The girl who wanted to be a grown-up

Graciela Noguera

10 years old — Student

28 NOV 2010

Graciela Noguera, the first Catalan born in 2010, was on the first front page of ARA Newspaper with surgeon Moisès Broggi.


per Lara Bonilla

fotografia Pere Virgili

"Yes, I'm excited to appear in the newspaper. My mother has kept them and sometimes she shows them to me"

is is me!", Graciela Noguera says when looking at the front page of the first issue of ARA. She was only ten months old at the time, and she was looking with curious eyes at the man in the hat who was holding her on his lap. "I can’t remember his name anymore", she says. He was the surgeon Moisès Broggi, who was then 102 years old. The iconic photograph on that first page ten years ago symbolised the past and present of the same country. Broggi, with the look of someone who has already seen it all, and Graciela, with the freshness of someone who has everything to live for. Broggi died on December 31, 2012, at the age of 104, and today Graciela is a 10-year-old pre-adolescent who dreams of becoming a canine unit police officer and lives oblivious to the family's financial problems.

TikTok generation

"Yes, I am excited to appear in the newspaper. My mother has kept them and sometimes she shows them to me", explains Graciela Noguera. "And yes, sometimes I read newspapers", she adds, although she admits that normally she gathers information through her mobile and the messages she exchanges with friends. And she spends more time on TikTok, the most popular social network among teenagers, than leafing through printed paper. 

"I like to dance and sing and I record and publish the videos for my friends to see and they do it too. We do choreography with songs and most of them are in English", she explains.

Graciela still has the same curious eyes that captivated the camera ten years ago and now they light up when she talks about her cat, Sinca, how good she is at taekwondo or TikTok choreography. She is studying fifth grade and what she likes the most is Arts & Crafts and the break. She doesn’t know yet what she would like to be when she grows up. She is in two minds about being either "a dog police" [canine unit of the Catalan police] or a beautician. "To create nails like Rosalía's", she points out. The daughter of a Catalan father and a Guinean mother, Graciela was born on January 1, 2010 at seven minutes past midnight in a long, twelve-hour delivery at the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu (Barcelona). Her mother, Lucrecia Akeng, had lost another daughter in Equatorial Guinea less than a year earlier to malaria. The girl, who was also called Graciela, was only five years old. For her mother, this was the way to give continuity to the life of her dead daughter. "If I had changed the name it would be as if I had completely forgotten her; I did it so that she will always be present", she says. In Guinea another son of hers died, at the age of 8, in an accident on the river. "You can’t forget the death of a child until you die. You assimilate it but it is impossible to forget", Lucrecia says.

At only ten years old, Graciela has already experienced a pandemic and has adapted to the situation better than many adults: "The mask is a bit bothersome but it’s fine". She lives with her mother and two brothers, aged 18 and 23, in Mataró. When we met her, they lived in Collbató with Graciela's father. But things did not end up going well and the couple separated in 2013, when Graciela was three years old. Lucrecia moved to the Maresme with three of her children and found a job in a hotel in Barcelona. "We are going through a rough patch", Lucrecia admits. The last few months have not been easy. She has not worked since the state of alarm was decreed in mid-March. The hotel where she worked has not yet reopened and her unemployment benefits ended this November. "They told us that maybe they would reopen in January but they don't know it for sure and, in the meantime, if I get the chance to work cleaning houses, I'll do it", she says. One of her sons, who worked in a restaurant, has also become unemployed. 

"So be it. I’ll stay joyful. As long as we are in good health, everything is fine. No one will die of hunger", she says.

She has not been back to her country for seven years and during this time her two grandchildren have been born. Her eldest son stayed in Guinea. "I'm a 46-year-old grandmother and I'm very excited to be called a grandmother even if it makes you feel older". She does not regret having emigrated. "In Catalonia I found Graciela so I am happy, I can’t complain, I am satisfied with what I have". She arrived in 2006 and two years later she was already living with Graciela's father. She explains that her other two children, who arrived at the age of 8 and 13, are already fully adapted. "They are already Catalans", she points out. "I came to seek a better life for my children. Life in Africa is not like in Europe and I wanted them to have what I didn’t have". She misses visiting her country and would like to return next year but she admits that she is fine here and, above all, her life is "quiet".

Too young to be a grown up

Graciela is at that age when she already wants to do things that grown-ups do. She does not want her mother to pick her up at school and prefers to come back home alone with her friends. "And what games do you play?" Wrong question. "We don't play anymore, we don't like to play, we're grown-ups. We just talk. About our things, about TikTok...", she answers, surprised by the question. Her mother explains that she is a responsible girl. "Too much", she points out. "When I was working she used to heat her food on her own and now she wants to cook herself! She behaves as if she were older". Graciela has not yet visited Equatorial Guinea, but she understands and speaks a little of the language of her mother and grandparents, Fang, one of the indigenous languages of this country. "She speaks her father's language, which is Catalan, but also mine, because I want her to know her roots", Lucrecia explains. She would like her to also speak French, another of the official languages of Guinea, and she dreams of making her youth dream come true, being a flight-attendant, but Graciela is not very interested in it. "So now I would like her to be a journalist", Lucrecia says. Graciela also knows that before her there was another Graciela. Her mother has shown her photographs and told her about her sister. "And sometimes on New Year's Eve I cook like I did in Africa and we feed the dead, and she brings out her photo and a cup for her sister, and for her birthday she leaves her a piece of cake", Lucrecia explains.

Asking a ten-year-old girl about the future is an exercise in science fiction. Being twenty years old is still a long way off. "Perhaps I will live alone or with many animals or I will be working or studying or perhaps you will find me with my friends". Who knows, she still has her life ahead of her.

Births in Catalonia



30,4% have a foreign mother. Births have decreased in 25,4% in 10 years.

Source: Health Department


From the streets to the institutions

Ada Colau, Carme Forcadell and Leonardo Anselmi

46 years old — Mayor of Barcelona

65 years old — Former president of the Catalan Parliament

44 years old — Activist for animal rights

25 NOV 2012

ARA held a meeting with the three of them in 2012, when they were activists of the Plataforma d’Afectats per la Hipoteca (PAH) (translated as “Platform for Mortgage Disputes”), the Assamblea Nacional Catalana (ANC) (“Catalan National Assembly”) and the Prou! (“Enough!”) platform. We bring them together again, eight years later, in order to talk about the changes they have experienced.


per Maria Ortega and Lara Bonilla

fotografia Francesc Melcion

"More things have happened to me in eight years than in the previous twenty"


e meet first thing in the morning so Ada Colau can drive her oldest son to school, and Carme Forcadell can get to work on time before going back to jail. We meet them at the Espai Germanetes in Barcelona, the same place where 8 years ago we photographed them as the known faces of citizen struggles’ success. In 2012 they represented three social movements that had managed to guide the country's political agenda directly from the street: the independence movement, the defense of the right to housing, and the animal liberation movement. Today, Colau and Forcadell return to the appointment as the mayor of Barcelona and the former president of the Parliament of Catalunya - Leo Anselmi is the only one who is still part of an activist group, although he has received proposals to enter politics. The coronavirus forces them to suppress the hug they would give each other. They are happy to see each other and congratulate Forcadell for the endorsement of the third degree, although only a week later the Prosecutor's Office will ask for it to be suspended. When we ask them if a decade ago they imagined being where they are now, they respond together: "It was impossible to imagine!" Neither Colau nor Forcadell planned to join their institutions, and they recognize that they have changed more on a personal level than on a political one. Where will they be in ten years? No one dares to make predictions, but Forcadell is clear that she must be released from prison.

Did you expect to be where you are now?

All — No, it was impossible to imagine!

Carme Forcadell — You cannot imagine that you will be in prison, and even less when you know that you have not committed any crime. Impossible. At that time, in 2012, I did not imagine taking a leap into politics either, I had no interest in taking part, on the contrary, I was beginning to preside over the ANC and I was thinking of ending the mandate.

Is the step from activism to politics a natural process?

Ada Colau — Absolutely not. It was a very specific moment in a world which was in crisis, which was affecting different sides. That explains why there are activists who have taken the step. The nature of activism is to control and demand power. I do not regret having taken the step, I would do it again, it was an exceptional moment which justified trying all the possible ways, and one does not replace the other. PAH is more necessary now than ever. Social movements are necessary for a democracy to function well. When we met, we represented three very strong movements that have remained, and feminism and environmentalism have also come out strongly.

Carme Forcadell — And I would add republicanism. Would I repeat taking the leap into politics? Now I cannot think of myself back then. So many things have happened to me... Some have been exciting, but there has also been a lot of suffering and pain. Now it is easy to say that I would not get into politics, but I do not like to look at the past and feel like I should have made things differently, I am more in favor of learning from mistakes and moving on.

Leo Anselmi — I also received offers to step into politics but I think activism needs its militancy. When there are historical opportunities like the one that the left experienced in the State, or the independence movement, sometimes they have to be seized. If with the animal liberation movement we were about to win a victory, some of us would have to make the effort to move into the institutions, but now we are not even close at that moment. We will have to continue fighting from the activist side.

Has activism changed in these years?

