This is how it is today in the civil registry

This is how it is today in the civil registry

BarcelonaSuddenly the words “Long live the bride and groom!” were heard, and a shower of rose petals fell on a couple joyfully exiting the Barcelona Civil Registry Office, located in the part of the Plaça de la Merci, where in these places there is a shadow. At noon, right in front of you is a huge fountain and some trees that you have to be careful of, because pigeons sit there and defecate on you. Family members and friends can also be seen in abundance, and the photographer captures the scene. As for the rest of the people waiting in front of the civil registry, they do not even move. Only a few come looking for pure gossip.

The bride looks beautiful, very beautiful, in a smart white shirt and trousers with her hair in a bun. The groom, also an etiquette person, wears a dark blue suit, tie and flowers on his lapel. Their names are Esther Aguilar and Francisque Rabat, and they are 34 and 37 years old. They have been a couple for more than a decade. “We have a two-year-old daughter and a mortgage,” she sums up. If they get married now it is “for the girl and for what may happen.” He later adds: “And because we love each other!” And since they do it, they do it well: with lunch with the family, and a party with friends the next day.

“Next,” shouts an employee from the civil registry door, like someone waiting behind the counter of any store. Many couples are waiting. This is a formal machine for weddings. But not only that. It is possible to find cases of all kinds. This is the story of a day at the entrance to the civil registry in Barcelona.

Gay marriage

Young women Anna Traver and Jennifer Reboredo wear identical outfits but in different colors. They both wear a jacket and pants uniform. Anna Blue and Jennifer Paige. They also get married. “We want to have children, and in a same-sex couple it is important to be within the legal framework,” explains the short-haired Anna who carries the couple’s singing voice. Jennifer, the quieter one with the beautiful wavy hair, only whispers: “You better be married so you don’t have problems.”

The two girls are teachers and explained to their students that they were getting married: “so that we can be a reference.” Upon exiting the civil registry, relatives and friends also greet them with showers, but in this case rice. Suddenly the sidewalk became covered with a carpet of white grains and the pigeons jumped out of the trees en masse. Within seconds, the floor is left as clean and polished as if it had been vacuumed.

Sergio Carreon, 42, and Sana Mustaid, 40, are breaking records among those waiting to become husband and wife. They have been a couple for nearly two decades. “It took us a while to decide,” she says, laughing. “We’re getting older and it’s better to have everything official.” He is dressed smartly but casually: wearing a suit, jacket, shirt, and leggings. She chose classic white, although she is wearing a jacket and trousers. Among the guests there are also a variety of Look: From those who are super stylish to those who wear a simple denim jacket. When they leave the civil registry, the photographer offers to take their picture. Every Monday, Thursday and Friday morning, some photographers gather in front of the civil registry with a camera hanging around their necks in an attempt to make money, coinciding with wedding parties being held there.

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Maddalena Alena Veljko also wants to get married, but her boyfriend is still going through registration procedures in Barcelona. They are both Romanian, although she has lived there for 15 years, speaks fluent Spanish and works as a nurse’s assistant. She stands in line at the civil registry to see if they can get married even though her boyfriend is in the middle of the paperwork.

The queue for this type of procedure is not at the Plaça de la Mercè where you enter the civil registry for weddings, but at the Duc de Medinaceli, on the opposite facade of the building. There are no petals, no photographers, not even shade trees. Two workers in fluorescent jackets control entry, and there are two doors: one for those with an appointment and one for those who show up unannounced, who are given a number as if they were queuing up at a butcher shop. There are not many people. Numbers are distributed by trains. Maddalena has 304.

“I want to get married next month in a white dress, as God commanded. “Since I waited so long, it was worth it,” says the woman, who seems convinced that no matter what they tell the civil registry, she will be out of the corridor in less than four weeks. According to him, he can’t wait any longer. “I am 36 years old, I have run out of rice, and I want to have children,” he says, laughing.

It is in the civil registry for only a few minutes. They resolved her doubt very quickly: she could not marry until her boyfriend was registered, which might happen in three months or so. However, the woman does not lose her smile. “Okay, we’ll take a plane and get married in Romania,” Maddalena decided, assuring that the wedding there would be cheaper and that she would be with her family. Of course, this means a real bureaucratic headache. “In Romania, women adopt their husband’s surname when we get married. So I’ll have to change my passport, my national assessment report, everything.” More paperwork. For those who don’t want cabbage, two plates.

Li Jieqi, 56, has a marriage certificate and a family book. She married Marco Aurelio Bevia in 2018, but the man died of a heart attack almost two years ago. But the last will and testament document indicates that he was not married. How is that possible? The woman stands in line in front of the civil registry to get an explanation for this discrepancy. She’s from China and barely knows a word of Spanish. And less Catalan. He is accompanied by his brother-in-law, Roberto Gomez Viñas, and acts as his translator, actor and spokesman, and tells his story openly as the documents are presented. The woman looks with an ugly face without understanding the draft.

