Mayor of Madrid
After graduating law school in 1965 from the Complutense University of Madrid, she became a defender of the workers and detainees during the Francoist State and co-founder of a labor law office where the 1977 Massacre of Atocha took place. She was also a member of the Communist Party of Spain (PCE). She had left the Communist Party by 1981. As a judge she began an almost solitary fight to prevent corruption in existing courts. In 1986 she received the National Human Rights Award. She was a member of the General Council of the Judiciary, proposed by United Left, and a founder of the progressive association Judges for Democracy.
Judge of Penitentiary Vigilance and head of the Penitentiary Vigilance Court No. 1 of Madrid, she was elected senior judge of Madrid in 1993. Retired from the judiciary since 2010, Carmena became a member of the Patronato de la Fundación Alternativas, a think tank correlated to the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE), with members such as the former Socialist prime ministers Felipe González and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. Carmena Castrillo was Chair-Rapporteur of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and as such, she visited Equatorial Guinea, Honduras, Nicaragua and South Africa, among other countries. In September 2011, Carmena Castrillo was named advisor to the Patxi López cabinet of the Basque Government in the area of assistance to victims of police abuse.
Carmena Castrillo founded the supportive cooperative “Yayos emprendedores” (lit. entrepreneur grannies), which sponsors a small retail business that sells children’s games and clothing and shoes made by prisoners at the Alcalá de Guadaira jail in Seville.
She ran as the candidate of the Ahora Madrid coalition in the 2015 Madrid mayoral election. On 13 June 2015, Manuela Carmena was declared Mayor of Madrid. She reduced Madrid’s debt of €5.6 billion by 38% in a year and a half of her mayorship.
Welcome session with Manuela Carmena and Ada Colau, mayors from Madrid and Barcelona. Both mayors will respond in a debate to the following question: why democratic participation is fundamental for democratic cities?