SALAMANCA – The presence of sheikhs in Salamanca at the congress fifteen days ago on the project to turn Salamanca into a kind of Dubai has led to a major fiasco through much commotion. Consequently, the project is now off track.
In the end, it turns out to be a scandal based on lies and over-imagination. All fuelled by greed. The political storm began with the discovery that councillor José María Fuentes was using the false title of an economist as a buyer for the city council. Peace City World’s chief adviser was also exposed as a liar. The termination of the contract with Peace City World is the result.
The resulting crisis will be discussed in an extraordinary plenary council meeting on February 17. Moreover, the impetus is the project to create a new mega city. Investments of up to €15 billion in the city, thousands of jobs and new opportunities were discussed. The project was presented at the end of January at a specially organised conference. According to the municipality, 200 people from dozens of companies, including many sheikhs, were present there.
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Delusions of grandeur
The delusions of grandeur began to arouse suspicion and unwillingness among the opposition, with fiascos such as Eurovegas in Alcorcón in mind. The distrust was fuelled by megalomaniac plans such as a new tram network with more than thirty stops, new districts, a planetarium and a chairlift to connect the new area with the old city. All this with a start-up investment of €9 billion.
Of all that has been discussed and promised, only a letter of intent is the result in the form of a protocol of cooperation. That was signed by fifteen municipalities around Salamanca and the Provincial Council with Peace City World to implement the project.
Main supporters of the project
Until now, alderman Fernando Castaño and his advisor José María Fuentes maintained contact with PCW. Both were the main supporters of the project. When there was any doubt about the approach, they defended it fanatically. Against them were the opposition parties PSOE, Izquierda Unida and Podemos.
The three formations wanted to know whether public money had already been spent and how much. The costs are ultimately estimated at €36,000 for catering during the congress and a signed agreement between the tourism department of Salamanca and Peace City World worth €20,000. According to Castaño, the latter amount was an “accounting note” with Peace City World. The hotels would be supported in formula 2 nights for 1.
Mayor elusive about the project
The city’s mayor, Carlos Cabayo, is not clear about his position. According to ElDiario.es, he is very elusive on the subject. However, he began to have doubts from the moment the said newspaper revealed that the company behind Peace City World is located at an address in London where other companies are located. All appeared in worldwide surveys of offshore companies. The company would also have no paid-up capital despite being founded in 2019. Subsequently, Carbayo began to distance itself from Dubai in Salamanca.
Castaño subsequently indicated that he felt “deeply cheated” by the mayor’s attitude. He even demands compensation for the “damage caused to the city council and the residents of Salamanca,” he said on Friday.
The environment of Peace City World begins to implode
Since the end of last week, the environment of Peace City World has started to implode. This was reflected in a ‘facelift’ of the website. There, companies, including FCC, previously presented as development staff were removed. A day later, Fundación Metropoli by architect Alfonso Vegara was removed after he distanced himself from the project.
There is one thing both Castaño and Fuentes agree on. The raisers of doubt, the opposition parties and the media, have ruined the project by questioning the “honesty” of those present at the congress so much that companies decided to distance themselves from it.
Consultant Fuentes then turned out to have a double function. He ‘forgot’ to mention his function as an “external advisor specialised in strategic projects and point of contact for potential investors for internationalization” of the municipality of Salamanca on his curriculum. With this contract, awarded by the tourism department chaired by Castaño, Fuentes earned more than €57,000 per year without having any initiatives other than the PCW Congress implemented.
False economics degree
But the function of double advisor was not the last blot on Fuentes’ image. According to Salamanca24horas, he never obtained an economics degree from the University of Salamanca. After this discovery, the municipality announced that it would fire Fuentes and possibly take legal action. A spokesman for the socialist group in the city council calculated that Fuentes has cost the residents of Salamanca more than €170,000.
“Fake, Swindler and Scoundrel”
After the exposure of the main support from the municipality for Peace City World, things are not going well for Castaño, the alderman responsible for the project. Fuentes and Castaño have been friends for a long time. The mayor now describes him as a “phoney, swindler and scoundrel”. Castaño has since tendered his resignation. In addition, Carbayo does not want anyone in the municipality “who defends the actions of this adviser”. He also warned that those who want to “will have to take responsibility”.