THOUSANDS of people in Madrid are demanding an end to white politicians ‘blacking up’ for the Three Kings parade.
More than 62,500 people have signed a petition to Madrid City Hall, insisting that a black person play the role of Balthazar, rather than a white one painted black.
“It is senseless and unnecessary in this day and age for the kind Balthazar to be a white man painted black,” argues Miguel Calabria Abad, the author of the petition on change.org.
“Children must know that black people are not just immigrants on boats or street vendors without papers,” added one signatory.
But the Madrid City Hall insists that the choice is not racist, but simply traditional.
Since the return of democracy following Franco’s death, the city councillors decide who will play the kings by drawing lots.
Representatives of the PP, the PSOE and UPyD from the 57-strong assembly will dress up as the Magi on January 6.
“We don’t have any non-white councillors, and nor can I remember there being any,” explained a spokesperson.
For Esteban Ibarra, the leader of Spain’s Movement Against Intolerance, the problem is lack of political representation for minority groups.
“As well as black people, Gypsies, Muslims or Jews do not have any public presence either,” said Ibarra.
“Spain reflects its diversity poorly and this is reflected in ridiculous incongruences such as having a white councilor blacking up to be Balthazar.”