Compromís and PSPV reject the proposal as an "inopportune" moment due to the ongoing judicial cases affecting the ex-councilor's surroundings.
VALÈNCIA, Sep 26.
The plenary session of the City Council of València has approved on Tuesday to posthumously grant the title of Honorary Mayor of the city to the former mayor with the PP, Rita Barberá. This decision was supported by the governing team formed by the PP and presided over by María José Catalá, as well as Vox, one of the three opposition groups in the council considered a "preferred partner" by the municipal executive.
The recognition of the former mayor came to the plenary session after passing through the Cultural Commission, along with the rest of Honors and Distinctions that the City Council will grant on October 6th, coinciding with the celebration of 9 d'Octubre, the Day of the Valencian Community, to individuals and entities that have worked for the city and have made it known. The initiative has been rejected by Compromís and PSPV, who have considered it inappropriate to pay homage due to the ongoing judicial cases affecting the ex-mayor's surroundings.
The appointment of Barberá as Honorary Mayor aims to recognize that during her 24 years leading the City Council, she brought the city "to international prominence and urban well-being not known before or after her term." "Today we recognize the work of an extraordinary woman, forever uniting her name with that of València. Today we award Rita Barberá the highest distinction of this city," said PP spokesperson Juan Carlos Caballero.
Thus, he assured that they emphasize "the role of Rita Barberá, who was a regional deputy in Les Corts from the first term until 2015, president of the FEMP, senator, and mayor of València for 24 years." "This, and no other, was the most important position she held in her life, her fullest vocation. She could have been many more things, but she always said no because València was always the beginning and end of her political aspirations," added Caballero during the debate, in which Vox did not participate.
The deputy spokesperson for Compromís, Papi Robles, stated that their group rejected this recognition "not because they are against the figure of Rita Barberá," but because they believe it is not the right time to grant such distinction due to unresolved judicial cases affecting her government's periods and her family. Thus, she asked to "let time pass" so that these processes conclude in court and to "discuss" after their resolution.
Robles insisted on the "inopportune" and "unfortunate" timing and pointed out that "Compromís, when Barberá no longer has pending legal cases, will sit down" to address this issue, while stating that in this way, the local government and this proposal could count on the support of the entire council. "Let corruption cases conclude," she reiterated.
The Compromís representative added that the recognition proposed by the PP for the former leader of their party also seems "hypocritical," considering that the party "abandoned" and "expelled" Rita Barberá from its ranks, in addition to supporting her decision to "resign as a senator." "It wasn't us," highlighted Papi Robles, who specified that three members of the current València government team—Mayor María José Catalá, First Deputy Mayor María José Ferrer San Segundo, and Juan Carlos Caballero—voted in favor of those measures in Les Corts.
"This has just turned into a confessional and not a plenary session of the City Council. It smells like incense to cover up their shame," reproached the PP, also criticizing the use of Honors and Distinctions by the council to "cure" the "sins" of those who left the former mayor "alone." "The lynching of Rita Barberá came from there, from the PP," emphasized Robles.
In line with this, the spokesperson for PSPV-PSOE, Sandra Gómez, stated that "it seems that the PP's conscience is weighing heavily" and ensured that the plenary session should not be used "to cleanse anyone's conscience."
Gómez stated that "the management or successes or mistakes of those who have held the Mayor's Office in the city" are not being evaluated and pointed out that the question is whether "it is appropriate to appoint an Honorary Mayor to a person" around whom there are "ongoing judicial cases" —she recalled that relatives and members of her government and team are being investigated— and issues related to "corruption."
"Can a mayor who could have been convicted of corruption be appointed Honorary Mayor? That is the question. From my point of view, a resounding no," exposed the socialist, who added that if Barberá had not passed away, "she would be under investigation today." "When a person is gone, they are respected, but they are not sanctified. Today, they are disrespecting her memory," she told the PP.
In response to Compromís and PSPV, Caballero regretted that they seek to "muddy politics" and position themselves in the "political trenches" and pointed out that "the stature of a politician is demonstrated in situations like this, when they set aside their differences and recognize leadership."
The plenary session unanimously approved granting the Gold Medal of the City to the València Orchestra on its 80th anniversary; and the Silver and Bronze Medal—with the abstention of PSPV-PSOE, which requested it to be the Gold one—to Firefighters Without Borders and Bombers Pel Món for their work in humanitarian emergencies.
In addition, with the support of the entire council, they appointed Carmen Calvo, Rafael Solaz, Pilar Mateo, and José Arnau as Favorite Sons and Daughters, and Nino Bravo, Asunción Sánchez Abellán, Sole Giménez, Esmerado Castillo, Carlos San Juan, Eva Vizcarra, Julio Ciges Marín, and Blanca Pons-Sorolla as Adopted Sons and Daughters "for their invaluable contribution to science, the arts, music, the humanities, and València."