Human tower group caught in crossfire of yellow ribbon conflict

Castellers pull out of ad to help children with cancer after production company objects to their yellow shirts


The 'bordegassos' human towers group in Vilanova i la Geltrú in a performance in September 2018 (by Bordegassos de Vilanova)
The 'bordegassos' human towers group in Vilanova i la Geltrú in a performance in September 2018 (by Bordegassos de Vilanova) / ACN

ACN | Vilanova i la Geltrú

September 13, 2018 06:55 PM

A group of castellers, the people involved in the Catalan cultural tradition of building human towers in public places, has pulled out of filming an advert to help a Barcelona hospital that treats children with cancer because of the color of their uniforms.

The Bordegassos group from the seaside town of Vilanova i la Geltrú, south of Barcelona, have worn yellow shirts in their performances since 1972. Yet, in a statement on Twitter, the group says that the production company contacted them objecting to their yellow shirts.

While the group says in its statement that they do not know who exactly in the company objected, they suspect it is because the color of the shirts is similar to that of the yellow ribbons showing support for jailed and exiled Catalan pro-independence leaders.

The yellow ribbons have recently become a political bone of contention in Catalonia, with some people supporting the prisoners and exiles displaying yellow ribbons in public spaces, while other people opposed to independence have been removing them.

The group's statement, which also points out that yellow is the color representing the fight against cancer in children, regretted that the company's "non-negotiable" veto of the shirts had prevented them from working with Barcelona's Sant Joan de Déu hospital.

The hospital later replied on Twitter saying that it does not get involved in political arguments, that the decision to veto the shirts came from the production company, and that they would like to shoot the ad at a later date with more casteller groups.

Boycott threat over yellow bottle tops

Yet, the human tower group were not the only ones to get caught up in the conflict over the displaying of yellow ribbons. The Catalan bottled water company, Font Vella, also released a statement denying that its use of yellow bottle tops had anything to do with politics.

A call to boycott the company's products on social media accused the firm of "using yellow bottle tops to show solidarity with Catalan separatists," Font Vella said on Twitter that the brand uses various colors and "they mean no more than that, they're just colors."

Font Vella launched a new line of bottles with different colored bottle tops last July, and this week they reacted quickly to the boycott threat. "Our priority at all times has been to clear up the confusion and respond in the most personalized way possible to those who are spreading this unfounded accusation," read the statement.