Ricard and the two shores


Miguel Àngel Villena. 10.07.2020.


During the 1980’s the cultural policy of the Valencia’s City Council was based on a defined line named Mediterranean. The creation and the boost of initiatives as the “Mostra de Cine” or the “Trobada de Musica” didn’t answer to any ruler whim or any desire of celebration of the people, but they target the goal of placing the Valencia’s capital as an important city in the Mediterranean environment. Four decades later, some of this projects disappeared during the long populist and conservatory night lead by Rita Barbera, others have been recovered during the last years with Joan Ribo, perhaps with different names, and also new plans which established renovated cultural objectives.

But this strategic bet made during the 1980’s, has been unfortunately dilute by vagueness and indolence. This Mediterranean policy bear the name of Ricard Pérez Casado, mayor of the city during one decade, between 1979 and 1988. Maybe the city, its elites and its neighbours, its political representatives and its social organizations, don’t aspire to a Mediterranean leadership any more. But it’s irrefutable that Pérez Casado remains passionate by the study of a sea which stamps a character to all the natives of its rives. And concerning rives, Ricard just published a clarifying and lucid book, Las desigualdades mediterráneas, reto del siglo XXI (La Catarata) [Inequalities in the Mediterranean, XXI century challenge] which analyses, with a geopolitical focus, the numerous challenges which are facing the people of the northern rive but also and especially the people of the south.

This new intellectual incursion of the ex-mayor in this region proves that the initiatives from the 1980’s weren’t propagandist mannerisms, as some people describe them at this time. On the contrary, it was a preoccupation rooted in a ruler who the next years, held important positions in this geographic area, as UE administrator in the Bosnian city of Mostar, and president of the delegate commission of the European Institute of the Mediterranean. At this point, the last book of Pérez Casado, propelled by the Mediterranean Citizens Assembly Foundation, goes beyond the informative dripping of the migrant dinghies arrivals or the military conflicts in different rives of the sea, to focus him on geography, history, environment and economy, without forgetting the alternatives which he proposes as for the institutions than for the civil society.

This instructive essay has been prepared during several years, either in a loneliness office or a library, but also in the streets of the Mediterranean which have been visited by Ricard during these years. A blending of theory and practice, of read reality and lived experience,  Las desigualdades mediterráneas, reto del siglo XXI offers the tools very useful for every people who desire develop their knowledge of the turbulent waters of our sea. For all these reasons, we have to thank the author, its important effort and highlight its role of writer and ruler. Gregorio Peces-Barba, who died in 2012 and was president of the Spanish congress and rector of the Carlos III University, said that the most important defect of the Spanish rulers was the lack of culture. Obviously nobody could say that about Ricard Pérez Casado.