The mayor of Adeje, José Miguel Rodríguez Fraga invited the non-Spanish press based in Tenerife to the Adeje Cultural Centre during the week to meet with them, to outline the important role they can play in spreading important information to the many citizens in the borough who might not speak Spanish, and to answer any questions they had regarding the borough of Adeje, the work of Adeje Council, and in particular the mayor’s determination to make the borough a by-word for integration and harmonious co-existence, or ‘convivencia’.
Representatives of the English, Russian, German and Italian speaking press attending the informal meeting, which was conducted in Spanish and English, with newspapers, radio, magazines and online reporters present. Mayor Fraga made a short presentation, introducing himself and the borough, and outlined his ongoing campaign to embrace the multi-culturalism that Adeje represents. He said that Adeje had changed radically since he entered politics here, from a mainly agricultural town to one that is a leading tourism destination, with an accompanying population explosion and demographic changes. The people of Adeje, the working population, adapated to the change over the years and today Adeje is a very different place.
He also said that he wished, “without false modesty, to praise the work of the council for their long-sightedness in introducing the kind of social construction that need time to work, to mature, to process…that has helped to”, and the kind of political stability that Adeje enjoyed under this. “Many of our residents are from outside Adeje”, he said, “I don’t say they are foreigners, they have come from outside Adeje”, adding that in that regard the press who were attending the meeting could help in reaching “the people who find it more difficult to integrate”. There were people who, in manycases, had travelled to Adeje in search of a better life, and hopefully they can find it here.
During the meeting the mayor also outlined how today the many different activities offered by the council work in the field of integration – sport, cultural activities, the Adeje youth centre, the schools of music, dance, theatre and folklore, educational and language courses held in the cultural centre. Responding to questions and suggestions from the group it was agreed that the council would look at a promotional campaign outlining the benefits of signing up to the local ‘padrón’ or residential register. The fact that some nationalities, such as the British and Irish, are perhaps wary of giving away what are seen as personal details to a local authority will be taken into account and hopefully with the help of the media the fact that this can only be of benefit to both the residents and the council can be explained. A suggestion that fact sheet in various languages could be available to people when they register in the Citizens office at the Town Hall is also being considered.
On a personal note, I asked the mayor if there was one word that could sum up why Adeje simply works so well. Bills are paid, there is no municipal debt, people live together harmoniously, the Ayuntamiento’s integration programmes work incredibly well. No, it seems, there is no single word, but the mayor’s attempt to find one saw him review all the things that make Adeje what it actually is – convivencia, integration, socialism, climate, multiculturalism. The last word in his list was feliz, happy. That I think, is as good a single word as any to describe the municipality. And this mayor is a happy choice too as borough leader. He has been mayor for around 25 years, and cares passionately about the borough and its people. He is also an intelligent and articulate philosopher, hardly surprising when it’s revealed that he is a philosophy professor by “trade”. Thanks to Clio O’Flynn for organizing yesterday, and to the mayor for giving up his time to meet us. A happy borough, Adeje, indeed.