SOS Sagrada Família
This March 20, at 7:30 p.m., before the “Nativity” façade of Barcelona’s Sagrada Família Temple, between its bordering streets, Carrer Mallorca and Carrer Provença, there will be a candle-light protest vigil to make Catalans (especially Barcelonans) aware of the brutal attack about to befall Gaudí’s masterpiece: the high-speed train (known by its French acronym “TGV”, for Train à Grande Vitesse), will be routed so that it passes a mere 75 centimeters from the building’s foundations. Tomorrow’s grassroots act of protest will consist of the lighting of over 20,000 candles, the reading of a manifesto, and a performance by the Temple’s boy’s choir, l’Escolania de la Sagrada Família. So far, there have already been two cave-ins along Carrer Mallorca, very near the Font and Maiol passages, which has sounded the general alarm regarding the building’s well-being. That is, for everyone except the Socialist Party, which is imposing the route.
Many have questioned the Party’s motives for doing this “the hard way,” when it would be much more economical and more reasonable to choose pre-existing coastal or inland routes (for example, through El Vallès). No justification has been given, however, because there simply is none: running these high-speed trains within inches of this architectural masterpiece is a political, and not a technical, decision, and those behind it are José Montilla, Joaquim Nadal, Jordi Hereu, and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. In a show of utter disdain for the thousands of signatures collected in protest, and of the professional opinions of internationally renowned experts, and displaying a complete lack of simple common sense, they continue wanting to subject this, Gaudí’s most emblematic work, and the most universally recognized symbol of Catalonia, to the risk of crumbling its foundations, at the same time putting innumerable people at risk of death, victims of an event that would provoke an international media blitz similar to that regarding the destruction of the Twin Towers, or the hypothetical destruction of Tower of London. In fact, major international news media, including the New York Times, the Guardian, and Le Monde, are already covering the case, as is German television, which recently broadcast a report titled “Tunneling Against the Temple:” “This terrible event could become reality. The most important and most emblematic symbol of Barcelona, the Temple of the Holy Family, could be brought crashing down.” The International Herald Tribune and the NY Times recently published statements by MIT Professor J. Mark Schuster, who said, “’To consciously endanger a World Heritage site is an act of thoughtless vandalism.”
But these vandals, the Socialist Party, respond to protests by yawning and looking away. Only other political parties (assuming any of them retain a sense of national dignity), in conjunction with the Catalan people themselves, will be able to avoid this catastrophe. There is still time to stop this barbarism ordered by Catalan and Spanish representatives of the Socialist Party from an office in Madrid. The Socialist Party has nothing but disgust for anything related to symbols of Catalan national identity, and we have witnessed this malignancy wherever it touches the life of our nation: in the (intentionally engineered) collapse of our rail system, the cave-in in Barcelona’s neighborhood of El Carmel, the massive black-out of 2007, the brushfire tragedies of L’Horta de Sant Joan, or the chaos that resulted from the lack of coping mechanisms against the snow this past March and the subsequent collapse of third-world-quality electrical infrastructures. If the Sagrada Família collapses, some committee will end up investigating itself, and not a single head would ever roll. Ever.
For all of the above, it is so very important to be one of those lighting over 20,000 candles at the “SOS” protest for the Sagrada Família on March 20th. Only by stopping this attempt to assassinate a national symbol can we save ourselves from future ridicule and shame. A people that does not defend its heritage is a people condemned to disappear. We must stop this barbarism, out of respect for Gaudí’s work, and out of respect for ourselves.
Note: This article was originally written and published by Víctor Alexandre in Catalan here
Thanks to Heather Hayes and Sal Constans for the translation.
Also, more information on the subject on the NY Times