CF — The way of doing activism has changed. Activism will never change because people want to participate in order to improve the world, and while there is injustice, there will be activism, but the pandemic has changed the way of doing activism: now you cannot organize events with so many people. When we met in 2012, social media hadn't evolved that much. Now, on the other hand, a lot of activism is done through networks.

LA — In our case, the way in which animal rights and the environment are viewed has changed in the last ten years, and particularly with the pandemic, which has a very clear origin in the consumption of animals and the destruction of biodiversity. The animal liberation movement is more right than ever but we are at the worst moment in our history - animals have never been so mistreated. It had never happened like this. But one good thing that has happened is that the animal and environmental agendas are coming together - and I think that very soon we will have a unified movement.

Are you where you expected to be ten years ago?

CF — No! Well, as for the social movement that I represented, I think so. We have come a long way since 2012, now independence is a governmental option in most municipalities. In personal terms, I cannot say that I am, it would be absurd, as I am in prison. But you have to know how to differentiate your personal situation, which is very serious, from the one you represent and which you fight for. The idea has moved on, but I personally am at a worse place.

AC — I don't think it's been that long. I feel I am the same person I was ten years ago, I have the same goals, my priorities are the same, the same values ??define me... What has transformed me the most in these years is motherhood, rather than politics: the most important step that I have taken is being a mother of two beautiful children who teach me every day and help me to be a better person. I couldn’t even imagine being the mayor, it was inconceivable. It was the first time a woman was elected mayor of Barcelona, ??and also the fact that it was a person from a humble family who did not know anyone from the elites, that gave me a responsibility, I am here representing many people and not just the ones who voted for me.

CF — During these years our lives have changed a lot. A lot has happened to me, maybe more in eight years than in the previous twenty.

AC — Me too.

CF — I have had two grandchildren, who have been the best thing that ever happened to me. It has made me very happy to be a grandmother. I think that people who are not a grandmother have a hard time understanding the feeling of tenderness that awakens in you. However, I have not been able to live this fully. When my second grandson, Guiu, was born, they gave me two hours to see him. The oldest, Jan, I saw him walk in jail for the first time, and that's very hard. I entered jail when he was months old and now he's almost three years old. To take them to school, to the park, to see the Three Wise Kings... All these things that grandmothers do -well, the “iaies”, because in Terres de l'Ebre we call them like that- I have not been able to do with them, and I’ve lost that time, it won't come back.

LA — I could be at the other extreme of the situation that Carme described. Our struggle, that of animal liberation, is now more socially accepted, but that does not mean that we have achieved great goals. In fact, I think it's a pretty stagnant movement. In a way, capitalism has laid its claws on us and appropriated the idea of ??veganism. My personal life has improved but the cause I defend has not. And I say that my life has gotten better because I am dedicating myself more to work in Latin American territories. To work with communities on the ground is very different, it’s much more rewarding - you take more risks too, but I like it much more than the work I did here, mobilizing on the streets or in political offices.

Have you come across a very masculinized politics?

CF and AC — Of course!

CF — I have suffered sexism as president of the Parlament. I have suffered it and everyone has seen it, because it happened in a plenary session. Now, imagine being in private meetings. Therefore, if I, as president of the Parlament, have been subjected to sexist situations, it pains me to think of what the thousands of women who have a normal job must go through - they have to fight against these situations on an everyday basis. Obviously politics is a macho world, but we live in a macho society. Any woman must face this situation at some point or another.

AC — I would not only speak of a masculinized or macho politics, we have all received insults and other -more serious- messages. But it is not only that, it is that politics is organized in a macho way: caring is not prioritized. Feminist policies do not only exist in order to denounce sexist aggressions, but also to change priorities and make it easier for women to carry out their life project without giving up motherhood, work, or an autonomous project. Those of us in politics not only have to denounce the attacks we receive, we must, above all, act as spokespersons for the most invisible, because there are people who are much worse off than us.

CF — We have to place not only the person, but the happiness of the person, at the heart of politics; and politicians speak very little of happiness, although it is what we all seek. Surely the happiest moments we all have are with our families. Therefore, the more time we can spend with them, the happier we will be. Let's talk about happiness, let's talk about reconciliation, about how to make more space for family amidst professional life... We have to learn from this pandemic and have a post-pandemic vision.

What do you think will be the hallmark of your biography?

CF — Obviously, being president of the Parlament will stay with me a lot because to be in that position is an honor. However, I can also say one thing: I am in prison for having been president of the ANC, not for having been president of the Parlament of Catalunya. Therefore, personally what has made me go to prison is having been an activist.

AC — It is difficult to answer, because there are two experiences that have changed me a lot. I have never regretted having been mayor because it has been a collective process, but in strictly personal terms I have to say that I have had many more moments of happiness in the PAH than as a mayor. Especially during the first years as mayor. Activism is also a space for extended family, community, and that is sorely missed. Institutional politics are very cold, sometimes it is very hard.

CF — I was much happier being the president of the ANC, and I had a very bad time and suffered a lot when I was president of the Parlament. I agree with Ada that institutional politics are very cold. Sometimes you have to take decisions, and you feel very lonely. That does not happen when you are in an organization, the decisions are always collective and you find people who shelter you.

LA — I totally agree. I would really miss the group feeling if I didn't have it.

Where do you hope to be in ten years?

AC — It is impossible to answer this question after the experience we have had.

CF — I can tell you that I hope to be free and to be able to live with the people I love.

AC — Of course, I hope so too, Carme. And that it is not a matter of ten years.

Will you continue in politics or in activism?

LA — I will continue in activism. I am where I am as a consequence of a collective effort of a group of people who decided I should be a spokesperson for the Prou! or for the Zoo XXI platform, which now means I work in environmental issues in the Caribbean. I will be where the people who fight for these issues want me to be.

CF — I think I have already done everything in institutional politics. It’s fine that we dedicate a portion of our lives to politics, but I do not understand politics as a profession - rather as a service to the country. And that's it. However, I will be doing politics because I understand it as a fight in order to transform society, and that can be done from anywhere. I will be very involved in feminist issues. Going into jail has made me even more aware of the grievances suffered by women, it has made me see many sexist situations, and I will make this fight a priority.

AC — I do not know exactly where I will be, seeing how life has been lately, and the times we have lived. And, like Carme, I will surely be in politics, I have been in politics since I remember - politics can be done in a thousand ways. To be both a spokesperson for the PAH and a mayor, these have not been individual decisions, but the result of collective processes, and that is what gives it these positions the most value and makes them more meaningful. But it is impossible to say where I will be in ten years.

LA — If we have a planet left in ten years, because we also have to take that into account!


Early talent, enormous heart

Ricky Rubio

30 years old — Basketball player

09 DES 2010

"Ricky Rubio, a more than necessary mutation". The first time Ricky Rubio appeared in the ARA was when he was still a Barça player and had not gone to the NBA.


per Alex Gozalbo

fotografia GETTY, EFE, Reuters

"When my mother died, my life changed because when that happens to you the scale of pain and worry changes a lot. Before a defeat made me come home very angry and now I live it differently. Losing the most important person in my life was a hard blow."


icky Rubio's life has always been an example of precocity. When he was only 14 years old he made his debut with Joventut de Badalona in the Endesa League. His is the career of a child prodigy who got used to competing with adults at a very young age. Many of his fellow professionals will retire without having won any titles, yet he won the Euroleague with Barça shortly after coming of age (19). Forced to mature early, in 2011 the basketball player started his experience in the NBA, the best league in the world. At the age of 30, however, Ricky's list of priorities has changed and the death of his mother, Tona, made him change his scale of values and pushed him to mobilise in the fight against cancer. Enthused by his own foundation, the sportsman has learned to enjoy what happens outside a basketball court.


Ten years ago Ricky Rubio had already won the Euroleague. The Minnesota Timberwolves had selected him in the NBA draft, but he was still playing his second season at Can Barça. "I was just a kid, but I was already thinking about going to the NBA because my project was to spend two years in Barça, as ended up happening. When we won the Euroleague it was even more clear to me that it had to be that way. I remember that time with a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of innocence," says Rubio. Highly talented and imaginative, but less mature than now, the playmaker dreamed of one day making it to the NBA, the best league in the world.

"If 10 years ago I had been told that I would have made a career in the NBA and that I would achieve all that I have achieved with the national team, I would have signed up without thinking about it".


since he arrived in the NBA


The point guard has played a total of 563 games during his nine seasons in the US.



In 2016 Ricky Rubio suffered the death of his mother. Tona was a key piece in the player's mental balance, which sank. "Unfortunately during these ten years I have had to live through very hard personal moments, but they have also made me stronger and taught me life lessons, which is also very important. They are situations that cannot be learned if you do not experience them. When my mother died, my life changed because, when that happens to you, the scale of pain and worries changes a lot. Depending on the moment and the things that life gives you, the perspective changes. Before, a defeat made me arrive home very angry and now I experience it differently.

"Losing the most important person in my life was a hard blow. I found myself alone in many moments and it also helped me to find myself a little more. It is in hard times and how you get through them that you know yourself best," he explains.

