Cecilio Lera, renowned chef, has won all elections for the PSOE in Castroverde de Campos (Zamora) since 1979, of which he made Obama's adopted son in 2010
Known for his quarrelsome nature - in a fight he lost part of an ear - he is now in prison accused of offering 200 euros to a 14-year-old girl for prostitution
In Castroverde de Campos (Zamora) there are two famous people. Very famous. First, Diego de Ordás, who five centuries ago was part of the expedition of Hernan Cortes in the conquest of Mexico, and to which the people have dedicated a monument in the Plaza del Consistorio with his bust arranged on a kind of small Aztec pyramid.
The second, his mayor, Cecilio Lera, 68 years old, a prestigious hotelier in his day - José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero attended his restaurant when he was president of the Government, among other personalities -, first dedicated mayor and media outlet since 1979 - he brought the town to fame in 2010 after naming Barack Obama's adopted son -, and warm-blooded neighbor. Very hot.
A nicked ear, the result of a bite in a scuffle with the russian, it was left as a memory of that explosive character [tras la reyerta, ocurrida "hace ya mucho tiempo", llevó el trozo de oreja envuelto en una servilleta al Hospital Clínico de Zamora, pero ya no pudieron hacer nada]. It was one of the many altercations in which he has been involved, they say in the town. "He had another trial on the 27th because he hit him to one who said I don't know what about a street"reveals a neighbor who prefers not to give the name. Like most. It will not be.
As a good celebrity, Lera has her detractors - "He has always been arrogant and a quarrel" - and his defenders - "he has done a lot for the people, but a lot, here the one who had what it takes to take office when democracy began" - but the two sides agree on something.
"He had already had a carnival season," an older citizen of his family summarizes to say, in a euphemistic pun, that he went overboard with alcohol, which led him to star in numerous incidents.
"Look, I don't hold a grudge against her," says Agapito Modroño, a Villalpando political activist who denounced Lera in the 1990s for punching and kicking her after arguing over a controversy over a subsidy. They sentenced the mayor to pay him 200 euros. "After time we made peace. And things must be told as they are. He has been a rowdy all his life over drinking, but he has a good heart. Look, he took in a Sahrawi child for many years ... ".
"He is drunk day in and day out," agree several of his acquaintances. Some admit that when they first came across him they knew what "humor" he was wearing that day and, if it was from those days, it was better not to cross a word with him.
The last of these incidents destroyed his bones in the Topas prison last Tuesday, accused of the crime of inducing a 14-year-old girl from the town into prostitution. as LA OPINIÓN-EL CORREO DE ZAMORA advanced exclusively.
The request for provisional imprisonment without bail was made by the prosecutor himself and the Villalpando judge granted it due to the risk of criminal repetition, due to his antecedents and given the impossibility of guaranteeing that it could influence the victim or the witnesses, according to sources consulted by the Superior Court of Justice of Castilla y León.
Expelled from the PSOE
With Lera, it rains over wet. The PSOE, a party to which he belonged for four decades and with which he obtained ten absolute majorities, expelled him at the beginning of 2020 after his then wife denounced him for threats in the field of domestic violence.
He was sentenced for these events on April 19, according to legal sources, but he did not serve a sentence because the exempting from alcoholism. He was imposed, yes, a restraining order from his ex-partner of 80 meters and the obligation to undergo a detoxification treatment for two years. In view of the facts, it is that he would not have complied with it. In addition, this same November the restraining order was skipped, which, after another hearing with the judge, was extended to 160 meters.
"I don't know if he crossed the medication [del tratamiento] with alcohol, or what"Another neighbor was trying to reason about what had happened, early last Friday, when the light got deep into the bones in this reflective town of emptied Spain.
The diaspora has left the village, where there are still many houses built with the traditional mud and straw adobe, in 285 inhabitants, according to the data of the last INE, when in the decade of the 60 it was close to 2,000. Less and less people are dedicated to agriculture, rainfed, and livestock, once abundant, now it is hardly testimonial.
In the village there is a pharmacy, a supermarket, a bakery, two bars -El Bolonia and el España-, and a tobacconist where one can find not only tobacco, but earthenware jugs at 15 euros, alcoholic beverages or Abanderado underwear, among many other things. "I am not from this town, little do I know," excuses the clerk, who makes a face of circumstances when asking about the mayor.
It was in one of the two bars that the events occurred on November 24. It was around four in the afternoon, when Cecilio Lera would have followed the minor, after she left the establishment where they were both. Mayor He would have offered her 200 euros in exchange for having sex with him. As revealed this Saturday by THE OPINION-EL CORREO DE ZAMORA, Cecilio would have been harassing the girl for months, whose family maintained friendship with the mayor for a long time.
