They do not have an assigned place in the bank. As they arrive, starting at 11 in the morning, take a seat and support where they can the happy crutch and the bag with the four things; bread, about the pharmacy and some of the super. Today Elvira and Carmen They are the ones in the middle and tomorrow it may be their turn Angels and Tina. Between the four, they add up to 357 years and are the heritage of Poble Sec; heritage of the San Madrona square. They remember the “Mr. Isidro” foundry, on that corner; from the laundry next to the bar; from the cold stone benches; of the square without asphalt “and everything full of earth”; from the sun that came in in the morning because there were no buildings there. And no, they don’t think this is particularly dirty right now. “Not especially clean,” adds Elvira, by far the most jacaranda, at 95 years old. Santa Madrona is one of the 10 priority intervention points according to him cleaning plan presented two weeks ago by the municipal government and that has already begun to deploy. And it happens a bit like in the rest of the epicenters of Barcelona’s dirt: concentration of people, passage area, flowerbeds and incivism. And a little urban deficiency.
The metaphor becomes self-explanatory if we remember that Barcelona had three patrons, the Virgen de la Merced, Santa Eulalia and Santa Madrona. The first two are there in contention although La Mercè maintains a certain advantage, while the third had to get out of the competition and was in the most absolute ostracism. Less in the dry town, where it is remembered every March 15 and there are still two churches (in addition to the square) that remember it. The metaphor comes from oblivion, and the dirty feeling it is a bit that, neglect.
“This is worse than ever. The last of these months has been the appearance of rats”
Josep, owner of the Bar Palmer, opened by his grandfather in 1944, is one of those who believes that this square is “worse than ever”. “We have repeatedly complained to the city council about the pigeon shit, bottles, cans, food scraps. And lately, also because of the appearance of rats, which is the novelty of the last few months. “He has been working in Santa Madrona for 34 years and raises the blind at a quarter past six in the morning. perception of decayHowever, it does not limit it only to this square. He maintains that abandonment is common throughout Poble Sec. “He’s made a shit,” he sums up.
From the city council they remember that this is a “area of high concentration of neighbors“Both for those who are passing through and for those who stay here to spend some time. A municipal spokesperson also recalls that there is a day center for the homeless next door” and that add more movement“In 2019, residents and merchants already complained about coexistence problems and requested the change of location of this social facility.
The district then told Betevé that they were working to find a solution and that a joint operation of social services, the Urban Guard and municipal cleaning staff was underway. But Maximum Montori, empowered Friends of the Plaza de Santa Madrona, says that the situation remains practically the same, because the entire hillside of Montjuïc “is full of people sleeping who live in the neighborhood during the day.” This association, by the way, was born in 1992 to vindicate the local use of the place before the irruption of a phenomenon that today is the shot of every day: the bottles.
Màxim says that Poble Sec is a place with narrow streets, and that the little open space out there is used intensively, which is understandable in a also so dense city like Barcelona; with such limited urbanism. He complains about a place that does not follow the allowed hours and that it generates unwanted activity. “Where there are people, there are usually lateros“, he details. And with regard to dirt, he maintains that it is a problem for the entire neighborhood, not just for the square.” There is a tendency to spend enough of everything, to leave the trash out of bins or in bins. It also doesn’t help that the bins are so old and abandoned. We have called the city hall many times, but they have other urgencies to attend to. ”
A cleaning worker with the pressure jet defends that they do what they can, but that they can’t cope. “To leave the city well it would take a lot more staff,” he says. In Santa Madrona, he argues, bird poop is hell (two fall as he goes by with the hose), garbage bags in the bins and “the dog droppings and what are not dogs“. Elvira, whose knee is a bit sore, complains about having to lift your legs so they can water. “Can’t they come in at six in the morning?” He agrees with Tina, Àngels and Carmen that there is dirt, “but nothing fancy either.”
Although they usually stay until one, at half past twelve on Monday it starts to rain and the four friends go home. If the weather is nice, they will see each other again in the afternoon. “And God willing, tomorrow morning at the same time,” Elvira says goodbye.