ZOE CORPAS/GEORGINA CORTÉS Barcelona (EFE).- Gabriel Fernàndez Díaz is the candidate of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) in Sabadell and the first mayor of Latin American origin of this city in the Barcelona beltway, the fifth most populous in Catalonia: “ I always tell my children that Uruguay will always be our land, but our country is Catalonia and our city, Sabadell”.
Born in Montevideo (Uruguay), Gabriel Fernàndez arrived in Catalonia twenty years ago to study a postgraduate degree in social integration at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, at the same time that he received the proposal to direct the ‘Estiu solidari’ project to train young cooperating volunteers to send them to Latin America.
Fernández is already a councilor-spokesperson for the independence party in Sabadell and is the main opposition leader in the current council, led by the socialist Marta Farrés.
Political concern comes from a young age. “I have always linked my social and militant activity to social changes and transformation. But it was not until I arrived in Catalonia that I was a member of a political party, I was never a member of my country of origin”, explains the head of the ERC list in Sabadell in an interview with EFE in the municipal elections on May 28.
leap into politics
Fernàndez took the step into Catalan politics in 2009, but it was in 2014 when Toni Comín (European deputy and prosecuted for the 1-O referendum) proposed to Esquerra Republicana to present Gabriel Fernàndez to take his place in the European elections.
Subsequently, in the 2015 municipal elections, he was the campaign manager for the Republican candidacy of Juli Fernàndez, who won the mayoralty, four council positions and he invited Gabriel Fernàndez to join his list as Councilor for Social Affairs.
His ambition to want to generate changes in the world and social improvements are very marked by his career in the ‘scouts’ for more than twenty years.
“My motivation in life has always been in the fight for a better world, or as I learned in the ‘scouts’, to leave this world a little better than you found it. And that means taking sides, making a choice, and that also means conflict”, explains the Uruguayan from Sabadell.
Catalan by adoption and by option
Fernàndez’s family settled in Sabadell in 2003. “I am very grateful to the people of Sabadell, because I always found people wanting to help a family that at that time had done something that is very difficult, which is emigrate”, says the councilor.
Sabadell was the first city that Fernàndez arrived at, and the last, since this great bond created with the inhabitants of the place has meant that the candidate has never wanted to leave the city of Valles, and has chosen to integrate and fight for it.
“I always tell my children: Uruguay will always be our land, but the country is Catalonia, and our city is Sabadell,” explains the candidate.
Gabriel Fernàndez is clear that social integration works, and that his candidacy is an example of this and a great message for society, not only in the city, but also in the country.
“I feel very happy to live here, to have been welcomed by the people of this city and this country, but at the same time I have also chosen to feel Catalan”, says Fernàndez.
“Latinos for Gabriel”
Gabriel Fernàndez was proclaimed as the ERC candidate for mayor of Sabadell in the November primaries of last year, with 94% of the votes as the only candidate.
“That my colleagues have chosen me as a candidate, and if the citizens choose me as mayor, it is not because I was born in another country, it is because of who I am as a person”, explains Gabriel Fernàndez.
In this electoral period, a platform has also been born that has supported the Republican candidate from day one. It is called “Latinos por Gabriel”, formed by Latin American entities and citizens of Sabadell.
Aware that his possible mayoralty would be a historical event, Fernàndez thanks all those who support him unconditionally: “I encourage all Latinos to help me, I need the Latin vitamin.”
However, the candidate is clear that he does not want to be the mayor of some, but rather wants to be the mayor of all. “People who were born here, when they see that I speak Catalan, and that Catalan is not entirely perfect, but there is a desire to be, they get excited. Just like Latinos get excited when they know they can have their first Latino mayor”, says Fernàndez.
The head of the ERC list is clear that he wants to become the mayor of Sabadell, with that motivation to generate social changes and take sides for things.
“If it has happened that there has been a black president in the United States, a first mayor of Pakistani origin in London… well, the time has come for the first Latino mayor in Europe in an important city, at least in Catalonia”, affirms the candidate.