Pla­cen­tia, Span­ish town cre­ate new bonds

Take his­toric ties into the 21st cen­tury through new part­ner­ship

The Compass - - Front Page - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

The his­tory be­tween Pla­cen­tia and the Span­ish com­mu­nity of Plentzia stretches back to the late 16th cen­tury, when Basque fish­er­men were known to set up tem­po­rary lodg­ing in the area. Now the two towns are bring­ing that re­la­tion­ship into the 21st cen­tury via a new mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing that aims to strengthen their ties through eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and tourism pro­jects.

With a shared his­tory dat­ing back to the late-1500s, mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers in Pla­cen­tia and Plentzia, Spain are now strength­en­ing those ties in the 21st cen­tury.

On Wed­nes­day, June 21, Plentzia Mayor David Crestelo joined his coun­ter­part in Pla­cen­tia, Mayor Wayne Power Jr., to sign a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing.

The deal en­cour­ages the two coastal com­mu­ni­ties to pro­mote their shared his­tory and ex­plore the po­ten­tial to co­op­er­ate on mat­ters re­lated to ed­u­ca­tion, eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, tourism, fine arts and cul­ture.

Basque fish har­vesters set­tled in Pla­cen­tia in the 1580s and ini­tially called it Plas­cen­cia, which may be de­rived from Plentzia.

Power and Coun. Noella Collins trav­elled to Plentzia last fall to meet with Crestelo and oth­ers in the com­mu­nity.

“It’s an hon­our and priv­i­lege for me to at­tempt to re­turn the hos­pi­tal­ity that was ex­tended to both my­self and Coun. Collins back in Oc­to­ber when we vis­ited,” Power said Wed­nes­day.

The Pla­cen­tia mayor said the MOU brings the two com­mu­ni­ties to­gether more closely than ever be­fore.

“To­day with the signing or our mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing, we have started a new re­la­tion­ship, and we all hope that this is just the be­gin­ning of what will con­tinue to be a strong and vi­brant friend­ship for many years to come.”

Crestelo and his col­leagues vis­ited var­i­ous sites in Pla­cen­tia, in­clud­ing the Cas­tle Hill Na­tional His­toric Site.

“It’s a very spe­cial mo­ment for us,” Crestelo said. “I want to thank all the peo­ple that have been work­ing hard to get (to) this mo­ment … All of us be­lieve in this con­nec­tion be­tween Pla­cen­tia and Plentzia.”

Wed­nes­day’s cer­e­mony co­in­cided with a visit from the cruise ship Ocean En­deav­our, which toured New­found­land and Labrador for a week, stop­ping at sites of sig­nif­i­cance to the Basque whalers and fish­er­men. The tour was sched­uled to con­clude Thurs­day in St. John’s. Many of its pas­sen­gers were from Spain.

In­tro­duc­tions to speak­ers and per­form­ers at Wed­nes­day’s event were pro­vided in four lan­guages —Basque, English, French and Span­ish.

PHO­TOS BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON/THE COMPASS

Pla­cen­tia’s town crier An­gus Gilbert, far right, reads from the mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing signed last Wed­nes­day by the men to his right, Plentzia Mayor David Crestelo and Pla­cen­tia Mayor Wayne Power Jr.

A duo from Spain per­forms a tra­di­tional dance num­ber.

Mag­gie Fol­lett and Shawn Bruce per­formed sev­eral New­found­land folk tunes at Wed­nes­day’s cer­e­mony at the Pla­cen­tia Bay Cul­tural Arts Cen­tre.

You had to head out to Fresh­wa­ter to get a de­cent view of the cruise ship Ocean En­deav­our. Fog was too thick last Thurs­day to see it from Pla­cen­tia.

Ai­mar Odri­o­zola per­forms a song on the pi­ano.

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