Karel Karika: COVID-19 making life drastically worse in the socially excluded localities of the Czech Republic
The situation in the socially excluded localities of the Czech Republic has deteriorated significantly because of COVID-19. "Impoverished people have been impacted by the pandemic most of all," said Karel Karika, the Romani community member who is vice-mayor of the Ústí nad Labem - město Municipal Department, in an interview for ROMEA TV.
This is Karika's second time in that role; he first served as vice-mayor two years ago and was re-elected to the post after the local governing coalition fell apart. He says he wants to work for the municipality with a vision as somebody elected by the citizens, not as a bureaucrat.
"I want to concentrate on fulfilling [residents'] needs," Karika said. He also told ROMEA TV that he believes the most impoverished people in the socially excluded localities are not the ones who are succumbing to the current wave of disinformation associated with anti-vaxxer propaganda.
"The poorest of the poor actually base their behavior on people whom they know and trust. It is rather the middle class that is succumbing to this disinformation and then spreading it. I wouldn't be concerned that those who are most impoverished will not want to be vaccinated, on the contrary," he said in the interview with Jarmila Balážová.
Karika said he believes he can best aid all of his constituents from his post as vice-mayor. "In addition to other matters, I want to contribute to better communications and cooperation with the public and to carry on the work I previously did as vice-mayor and acting mayor. Unlike what has been the custom here to date, I intend to work with a vision - not as a bureaucrat, but as somebody elected by the citizens, and thereby I want to concentrate on fulfilling their needs," he said.
"My intention is to re-introduce use of the application called 'Lepší místo' [Better Place], I want to involve citizens in participatory budgeting and decision-making generally. My predecessor ignored that ferociously, but the local assembly wanted change. I still have to discuss my other projects with my coalition partners," Karika said, giving as examples the idea for an adult community center that he wants to build up in a church in the Předlice quarter, or the idea of commemorating the cultural heritage of the author Jaroslav Foglar and his "Fast Arrows" series, aimed at teenagers, who had a connection to the neighborhood.
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