That situation pushed Ricky to take a stand in the fight against cancer. "Everyone has their priorities, but I think it's like an obligation to get involved in the fight against cancer. I feel a duty to do so. For her, but also for myself, because selfishly it also does me good to be able to help people who are living similar situations. It helps me to feel more gratified. It is necessary".


"When I talked to my mother she always told me that we had to help families going through similar situations. When she died, I wanted to pay tribute to the experience she had given me, and I didn't have time to set up a foundation, as we were in the middle of the season, so I joined in the work of other initiatives". After working with different organizations in Minneapolis, Ricky Rubio found the time to start his own foundation. "I feel really fulfilled because I can do projects that really interest me and also help. My foundation is growing and little by little it has more projects and is able to help more people. That is very gratifying because you feel fulfilled. We've been going for almost three years now and it's wonderful. Until it affects you, you are not aware of the magnitude of this disease," he acknowledges. There is no end to the projects. "Every initiative has its magic. There is a research project on liquid biopsy that motivates me a lot because I think it could have helped my mother a lot. We also have the Luca project, which unites two of the branches we have in the foundation: children and cancer. It puts the emphasis on the families, which is a little bit the objective with which the foundation was born. There is another project, the Community Team, which was born in the Raval in Barcelona and which has now grown in other places such as Girona. It tries to use basketball to transmit values," he summarises.


At the beginning of the year Ricky Rubio became a father, an experience that once again shook his modus vivendi. "Being a father has changed me a lot. It's a career of brutal humility. Your child doesn't know anything and asks for 100% of your attention. The first child humanizes you a lot. Changing nappies, not sleeping at night, feeding him... It's a constant learning process," he argues. While he talks, his son entertains himself with the skin of a tangerine. Ricky, who got through the coronavirus just before the NBA restart, is aware that his confinement was not like most. "I am privileged and can live with space, but being locked up in the house is not easy. I am not an example because I have had a house and a salary. The pandemic has made us live the last few months like a roller coaster. In the end everyone is living it as they can. I passed the coronavirus, but with few symptoms, and that helps me to be more calm, but emotions have been very changeable. If being a father is already a change, imagine being locked up at home for 24 hours. I've lived through all kinds of moments," he says.


The NBA is a money-making machine, but it also has a dark side that is difficult to digest. A few days ago Ricky Rubio had three different teams in just three days. The Phoenix Suns traded him to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

"Situations like this make you lose a little love for basketball and see that everything is a business".

"When you get involved in a project, you give 100%, and when you get traded like that you realize how things work. You are very calm and, suddenly, a thousand things happen. You think: "They could have done it slower, giving you a heads-up. I accept it because it's a business that works very well and is capable of generating many moments of attention. Now that there is no competition, market-related news generates a lot of interest. After so many months of standstill, many teams have wanted to make changes. I think we have never seen so many transfers in such a short time," he confesses. His final destination is the Timberwolves, the team with which he made his NBA debut in 2011. "In the end I'm happy because in Minnesota I felt very loved and that helps a lot. My return to the Wolves is very positive and I think I can bring the experience I have accumulated in other successful franchises, both in the Utah Jazz and the Phoenix Suns. I will be working with Ryan Saunders, a very special coach for me. I met him when he was an assistant coach. His father, Flip Saunders, was the first great coach to back me in the NBA. Within half a year his father and my mother died, and that brought us very close together," he recalls.


Ricky's maturity has also been noticed on the court. "I have learned to play in different gears. I always used to play at the same speed and now I've learned to play more calmly and adapt to every situation, to what the team needs at any given time. The game has also evolved and I have had to adapt to a more scoring style of point guard. I've improved a lot in both scoring and three-point shooting. Basketball has already evolved in one direction and I have had to adapt and learn from that. The mentality has also been changing. Being a playmaker is the essence and that is never lost, but now I have other responsibilities," he analyses. The season that starts on 22 December will not be easy at all. "I can imagine a different and strange season, but we will try to adapt to the current situation. I don't know how the trips will end up and how the whole safety protocol will be implemented. The realistic goal the Timberwolves have to set themselves is to finish between the seventh and tenth teams in the conference and play the play-offs. Besides, it's an Olympic season that will leave us little time between one thing and the other," he announces. The future? Hard to imagine. "In 10 years I will be 40 years old and I think I will be retired. I hope to have a basketball court in Masnou and to be drinking a vermouth at sea remembering the career I had as a professional player". Some days he will read the press. "I've followed a lot the ARA newspaper's career because it has been one of the media I've felt closest to. It's a special newspaper that I hold in high esteem," he concludes.


Vocation for nature

Marina Comas

24 years old — Biology student and actress

14 FEB 2011

Her image crying on stage when she collected the Goya for Best Breakthrough Actress was the cover of ARA on February 14, 2011


per Thaïs Gutiérrez

fotografia Pere Tordera

"I have always wanted to be a farmer, I have always had a great vocation for nature and I am doing what I want and where I want".


en years have passed since the premiere of Pa negre and that overwhelming success that led the film and its stars to collect awards and applause around the world. Marina Comas, the girl who received the 2011 Goya for Best Breakthrough Actress, is now a woman who lives surrounded by nature and who, having finished her studies in biology and doing a master's degree in ecology, sees herself fighting against climate change more than ever before.

A very different environment

Almost a decade ago on that February night, a 14-year-old Marina Comas, nervous and exultant, went on stage at Madrid's Teatro Real to pick up her Goya for best breakthrough actress and between tears said "Good morning, good morning", even though it was past midnight. Ten years later Marina Comas maintains intact the spontaneity and the rural, almost wild, charm that made the Madrid audience fall in love that night but her life has changed radically. She keeps it at home, a country house on the outskirts of Orís, where she has views of the whole Plana de Vic and Lluçanès, and where she lives away from the acting - for the moment - and surrounded by nature and animals. "I don't think it would have surprised the Marina of 10 years ago, the one that won the Goya, to know that I would be living here. I'd always wanted to be a country girl, I've always had a great vocation for nature and I really liked being in the woods, it was almost an obsession", she recalls, and says with a happy tone: "I'm doing what I want, where I want". Although she has not permanently put acting aside, she has not worked in film or television for some time now. She studied the degree she had always wanted - biology - and now she is doing a master's degree in earth ecology and biodiversity. "It's an exciting subject but it's a shame that in Catalonia so little money is spent on these issues", she says, "there are countries that have budgets ten times larger and here the money goes elsewhere instead", she complains.

Actress or biologist?

Leaving acting aside has not been a traumatic process. On the contrary, she explains it with her disarming naturalness and makes it clear that acting is not a closed door. "When I finished Pa negre I was 14 years old, I had had a great time making the film, it had been an amazing experience and people said I was doing very well and I was happy," she recalls, and almost naturally more projects came along: the film Els nens salvatges, the series La Riera, Polseres vermelles, a couple of TV movies... "But when the time came to decide what I wanted to study, I had a big doubt". One option was to go and live in Barcelona to study theatre and the other was to do biology, which was what I had always wanted to do. "To train as an actress I had to leave the region and go and live in Barcelona. That made me very lazy because I don't like the city, I am very well here, and in the end I chose biology but I kept combining it with some small things as an actress, but the truth is that I have never trained as an actress and, therefore, it is normal that I receive fewer opportunities than other colleagues who are putting a lot of effort into becoming actors and actresses". One of these is her fellow cast member in Pa negre, Francesc Colomer, who has chosen acting and wants to make a career as an actor. However, Marina keeps her passion for acting alive and is clear that she will never say no to exciting projects. "If Agustí (Villaronga) calls me, I say yes with my eyes closed," she says, laughing.

An exceptional experience in the middle of adolescence

"I was a very innocent child when I shot Pa negre. I was the typical shy girl, very discreet, who never stood out and with that experience all the shyness went away. By force! I spent a good time being the centre of attention and that in the end helped me to overcome my fear," she recalls. It also helped her to grow up. It was like "accelerated therapy" and a taste of adult life. "I grew up all at once," she notes. And she did it thanks to a film that wasn't exactly for children. "With Francesc we always said: we didn't understand any of that story but we pretended to". And he says that perhaps this is the key to the success of their performances: "The two of us, like the children we played, didn't understand that world of adults or their stories, perhaps that's why the performance was so natural," she suggests. She recalls the shooting and promotion of the film as "a fantastic experience". "I didn't know anything about cinema, I had never made a film before and for me it was an adventure. It was an unknown and fascinating world, almost unreal, and I had the privilege of seeing it from the inside and I loved it," he explains. "It blew my mind", she says summing it up. It is impossible for her to choose a single memory but she does highlight the trip to the United States to promote the film: "That was an incredible dream".

Goya Awards



The Goya awards won by Pa Negre, among which was Marina Comas's for Breakthrough Actress

Source: Goya Awards

Growing up in a difficult decade

These ten years have been very intense for Marina Comas, who has gone from adolescence to adulthood, but also for the country, which has experienced turbulent and complicated times. If she has to highlight one of the events she has experienced in recent years, she has no doubt: "October 1st", she says. "For me it was a very exciting day, I was at a polling station and I will not forget how people came crying to vote, I will not forget the energy that one breathed, it was very beautiful and at the same time very sad because a line was crossed that many of us thought would never be crossed. I think that day is one that changes a country, I think that its memory is still present. And from her home in the countryside she also values the current pandemic, another complicated historical moment, which she has lived through in peace. "I have no right to complain because I live in the middle of the forest and therefore my confinement was very easy compared to that of many other people," she explains. But she believes that there are also positive lessons to be learned: "I have realized how flexible we are, we adapt to changes overnight and that surprises me a lot".

