CITY COUNCIL OF BILBAO | Mayor of Bilbao
CITY COUNCIL OF BILBAO
Mayor of Bilbao
Juan Mari Aburto
1. What would Bilbao be without the port that gave it its name?
As our dear Rafael Ossa Echaburu wrote some time ago, “Bilbao was a port before being a Borough”. In fact, Bilbao was the port suburb of the elizate of Begoña, located opposite a town of the same name in the elizate of Abando, what is today called Bilbao La Vieja or Old Bilbao. The port character of Bilbao doubtlessly explains much of our idiosyncrasy, a restless spirit, tolerant, innovative and supportive, which has endured generation after generation.
2. The Estuary is the backbone of our territory. Are you not a little nostalgic when you see no ships docked in Bilbao?
I am not a person who thinks the past was always better. There are probably people who are nostalgic about certain childhood memories or childhood itself, but it is clear that the Bilbao of the past and the Bilbao of today are totally different cities. We can dearly remember the ships docked, but I think nobody feels nostalgia for the polluted chocolate-coloured estuary (due to the mines).
I prefer this 21st - century Bilbao, a thriving, supportive and environmentally, economically and socially sustainable city which continues dreaming of the future.
3. Would the city’s transformation have been possible without the port?
Without the port, Bilbao would never have become what it is now. It would probably have continued to be a suburb distant from the elizate of Begoña. But it is clear that to be a port leaves an indelible stamp, confronts you with other cultures and other ways of seeing the world, and this ends up as a part of your personality, perhaps a little boastful seen from the outside, but which has enabled us to arise from our industrial ashes and become one of the best places in the world to live, work and coexist.
4. Are the Athletic F.C., the maritime-port sector and the Guggenheim Museum ambassadors of Bilbao?
The Athletic and the Guggenheim hold the official title of Ambassadors of the City, granted by the City Council. Both are also engendered by the port and this maritime and port sector, whose activity, generally discrete and silent, has been vital for the day-to-day life and the future of our city. As I have already stated in more than one maritime event, the new trends of progress and modernity arrived through the estuary and the port, configuring our character. And iron ore and the good of Bilbao left from this estuary, giving rise in the 14th century to the Ordinances of the Consulate of Bilbao and a network of micro embassies that established links that have endured in time.
5. Most maritime agencies shipping companies, customs agents and logistics operators are in District 1 of Bilbao. I would like to ask you if the port of Bilbao deserves a street bearing its name.
I hadn’t thought of that, nor have we received any proposals regarding this, but the City Council of Bilbao is open to all kinds of proposals to name, for example, new roads and urban spaces created on the island of Zorrotzaurre.