Barcelona wants to put a halt to the increased incidences of botellons, which see groups of people, often teenagers, gather in public spaces to drink (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). With the arrival of the good weather, people are taking advantage not only of the city's beaches and café terraces, but also enjoying the many open spaces to drink from bottles, cans or glasses with groups of friends. The botellón has become a daily urban ritual in Spain and Barcelona city council, conscious of their popularity, has increased security in perceived trouble spots, such as areas with a lot of nightlife, internal patios in Eixample buildings and squares in Gràcia and Ciutat Vella. While botellons take place throughout the year, the good weather sees their number increase considerably, as has been witnessed in recent weekends. For instance, in February this year, police issued 2,786 official reports related to botellons, an increase of 14 percent compared to the same month in 2010.
The future of all-night opening on Barcelona's metro system on Saturday nights has appeared once again as part of pre-election campaigning (read article in Catalan here, Avui). In an interview on radio station RAC1 yesterday, the Catalan minister for territory and mobility, Damià Calvet of CiU, said that he didn't think it would necessarily be a bad thing to stop the all-night service on the metro. He was speaking about the issue of train security following recent incidents of violence at stations and on trains. Asked whether he thought some train stations should be closed at night, Calvet agreed that certain stations that are served by the local train service Rodalies should be shut at night on weekend. Regarding the decision over the metro's timetable, Calvet said that it was up to the city council and TMB, the organisation in charge of public transport here. However, it is actually the Generalitat that would decide on the service's fate because it provides financing for such timetable extensions though the Autoritat Metropolitana del Transport. Calvet's words provoked criticism from the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) and Iniciativa per a Catalunya (ICV); the spokesman for ICV in the Ajuntament, Ricard Gomà, called on the CiU candidate for Barcelona mayor, Xavier Trias, to say whether he was planning to cut the Saturday night metro. Calvet's department was subsequently forced to issue a statement saying that it was not planning to suppress the service. This is not the first time that the issue has been raised as part of electioneering. The service was first introduced one month before the last municipal elections in 2007 after the previous president of the Generalitat José Montilla announced it in his campaigning for the 2006 government elections.
The president of the Generalitat, Artur Mas, said yesterday that his government has "marked out territory" from the Spanish central government, during an analysis of his first 100 days as president (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). That was how he defined his relationship with the administration of Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero—while Mas said that he wasn't looking for confrontation, he explained that, more than once, the Generalitat had had to say "no" to the demands of Zapatero's administration, and as such "we're not afraid of confrontation, if we come to it." His talk was titled '100 days of change' and given at the Palau del Generalitat, where he was accompanied by his entire cabinet and representatives of all the parliamentary groups, some 300 people in total. His speech focused on the attitudes that the government has adopted in its first three months or so, noting that it strove to tell the truth, even if it was painful. Mas also said that measures weren't taken to do harm for harm's sake and he admitted that some of the actions that they'd taken - in reference to spending cuts - wouldn't have been necessary in other circumstances.