What about the future?

Marina says she is "constantly evolving" and when asked how she sees herself in 10 years time, she rephrases the answer in the form of a wish, confident that this time will allow her to make it happen: "I see myself as a climate change researcher working on international projects. Clear, direct and honest. Three qualities that made her captivate that casting team that in 2010 travelled around the region of Osona looking for children who had the accent of the area and that now help her to make her own decisions and end up, as she says, doing what she wants to do.


The refugees' lifeguard

Oscar Camps

56 years old — Director of Proactiva Open Arms

11 OCT 2015

We first heard about Oscar Camps in the autumn of 2015 in this interview published in the ARA Diumenge supplement.


per Cristina Mas

fotografia Xavier Bertral

"We were very touched. Because it's one thing to know that people are dying every day and another to see it and not be able to do anything for them. My post-traumatic stress is with sounds. From time to time I get shaken by a scream or a noise"

w I've aged! I didn't have a single grey hair! And I still wear the same watch," says Oscar Camps, the founder of Open Arms, when we show him a photo from September 2015 in which he is seen helping to land a dinghy on a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos. It was the first time we saw him in the ARA newspaper. Five years after that picture, we found him in the port of Badalona on board the Astral, the first boat with which the Badalona-based NGO entered the Mediterranean. Is the Oscar Camps, owner of Proactiva, a beach rescue company, the same man as ten years ago? He claims that he is: "Before I saved lives out of vocation and now out of social and political commitment". He remembers that in 2010 what concerned him was to dignify lifeguarding, "a profession that had always been in the hands of the Red Cross with volunteers and very little recognition". But the authorities did not pay much attention to him: "They were more concerned about the equipment than about safety on the beaches". And in 2015, when he saw what was happening in the Aegean islands with the refugees trying to reach Europe, he decided he could not let it be. He took his family on holiday to the island of Rhodes to take a closer look at the crisis: "One day on the beach I found a little shoe, and it wasn't a tourist's".

The origins

His daughter Ona, who was 11 at the time, was partly responsible for the turnaround in Camps' life. It all started one day when the two of them were looking at Facebook and found the photos of two dead children on a Greek beach published by an Italian journalist. The father tried to scroll past them quickly, but his daughter stopped him: she wanted him to explain what was going on. And she asked a tough question: "Why isn't Proactiva going?" "I told her it wasn't that easy, but I realized she was right," Camps recalls. He had 15,000 euros saved in the company and decided to turn it into a corporate social responsibility action.

"Helping out shouldn't be that complicated. First I tried it through official channels, involving Ada Colau, Dolors Sabater, the Barcelona Provincial Council, the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation, Médecins Sans Frontières and the Greek ambassador in Spain. But nobody took it seriously. And I decided that we would go alone, that no one could forbid us.

The next day he met with Gerard Canals, who was then in charge of logistics at Proactiva, and two other workers from the company and asked them for help. "I don't speak English very well and Gerard agreed to go with me". Not even they imagined that two years later they would have converted an old tugboat into an operational rescue ship in the central Mediterranean that would save thousands of lives.

The Lesbos shipwreck

"We went to Lesbos a bit by chance, because we wanted to go to the island of Kos, where more boats were arriving, but the flight was later. We didn't know where we were going or what we would find. And we ended up alone in the north of the island. I was amazed at what I was seeing on the beaches," Camps recalls. I wanted everyone to know but I didn't have the means: "I filmed a dinghy arriving at the beach and sent the video to Tomás Molina, who showed it on the news".

One of Camps' darkest memories is of the shipwreck on 28 October 2015, when a wooden barge with 280 people on board sank. He and the three other Proactiva volunteers who were in Lesbos gave their all, helped only by fishermen in the face of the helplessness of Frontex teams and the coastguard, but they could not stop the sea from taking at least 40 lives. "It was like a plane falling into the sea: as far as the eye could see you could see people floating. We saw people splashing around and children drowning. We couldn't pull everyone out of the water and we had to choose. Something like that is indescribable. And the four of us were very touched. Because it's one thing to know that people are dying every day and another to see it and not be able to do anything for them. My post-traumatic stress is with sounds. From time to time I get shaken by a scream or a noise," Camps admits. That day Open Arms was born: "We were very aware of the deliberate inaction of the administrations, and that day we went from saving lives to fighting to avoid having to do it, so that those who should do it do it". One of the key strategies has been to let the public know what is happening at sea by putting journalists on board the rescue boats.

Rescued lives

2015 - 2020


Starting September 2015 around the Greek island Lesbos and continuing recently in the central Mediterranean, Open Arms has saved thousands of lives in the Mediterranean.

Source: Open Arms

A political battle

Since Open Arms began its work, the International Organization for Migration reports that 17,000 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean. Many others have disappeared without a trace. The Badalonese NGO knows that they will not be able to help everyone, nor do they intend to, because it is the states that are responsible for sea rescue. In 2016, after the EU signed the agreement with Turkey to return migrants who arrived in Greece, Open Arms moved to the central Mediterranean, on the much longer and more dangerous route between Libya and Italy. At the beginning, Rome accepted the aid, but as Europe was plunged into the economic crisis, immigration became a rhetorical weapon that had a sweet tooth for the most reactionary discourses. The NGOs went from being heroes to bad guys, even accused of colluding with traffickers, and the persecution began. The Spanish PP and PSOE governments also threw a spanner in the works. "We end up devoting as much effort or more to the political battle as to the rescue, because the administrations continually put traps in our way and block us. Sometimes I'm fed up, but we can't stop. We have to reinvent ourselves at every turn".

He maintains that among the Spanish politicians he has met, morals have weighed more heavily than acronyms: "I have been pleasantly surprised by people from the PP who have linked up with us and supported us on a personal level. And conversely, people from the left whom I expected more than I did have disappointed me very much". He said he only felt represented by one head of state, "Pope Francis, who works non-stop for this cause".

Wear and tear on the front line

Camps confesses that what he finds most difficult is being away from his family: "I have four children and I try to be with them. The best thing is that I have recovered the oldest, with whom we had a difficult relationship, and she has been more involved in the project than I have. The worst thing is that I can't be there for the little one, who is 8 years old". Nor can he protect him completely: "Not everyone agrees with what we do and sometimes he hears comments at school, and I can only tell him that he doesn't have to worry, that everyone can say what they think". He stoically tolerates the permanent attacks through social media, but he assures that nobody has ever insulted him to his face.

He could do his job from an office but prefers to continue at the helm of one of Open Arms' lifeboats. "I have always complained about large organisations run from an office in northern Europe. Open Arms is run from the ship," he proclaims. He is critical of the NGO world: "They have to freely denounce what is happening and not keep things quiet so as not to lose subsidies". "Very few of us have opened our mouths to denounce what is happening in the Mediterranean. The big NGOs have budgets in the millions, and the sea is very big but very few of us are in the water".

Steps backwards

The fire at the Moria refugee camp has put the island of Lesbos back on the front page, five years after that photograph of Oscar Camps without the grey hair. Since the EU's agreement with Turkey to contain immigration in 2016, state violence against refugees has become increasingly blatant. Now the Greek coastguards are abandoning the refugees in the Aegean in the middle of the night in lifeboats without engines so that the Turks can send them back to the point of departure.

"The coastguards have once again become the riot police of the sea. And they don't give a damn about people's lives. But that's their business. What will they tell their grandchildren? History eventually catches up with you. And everything will come out," he says.

During some months when the Italian authorities were blocking them, Open Arms went to the port of Motril to help rescue boats leaving Morocco on the Alboran Sea route. Camps argues that as long as a public body such as Salvamento Maritimo is taking responsibility for the rescues, it makes no sense for Open Arms to work in Spain.

And then the pandemic struck

The covid-19 pandemic has changed everything and, in addition to adapting the entire rescue protocol (the crew has to be quarantined after each mission and the ship is prepared for PCR tests), the team, with personnel used to working in emergency situations, has also set about saving lives on land. They have done 50,000 PCRs in nursing homes, and now they also do them in schools. "It has cost us a lot of money and I hope that one day the authorities will compensate us, but now we have to be united and row all in the same direction".



