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Madrid mayor to schoolkids: “I’d rather donate to Notre-Dame than the Amazon”

The appearance of the Popular Party’s José Luis Martínez-Almeida on a TV show has gone viral on social media, after his answers left children and viewers somewhat surprised

Madrid Mayor José Luis Martínez Almeida at a press event this week.
Madrid Mayor José Luis Martínez Almeida at a press event this week. EL PAÍS

“If you could donate money, what would you donate it to, the Notre-Dame Cathedral or saving the Amazon?” That was the answer put to Madrid Mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida during his appearance on Sunday in a regional TV show, where schoolchildren get to quiz celebrities about different topics.

Notre-Dame is a symbol of Europe. Joining the EU is one of the best things to have happened to Spain

José Luis Martínez-Almeida

The answer from the Popular Party politician on Telemadrid’s La vuelta al cole (or, Back to School), surprised his inquisitors and viewers alike. “Notre-Dame Cathedral,” the new mayor of the Spanish capital replied. In the face of the children’s shocked reaction, and their argument that the Amazon is “the lungs of the planet,” he reiterated his choice: “Notre-Dame is a symbol of Europe. [...] Joining the European Union is one of the best things to have ever happened to Spain.”


“Notre-Dame is more important than the Amazon.” Who said this: -A barfly drinking an Irish whisky in the local square -A contestant on Celebrity Big Brother -Sergio Ramos at a press conference. -[Journalist] Hermann Tertsch after a free bar at a wedding. No. Almeida, the mayor of Madrid.

The reply has since garnered a lot of attention on social media, including from the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau of the leftist Barcelona en Comú party.


“But whyyyyy?”

Another much-commented remark involved Martínez-Almeida’s views on the differences between the left-wing and right-wing of the political spectrum. He told the children that while the right tries to create an environment to let people become whomever they want to be, the left “will want to make that decision for you.”


Madrid mayor: “Notre-Dame is more important than the Amazon.” Life on Planet Earth:

English skills

The mayor of Madrid was also tested on his English, and performed surprisingly well. When students asked him what he thinks about fake news, and told him to reply “in English, please,” the mayor delivered an extensive answer describing fake news as a danger to democracy. His response drew applause from students who had not thought he would be so fluent. “I was expecting him to know some English, but not this much,” confided Daniella, one of the children on the show. “I didn’t think his pronunciation would be so good.”

English version by Susana Urra.

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