On April 8, 1971, it is burned in the memory of gypsies. That day, in London, the flag and the anthem of this town were instituted. Since then, every 8th of April the International Day of the Gypsy People is celebrated. This Monday, as part of the celebration, the attendees have thrown flower petals in the lake of Casa de Campo, in Madrid, to commemorate the departure of those first gypsies from the Indian region of the Punjab and their subsequent exodus throughout the world. The Vice President of the Government, Carmen Calvo, took advantage of her intervention at the event to highlight the struggle of the Calés women for equality and the rest of the guests have pointed out all the pending challenges to end the discrimination they suffer.
"What I was taught as a child is that the gypsies are my compatriots," said the Vice President of the Government, who stressed that there is still a long way to go for the Roma to have the respect and recognition they deserve. Calvo was the driving force behind Institute of Gypsy Culture, a foundation that was created in 2007. In Spain there are around one million gypsies and in Europe about 12 million, so it is one of the transnational peoples with more members.
The vice-president explained that she is concerned about the slums in which many gypsies still live and the precarious working conditions that many of them still have. In addition, he mentioned that the high dropout rate of this town is the first barrier to equality.
The event was also attended by the Minister of Health, María Luisa Carcedo, the deputy mayor of the City of Madrid, Marta Higueras, and the first gypsy deputy in Congress, the lawyer and journalist Juan de Dios Ramírez Heredia.
"I have been with you every April 8 and I admire you because you are a happy people despite all the difficulties and discrimination that you have gone through," said the Vice President of the Government. Marta Higueras also made reference to the tragic history of the gypsy people. "We have not even been able to quantify how many were victims of Nazi barbarism," said Higueras. "There's still a long way to go".
Beatriz Carrillo, vice president of the State Council of the Gypsy People, stressed that Roma have a life expectancy 10 years less than the rest of the Spanish population. And he has signaled the warning of the European Union rise of anti-gypsyism. "The extreme right gallops with great force in Europe and Spain and we have it here too," he said. In addition, Carrillo has criticized the discriminatory policies of countries like Italy or France towards the gypsies.
The last intervention was that of lawyer and journalist Juan de Dios Ramírez Heredia, who in 1977, aged 35, became the first gypsy deputy in Spain. He has dedicated his whole life to the defense of the rights of the Roma community. In recognition of his work, he was named in February 2008 Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Cádiz.
The event has concluded when the authorities participating in the act have thrown petals into the lake of the Casa de Campo. After that, a concert of traditional music of the gypsy people and a romani stew was offered.