Purse lifting and freestyle peeing: the other Madrid Olympics
Neighbourhood residents call attention to neglect of area amidst grandiose plans for 2016 Olympics.
5 December 2007
MADRID - "The Madrid 2016 Olympic committee has already chosen its logo. Now you can choose the top sporting activity in Lavapiés. Participate, choose and vote. It's better to laugh than to cry." This is how some residents in the rundown central Madrid neighbourhood of Lavapiés, using a blog on the internet, are highlighting the neglect of the neighbourhood by the same municipal authorities who are making grandiose plans for Olympic Madrid.
"We don't want to give a bad image of Lavapiés - just to draw attention to its problems," say Andrés, Iván and Carol, three of the organisers of the campaign. On Saturday about 30 people went out to stick up posters.
Andrés and Iván, two thirty-something graphic designers, are the inventors of the Olympic Lavapiés poster, which features icons of the different Olympic "sports" considered suitable for Lavapiés. These include "purse lifting," synchronised eviction" and "urban fencing." There's a total of 16 "sports," from which you can choose what you consider to be the top sport in the neighbourhood. You can vote in ballot boxes placed in the neighbourhood pharmacies and bread shops, or at www.lavapiésolimpico.blogspot.com. More than a thousand people have already expressed their preferences among sports such as "freestyle peeing," "stolen goods relay race" and "dog mess obstacle course."
"Problems have been building up here because of continued neglect by the municipality," said Andrés. A spokesman for the city council, Pedro Calvo, responded that the campaign has "certain political interests" behind it.
The group express surprise at this. "He should say just what political interests he thinks we have," says Carol, "and he should offer proof." "If they do something about these problems, I would take the posters down tomorrow," says Andrés. "We're not doing this for fun - we have lots of other things to do."
"The local council says that Madrid is preparing to host the Olympics. So we are just trying to join in the Olympic spirit," says Iván. Carol explains that "the problem is that lots of money is being invested in Madrid's image abroad, but not in what really builds a city - which is the people who live in it."
The group insists that it is not trying to convey a negative image. "People who live here love Lavapiés. The immigrants are integrated, and the neighbourhood association movement is stronger here than in other parts of the city," says Carol. "But that doesn't mean we don't have problems here." The campaign, she adds, will continue with other events, such as passing an Olympic torch, while "we are preparing an Olympic anthem, with music and lyrics."
[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL. / IÑIGO GARCÍA 2007]
Subject: Spanish news