Thu. Feb 21st, 2019

Talavera de la Reina: The diminished city that dreamed of reaching 300,000 inhabitants | Society

Talavera de la Reina: The diminished city that dreamed of reaching 300,000 inhabitants | Society


So that the milk froth on the coffee it is necessary to cool it first, and after heating it in the vaporizer, pour it gently inclining little by little the steel jug. Juan Grisales, a 24-year-old Colombian, does it behind the counter, whom they hired six months ago to attend an Italian café in the center of Talavera de la Reina. Here it serves only 50 cups a day, 60 as much. "It would have to be at least 200," laments his boss, Agostino Russo, who came years ago to Spain from southern Italy. If the business continues that bad, it will close in a month.

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The red tiles on the walls look pristine compared to the ghostly signs of the old shops, closed long ago, on the same street. Stores and cafeteria have something in common: none of them see customers. The successive crises decimated the cattle ranch, the ceramics, the manufacture of furniture or the factories of confection in the toledana city. Construction activity also exploded, as in the rest of Spain, starting in 2008. Hand in hand was a good part of commercial life and, with it, many people. Since its population peak in 2010, when it touched the 90,000 inhabitants, Talavera has lost 6,000.

The Tagus that borders the city comes grown with the waters of the winter. There were old patches of sand that now are compacted by a vegetation more typical of a wetland than a river, of which Miguel Méndez-Cabeza, rural doctor and popularizer of the history of Talavera blames the transfers of the Tagus and the nearby Alberche. The irrigation of the nearby channel of that affluent of the Tagus magnetized Talavera after the Civil War: "The region attracted rural population from the nearby towns and to the veratos of Extremadura ", explains Miguel Méndez-Cabeza, a rural doctor and popularizer of Talavera's history. The municipality did not reach 20,000 inhabitants after the war, but after quadrupling the population became the second largest in Castilla-La Mancha, just behind Albacete. Today appears lagged in the fourth position, after overtaking him Guadalajara and Toledo.

"The provinces gave us the thrust and the autonomous communities, la puntailla", says the writer Miguel Méndez-Cabeza

In his cafeteria, Juan and Agostino do not know that their presence in the city has given a respite to the population bleeding last year. Immigrants like them are the great majority of the 856 Talavera residents added to the list, still provisional, of 2018, with 84,411 registered. "The first ones who left were the foreign workers, but the first ones who return are also them," explains Leticia Blázquez, director of a technical report that took three years ago the pulse of the battered situation in Talavera. "The immigrant is a population very subject to the economic cycle, because it usually has no roots," says this economist at the University of Castilla-La Mancha. The city has come back after the shock of the crisis, but it continues to suffer extreme unemployment, of 29.9%, which is double that of its region.

A few steps from the Italian cafeteria is the old headquarters of the Bank of Spain, which closed definitively in 1984. "The sub-inspection of the Treasury, the headquarters of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Recruitment Fund, the School of Nursing were also taken from Talavera. ...! "complains Javier Moreno Piri, spokesman of the Bureau for the Recovery of the city and its region, a platform for protesting the situation of the city, which they find decadent. On one of the walls of the old bank, a pottery pope local of that craft, Juan Ruiz de Luna It shows a province that never existed: the natural region of the city, its extensive area of ​​influence.

"The provinces gave us the thrust and the autonomous communities, the tip," says the doctor Méndez-Cabeza. The pique with Toledo, of similar population but with half unemployment, is common but not unanimous among all those consulted. Much older than the boundaries of the autonomous community, 1982, and the province of Toledo, 1833, this is still the Lusitania of the Romans. Here, Méndez-Cabeza attends patients from the Tiétar Valley, in Ávila, and Extremadura and Talavera are sharing the old Badajoz-Madrid railway line.

"If at least we were a real bedroom city!" Exclaims Javier Moreno sarcastically. "That's what they sold us, and we believed it." He and Miguel Méndez-Cabeza remember a 1973 industrial bulletin that claimed that Talavera would reach 300,000 inhabitants in the year 2000. Of course, that futuristic vision that was left in water of borage required a fast train to link the city with Madrid by Móstoles .

A good train is a fundamental infrastructure to revitalize the city, according to all the interviewees. The trip to Madrid in which it now circulates costs at least 12.30 euros and, without counting delays and breakdowns, it does not usually go below the hour and a half for a journey that by road is settled in an hour and that, via shared car, It costs only five euros. Because, among the tens of thousands of Extremadurans who protested in MadridDue to the unfortunate situation of the railroad in his community, there have been many Talavera people.

Next Saturday, day 17, they will go out again to protest, this time in Toledo, with the motto "Talavera demands". They will ask to improve infrastructures, more money for public services and the immediate cessation of the transfers of the Tagus and the Alberche. And, in the first place, "a decent train", with double and electrified track.

"We have not invested in the train in the last 25 years, in some sections we drive 30 kilometers per hour and there is no splitting or electrification," says Óscar Muñoz, from the SOS Talavera platform, who shares the outrage with thousands of neighbors from nearby Extremadura. The railroad and the complaint due to lack of investments have led thousands of Talavera residents to demonstrate. The protest platforms boast of having taken half of the population out to the street, 40,000 people, in November of 2017. They asked for a fast train that allows the transit of people and goods, but not, or not in a primordial way, a AVE that would take them first to Toledo and from there to Madrid, they understand that without hardly gaining time.

Felipe II dreamed of making the Tagus navigable from Lisbon to Toledo. Dry ports were not conceived in their time, as the city has been hoping for more than a decade. Studies have been carried out to install this logistics platform that would serve as customs, inland, of the Portuguese port of Sines. The City Council has awarded a company a new analysis, but for now the idea only remains in those papers. In addition, it faces the impediment that most of the industrial land of the municipality is not the consistory, but belongs to SEPES, the public land company attached to the Ministry of Public Works. From Talavera, one looks sideways at Illescas, 80 kilometers away, that has been done with the largest Amazon logistics center in Spain.

With the dry port would come qualified workers. And with high salaries. "The difference in disposable income for households in Talavera in relation to the rest of the cities of Castile-La Mancha is devastating, with this income it is impossible to boost trade," says Professor Leticia Blázquez. As the provincial and regional capital, Toledo leads Talavera in public sector workers, with greater financial stability and better salaries than the average of Talavera workers. "Toledo is, together with Guadalajara, the only one of the seven largest cities that grows, and that's because they are part of what we call the multifunctional area of ​​Madrid", illustrates Antonio Ruiz Pulpón, director of the Department of Geography and Territorial Planning of the University of Castilla-La Mancha.

Juan, the waiter, came to Talavera because here he pays only 120 euros for a room in a shared flat, a third of his part-time salary. His boss, Agostino, wants the city to move customers who do not complain because the price of 1.20 euros for a good coffee is not including the toast: "I have two problems: the palate of people who do not appreciate a good Italian coffee and the unemployment that there is ".

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