Billionaire superyachts to save Barcelona’s traditional barrios!

But the Guardian has got its knickers in a twist.

Giles Tremlett says the Russians and the Brits are conspiring against poor old Barcelona:

[Abramovich’s] superyacht, equipped with its own mini-submarine and anti-paparazzi shield, is a symbol of what neighbours in the traditional fishermen’s neighbourhood of La Barceloneta fear will bring about the demise of one of the few city centre barrios to have maintained its traditional working-class character. Old Barcelona is under threat. A British private investment fund has taken control of much of the port area and has asked for an extended licence so that it can turn the Marina Port Vell into the Mediterranean’s prime home for superyachts.

An easy language and apparently opera buffa goodie/baddie politics probably doom Spain to lousy journalism, and this strikes me as classic Guardian Iberobollocks. Fishing may be part of every estate agent’s sales pitch here, but it has never been the major employer in the neighbourhood, which in the 19th and 20th centuries was dominated by manufacturing and the trading port. In 2009 the 90 heavily-subsidised boats in operation only produced revenues of €6 million – conceivably about the same as four, non-subsidised, moderately-performing McDonald’s franchises.

Traditional? Official stats considerably underestimate resident foreigners, and Barceloneta has one of the highest concentrations of unregistered, but 2010 numbers still show only 50% of residents born in Barcelona province (bottom quartile of neighbourhoods), while 32% are foreign-born (top quartile):

Working class? Not sure what that means. If he’s thinking low income, then he may also be on uncertain ground:

Turning Barceloneta into a Native Hispanic Reservation might have been feasible before the 1992 Olympics – and Tremlett’s piece might have made more sense in 2002 – but this is a case of closing the bar door after the whores have bolted. With manufacturing long relocated to China and the commercial port past Montjuic to the south, if the working class is to remain whatever it may be and pay market rents, I guess it needs to work for someone. If you’re going to have repulsive foreigners vomiting in your port district, then surely Russian billionaires are preferable to penniless Brits. And if Guardian readers want to meet authentic proles, then I’ll be delighted to take them.

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  1. What the Guardian wants is it to remain a theme park for their readers rather than for Russian billionaires. Fail to see the diff really.

  2. Even more shocking: original title referred to the city as ‘Barça’! Subs to the wall.

  3. “Barceloneta was also a centre of popular culture, with the city’s own version of the rumba dance emerging here.” D’oh!

  4. Copied an article from the 60s about Lloret, with minor but moneymaking adjustments? Long live the Barcelona appeal, in all its facets.

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