Víctor Grífols Roura, Raimon Grífols Roura and Víctor Grífols Deu

70 — President of Grifols

56 and 44 years old — Co-CEO of Grifols and Co-CEO of Grifols

Grifols appeared on the pages of ARA in December 2010 in a report that explained the origin of the family business that had come to the fore as a result of the Wikileaks revelations.


per Elena Freixa and Albert Martín

fotografia Xavier Bertral

"But could we possibly leave? Those who have gone to Madrid have done so because there is no wealth tax there, and that was an excuse. If we had to leave, it would be for business reasons, not political ones".


he traditional discretion of Catalan business has a paradigmatic example in Grifols. A giant in the blood products sector, the leading Catalan family business and a world leader in innovation, none of this has led to the company's leadership opening up to the media over time. On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the ARA, however, the company has made an exception: Víctor Grífols, Raimon Grífols and Víctor Grífols Deu have agreed to meet with this newspaper in an exclusive and historic meeting -the three of them, Grifols's president and co-CEOs, had never attended a media event together before. They did so relaxed and in a place, the Museu Grifols, which rescued the tools and inventions of the pioneering laboratory of Josep Antoni Grífols and his sons from the family attic. This is the same building that housed the first private blood bank in Spain in 1945, from which a Seat 600 with an ambulance siren went on duty to the bullrings of Barcelona to attend to bullfighters in case they needed a transfusion if they were injured. During the conversation, they jump in and cut each other off quite naturally, a freedom that a manager, in another company of his size, could never take with a president or CEO. Theirs is a tale of blood.


I was on holiday in Menorca and one morning my wife woke me up: "Come down, I don't know what they're saying about Grifols and Wikileaks on TV". The scene that Victor Grífols Sr., the current president of the company, explains naturally recalls the unexpected fact of being included 10 years ago in the list of strategic assets identified by the US government and filtered by Wikileaks. "We had no idea," he admits, recalling the flood of calls from the media. What interested the Catalan manufacturer in the United States was immunoglobulin, a protein in blood plasma that regenerates the immune system, which at the time was only produced at the Grifols plant in Catalonia and at nine other facilities around the world. "At first we were surprised, but then you stop and think, and what surprised me most was that in the USA, 6,000 km away, they had identified something in a small town called Parets del Vallès, while in Catalonia and Spain they still don't know where we are," says Víctor Grífols Jr.

WikiLeaks made them known to the general public, says Raimon Grífols, co-CEO of the company along with his nephew, but since then they have experienced a decade of effervescence marked by acquisitions. The starting point was the purchase of Talecris in 2011, a North American company as big as Grifols itself, dedicated to the plasma sector. This was followed by the purchase of Novartis's transfusion unit in 2014 and of Hologic two years later, in order to grow in the diagnostics sector. More recently, they have added new products to the hospital pharmacy business with Kiro and MedKeeper.

Accustomed to working outside the media limelight - which has not prevented the business from operating " just as well or better ", according to Víctor Grífols Deu - they have regained their prominence with the pandemic. Today, immunoglobulin "has become fashionable", says the co-CEO. His father finishes his sentence: "It's a word that appears more in the press, in discussions, and people are beginning to realise that plasma exists and is useful for something".

The 'superpowers' of plasma

Anti-SARS-CoV-2 hyperimmune immunoglobulin. Right now, this is Grifols's big bet in the fight against covid-19. This is a medicine with a high amount of antibodies from the plasma of people who have beaten the disease and which could be effective in treating or preventing it. After the first batches of the drug were delivered to US government agencies, the clinical trial began in October in 500 patients in 18 different countries. In addition to these, Grifols is leading or participating in more than 25 research projects to treat different phases of covid-19.

"The principle of convalescent plasma is many years old, but with the Ebola crisis we have brought it back to life," says Víctor Grífols Deu in reference to the project which took them to Liberia five years ago to work in the midst of the epidemic on the African continent. To do this, they built a new production facility in Clayton, "a plant with rare plasmas in mind, in order to deal with any future epidemics which may arise", stresses the president. In this space everything is ready to produce the hyperimmune immunoglobulin against covid-19 if the clinical trial proves its effectiveness.

Grífols Sr. strings together the sequence of ideas which lead him to believe that they are on the right track: "Plasma from people who have been cured has antibodies against covid and our medicine does too", he says. He relies more on this reasoning than on the vagaries of the market. "The stock market goes up and down as it wants, I never understood it," he says with a sneer. And true to his caustic style, he finishes off: "Sometimes it goes up, sometimes it goes down, and you don't know why..."

An imminent problem

"Europe is plasma-deficient; 40% of what it needs is imported. The President utters the phrase in the tone of someone who has felt ignored many times: "I have been telling governments this for 40 years, and my father before me, poor man! Plasma - the proteins it contains - is the raw material for manufacturing the company's medicines, which are aimed at treating immune deficiencies or rare and chronic diseases that often have no therapeutic alternative. Unlike in the USA - Grifols has 70% of its business there - there are very few countries in Europe that allow donation centres where the donor is given a financial incentive. "When Spain entered the common market, I don't know who came up with the idea of closing them down," continued Grífols Sr., referring to the twelve donation points they had, including the Hemobank, Grifols's blood and plasma bank and the world's first plasmapheresis centre, which operated from 1945 until the mid-1980s.

Although the President is not entirely sure, Víctor Grífols Deu sees the pandemic as an opportunity for change. " Covid has caused many bad things but also a good one in the plasma industry: it has raised people's awareness of where it comes from and all there is behind it". The youngest director in the saga acknowledges that they are taking advantage of the situation to "put pressure" on Brussels as a sector to change the EU regulatory framework. "At least warn them, they won't be able to say we didn't warn them," Grífols Sr. concludes.

Plasma collection has fallen drastically due to the impact of the restrictions due to covid, and this could affect next year's supply. "In 2021 it will be very hard, there may be countries, patients, who have no product," warns Grífols junior. "What will happen in five months if they lack product in the United States? What will the Americans say? American plasma for American people. And who will be left without it? The countries that don't wake up", says the President, who immediately adds that Germany does not fall into the group of those who have fallen asleep because it already has private plasma donation centres in operation. The Catalan company pays compensation of around 30 dollars per donation in the United States and the donors are largely students, military personnel or people who are simply looking for extra income. Last year, Grifols obtained 13.5 million litres of plasma. To give you an idea, around 1,200 donations are needed for the treatment of a single hemophilic patient for an entire year.

The problem in Europe, insists Grifols Sr., is that there is a "European double standard" of claiming that altruistic donation is enough while, in parallel, plasma is imported from elsewhere. "The financial incentive helps and no harm is done, there is no ethical problem, the plasma is just as good and just as safe," intervenes Grífols Deu. "If today we are already paying for the donation of sperm or eggs, why are some alright and others not?", adds Raimon Grifols.

Innovation in DNA

Grifols's history is a string of exciting scientific milestones. The most important to date? Plasmapheresis. There is no doubt that this was the main scientific contribution made by the Grífols Lucas brothers in 1951. "A process on which the whole of world industry still depends today, this is innovation," Grifols Deu stresses about the success of his great-uncle Josep Antoni.

For the first time, plasmapheresis made it possible to return all the other components of the blood (red and white cells and platelets) to the body of the plasma donor. "Before plasmapheresis, you took the blood from the donor, centrifuged it to separate the plasma and the red part was thrown away", says Grífols Roura, who continues: "My uncle said, 'What if instead of throwing it away I give it back to the donor before he goes home? And this was the key to the birth of the industry and is still the process by which Grifols's donation centres -more than 300 worldwide- and those of its competitors operate. With plasmapheresis, the donor can return more often because, unlike the rest of the blood components, the plasma regenerates much more quickly, in a couple of days, in the body.

Raimon Grífols also recalls an even older invention, made by the company's founder, Josep Antoni Grífols i Roig, which transformed blood transfusions: the flebula. The device, patented in 1928, was the first instrument created in Spain for blood transfusions in which the donor and the recipient did not have to be in the same place at the same time.

And the present? Grifols is on the verge of reaping the fruits of research which has taken it the last 15 years, the Ambar project, a treatment which delays the degenerative process of Alzheimer's in the mild and moderate stages of the disease. "It seems that we are coming to the end and that it is working", explains Grífols Sr., who thus gauges the significance of the step: "The USA has included Alzheimer's in the list of priority diseases and that is because it acts almost like a pandemic: in 2050 it is predicted that there will be 30 or 40 million people suffering from the disease in that country alone". Seeking healthier ageing is one of the company's lines of work for the coming years, explains Raimon Grífols. But research, which is "in their veins", claims Grífols Deu, does not only mean new products but also new ways of doing things, such as acquisitions and alliances.

Global growth in Grifols employees

2010 - 2020




juny 2020

Source: COTEC 2020 Report

A two-man handover

"We have made a textbook generational handover". It is with this conviction that Victor Grífols Sr. explains the decision the company announced in 2016 to make him president of the board of directors in 2017 ("a decorative position", he says), leaving his brother Raimon and his son Victor as co-directors. According to the patriarch, this succession has a second part: "In five or ten years Raimon will be able to become president of the board and Victor will be the only managing director".

"The reality is that he has the faculties, but there comes a time when you reach a certain age and new ideas arrive, new ways of doing things," explains Raimon Grífols, "and well, travel," his older brother cuts him off. "It's not that I can't travel, but hey, I've been travelling all my life like a mill. From 1983 to 1989 I went 30 times to China, and at that time you didn't fly over Russia, you had to go through Alaska or I don't know where; I was never at home," he remembers. Now the most I travel is to Menorca," he says. "They do it well, they know the business and they have the same criteria that my father had and that I have had", he adds about a handover that has affected the vast majority of the company's management. "And if they ever ask me anything and I disagree with both of them I say, 'It's up to you'", adds the President, bringing to light a thorny issue that is very common in companies. Is there a struggle of egos or discrepancies? Both co-CEOs deny this. "We are lucky that we are family and we don't have to compete with each other," explains Raimon Grífols, "I have known him since he was born, since he was like that [he places the palm of his hand a foot above the ground]".

