The mayor of Logroño, Conrado Escobar, announced this Wednesday that the municipality will not house a refugee center that the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migrations intended to build in the municipality. The councilor has maintained that his commitment is “to work in a personal reception process”, “in a responsible and orderly manner”. The center was one of the 17 that José Luis Escrivá’s team planned to open in territories throughout Spain thanks to the injection of more than 230 million euros in European funds. The one in Logroño, specifically, would have around 300 parking spaces, sports facilities open to all the residents, and represented an investment of 14 million euros. “It is not the ideal formula,” Escobar has said.
The latest official communication from the Logroño City Council with Migrations, however, does not speak of suitable formulas or how to receive refugees in a responsible and orderly manner. In a letter, sent this Tuesday and to which EL PAÍS has had access, the general director of Economic Promotion and European Funds informs the ministry that it has been more than a month since she has filed the file of the center for being “administratively paralyzed”.
Since the memorandum of understanding was signed with the previous municipal corporation, made up of PSOE, Unidas Podemos and the Rioja Party, both administrations have been negotiating the agreement to dispose of the plot where the reception center would be built until it ran aground in March. According to the current municipal team, there has been no agreement on the technical corrections of the draft, nor actions that allow “advancing in the process.” The Consistory raised some “objections”, such as “recovering the plot if the project did not come to fruition”, pointed out the mayor of Logroño. Ministry sources consider that the draft was reviewable and that it could even be reformulated with the new municipal team.
Logroño joins the decision announced this Monday by Cantabria, where the ministry had also planned the opening of a reception center in a former psychiatric hospital located in the municipality of Camargo. Despite the fact that the project was already underway and there was an agreement with the previous regional government, the initiative fell through on Monday when the regional president confirmed that instead of a center for refugees, she wants a space for the care of the elderly. “Spain is very large, refugees can be welcomed in many places, but our elders must be cared for in Cantabria,” said the regional president of the PP, María José Sáenz de Buruaga, who governs with an absolute majority. Valladolid, where the construction of a new reception space had also been planned, has asked the ministry for more information, although Vox, which governs with the PP, has already made clear its strong opposition to this project.
These three municipalities have become the last of the obstacles that Escrivá faced to implement his plan to increase the refugee reception network with almost 6,000 new beds. For months the ministry has been looking for spaces and buildings that it could buy and convert into reception centers, a task that has not been easy, among other things, due to the refusal of local and regional authorities (right and left) to house this type of places in their territories. When the locations of the 17 centers were finally identified, the municipal and regional elections left the signed agreements in limbo. The PP came to govern in Logroño, Valladolid and Cantabria and the Government feared that the projects would end up blocked in these territories and that it would have to undertake a new search to fulfill its commitment with the EU. In the absence of Valladolid’s response, Migrations is already beginning to think of alternatives.
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