked the president of the Cabildo to mediate,” explains Bermúdez in this interview with DIARIO DE AVISOS, in which he accuses the president of the Port Authority (Carlos González) of not telling the truth when he speaks affecting port operations as a reason to deny the use of Los Llanos. “That is not true. It is not true. It is a political decision. It is the first time that the Port has said no to the city, because saying no to Carnival is saying no to Santa Cruz”.
-What happened in the meeting last Tuesday with the Port?
“We wanted to hold the Carnival in February, at the Fairgrounds. Having to move it to June due to the pandemic, the Cabildo tells us that the Fairgrounds could not host the Carnival because it was busy, specifically with Gastrocanarias. As a consequence of this, we proposed to the Port that the Carnival events be held, that is, galas and contests, in a place where it had always agreed to carry out cultural or sports activities. A site that does not pose any kind of operational problems for the port and where the City Council also pays for the land and guarantees all expenses. With this technical approach, which is not the first time it has been done, because the Christmas concert or Raphael’s concert has been held in that area, we went to the Port. And what we find is that, for the first time, a president of the Port Authority says no to the city, to the City Council, to do something there. This had not happened before, and it is a categorical no. Those of us who were at the meeting saw that there was no possibility of negotiation”.
-Even so, you have remained silent these two days, in order for the Port to reconsider, something that has not happened…
“During this time I have maintained a prudent attitude, hoping that the Port Authority would reconsider its position. My phone has been open 24 hours a day, but I have not received any call, explanation or justification, be it technical or operational. So the only justification we find is politics, and the Santa Cruz Carnival does not deserve a political no, because the Carnival must be above politics and parties.”
-Then, do not believe the Port when it says that the dock cannot be occupied for 60 days because it affects port operations…
“That is not true. It is not true. It is a political decision. We, for six years, have put a car park there all Christmas, which is paid for by the City Council, and for that there have never been problems. I am convinced that if we wanted to set up a car park in June for two months, there would be no problems either, but for the Carnival galas and contests, yes. We are told no to a limited, fenced enclosure, with COVID regulations, security measures… That is a no that is not supported by any technical report. Nothing happens there from an operational point of view.”
– Is that something that they confirm from other areas of the Port?
“We talk to the port community, which is much more than the president of the Port, and they are the first to tell you that none of their activity is done there. So what is happening is very serious. It is the first time that we have been told no in this way, to the city, not to the City Council, because saying no to Carnival is saying no to the city”.
-What do you think is due to this change in attitude?
“This is a completely political issue. And for the record, I call the president of the Cabildo de Tenerife the same day that they tell me no. I call him and tell him that, please, let’s find a solution together because Carnival is the only festival in the Canary Islands with an international tourist character and I believe that it is not only a heritage of Santa Cruz, but of the entire Island. I am the one who try not to turn it into a political issue, something that the president of the Port has turned it into”.
-The result of this intermediation is that the Fairground is back on the table…
“Exactly. The president of the Cabildo de Tenerife calls me and tells me two things. The first is that the president of the Port says that he gives us the land for 45 days, when he knows perfectly well that we cannot set up, carry out activities and dismantle in that time. He is giving me a choice that is not possible. The second option that the Cabildo now gives me, if we shoot Gastrocanarias, well maybe we can do it. So if the Fairgrounds say yes, and together we look for a solution, then I’m delighted, but that wasn’t the case a month ago”.
-Then the Cabildo de Tenerife understood as the City Council that a month ago the option of the Dársena de Los Llanos was feasible enough to not have to move anything in the Fairground…
“Of course. Nobody thought that the president of the Port Authority was going to say no to us. We know, because we have a technical relationship with the port community, that it is possible, and what there has not been is a political will, what there has been is a sectarian political position”.
-What is the situation now?
“Our position is that 45 days is not enough for us. So, if the president of the Cabildo tells us that we can go back to the Fairground option by moving dates and adjusting ourselves a bit, he would almost say that it is the best option”.
-Does this refusal affect the general relationship with the Port?
“This clearly affects. And let it be known that I will always maintain a collaborative attitude, to rise to the occasion. I have always had that attitude, and I will continue to rise to the occasion because I cannot allow personal issues to influence my political work. I have to be at the service of the city’s economy and the Port is the main economy of Santa Cruz”.
-When you talk about it being a political issue, why do you think that until now it had not materialized?
“The thing is very simple. You just have to look behind. See all the times it was allowed and who ruled in the Port Authority. When the PSOE ruled in Santa Cruz, Raphael’s concert was authorized. Parking has been authorized for six years, so it’s not new. And we ask for authorization for an exceptional and punctual theme such as Carnival this year”.
-Will there be Carnival in June?
“We are going to do the Carnival no matter what, that is clear. The pandemic is the only thing that can stop it.”