He faces the 28M with an impeccable electoral baggage, after nine consecutive victories at the polls, eight of them by absolute majority. Cases like that of José Miguel Rodríguez Fraga (PSOE) can be counted on the fingers of one hand in Spain. He now faces a new revalidation at the polls with “good vibrations”, but “from prudence”, he qualifies him. He hopes to add 40 years in the Mayor’s Office to keep Adeje at the forefront of international tourist destinations and continue betting on a “coexistence society”. He does not lack enthusiasm and enthusiasm, he assures DIARIO DE AVISOS.
– What do you think is the key that has allowed you to be in possession of the municipality’s command baton for so long?
“Having set a course, being clear about what we wanted to do and constantly learning from the process and from the people who know, in addition to generating complicity with the neighbors, businessmen and workers who feel they are part of the project. Things must be done prudently, calmly and taking the appropriate steps to achieve the objectives. In our case, positioning Adeje as a top-level tourist destination and promoting a society of coexistence”.
-This has not been any mandate. The pandemic has conditioned the management of the town halls and, in the case of Adeje, even more so since it suffered zero tourism. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you remember where we came from?
“It has been complicated, but I prefer the positive things, such as the enormous response capacity from the social, economic and tourist point of view. The pandemic fell on us without a manual and the first major impact in Spain was, let’s not forget, in a hotel in Adeje. We show the world a solvent response capacity as a community and tourist destination”.
-What projects will you promote in the next four years, if you are elected mayor?
“You have to relaunch some that were slowed down by the crisis. We have to resume the configuration of the small city of coexistence and education, with the necessary infrastructures and services. We have inaugurated the auditorium and now we want a powerful sports facility, we already have permission to create a health center, we want to expand the university offer and that economic wealth flows throughout the municipality and the coastal area does not remain isolated from the rest, generating thus development opportunities for our people. And, of course, we must continue working to improve mobility with projects such as the false highway tunnel”.
-Precisely, you, like other mayors of the South, have complained of a lack of foresight for decades to project the large road, health and educational infrastructures in the region, in accordance with the accelerated population growth. Has the situation improved in recent years?
“Yes, although you have to be sensible and you can’t ask for miracles. There have been important advances, there are projects and financing, which have been achieved through a new form of relationship with the State, based on cooperation and not on confrontation. This will allow us to solve the structural problems we have. I believe that there are initiatives on the horizon that will greatly alleviate the current situation in aspects such as mobility. The Cabildo is very aligned in that direction. The closure of the Island Ring will help us a lot, as will the false tunnel that will be built on the TF-1 and everything that is being done in Oroteanda. At the same time, it will be necessary to start thinking about a change of model, because the issue of mobility cannot be solved only by building many roads. Changes are needed in behavior, in the concept of public transport, etc. But I think that for the first time they are involved in all this and they are serious, with a foundation. We have to be a little patient.”
-Speaking of projects and works, are you satisfied with the steps that AENA is taking to remodel the South airport?
“Satisfied is difficult to be, but we are aware that things have their rhythm. In these last four years we cannot ask for much more. The Cabildo has obtained from AENA the commitment to develop a plan with a vision of the future and in tune with what a tourist destination like the South means”.
-And what about the South Hospital?
“There has been progress. Nor can I say that I am satisfied, because I am not, but it is necessary to recognize that progress has been made and we must continue on this path to finish a real hospital for the South and for the island of Tenerife”.
-Adeje is immersed in two pioneering projects related to sustainability, such as the Central Park and a self-sufficient energy community. Will you continue to bet on initiatives of this type if you continue in the Mayor’s Office?
“Yes, we are going to continue advancing in the line of transition and viable sustainability at the service of people’s well-being. One of the initiatives is the Central Park, which is a model linked to the primary sector and which will reinforce everything related to our traditions, crafts and gastronomy. It is a great project in which I have deposited a lot of enthusiasm”.
-The Auditorium, inaugurated this year in the center of Adeje, has been the ‘apple of its eyes’ in terms of culture. What reception is it having?
“It has been our flagship project. I am very happy, because it is covering a need and that is seen in the response from the public, with an average attendance of over 50%, which is a success for a new infrastructure. It is already on the national map and we are establishing agreements to be able to develop a top-level cultural activity”.
-In this campaign, housing has broken into forcefully. His municipality has the most expensive land in the Canary Islands, which aggravates the problem of prices for renting and buying, and highlights the need to build more social housing. What analysis do you make of this problem?
“We are experts in housing generation. We have built more than 1,000 and not of any type, with a level of quality, good location and guarantees. At the time we had a more serious problem than now, since in the midst of the tourist explosion there were no houses or anyone to build them, because all the works were concentrated in the coastal areas. We created the company and began to build houses, although with the 2008 crisis that system for developing publicly-initiated housing came to a halt. I am delighted with the new plans in this matter. We are prepared, we know how to do it, we have land and we are ready. Therefore, we will adhere to these plans and we will try to resolve access to housing in the best possible way”.
-What will happen to the Cuna del Alma hotel project, currently paralyzed?
“I think it meets all the legal requirements, it’s a very good project, respectful of the environment and represents a high-level model that also consumes few resources and benefits the people who live here. Rescue for us the beach and the enjoyment of the entire environment, which is currently inaccessible. To the extent that this is a process that has been complying with everything that is regulated, I think that Cuna del Alma will have to continue ”.
-He founded and chairs the Association of Tourist Municipalities of the Canary Islands, which has witnessed first-hand the great comeback of the sector after the pandemic. What prospects do you see in the short and medium term?
“Right now things are going very well, we are in an optimal employment situation, but there are certain uncertainties, some of which depend on us and on which we must act. We have favorable elements, such as having for the first time in history a minister from the South, Héctor Gómez. We are also working on everything that has to do with smart tourist destinations to be more efficient. To the extent that we are able to not kill the goose, I think the prospects are hopeful.”
-Speaking of expectations, what electoral results do you predict for your party at the regional level and in the Cabildo?
“My party is presenting itself with great dignity and with a good resume to these elections, both at the island and regional level. We have two very clear leaders, Ángel Víctor Torres and Pedro Martín, also demonstrated in very complicated, unprecedented circumstances. A job has been done that is less confrontational with Madrid, more cooperative. I am one of those who believe that dialogue, which is not exempt from the necessary firmness and clear demands, usually gives more results than uncontrolled confrontation facing the gallery. There is the result with the highway plans and in the resources that have come to the Canary Islands. We must consolidate in the coming years this line of work that has meant a change for the Archipelago and for Tenerife”.
-What scenario of pacts does it contemplate at the regional level?
“We are a party with a vocation for government and we want to complete the tasks that we have started. We will talk with the other political formations and we will walk with those that best suit our schemes. The pacts have worked in the Government of the Canary Islands and in the Cabildo. They would probably be the best options.”
-And what do you sense that can happen in the general elections?
“There are uncertainties. Pedro Sánchez’s leadership and his commitment to Spanish society are setting the course. He has shown great resilience.”
-Which politician has influenced you the most after so much time in public office? Which has left the most mark on you?
“I come from that romantic generation of Alfonso Guerra and Felipe González, who marked me because we came from the desert for 40 years and entered the Promised Land. Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba has also left a mark on me because of his commitment to society and his concept of the State. Perhaps that is missed a little today”.