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 Elle Draper

Dietmar Roth – adopted son of Vélez-Blanco

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When we first moved to Vélez-Blanco, Almería, we were welcomed with open arms by the community. One of the first people to welcome us was Dietmar Roth, the deputy mayor of the town.

Dietmar Roth - adopted son of Vélez-Blanco

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Dietmar has come to our rescue a couple of times already, including freeing us from our house after our front door was blocked by a parked car, and again by braving the rain to be a font of all knowledge when the Indalo Hash House Harriers came for a tour of the town. We (Spain Buddy) are working on several exciting projects in conjunction with Dietmar – and we shall share those with you as time goes on.

Dietmar is a warm and approachable gentleman, quietly humble yet has played a huge part in the team responsible for so many of the things we love about this gorgeous mountaintop town in northern Almería. His unwavering fervour for this gorgeous town comes across every time we spend time with him. His knowledge of the town, its history and its people is unsurpassed, and we are enjoying learning more all the time. Rarely at home, he tirelessly promotes the town and its people, while carrying out a huge list of other duties. He is first in line to don period dress when we celebrate the impact of the Rennaisance and Baroque periods upon the town and personally sponsored (from his own pocket) one concert of the XV edition of the Festival de Música Renacentista y Barroca de Vélez Blanco which he dedicated to his wife, Ana María as well as institutional representatives, teachers, students, volunteers, city council staff, residents and visitors of Vélez-Blanco.

About Dietmar Roth

Dietmar was born in 1963 in a town called Celle, which is close to Hannover in Germany. He studied at the Universities of Bremen, Salamanca and Cologne where he graduated in History, Romance Languages and Pedagogy, and he also has a Doctorate in History which he gained at the University of Almería.

Today he wears many caps and it is a wonder he has time to eat or sleep! He has been the Director of the Spanish branch of mibeg Consulting GmbH, the head of Edition Casa de los Arcos, S.L. and the administrative head of Fundación Horstmann. He is currently responsible for institutional relations and networking at the Commonland Foundation in Spain. He was vice president of the Velezanas Tourism Business Association. He is a member of the Surclío research group of the University of Almería, of the Department of History of the Institute of Almeria Studies, coordinator of the twinning between the natural parks of Sierra María-Los Vélez and Altmühltal, first deputy mayor and Councillor of Finance, Culture and Tourism of the municipality of Vélez Blanco since 2007, a member of the management committee of the Municipality of Vélez Municipalities since 2007 and president of the governing board of the PN Sierra María-Los Vélez since 2011.

Dietmar has published more than 50 pieces on rural development and history and two books.

Dietmar has lived in Spain for 24 years. He met his Murcian wife, Ana María, the first day he began his studies at Salamanca University and shared his time between the two countries for eight years. After working as a Spanish teacher in Germany, and while travelling between the two countries, he worked for an environmental organisation – a subject close to his heart. Sierra de María is twinned with a natural park in Germany called Altmühltal and this was the project he was working on at the time, as well as project managing Casa Arcos, a Spanish/German initiative, restoring the site as a conference and education centre.

After the eight years of sharing his time between Spain and Germany, he and his wife chose Vélez-Blanco as their home – and have never left.

Dietmar in politics

Dietmar first stood for election as a PSOE candidate in 2007. Since the 2015 elections, the council here in the town has been made up of six PSOE (Partido Socialista Obrero Español), three independents and two PP (Partido Popular). The town has been PSOE controlled since the 1980s (i.e. since the end of the Franco era).

Putting aside any political allegiances, the council here simply cares about making things happen to improve the town and life for its residents – we’ve seen real evidence of that and enjoy the proactivity of the town hall in looking after us all. Local people here vote for people rather than a party, and the motivation and enthusiasm of the councillors here has served them well.

Dietmar feels very strongly about “giving back”, he is extremely public spirited, and feels that through the skills and involvement with various projects in the past, he is able to serve the town properly. We agree!

He is responsible for Finance, Culture and Tourism. During his time here, the monastery and castle have been undergoing impactful restoration from the Ayuntamiento. The castle’s replication of the elements sold to America some years ago is expected to complete in 2019.

Most recently, Dietmar has been working with 23 other municipalities to fund the Association of Municipalities of the ancient Marquisate of los Vélez (2014) and collaborates with the AlVelAl project in northeast Andalusia and northwest Murcia (1.000.000 ha.), i.e. landscape restoration through business cases in agriculture and cattle breeding, resilience to the climate change, improvement of the biodiversity and productivity growth especially on almonds, aromatic herbs and lambs among others.

Veléz-Blanco’s future

Vélez-Blanco has suffered from the same impact of youth movement as other rural towns and villages, where the young have moved to larger towns and cities in search of employment. Back in the 1950s, the town’s population was more than 8k – today it is just under 2k. Dietmar and the town hall team are working to address this, and are being proactive in marketing the town as a sustainable tourist destination, as well as promoting organic farming – the proceeds of which are easily visible at the weekly market here each Wednesday. Prioritising these two aspects, Dietmar and the council team are willing to create jobs for the younger residents alongside providing training and encouragement to begin their own ventures here.

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