català   castellano

War, unsustainability, immigration, real estate speculation and culture.


In this map we intend to show the links between Forum 2004 and the war economy. You may see that a significant part of the enterprises that are sponsors or partners of Forum 2004 are either weapons systems builders or have a share in such enterprises. Some of the Forum 2004 enterprises are members of the strong military industry lobbies in Spain, have direct economic interests in post war Iraq or supply several armed services, US Navy among them, with military equipment.

You may also see some of the war related enterprises that will settle in 22@ in Poblenou, a neighbourhood that, according to the City Council of Barcelona, is to become «a paradigm of the land use mix that should represent a quantum leap in our way of making a city». In any case, it’s quite evident that Barcelona, the «city of peace» is to become a paradise for the settlement of high tech war related corporations and an important node in the network of design, production and sales of weapons that is being woven around the planet. The map clearly shows one of the main paradoxes of Forum 2004, i.e., that an event which is meant to discuss the conditions for peace is sponsored by corporations that make profit from armed conflict and is, in this way, establishing the conditions for war.

vinculació del forum barcelona 2004 amb les empreses de la guerra

vinculació del forum barcelona 2004 amb les empreses de la guerra

The map is of all. Download this diagram and use it. .zip (376K)

Lower Besòs river area
Forum 2004, built on the banks of Besòs River, has set off the programmed substitution of artificial landscapes for natural biodiversity —at a huge energetic cost. Water in that river is as polluted as it has been for a long time, because of inadequate sewerage systems that actually dump polluted water into the river —up to ten times its natural water flow. Instead of improving its environmental quality, the riverbed has been covered with lawn, banks have been covered with concrete and the river itself has been diverted into the water treatment plant at the Forum. This lawn, an absurd patchwork for jogging set in a place where one should find the river and the riverbank forest, is actually built on a huge dump of waste no one ever bothered to treat.

The riverbed section between the mouth and Mollet del Vallés has actually been turned into an illegal chemical waste dump that has polluted large underground water reserves. During the building of Forum 2004 alone, tens of thousands of tons of toxic soil (with heavy metals such as chromium) had to be removed. But if you look at all this from the newly built Forum bridge, you’ll see it as green and as pretty as a festival of “metapolitan” carpets and avant-garde architecture. One wonders: Is the lawn on the Besòs real?

Zona d’Activitats Logístiques/Logistic Activity Area. Barcelona’s great bet into the future is the traffic of manufactured goods, shipped in on a 1.5 million containers —growing by 10 per cent every year. Such goods are manufactured in Asia and Latin America under new forms of labour exploitation: the infamous maquilas, isolated industrial areas where hundreds of thousands work very close to slavery (like in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico). Logistic activity areas, usually in large harbours and almost tax free, and the massive use of containers (easily shifted from ships into trains or lorries), help multinational corporations to force Third World production areas to compete with each other deteriorating wage levels and the environment, as well as to strengthen their grip on supermarket–city shops, which are able to save on import and stocking costs if they accept global goods. That’s why we find the same shops all over the world. Barcelona plans to enlarge tenfold its ZAL, which will double the harbour in size. To do so, the Llobregat River will be diverted and its mouth actually moved a mile and a half to the south, destroying natural delta marshes that are very important for birds (they’re actually ZEPA and PEIN areas protected under the Bern Convention).

This gigantic operation was launched under the motto “Barcelona, la botiga més gran del món” (Barcelona, the largest shop in the world). It intends to turn the city into a huge shopping mall and a euromediterra-nean logistic centre —under the coverage of a “culture Forum”. No wonder the main corporations supporting the Forum are investing in the new harbour or in the Zona Franca.

Sea and beaches
Yachting harbours are responsible for the loss of sand on the beaches. After a building fever during the nineties, a moratorium was established —only to be broken by the new marinas at Forum and Sant Adrià. The loss of sand is huge. Every year, regeneration programs are carried out at an unsustainable economic and environmental cost —new sand is brought from the seabed, which is in its turn devastated.

Freshwater from the Besòs River would carry millions of faecal bacteria per cubic meter into the Olympic beaches, were it not diverted into the Forum treatment plant and dumped into the sea about half a mile from the shore. Sea water at the shore contains 14 different polycyclic carbohydrates, most of them carcinogenic, usually coming from ships, as well as different amounts of lead, chromium, copper, cadmium, iron and manganese, plus tensioactives (from detergents), PCB organoclorates (very carcinogenic), pesticides and hydrocarbons. Concentrations may sometimes be very high and pollute beaches all the way down to the Barceloneta. All these pollutants are not taken into account in summer beach quality reports —only faecal bacteria are, and samples are taken only on the surface. Until five years ago, both Montcada and Sant Adrià water treatment plants were dumping 500 tons of toxic mud per day (during 20 years) into the sea just in front of the Forum area. They have created an underwater toxic island that will continue to free its toxic substances for many years to come. These substances find their way into fish and seafood —in an area where fishing is usual.

