Thu. Jul 18th, 2024
Photo by Joan Colom
Photo by Joan Colom

Original article appears at

By:Ignacio Pato

This is a history of Violence, as this has been always in the Raval. However, this is not a story about violence that neighborhoods, but about which you suffer.

The anthropologist Miquel Fernández has just published Kill the Chinese; a portrait on the Raval has been described as a place of poor, prostitutes, anarchists and mariconas”, and that has become the symbol of social panics of the Barcelona bourgeoisie.

While currently the city pursues being a static space which does not happen anything unexpected (no obstacle, neither to control nor to consumption), el Raval defying the current city, it does not know how to interpret the popular neighborhood.

On social control and life and death of the ciudad-marca spoke with the author of  Kill Chinese.


It seems that el Raval exemplifies perfectly the clash between two Barcelonas. Why is theirs a history of violence?


Because it has demonized a place and people, simply because they are poor, hard-workingand little inclined to gentleness; they wanted us to believe that they don’t deserve respect, that they are not worthy of living in the city and their presence to dirty and pollutes the “Barcelona” brand. In the same Raval have been and remain different ravales. The Barcelonas of rumba of the Gato Pérez, the neighborhoods and the workers. Against these, the high neighborhoods, speculators. We could say that Barcelona is antagonism.

“Kill Chinese had signed it, but not at the price of end to squeeze out and confined to the weakest of the city population.”

“Poor, prostitutes, anarchists and mariconas”… For those who don’t know, it’s a powerful definition you give in the book about what El Raval.

This formula summarizes the imaginary about Chinatown since its christening in the 20-30 years until our days. It has sought to apply the malignant aura around the Raval: its confusing working classes with dangerous kinds to justify brutal interventions against the weakest and most incorrigible population. In the Raval were born CNT and UGT. If the city it became known as “La Rosa de Foc”, is thanks to the Raval.

Call the anarchist terrorist, to define the place as “an urban burrow against the order, tranquility, peace and the work of Barcelona”, call the poor, whores and faggots “the binds human”, that he lived in “that dark and degraded parapet of the underworld”… are details that abound in this confusion. This justified a few only comparable urban destruction to the Francoist bombings.


“Kill the Chinese” to “save the Raval”?

Is the latest strategy. Until 1988, the current Raval was a depot of working classes and legendary Chinatown was the dark side of powerful and police of Barcelona. There summary executions were carried out, he trafficked drugs and women. Now the fight is in who monopolizes this “black market”. Large international speculators have driving you the tooth to the Raval and are contesting the local elites. Kill Chinese had signed it, but not at the price of end to squeeze out and confined to the weakest of the city population. Now it’s keep”true taste outsider”(as say tourist guides) but tidy and under control.


What is the challenge posed by the Raval district today to the institutional model of city?


Precisely, not be regulated in a model. Resist with their own bodies–the only thing that many left – is an example for the rest of the fights for the city.

“On TV and the press used the myth of el Raval, as dangerous site to fill spurious news about the district or to sell garbage as in the street-type programs”

2015, what is the story of el Raval, which now makes the official Barcelona? How this story would puts the neighborhood in question?


On the one hand trying to “wash the image” of the neighborhood, talk about the new ‘barrio hipster’. On the other hand, before any hint of insurrection – as of thed Street sex workers ‘ d’en Robadoraims to summon the moral panics of the neighborhood Chinese, referred to as “the Harlem Barcelona, an impregnable jungle in the heart of Barcelona”. The traditional neighborhood resist as you can to the new urban colonialism. A Robador prostitutes call it Gaza. These neighbors Castle in rights to the street, to work and to live freely without systematic harassment from police, speculators and now the burden of mass tourism.

City Council is buying farms of this street to take forward the plan “Robador / Sant Ramon”, another operation of transfer of public money to the private market. All this at the same time increasing therazzias policeon the area, with military tactics as the of “saturation”, completely cutting off access and exit of streets such as Sant Ramon and Robador while they catch all the passers-by like fish in a net.


Is Illa Robador the symbol of all this?


Illa Robador is the last place of the resistance of what Marti Abella – responsible company which demolished much of Ciutat Vella – called “a place where he lived very normal people”. Oppressed one of the few corners of the “historic centre” Barcelona is perhaps where he still lives, works and enjoys very normal people.

“Much of the Raval is still an authentic island of freedom”

Today is there sense of el Raval, as dangerous site, as a site to avoid, for part of inhabitants of other districts of Barcelona?


Still has force the myth, especially because in the press and television is used to fill spurious news about the district or directly to sell waste as in “Street” type programs.


What is the future of the Raval? Are they doomed to disappear neighborhoods like this?


The neighborhood is disappearing by dint of Pickaxe and police harassment. But they don’t get the long-awaited “renewal of people”, the purification and atonement of the Chinese has been achieved, traditional residents were expelled or new neighbors have managed to “take on the street”. Much of el Raval is still today an “authentic island of liberty”. While they do not tear down the entire neighborhood or imprisoned or expelled all its inhabitants, the place will remain a model of struggles and resistancesagainst the rule of the exchange value and the pettiness, against the pursuit of profit at all costs.

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One thought on “Is Robador the New Gaza? – An Interview with Miquel Fernández”
  1. Nothing will be forever … and changes are still going on …. Calle Robador is a street in change … it’s necessary … you can not conserve things that are not longer existing…no anarchists, no harbour prostitutes, no poor people a cliche from yesterday….. last years it became a pool of stranded people from outside of “whereever” … but these people can not take place of “old times”. That you see everywhere in the world….and normally it means a lot of work for police and social workers…but also the real people of Barcelona are working in that change. Better Bars (Bar 68 etc.) better Restaurants (La Robadora, Monroe, Leopoldo etc.) and the Filmoteca Catalunya are the first step for the new integration of classic citizens back into the area… let’s go on …

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