70 years of the Barceloneta Merchants’ and Industrialists’ Association


Throughout its history, Barceloneta has always been very active at both a commercial and associative level. At the end of the 19th century, we find news of the defeat of an economic entity that brought together the merchant classes of the neighbourhood called the Barceloneta Mercantile Centre. The good news is that some former members wanted to take up that testimony and in 1885, we find the foundation of the Barceloneta Cooperative and Mercantile Centre with Josep Trius, a merchant with a shop at 14, Ginebra Street, among its prominent members. The new entity integrated the commercial world but, at the same time, the philosophy of the cooperative movement, which would be very active in the neighbourhood.

The turn of the century brought a great deal of association activity with a more political bent and, in March 1936, the Association of Industrialists and Traders of Barceloneta was set up with Salvador Miquel, of the Sastrería Miquel tailor’s shop, at its head. Its incipient activity was to last only a few months, as it came to a sudden halt with the outbreak of the civil war. All this tradition of associations, which must be framed in a very vital neighbourhood on a commercial, political and cultural level, was broken by the civil war and the subsequent dictatorship. However, during the Franco regime, despite the cultural repression and the prohibition of the associative movement, in 1952 the traders of Barceloneta began to work to set up an Organising Committee with the intention of regrouping. In 1952 it was very active, and 200 shops joined in support of the proposal to set up the future entity. Among them, about fifty had women’s names. In May 1953, the work of this driving force was so active that, just before its constitution as a legal entity, they held a big birthday party. The programme included, among other commemorative events, a theatrical evening, an excursion to Salou in magnificent “autopullmans”, as well as the blessing of the flag of the new entity.


The Agrupació de Comerciants (Merchants’ Association) was born not without controversy. Choosing the name of the organisation was not easy and the possible refusal of permission had to be resolved by christening the new association as the Agrupación Cultural de Industriales y Comerciantes de la Barceloneta, since without the word cultural, and without the organisation’s main objective being the defence of culture, there was not much chance of it being set up. On the other hand, the fact that on the new flag, apart from the caduceus of Hermes, symbol of commerce, the coat of arms of the city was sewn with the four full bars, which was seen as a symbol of “reds and separatists”, aroused a great deal of mistrust. All these obstacles were due to the historical moment in which it was founded, as it was a requirement that half of the members had to be from the “movement”, the only way to prevent a possible illegalisation. Once all the political incidents had been overcome, the organisation came into being in June 1953.

The founding meeting was held in the parish centre of Sant Miquel del Port and among those attending, who formed part of the so-called Organising Committee, were Joaquim Guimerà, the owner of a hardware store, who would end up being the president, and a woman, Rosa Masfarné, who ran the Casa de Caps la Marina.

The entity, which was installed in Balboa Street 11, began, in 1953, a long trajectory that would not be possible without the support of the commercial sector of the neighbourhood. For 7 decades the different associated traders have chosen their representatives and throughout the time Alfons Cánovas, José Manuel Pons, Antonio Aguilera, José Pedro Nieto, Pietro Ferrari, José Doménech, Sergi Ferrer among others have held the presidency.

Not only trade and industry

The Agrupació has always worked from the beginning in the neighbourhood, not only in commerce and industry, and even gave scholarships to children from the neighbourhood without means, participated very actively in the Fiesta Mayor of the neighbourhood as well as in other cultural activities, also promoting the recovery of the “gegantera” tradition. They played a key role during the pre- and post-olympics years in the urban planning of the neighbourhood. In the nineties, the organisation took on its current name: ACIB, which stands for Agrupació de Comerciants i Industrials de la Barceloneta, with the challenge of renewing itself to face the challenges of the 21st century.

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