Sunday, 22 November 2009

In The Ghetto

Volem Un Barri Digne! reads the slogan. It means We Want A Decent Neighbourhood and is a common sight on signs hanging from the balconies of parts of El Born, El Raval and other barrios of Barcelona, where the residents feel aggrieved by the incivisme - poor public behaviour - in their community. The chief concerns are noise, public urination, drugs and prostitution. 

So it was with some amazement that I read that this slogan was being imported into Poble Sec at the instigation of the Unió d'Associacions de Veïns and is now being hung over the balconies of a few flats in our barri. Worse still, this - according to the press -  indicated a rending of the social fabric of Poble Sec, as this (as yet notional)  lack of respect for one's neighbours was being blamed on - you guessed it - us immigrants.

It didn't take the usual suspects to long to join the (largely non-existent) dots. Newspaper and web reports were quick to pick up on the meme, and soon the online comment threads were seething with racist hatred directed against the uncivilised  üntermenschen who had turned Poble Sec into a cross between East Baltimore, the South Bronx and Compton.

In a later post I intend to make a more sober analysis of this unalloyed nonsense. But I couldn't resist the opportunity for scrawling a stream of angry and heavy-handed irony first. 

If you'd rather read a masterful point-by-point rebuttal of all the vile accusations the shit-for-brains commentators have been peddling  - and can read Catalan, I urge you to check out Julía's blog posting. In the meantime, here's my rant: 

A typical everyday scene in  the neighbourhood. 

Straight Outta Poble Sec

The truth is finally there for all to see - Poble Sec is being taken over and ruined by immigrants. Having lived here for five years, and spending most of our free time in the many bars and restaurants of the barri, attending many of its cultural events, and making friends with local residents, we were obviously completely blind to the fact that we were actually part of a wave of mutilation breaking over the neighbourhood, leaving a spew of whores, junkies and dealers, turds and pools of piss, all cavorting (or fighting) to an unholy symphony of screams, shouts - and bachata

Thankfully, highly educated, balanced and free-thinking individuals, posting comments on articles such as this in La Vanguardia, plucked the scales from my eyes - and I’m now thoroughly chastened from the realisation that I and my fellow foreigners have generally screwed up the Earthly paradise that was Poble Sec before our detestable arrival. I hang my head in shame - and if you are not a full-blooded Catalan and currently sucking on the teat of Barcelona’s infinite generosity, I urge you to do so, too. 

As ‘Una Altra del Poble Sec’ helpfully points out: 

c. Blai is taken by a legion of dirty, disgusting Dominicans, lazy unemployed and criminals. The Pakis (sic) do not reach the same levels of degradation. IMMIGRATION IS A CANCER. Do you understand now??. If we do not solve the problem NOW, voting for a RADICAL change, this riffraff will soon be able to vote…

There is a similarly courageous vanguard of free-thinking progressive radicals in any culture, and - sad to say - they are disappointingly shriveled minority. A much more watered-down view was taken by the original press articles,  which seemed to be championing the concerned citizenry, with headlines such as Poble Sec Joins In With El Raval To Ask For A Decent Neighborhood, pointing out what must be obvious to anyone with eyes to see that it is currently NOT a decent barrio. And as a result of this rising and historically unique phenomenon of poor behaviour - centering on c. Blai, Tapioles and Blasco de Garay, with supporting roles from Plaça de Bella Dorita - the president of the Unió d'Associacions de Veïns del Poble-sec, Jordí Bargall has sensibly taken upon himself to speak for the entire community in order to communicate the message that: 

this is not the neighborhood that we want... the increasing problems (are) bad public behaviour, drugs and the increase of immigration.

Of course, needing to pander to the liberal élite values that so perniciously cling to any talk of the invading hordes, Bargalló does not make the all-too-obvious connection between the immigrants and other curses inflicted on the barri. Thankfully, many of his sympathisers do not mince their words in the same way - as we have seen. 


  1. Hi Mike,
    Tried to cath you at La Fontaine yesterday but you had just left. Trilce told me about this blog of yours, it's quite cool! I just added it to my reader. Could you give me a bell or send me a mail, please, have a question I'm sure you can answer. My details are at my blog (couldn't find yours here).
    Eva (your Dutch neighbour)

  2. Hola Mike!!

    Estoy encantado de leer tu blog y de saber que estas publicando tus ideas, comentarios, criticas, etc etc, en fin, tu creatividad!

    Un abrazo!

    Juan, otro inmigrante ;-)

  3. Esta pagina la he encontrado por una busqueda de Google... Esta primavera pasada, mi mujer y yo estabamos viajando por España en plan "puto turista yanqui"... Nos habiamos encontrado perdidos cerca de la avenida paralelo, y vimos estos carteles sobre "el barrio digno" ese que querian. A mi me parecio mas o menos normal. Unos inmigrantes del sur de Asia, que nos miraban con cara de "que coño haceis aqui", pero bueno, no me parecio "indigno" ni inseguro. Me he sentido mucho menos comodo en las calles de Washington y Nueva York que en aquellas que teneis en Barcelona.

    Un saludo desde Estados Unidos,