His nephew takes the floor: "Generationally we are quite close and philosophically we don't disagree, which is where the important clashes occur". They cite, as an example, the decision to face this crisis without any redundancy programme in a company that employs more than 24,000 workers, 3,546 of them in Catalonia.

Headquarters in Catalonia, a question of identity

Their leadership style is close. "Any employee can access us", says Raimon Grífols, "We spend a lot of time preserving the spirit of the founders, and that's not to say 'there's a barrier here and you can't get through it. "When we are in the canteen we eat with everyone and talk to everyone", he adds. In 2017, when the new directors had only just taken charge, Catalonia experienced the political upheavals of October 1, which led to a stampede of changes in company headquarters. The Ibex 35 was at the forefront. With one exception: Grifols. How did this decision come about? The three main directors of the blood products giant show that they are not uncomfortable with the issue and they all give their opinion. "You are sitting right on top of where the company was founded," Raimon Grífols tells the journalist. "But how could we possibly leave?" asks the company's president. "If we had to leave we would go to the United States, where we have 70% of the business", he adds. His son takes over: "The decision to stay is not a decision, the question must be asked of those who have left. Why did you have to leave?" he asks himself. It is his father who replies: "Those who have gone to Madrid have done so because there is no wealth tax there, and that was an excuse", he explains. If we had to leave, it would be for business reasons, not political ones", he concludes.

His son follows suit: "If you analyse Grifols, it's an American company: 70% of the employees, 70% of the factories... Someone might ask why we are in Barcelona, when we should be in North Carolina, but this was founded right where you are". And he closes the explanation with his vision of what Grifols is: "We are what we are because of this combination of the United States and Barcelona; if we were based in Washington, we wouldn't be the same company," he explains. This Catalan-American mix, this common sense from here with their way of doing things, is what makes the company successful".

The future lies in China

"If you come in ten years' time, what will really have been transformational will have been China: it will have an effect even greater than Talecris had". It is Victor Grífols Sr. who dares to make the prophecy. "In the United States we have the technology and the sales people, who know more than we do; here, the way of doing things and the engineering," he explains. But the growth of the market is in China, you can't imagine the potential that this has, it's a beast".

The executive who will go down in history as the man responsible for the leap of a small Catalan company to the condition of global giant does not hide his satisfaction with the formula with which they managed to enter the Asian giant. "The exchange of shares was a masterstroke: we have 26% of the Chinese company and they have 42% of our North American diagnostic company; that's why we know that they will take the diagnosis there and they will be our consumers: it is in their interest, it is a masterstroke", he says.

As he explains, today in China only eight million litres of plasma are collected each year, less than the 13 million which Grifols alone collects. "And China needs four times more plasma than the United States, imagine what that is like". As he explains, his competitors sell products, but they are not as well positioned. "And it will cost them a lot to get in.

Grifols' president ends with an announcement: "Write this down: whoever comes from ARA newspaper in ten years' time, should ask us about China".


The Pragmatic Student

Aitor López

27 years old — Pediatric junior doctor

2 JUL 2011

He got the best mark in the 2011 university entrance exam: 9.7/10


per Lara Bonilla

fotografia Pere Virgili

"I have never been proud of it, it was one of the worst days of my life"


f there is one news item that is repeated every year in the newspapers, it is that of the students with the best marks on the examinations. Every year four young people - with the best marks in Barcelona, Girona, Lleida and Tarragona- get the media's attention for a few hours and explain whether they studied a lot or a little, what degree they want to study or how they prepared for the exams. But we rarely hear anything else. The news expires the next day and they go on with their lives. The young people of 2011 were Andrea, Manel, Jordi and Aitor. Aitor got the highest mark, a 9.7, and he received the news in Pamplona, where he was preparing to participate in the International Biology Olympics in Taiwan. Aitor thought twice when we called him to interview him again. He remembers that nine years ago he attracted media attention for doing something that was within the norm, taking his university entrance exams, and he would have preferred to have obtained the second best mark and go unnoticed. "I've always tried not to mention it or make a big deal of it. I've never been proud of it, because it's something that has happened to me and which I didn't actively seek out".

Life experience

Aitor looks at the pages of the newspaper from nine years ago where his photo shared the spotlight with Jordi, Andrea and Manel. They were the four Catalan students with the best marks in the 2011 university entrance exams. "It's been a long time since I've seen them. I've changed a bit but I recognise myself.

"I was away from home and in one day I received 35 calls from the media, I wasn't used to handling a situation like that," he says.

It's been a long while but at the same time I'm very aware of it. It was a moment in my life that marked me". The announcement of the exam results caught him in Pamplona, where he was preparing to participate in the International Biology Olympics in Taiwan.

And he regrets that some media would like to dig into irrelevant information such as his love life or political ideas. "I was 17 and had to get around some questions that I thought might have consequences". For all these reasons, he acknowledges that it was "one of the worst days" of his life. "But it is part of my life journey and I have to accept it," he adds. The positive side is that his closest environment was very happy and his parents and especially his grandmother were very proud. For a few days there was always someone telling them that they had seen Aitor on TV or in the newspapers. "My grandmother would bring up the subject in any conversation. For her, who was unable to study, that was a dream". "But my parents agreed with me that the most important thing was for me to be happy with what I could do and these priorities were clear to me", he reasoned.

Being happy with what you do

He questions the annual ranking of the best marks in the university entrance exams and wonders whether this is not a "wrong" way of looking at the education system. "We give the media prize for the best marks but are they the students who have made the most effort, the ones who deserve it the most?", he asks himself.

"I don't know to what extent we contribute to making the education system an interpersonal rather than an intrapersonal competition", he argues.

Furthermore, he acknowledges that the luck factor plays an important role in the outcome: "Only by changing a single question in a single subject, the grade can change for everyone".

When it came to choosing studies, the scientific vocation was clear to him but he preferred a career that also included a social aspect and he opted for medicine. As a second choice, he chose philosophy. And halfway through his studies, he considered becoming a primary school teacher. At the age of eight he entered a children's freetime activities association in Rubí, where he still works as a monitor. He discovered that education also makes him "happy". "I really like many things and from many different areas," he admits. He is pragmatic: "I will be happy with what I do," he says. And although years later he passed his doctor's licensing examination with a good enough mark to be able to choose paediatrics, as he wanted, he admits that he took it easy because he knew that with another speciality, such as internal medicine or family medicine, he would also be happy.

Passes in university entrance exam



Covid has made this the strangest of university entrance exams. Despite the record number of passes, the pass rate is lower than last year's 96,4%.

Source: Consell Interuniversitari de Catalunya

In the hospital, like at home

He is now a third-year junior doctorat the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu, where he says he feels "at home". "A place where I feel loved and that I love. It's a big hospital but I like to feel this bond". He acknowledges that the residency is "a very intense part of a doctor's life", with very long working days, as junior doctors work 24-hour shifts to complete a basic salary of between 900 and 1,100 euros, he explains. When we meet, junior doctors are on strike for better working conditions, and he has just returned from one of the demonstrations. He considers the paediatrician to be "a close doctor", with sensitivity to treating the sick child and his family, and admits that they often see "very tough cases". "The first times you see a child die you come home feeling different and with a sense that no one from outside your work environment understands you". Perhaps that's why he considers the hospital a second family. "We give each other a lot of support. I can explain at home what has happened to me but it is not perceived in the same way, there are days when you come back upset and with things inside you have to work on", he acknowledges. It's not unusual to wake up the next day with a picture in your head or a case going around. "A child's pain is different from that of an adult and you also see the suffering of the families, we can't forget that". And keeping it all out is not the solution: "Because at some point it will explode. You can't shield yourself".

Living by the day

He is closely linked to the associative life of his town, Rubi, and lives in the house that had been his grandmother's, which he shares with a companion, also a doctor, whom he met during the Biology Olympics in Taiwan. "For me, 2011 was a very big year, very different things happened to me from what had happened up until then, and the Taiwan Olympics was quite an experience," he says. He is still connected to it today, but now he is asking the questions. "It's voluntary, because we don't get paid, but it's enriching. We all have to break with what we are used to doing and dare to do more," he says. If you ask him if he is where he wanted to be ten years ago, he doesn't have a clear answer, just as he doesn't know where he will be when he is 37. "Everything ends up taking you down different paths and choices and I consider myself very lucky to be where I am, doing what I want and accompanied by very good people," he assures. He does not believe that in the next decade he will make a "radical change" in his life. What he does not know is whether we will find him here or working abroad, in some cooperation project with Médecins sans Frontières. During his career he has spent time in India and Cameroon and in refugee camps in Greece. "And I think I would like at some point in my life to devote time to this on a more continuous basis," he explains. "I take it as it comes and I don't have a very clear-cut life plan. I think that, with what I have at the moment, I am deciding on the next step," he concludes.


