City left its mark
Saturday, 15th October, 2011
By John Casey
Broken Hill’s nationally acclaimed Sculpture Symposium will be used as a model for a similar tourist attraction to be established in Spain.
The project will be part of the rapidly expanding cultural alliance being developed between BH and Spanish mining town Rio Tinto.
Rio Tinto Mayor, Ms Rosa Caballero, toured the Living Desert site and sculptures during her maiden visit to BH which she said had been “an overwhelming success”.
“This alliance is a great opportunity for both cities to learn from one another and I am here to learn all that I can,” an ebullient Mayor Caballero said.
“Broken Hill is a very proud city and the people here obviously love their home and know how to take care of it.
“There are many similarities between our cities because of the mining heritage and what has been achieved here economically, in tourism, as well as many other areas, is something we must aspire to,” Ms Caballero continued.
Presiding over a town of around 4500 with an unemployment rate near 50 per cent represents quite a challenge for the 36-year-old former school teacher who is also confronted with a Spanish political system in turmoil.
But having been diagnosed with cancer three years ago - which inspired her to take on civic duties to improve her home town - Ms Caballero obviously has strong character to draw on.
After being elected as Mayor in May, Ms Caballero has lost seven of her fellow councillors because they are aligned with an opposition party.
“It is very frustrating and disappointing for me because my interests are focused directly on Rio Tinto and what needs to be done for the town - not the politics involved,” Ms Caballero said.
“I have found the people of Broken Hill very friendly and willing to lend a hand to us while we are suffering which fills my heart with joy.
“I would like to build a strong bond with this cultural alliance and this visit will provide me with an insight that will allow me to go back and educate the people of Rio Tinto about Broken Hill,” Ms Caballero added.
BH has clearly left its mark on the Mayor who spoke from the heart at this week’s Civic Reception held in her honour.
“When I left Spain for this visit I cried because my soul is in Rio Tinto,” she told the gathering.
“But when I get home I will cry again because of the experiences I have enjoyed here.
“BH Mayor Wincen Cuy paid tribute to his counterpart and Rio Tinto council employees who he said would sometimes forgo their wages because the city could not pay its bills for electricity or telephones.
“That shows the commitment these people have for the city and provides incentive for us to help make Rio Tinto a better place,” Clr Cuy said.