el forum barcelona 2004 i la insostenivilitat del model de ciutat

The map is of all. Download this diagram and use it. .zip (376K)

Forum 2004 sees «cultural diversity» as the cause of injustice and social inequality, and the good will of citizens as the main solution for such issues. Faithfully serving corporate interests, Forum 2004 conceals practices of entrepreneurial imperialism that force thousands of people to emigrate as well as the legal system that doesn’t accept immigrants as citizens, forces them into exploitation and continuous police control. By concealing things this way, the official discourse intends to deactivate any social project that might endanger the interests of those who benefit from the oppression and precariousness of people.

The map shows the links between corporations and institutions that sponsor Forum 2004 and the Africans, Asians and Latin Americans that live in Barcelona in poverty and out of the law —most of those who live here. Only some of those links appear actually on the picture —just a small sample.

vinculació del forum amb les desigualtats vers els immigrants

vinculació del forum amb les desigualtats vers els immigrants

The map is of all. Download this diagram and use it. .zip (376K)
      Real estate speculation

Forum 2004 is the big ad, the glossy decoy designed to lure profiteers into the largest property speculation operation in the history of Barcelona (a city that has already known quite a few). Those who are benefiting from this operation like to call it urban redevelopment. You may check the red areas, labelled especulació, on the general map.

What’s this urban redevelopment really about? Let’s take a closer look at Poblenou, the neighbourhood in which the 22@ project is being developed. Forum 2004 is actually nothing but the best known and friendliest side of the 22@ redevelopment project.

The City Council of Barcelona is or, rather, was the landowner of a large part of the industrial land in Poblenou. It was, because the City Council has sold most of it to property developers, building companies and large corporations, most of which are well known as the main builders and sponsors of Forum 2004.

La Caixa, through Servihabitat, owns 50,000 square meters; Endesa, through the AUNA group, owns 12,764; Agbar owns 5,000; Indra too owns a significant lot.

The relationship, which no one would dare call not–for–profit, between these corporations and Forum 2004 has begun to yield huge profits. Consorci de la Zona Franca, for instance, has announced a 434 per cent profit during the last 8 years. By the way, Consorcio Zona Franca is building the Forum 2004 offices and has recently bought the Sant Andreu barracks, from which squatters have just been evicted. In Poblenou alone, more than 1,200 families have been or are to be evicted from their homes, and more than 1,000 small shops will have to close. On the other hand, the Diagonal Mar area, a formerly public space which has been turned into private hands and is now strictly policed by private armed guards, is thriving.

To put it briefly: instead of using this publicly owned land (at no cost at all) to improve the living conditions of neighbours (by building schools, parks, social housing or hospitals), the City Council sells it to multinational corporations.

This urban redevelopment devastates neighbourhoods and expels their inhabitants, paying them small compensations, which are calculated on the basis of property register values and not of market values. This means that former neighbours have to buy new homes at a much higher price and have no choice but to get into debt. It’s more and more usual to see how urban landscape is turned into an unliveable and unaffordable theme park. “Barcelona, la botiga més gran del món” [the largest shop in the world].

There’s no need to say that these redevelopment projects can only be carried out by means of repressive policies (mobbing, menacing and cheating neighbours). No one will easily accept to be deprived of the right to have a home, not even under the threat of being criminalised or of having to live in precariousness. That may explain that neighbours are organising against 22@ and Forum 2004, and that squatting has become widespread in this area.

el forum barcelona 2004 com a promotor de la especulació urbanística

The map is of all. Download this diagram and use it. .zip (376K)

Forum 2004 SA is nothing but the most cynical and absurd exaggeration of what we nowadays know as a Cultural Institution. In the diagram, you’ll find just some of the institutions taking part in Forum. You can see there is a pattern in the way many of these act: they are public institutions strongly sponsored (and, thus, controlled) by multinational corporations, and support the economic and ideological interests of those corporations. As the director of the City Council Culture Institute put it, “these corporations’ commitment to culture gives them prestige, good reputation… and profits”.

Profits shape the (single-minded) thought and the cultural taste (the same for everybody) —they shape culture. Multiculturalism, as you will find it in Forum 2004, is nothing but a fake of diversity in which everybody has a place as long as they stick to the stereotype: Chinese must play Chinese, Africans must play African, the “alternative” must play “alternative”. By the way, the Chinese that will act every day during the Forum were supposed to be French —but they were too expensive.

The rainbow may have many colours, but multicultural culture has only one: the colour of money.


el forum barcelona 2004 es el negoci de la cultura

WARNING: All these institutions offer junk jobs through interim agencies such as Ciut’art.

The map is of all. Download this diagram and use it. .zip (376K)