The man begins by narrating: “Fifteen years ago I married my wife, who is also Chinese.” According to him, he met her in the market where she worked, they loved each other and got married, even though he did not know Chinese and she spoke “Spanish that way.” “It’s a matter of having an open mind,” he argues. “My wife has five sisters. She was the first to arrive in Barcelona. Then another sister came, then another, the fourth,” he said, referring to his brother’s wife. The sisters are from Liaoning Province in northern China, on the border with North Korea. “A rural area where winter temperatures reach minus 20 degrees and Barcelona temperatures in summer,” Roberto continues to explain, although he admits that he has never set foot in this place. His wife owned a beauty salon in Barcelona, ​​where her sister-in-law also worked, and it was here that she met the man who later became her husband: he was a client, and he used to go there to get massages.

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Roberto and Li Ji finally entered the civil registry and stayed there for a long time. It seems that solving your problem is not that easy. “I had to be serious so that they would pay attention to us,” the man said when he left. In the end it turned out that they made a mistake in the death certificate: they stated that the man was not married and that is why they wrote the same thing in the last will and testament document. She also complains about the “total stigmatization” of the Chinese in Catalonia : “For example, she was not allowed to open a bank account for fear of money laundering. There is no right. To be Chinese does not mean to be a criminal.” Still not understanding anything, her sister-in-law says goodbye and runs away: she has to go back to work in the beauty salon. Roberto, on the other hand, is in no hurry, he is retired.

Hiroko is also Asian, but from Japan. She leaves the civil registry with her husband Gerard, pushing the stroller where little Kenzo, three months old, sleeps peacefully. It is the couple’s first child. However, they don’t look very happy and look tired. Gerard, who is from Barcelona, ​​sums up in a few words why they went to the civil registry: “We live here, but she works in Germany and now we need a birth certificate so they can give her maternity leave,” he explains, referring to his wife. The problem is that the certificate must be in German. “Even if we give them a sworn translation, they want the physical document with the stamp,” the boy adds, not wanting to explain further. It is not clear whether the English document will be of any use to them. What is beyond doubt is that they are tired of bureaucracy.

Yuri and Nadia Martinenko say they have to go to the civil registry every six months to make sure their daughter lives in Barcelona. However, they do not complain and leave the registry office with a smile from ear to ear. They seem happy with life. They are from Ukraine and arrived in Catalonia in April 2022 to escape the war. Nadia was seven months pregnant at the time. He traveled from the Ukrainian city of Kherson to the neighboring country of Moldova, and from there he covered a distance of more than 3,000 kilometers by car to reach Barcelona. It took fourteen days. His mother and grandmother were traveling with her. In return, Yuri moved from Crimea to Georgia, from where he managed to reach Catalonia. In this way he avoided being conscripted to fight against Russia.

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“We chose Barcelona because we were already there on holiday and we liked it,” they say. Since their arrival they have learned Spanish and already speak it almost perfectly, although Nadia continues to go to class. The boy says: “I have a hotel and other companies,” without giving further details. They are both very young: 25 years old. They say what they like most here are “the people, the climate and the food.” Of course, what they miss most in Ukraine is family and friends. They doubt they will be able to return: “There are too many anti-personnel mines and the war will likely continue for many years.” His daughter’s name is Olga and she is one year and ten months old.

The queue continues in front of the civil registry. “I’ve been living here for 21 years, but I got married in Pakistan two years ago and need a marriage certificate. “I still don’t get it,” complains a Pakistani who pretends to have a few friends and waits patiently for his turn. “I came to find out how I can get a birth certificate for a man born in 1880.” “The problem is that I don’t know if he was born in Barcelona or somewhere else in Catalonia,” explains Felipe, a Chilean computer engineer who has been living in Catalonia for nine years. “The guy is the grandfather of a friend from Chile. He wants to obtain citizenship and needs the document.” This seems an almost impossible task.

“We’re ten minutes late, is something wrong?” says a couple running to the civil registry, pushing a baby stroller. They have an appointment. “Yes, it happens,” the doorman answers dryly, but nevertheless lets them in. Two Moroccan women, who also had an appointment, explain the administration they went there to do: “We came to prepare citizenship for my mother. She has been living in Spain for 23 years,” says the younger. “The citizenship procedure takes six months and we had no problems. The problem was getting the previous appointment to do the procedure. It took us a year,” he laments. As of 2021, you can make an appointment online at the civil registry, without queuing in front of the building. But this does not mean that the wait will not last long.

At the last minute, two civil registry cleaners came out smoking in the street in white work uniforms. They make a sound while chatting in front of the building. A guard picks up the fence he placed on the sidewalk to distribute to those queuing. The civil registry is about to close. Tomorrow will be another day and more people will come with all kinds of cases.

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