Gran Via number 12, a splendid white building dating back to 1914, has seen many things in its 107 years of history, including the Spanish Civil War. But, at ground level lives the legendary Bar Chicote, once crowned the best in the world by MTV in 2004. Its bar top has seated a long list of personalities including Ernest Hemingway, Sofia Loren and Salvador Dalí, as well as royalty, sports, politics and intellectualism.
Siempre he creído que los bares de toda la vida son lugares inspiradores. Son puertas de entrada al Madrid obrero, al alma migrante y también son involuntariamente bonitos, tal y como lo es la ciudad.
On Sunday, 2 May, the night before the Madrid election, a group of activists broke into a derelict hotel in the centre of Madrid. Upon entering, they found 112 abandoned en-suite bedrooms, a decaying Andalusian patio, three large salons with a hundred wooden chairs, a sturdy stainless steel kitchen and an overall perfect space to build the youngest generation of social project La Ingobernable (The Ungovernable).
In 1950, amateur photographer Vicente Nieto Canedo took a photo of a maths teacher who was working at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Gráficas in Chamberí. It was so unusual to see a Black teacher that Canedo understood this an important moment to capture.
Madrid is world-famous for its lively LGBTQ+ scene, multiculturalism and the hedonistic Movida Madrileña which undeniably lives on. But, in the background of Pride celebrations and behind balconies decorated with feminist symbols, residents of the Comunidad de Madrid are denied fundamental freedoms.
On 4 May, the Comunidad de Madrid will go to the polls electing the 136 deputies that make up the Regional Assembly. One of the crown jewels of Spain’s autonomous regions, the election is also a bellwether for the broader mood of the country and a chance for the region to give its verdict on the response to the pandemic that has killed nearly 15,000 people in the Comunidad alone.
The Right is famous for writing and re-writing school history books in favour of conservative narratives, distorting society’s view from an early age. Now, they want to hinder children’s understanding of the world even further by censoring feminism and LGBTQ+ rights.
I know Serigne Mbaye from the grassroots activism circuit in Lavapiés, where he regularly frontlines at protests with powerful anti-racism speeches. It’s no surprise to those who know him that he’s now running for election in the Madrid Regional Government with Unidas Podemos, where he’s set to become one of Spain’s first Black members of parliament, and achieve many other firsts too.
The Cañada Real is a 16km linear neighbourhood made up of six sectors which skirt the east of Madrid. Sectors 5 and 6, where residents are mostly Roma, Gitanx and Moroccan, have been without electricity for more than six months.
The pandemic hasn’t affected everyone equally. In fact, it has exacerbated and deepened pre-existing inequalities. During lockdown last year, Madrid alone recorded a 37% increase in calls to its regional helpline for gender violence. Due to the pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic, women in the capital have evidently been disproportionately affected in comparison with their male counterparts.
Period poverty is an umbrella term describing the socioeconomic barriers which prevent women, girls, and people who menstruate from managing their periods safely, and with dignity. It manifests itself in various ways, from the unseen (skipping meals to scrape together money for tampons and toilet paper) to the severe (lacking access to a bath or shower).
First of all, we need to stop calling unaccompanied migrant children menas. This is an acronym for menores extranjeros no acompañados (unaccompanied foreign minors) – in other words, children who leave their country and travel alone without the company of an adult.
Lavapiés, Usera, Carabanchel, Vallecas, Orcasitas and Villaverde have a high percentage of immigrant residents but also some of the lowest percentages of people with the right to vote. In Lavapiés, the most multicultural neighbourhood in Spain, up to a third of residents hold a foreign passport and, even if they’re registered here and pay their taxes, they still don’t have the right to vote in regional and national elections.
When it comes to environmental policies between the left and right in Madrid, the difference is a chasm. On the left, turning Madrid into a green capital and world leader in sustainability is one of the fundamental tenets of the campaign. On the other side, the views range from members of ultra-right Vox who deny climate change exists to the more mainstream – and arguably more dangerous – point of view of the PP, which is that climate change is happening, it just doesn’t really matter.
Over the last 26 years, the right-wing government have sold off most of Madrid’s social housing, leaving the stock at an all-time low. Let’s break down why this process harms young people, migrants, women, single parents and the elderly, and what Madrid’s left-wing vs right-wing parties are pledging to do about it.