Son of his time

Glen Caliba Ramos

33 years old — Engineer

19 GEN 2012

"The engineer who does not believe in the impossible. That was the title of the first report published by ARA on Glen Caliba, the first student from the Braval entity to graduate. He was one of the protagonists of the newspaper's first anniversary special."


per Marta Rodríguez Carrera

fotografia Cèlia Atset, Cristina Calderer

"My parents told me that I had Filipino blood, but I have always thought that identity crosses through many other aspects beyond birth and origin"


e has not lost the smile he wore in the photographs in which he proudly posed as an engineer graduate from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC). The first to have been part of the classrooms of the Braval entity, which gives extracurricular support to young people from Raval - mostly children of immigrant parents. A decade later, at the age of 33, he works as an engineer and has had to leave his native Raval to move to Mollet del Vallès, where he shares a flat with a friend.


The roots the Caliba Ramos have set in Catalunya are recent, but their three children make them almost immovable. The couple arrived in Barcelona from the Philippines in the 1980s and settled in Raval, where there were already many people from that country. A migrant story that repeats itself: when in a new culture, they seek the warmth of their compatriots. This was the neighborhood of Glen and his two little brothers, the streets where they played football and basketball. But the fact that the parents chose a school with few children of Filipino origin opened his mind and his horizon of possibilities, he says, in order to not live secluded in a small copy of Manila: "This happens more in parents’ generations, or in Filipinos who have come as grown ups".

"I have never felt only Filipino. My parents told me I had Filipino blood but I have always thought that identity went through many other layers beyond birth and origin. In fact, identity has never worried me much"

Luckily, he says he only remembers one episode in which he experienced racism heads on. He was a teenager and, while he was waiting with a friend at the doors of the conservatory on Bruc street, a woman made an unpleasant comment that left them confused. However, other than this incident, he has never had a problem with his origin.

At home, Spanish has gained ground over the mother's ilocano, but he maintains both the family language and notions of Tagalog, and can make himself understood when visiting his large family that lives in the archipelago. "Languages are difficult at first but then it's like riding a bicycle", he says. He speaks six.

Population with Filipino roots in Barcelona


(53% of total in Barcelona)

According to place of birth




The Philippines

Source: Barcelona City Council (2015)

The importance of volunteers

Something that he regrets is having left his volunteer work parked in Braval, the entity that opened the doors to help him with what he learned at school. Now he returns very occasionally - too occasionally, he admits - but insists that the NGO knows they can always count on him. Caliba got into the entity when he was in his first year of high school because he already noticed that it was difficult for him to combine highschool classes with those of the music conservatory. In Braval, they helped him advance; and above all, he remembers being impressed by the young volunteers who came every afternoon. "Some were not from the neighborhood, they came from L’Hospitalet, and now I think they made a great effort for all of us", he says thankfully. He states that they not only helped him in mathematics or languages, but also learned lessons that go beyond the school curriculum, such as the importance of "values ??of coexistence, knowing how to treat people, and solidarity". He clarifies that they reinforced a way of doing and being that his parents, Martina Ramos and Amancio Caliba, had already instilled in him.

Music in order to disconnect

Music broke into his teenage life almost by chance, thanks to a family friend who had started studying at the conservatory. Without any family tradition, he was immediately bitten by the bug, encouraged by his parents, eager for Glen and his brothers to learn and have the opportunities they had not had, even paying the high cost of travelling 12,000 kilometers away from family.

What began as an extracurricular activity became yet another subject, and he combined music first with highschool, and later with computer engineering classes at the UPC. He finished the intermediate level of piano studies, and was held back by the difficulty of the higher grade. Still, he says it is like a trade for him. He also plays the violin and the organ very well, the latter, an instrument he plays in the Adventist church of which he is a member. "Playing for me is a way to disconnect from the world", he sums up.

Entrepreneur engineer

Restless, he has done everything he could after graduating; son of his time, he has launched several business ventures with business 2.0. In the absence of a permanent job, he has opted for entrepreneurship. Together with a partner he tried to create a tourism platform, but finally he reinvented himself to build an alternative to the powerful Google Maps, designed for those who are against giving the multinational technology personal data, but the lack of investors made them abandon the project. Now he works as a programmer for an online store and has launched two parallel projects that have virtuality and image in common: a website of courses that teach photographers and models to make the most of themselves, and an application to do exercises to strengthen the glutes. You learn from everything, he says, "even from the mistakes" he has made as an entrepreneur and that, far from discouraging him, push him to go ahead. "When you are an employee you have no problems, but when you start from zero you have to do everything: find clients, financing, partners ... but it's worth it", he says.

Expelled from Barcelona

One of the things that have changed in this decade is the everyday landscape of the young engineer. Now he lives in Mollet del Vallès, and shares a flat with a friend and his dog. It is a way of sharing expenses but also, he points out, of having company. "I can't imagine lockdown alone". He says that it has been a "long journey" from Raval to the Vallès city. In his old neighbourhood, he emancipated himself from his parents and settled in an old rental apartment, but three years ago the owner asked him to leave, claiming that she needed the house for her own use. At that time his parents had also moved to Premià de Mar, where they do care work for the elderly, and he went with them. The experience was short because from there he moved to Badalona, ??where he already shared a flat with the friend with whom he ended up going to Mollet, halfway between family and work.

Where he sees himself, ten years from now

Who can evade the burden of the pandemic? "I hope to survive the covid", he laughs, and then becomes serious and thanks his family because, for now, he has been "lucky" and no one close is suffering the consequences of either the health or the economic crisis. On a professional level, his "dream" is to have a "passive income fund". He admits that he would like to improve his salary and that perhaps when he was studying he would have imagined a better financial position but, realistically, he assures that he is "satisfied" with work and life in general. "Sometimes we reduce everything to money, too many times", he stresses.

The responsibility of being a reference

Glen Caliba has not only been portrayed by ARA as a reference of what has been called “the social elevator” - the success story of a child from a migrant family. He laughs with satisfaction and pride when he is reminded of the headlines in which his name has appeared and states that the neighborhood children who knew him looked at him as a role model. "It was a responsibility". His role models are his parents, of whom he highlights the "sacrifices" they have made for their children. "They came here without speaking the language, in the market they had to point to the fruit or the meat to make themselves understood", he recalls. "As children these stories made us laugh but in reality they were very brave". Now it is the parents who are proud of their children. "When I appear in the media I never say anything to them, but they always end up knowing it because their friends tell them. Once my father was moved when the man he cares for showed him a newspaper clipping with my photo".


One doctor, two epidemics

Bonaventura Clotet

67 years old — Doctor and researcher

28 NOV 2010

He starred in the first interview of the day with a headline that read: "In ten years we will have a vaccine against AIDS".


per Lara Bonilla

fotografia Pere Virgili

"I am privileged because I have lived through a first epidemic and its control, the six Barça Trophies, thirty seconds of the Catalan Republic and a second great epidemic. Who could have told me when I finished my degree!"


en years have passed, but the office is still the same small, messy space where the doctor and researcher Bonaventura Clotet received us a decade ago. The table is just like it was then, full of papers, notebooks and folders - "They're the same", he jokes - but now there are also signs of the new normal: a bottle of surgical spirit on the table reminds us that we are in the times of a coronavirus. On the walls and on the shelves, cut-outs from his personal life: a poster of the premiere of the film Traces of Sandalwood, starring his daughter, the actress Aina Clotet, a collage of photographs of friends and colleagues reading "We are your cross to bear" and a book on the contemporary history of Catalonia. At the top of the shelf there is still the same cardboard file from ten years ago in which large letters read: "HIV VACCINE". Now, however, the vaccine against the coronavirus hogs the news.


The first question is a must: is that ten-year-old headline obsolete? Clotet doesn't think so. And he argues that the therapeutic AIDS vaccine is being developed "but already physically exists". "And it's working," he says. And he compares it to the coronavirus. "We will also have a vaccine against coronavirus, probably at the end of the year or the beginning of next year, and we will start to see its effectiveness, but it will still be two years of research with a very large population before we know whether it gives efficient protection".


He considers himself lucky. He thought so ten years ago because he witnessed the beginning of an epidemic, AIDS, and its control. Now he is experiencing a second epidemic. "I am privileged because I have lived through a first epidemic and its control, the six Barça trophies, thirty seconds of the Catalan Republic and a second great epidemic. Who could have told me when I finished my degree that I would live through so many things!" He has dedicated a large part of his professional career to HIV, although he now also has an eye on coronavirus. Although there is still much to learn about this virus, he stresses that this is the disease about which most knowledge has been generated in the shortest time. And he recalls that this was already said of AIDS because it had become chronic fifteen years after its appearance.

"That was a record, not achieved in any other global epidemic".

It took centuries for tuberculosis or syphilis to be controlled. And this is another record that the covid has broken: "It is only eight months since the first cases of the coronavirus and knowledge has been generated at great speed," and "with incredible results". And that is what makes science progress.

Although media attention is now focused on the coronaravirus, Clotet has not stopped doing research on HIV. In fact, he highlights that the experience generated over the last thirty years with the creation of IrsiCaixa has allowed HIV research to become transversal and to react quickly to the arrival of the coronavirus with the development of vaccine models and the use of serum from infected patients.


