Everything is ready for the proposed protest against the TC ruling that restricts the Estatut after it was endorsed by the citizens of Catalunya (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The dispute over how to lead the demonstration has been resolved and the focus is now on how to facilitate the flow of demonstrators across the city. The marchers will walk under two official slogans, Som una nació (We are a nation) and Nosaltres decidim (We decide) and will carry an enormous horizontal Catalan flag, positioned behind José Montilla, President of the Generalitat, the president of Parliament, Ernest Benach and former presidents Jordi Pujol and Pascual Maragall. José Montilla, together with Jordi Hereu, the mayor of Barcelona, reiterated their calls for the mobilisation of the people of Catalunya with Montilla saying "To fight for the dignity of the country we have to do many things", adding "When there is an aggression, sometimes you have to take to the street." Montilla, also the first secretary of the PSC party, has sent a letter to the militants of his party asking for them to participate in a "peaceful and exemplary" way. The leader of CiU has also sent a letter to the militants of the federación nacionalista, appealing to their patriotic duty to defend the dignity of the country. The Jordi Hereu delivered a denouncement against the ruling several days ago and offered to hold the protest in the city - however, in a move that has been sharply criticised by the PP and the CiU PSC, the ayuntamiento have offered to install a giant screen to watch the final of the World Cup final.
The president of the Hotel Guild, that represents the hoteliers of Barcelona, Jordi Clos, stormed out of a meeting yesterday in protest over a proposed €1 tourist tax (read article in Castilian here, El Pais). An idea that has been discarded before, the tourist tax idea has resurfaced lately, with Clos reacting badly to the proposed measures saying "What Harvard, or Oxford [graduate] thought that €1 would have no impact?, To gain €1 you threaten to lose €500 because tourists will go elsewhere." He branded the idea as reckless and recalled that the guild was the "only representative body of the hotel world." The idea has resurfaced again because, Joan Gaspart, president of the hotel chain HUSA and of the Barcelona Tourism Consortium, which was always against the fee, said he now saw it as the appropriate time to introduce it in a bid to generate resources and to strengthen the promotion of tourism in Barcelona at a time of limited private and public resources and increased competition. The consortium has undertaken internal studies but has not yet decided whether to incorporate the fee. Clos's rejection is based on two factors, the "unfairness" that the fee will only be applied to tourists who stay in Barcelona and not other Spanish cities, plus that it will only be applicable to tourists who stay hotels. He went on to argue that "I myself will do advertising in my hotels in Madrid saying 'here we do not charge tax', and so will the hotels close to the FIRA in L'Hospiialet de LLobregat" who would be exempt from the ruling. Clos also argued that he would be against the rate even if it was introduced across the country and insists that the ayuntamiento will propose a generalisation, however a spokesman for the Ministerio de Industria, which encompasses the tourist industry said that he had not seen a proposal to introduce the tourist tax throughout the country.
Work on the high-speed AVE line is to cut off streets Provença and Enric Granados for 10 months (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Adif, is to start work on 13 jobs that will occupy the Eixample up to C. Aribau, with work thought to take around six months. This latest stage is to the be last major involvement in the Eixample area for the AVE tunnel project. The manager of infrastructure Adif and the ayuntamiento of Barcelona announced the proposed plans in a meeting last night to neighbours and business owners who were concerned that they would be kept in the dark about the work, which is thought to cut circulation of streets Provença and Enric Granados for 10 months. The impact will be significant but less than the three other sites in the area where they have built holes for mechanical maintenance and future emergency exits for the tunnel. In the case of Enric Granados the dig site has been reduced by half from 18 metres to 9 metres for underground technical reasons. This change will primarily affect the duration of the work, which was originally timetabled for 16 months. The occupation of road machinery and parts will cut off pavements on Provença from Enric Granados to Aribau, plus the diversion of traffic and access to car parks will vary slightly due to the change. The work is to be done in three phases, from September services will be diverted, and until December, the hardest part of the work will take place, namely the excavation of the hole and the movement of soil. Until April, 2011, noisy equipment will be used to make mud walls with a hidrofresh system, with the tunnel passing through the area between February and March, but in May, the work should be complete and the area will be reopened. Around 50 residents and business owners were present at the meeting last night with the main criticisms concerning noise, access, security and work on Saturdays. The ayuntamiento and Adif said that one traffic lane would remain open for access to car parks, lighting and special monitoring.
Also in the news: Barcelona hotels ask for the power to deal with denuncias for thefts involving their guests (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Del Bosque claimed in a digital conversation with readers of El Pais that "We did little to Germany." (read article in Castilian here, El Pais).