Jonathan Peña Cabrera – Festivities and Environment Councillor for the Ayuntamiento of Antigua
“We have initiated a programme of farm cleaning to help the owners”
Jonathan Peña Cabrera is a young Majorero from the municipality of Antigua who just started in politics hoping that most people will be satisfied with his term.
Could you speak to us about your course until you became councillor for Antigua?
I have known the mayor of Antigua, Matías Peña, since I was a child, long before he started in politics. He used to be the president of the football team of Antigua where I used to play and we got on very well. During the previous term, when he was a councillor, he kept on telling me that he would like me to be part of his electoral list. It took me over three weeks to make a decision, furthermore, politicians didn't have a good reputation amongst the population. I like to analyse things a lot and as I have a small transport business, I was preoccupied that people would think it was for personal gain. I am going to be busy here and I won't be able to look after my own business, I hope people won't take it the wrong way. In the end, I took this as a challenge, a new experience and I accepted.
You were telling us that you are a musician. What instrument do you play?
Since the age of 15 years old, I have been playing the percussions and I have played with various orchestras in the islands. I play small drums, drums and mostly an instrument that isn't well known, called the güira, that few people know how to play on the island. Not long ago, the group Bomba called me to play with them for the tour in Galicia, this is my hobby!
Being the councillor for festivities, knowing about music is an advantage...
Indeed, curiously, I have hired orchestras that I had played with before and they even asked me to play along but I couldn't accept as it didn't seem ethical. I don't mind playing, but not within this municipality.
We would like to know more about your projects of improvements that you have already put in place and especially about your hopes for both councils.
For the festivities' council, as soon as I arrived I concentrated on improving the celebrations in the villages by letting their committees organise their own festivities, meaning the local population. I believe that it is important for the population to organise the festivities as they see fit, knowing that we will collaborate as much as possible.
It is good for them to do it, as it makes them take their responsibilities regarding the result, and it is harder to criticise afterwards.
In the Festivities council, we know that we can never please everyone because each village has its own preferences and ideas and I want to respect them. In truth, I got involved as soon as I arrived at the council, I started on a Monday and on the following Saturday, the festivities of Pozo Negro were taking place and nothing was ready. But it all ended well. I would like to organise again “El Merengazo” in Antigua. Even Celia Cruz participated at the time, as well as other well-known artists. For example, since El Castillo is a tourist destination, we have been focussing on it. We have organised more daytime celebrations than nighttime ones, as they tended to end by midnight. It was quite a success and people like that format because those who wanted to sleep weren't disturbed by the noise.
We know that it is a very complicated council that has to collaborate with others and requires a lot of work.
That is true, we work with Public Projects, Culture, Sports, even the Police, etc. The sad thing is that even if we do our very best, there will always be someone saying that we didn't enough or that we overdid it.
What can you tell us about the environment?
When I arrived, the most urgent was the situation with the sewage treatment plants in the municipality that was disastrous. They are very old and obsolete. I quickly hired a company to be in charge of the treatment plants of the municipality and their maintenance. I have to point out that the sewage treatment plant of Antigua is a disaster. We have created a project to bring all the residual waters to the treatment plant located by the Nuevo Horizonte round-about and the other treatment plants will become pumping rooms.
Some of them are even located in residential areas now.
That is correct, as the population grew, they ended up in inadequate areas. We had the authorisations for this project from the Roads and Historical Heritage councils, but not from the Island Council for Waters. This is why we met various times with the mayor, myself and the president of the Cabildo who assured us that he would cover the costs of the sewage treatment plant of Antigua from the 1st of January. We have been using a transport tank to avoid overflowing and we have to make about ten daily trips to the treatment plant in El Castillo. This involves high costs logically! In collaboration with other councils, we have created a cleaning programme for farms that are sometimes quite unkempt. We help owners who wish to clean their farms with containers, staff and everything that may be necessary.