Since they both began







Source: Health Department


However, he believes that the cure for covid will come sooner than the cure for AIDS. The goal now is to develop a vaccine that will protect "against the current coronavirus and against possible variations that may emerge. He is optimistic that "we are close" to controlling it. "We are looking at the first vaccines, but we will have to see if they are sufficient," as some patients have been re-infected. "We are learning a lot from the coronavirus," acknowledges Clotet, who highlights the large amount of scientific content being generated. "I have never had the sensation of so much science. In addition, "now articles are posted on the web before they are published in the journals and everyone has access to them," he stresses. When asked if he is where he imagined himself to be, he replies emphatically: "I can say that I am very proud to be where we are and I didn't expect us to be so high up (we are the most important group in the state in terms of number of publications and one of the most important in the world), and this is due to the enthusiasm with which the team works".


In ten years' time, he will be 77. And he hopes to be active and doing research. "In the United States, people lead research groups until they are 80 or older, and I won't be 80 yet," he says. He hopes one day to see a cure for AIDS. And he hopes that lessons can be learned from the coronavirus crisis. "I hope there will be enough learning at the political level to make it clear that we need to invest in animal health research as well as human health research". "Because viruses mutate, they are everywhere and they can spread. Two or three years before the coronavirus, it was said that this was feasible, SARS and MERS had already been there, but no money is spent on this research," he regrets. He claims that the research budget should be increased tenfold. Spain lags behind Europe in terms of investment in science. "There is a lot of talent. Having ideas and training is not complicated, what is difficult is realising these ideas and having enough resources and equipment". "From Catalonia we can contribute to world welfare through research, but we need more money," he said.

Public budget for R+D in Spain

In millions of euros


0,54% PIB




Source: COTEC 2020 Report


He is still a "suffering Barça supporter, that hasn't changed". In fact, it has gotten worse with the current situation. "I hope that Barça, which is much more than a club, get out of this sensibly and avoid useless confrontations. And he wishes there to be "a good leader" at the helm who will return Barça to its rightful place, "one of the best clubs in the world".

The same thing that he wants for Barça - "more cohesion and union for the colours" - he wants for Catalonia: "It is incredible that the different parties that defend the right of self-determination are not capable of unifying criteria. I would like for it to be possible to turn the page and for this internal struggle for power and egos to disappear". He considers that this "animosity" between parties would not be understood within any other social sector. "If it were to happen to the doctors in our research they would not understand it, and it turns out that politicians do not set the example of cohesion that they should". But he is optimistic: "The past is useless and I always hope that there will be a present that will surprise us and give us hope for the future".


He is the third generation of Bonaventura Clotets dedicated to medicine and with him the saga comes to an end. His children have not followed suit - they are both actors - and ten years ago he told us that just as the virus mutates, there are also mutations in families, and he was glad that they work doing what they like. Now it's the grandchildren - he has four of them - that come up in the conversation and, although none of them are called Bonaventura, he hopes that one of them will devote himself to medicine or research. "But, deep down, you hope that, whatever they do, they will be happy and live each day because life doesn't come back and you have to make the most of every moment".

He is a grandfather "with little time". He enjoys the grandchildren on the weekends and also takes them or picks them up from school. "But not as often as I would like," he admits. "I'm lucky enough to still be active and have things to do that I'm excited about and that don't leave me much time," he says. "In life you repeat mistakes. When you have children you say that you would have liked to dedicate yourself more to them and when you have grandchildren you say that you will". Grandchildren, however, he says, "are a bliss of life". A physical proof that life goes on "and that those who come after you will enjoy the world, life and the present".


Born in coronavirus times

Laura Guijarro and Jana Illa

33 years old, 3 months old — Mother and daughter

per Lara Bonilla

fotografia Francesc Melcion

"It is true that it has been a very bad year, but for me 2020 also represents life and joy... People are having a hard time and, despite everything, life makes its way. After all that we have gone through, Jana has arrived to heal our broken hearts"


pregnancy is nine months spent projecting into the future: imagining what your child will be like or what labour will be like. Rarely does reality coincide with what you had imagined, but what no 2020 pregnant woman expected is to give birth in the middle of a pandemic. Graciela Noguera, the girl who starred in the first cover of ARA, was born in the middle of the economic crisis. The newspaper began with her. If ten years ago the children of the crisis were born, today it is the turn of those of the coronavirus. Jana Illa is only three months old and has come to the world in the middle of another crisis, now a health one. And yet, she is the example that "life - as her mother says - makes its way".


Jana is stoic in her mother's arms, so she can have her photos taken. Mother and daughter look at each other with complicity. The face masks reveal that Jana has come to the world during covid times.

"She has only seen her father and me without a mask. I hope this does not affect her way of being, because socializing will be so different!", her mother says.

Laura Guijarro was 15 weeks pregnant when lockdown began, last March. She had not yet had time to explain it to everyone around her. "I have missed sharing this pregnancy and I have the feeling that there are friends who have not seen me pregnant”, she explains. This was Laura's second pregnancy. The first ended abruptly on September 19th, 2018, with four words: "There is no heartbeat”. “Her heart stopped, just like that, at 30 weeks old, for no apparent reason”. Her first daughter was named Gal·la.

Jana’s pregnancy has been spent at home, in her private bubble, since, as a pharmacy technician, she was immediately recommended to stay at home. "They told me that covid does not cause vertical transmission, but, of course, my other daughter already died without knowing why, so I was very afraid", she acknowledges.


Lockdown accentuated the impatience with which she has lived this new pregnancy: "They have been very long nine months. The day never came..." Video calls with friends made the day a little better, and when the restrictions were relaxed she was able to go for a walk, but no prepartum classes, yoga, or encounters with other expectant mothers could be enjoyed.

"It is angering that the pregnancy has coincided with the pandemic because we have not enjoyed it at all", she regrets.

Her husband, David, missed most of the ultrasounds, since with the new hospital protocols, accompanying someone to their medical consultation was forbidden. "It was unfair". At each ultrasound she would arrive shaking, waiting for the moment when they would tell her something was wrong. After a loss, one never experiences a pregnancy again with the naivety of the first times. "Until I heard the heartbeat, that sounded like a galloping horse, I would not stop shaking. And then I would ask, “Is she okay? Isn't it going too fast?” I have been to the emergency room many times, despite the covid, to make sure everything was going fine" she says. Some sympathetic doctors would let her record the ultrasounds to show her husband later on. The positive part is that the lockdown has allowed her to "connect with the pregnancy”. "Throughout Gal·la's pregnancy I worked, and did not enjoy it at all. This time it is true that I have been locked up at home, but it has also allowed me to enjoy pregnancy in a relaxed way, and to take care of myself".


Social networks have supplied the need for socializing. On Twitter and Instagram she has connected with other mothers. "We have been able to share this strange time and this fearful pregnancy. Networks make you feel very accompanied". This has also dampened the feeling of postpartum loneliness. "The first few days I cried about everything. During the other postpartum I also cried, but now I said to myself: «Why am I crying if I should be happy that Jana is here?» I couldn't share this with anyone but David". He has lived the lockdown pregnancy "with fear and respect". As he was able to continue working away from home, "he was afraid to bring the covid home". Grandparents and uncles have also not been able to "enjoy 100%" of Jana. "And there are friends who have not seen her yet, and I don't know when they will see her. I understand it but it's sad because you make plans about what you're going to do when she is born and we can't do anything. It makes me angry".


Jana was born on the 37th week, via a cesarean operation. The first image she saw was of her mother with a mask. However, Laura has good memories of it all. From the first labour she remembers the thick silence in the operating room. "I still remember it. This time I walked into the operating room and I was chatting with the midwife, the gynecologist, the anesthetist... It didn't seem like I was going into an operating room." She only had one thought in her head: to hear Jana cry. "I did think of Gal·la. I didn't hear her cry. They brought her to me wrapped up, and I only saw her face. For this reason, throughout Jana's pregnancy I visualized little feet moving up and down, because for me feet represented life”, she explains.


2020 will be remembered as an adverse year, but for Laura and David it will always be the year in which their daughter was born. "It is true that it has been a very bad year, but for me it has also been beautiful. For me 2020 represents life, joy... People are having a hard time and, despite everything, life makes its way. After everything we've been through, Jana has arrived to heal our broken hearts”, she says. They had made plans to have a party when Jana was born, "to celebrate life", but now she will have to wait. "Sometimes I think, 'Does this have to happen to us now?' If she had been born before the pandemic, I could have enjoyed it differently, but there is nothing we can do to change it". She does not say it sadly, but admits that she has Gal·la in mind. "I already knew that I had lost a daughter, but Jana has made what we have missed from Gal·la more tangible for me; now I know even more what her not being here means". Jana will grow up knowing she had a sister. In fact, in the room they would have shared there are sentences that read: "Wherever you are, our love reaches". Laura doesn't think she will have any more children. "I've been very scared. It's very nice, but the nine months until I heard Jana cry were very long".

Births in Catalonia



This represents a 25,4% fall in the number of births in the last 10 years

Source: Health Department


Ricard Marfà


Idoia Longan - Marc Funollet - Jordi Guilleumas