Cook in France
In the Spain bar, in front of the mayor's house, which was once the El Labrador inn, where Cecilio, who worked in his youth in restaurants in France and Switzerland, I embroidered the game and spoon dishes - they say that the stewed pigeons were the most - nobody loosens a garment. Well-known politicians, artists and journalists passed through El Labrador, among them Carlos Herrera, or the former president of the Board, Juan Vicente Herrera.
Several countrymen drink coffee and talk about domestic troubles, unimportant, out loud, attentive to the movement of the foreigner. The waiter, who has decorated the bar with a T-shirt and objects from Athletic Bilbao, shrugs when asking for the mayor.
Few in the locality dare to skip that omerta self-imposed first, although later, if there is nobody around, something counts. "It all started when he got divorced, about two years ago, his daughter-in-law had a lot to do with him ... they expelled him from the family. If he has always had a very bad drink, "says a person who knows the family very well.
In the town it is said that his ex-wife and his son, Luis Alberto, a renowned chef not only in the province but throughout Castilla y León -his restaurant Lera, on the outskirts of town, has two Repsol suns-, They are very sorry for what happened. One more time. They haven't wanted to hear from him for a long time.
All this could affect the trajectory of the young cook, known in the town for being "very nice people, very quiet ", as well as a "terrific" cook who could soon be recognized with a Michelin star. At the tables of Luis Alberto's restaurant, formed with Arzak or Irizar, he passes every year, among others, David Muñoz, DiverXo chef, with his partner, Cristina Pedroche, to celebrate her birthday.
What happened has caused an earthquake in the small City Hall, whose annual budget barely exceeds 400,000 euros and where the first mayor and the councilors only charge for full [50 euros por una sesión al mes]. Last Friday, behind closed doors due to Covid and "the exceptional circumstances" experienced, according to a paper provided at the entrance of the Consistory, the plenary session was held where it was formalized that the functions of mayor, in "substitution by absence" of Lera, It will be assumed by the first deputy mayor, Diodoro Conde.
When he left, no one made a statement and in fact the acting mayor waited a while to get out of there without meeting anyone. "You have to move on," said Rosana Hernández, one of the two councilors of the PP in the town, resident in the capital Zamora, since the popular They have always found problems to present a neighbor who will compete against the electoral machine that is the cook. The PSOE councilors (four) did not consider removing Lera with a motion of censure.
The plenary session was held in a small room presided over by five flags -the town, the Zamora, the Castilla y León, the Spanish and the European-, in addition to a portrait of Diego de Ordás, and several paintings of twinning with Spanish and South American cities, as well as a globe and other ancient objects.
"Work as if you were going to live forever and live as if you were going to live tomorrow," says a sign in the mayor's office
"I do not make statements," said the embarrassed secretary after stating somewhat overwhelmed that he had received "many" calls from the media throughout the week. In the mayor's office, next to an oil painting that recreated the town, a sheet of paper taped to the wall with this phrase: "Work as if you were going to live forever and live as if you were going to die tomorrow." There the mayor placed the motto not long ago.
Little by little the people are assuming what happened, but it is true that it is difficult to find someone who does not admit Cecilio's determination to improve the municipality. Some speak of the help they got to replace the damaged roofs and beams of the houses; others from the highway that managed to get asphalted from Villamayor de Campos, "otherwise it would continue to be a dirt road"; others from the recent reform of the Ronda neighborhood ... "Whenever you asked him for help, he would give it to you," says another neighbor.
Although many admit that it was a good deal to dedicate a park to Barack Obama - "that, what nonsense" - an older neighbor says -, the mayor managed, yes, to get the people out of the media. "For his unwavering defense of peace"He defended the declaration of Castroverde's adoptive son for the former US president, whose photo decorates a huge poster at the exit of the municipality, in front of some poplars that look already orphaned of leaves. Others blame him that he did it to have" publicity "Free for your restaurant.
There are those who still think in the municipality that Cecilio is the victim of a political hunt and that it was the PSOE who leaked his arrest, among other things because he publicly supported Susana Díaz in the primaries against Pedro Sánchez. "They are mediocre, Fagundez [secretario general de los socialistas en Zamora] and Tudanca [secretario general del PSOE en Castilla y León]. Cecilio has been featured a thousand times for good in the media, and now they have done this to hurt him, to put the finishing touches on him.", released another relative of the still mayor, who will continue to be as long as he does not leave motu proprio the act or is condemned.
"What has happened to him is that before he had many friends, when he was known and was in the PSOE, and now that he is nothing more they have left him alone, they have all disappeared", sums up another countryman who knows him as a corollary. all his life and avoid giving his name. As most.