Will the Boat Show Up?
Confusion, rumors, submarines, battles on the high seas, abortion pirates, we arrive amidst a sea of speculation
We came to Valencia at the invitation of more than 33 groups from Spain, to support their struggle for a new abortion law. This follows a series of investigations, interrogations, and threats to close clinics and block access to abortion in Spain. As a response, groups in favor of reproductive rights have been organizing and demonstrating, and this campaign is part of their efforts.
We arrived in the afternoon and met with representatives from the local groups. We talked about planes for the campaign, and got caught up on the local situation.
Before, we were worried about a possible lack of interest from the press, but it seems like an incredible quantity of articles and reports have been coming out in every possible media – newspapers, television, radio, blogs, etc. There has been a huge debate created, which is to say all our worries about lack of press were for nothing!
It seems like the ultraconservative mayor of Valencia, Rita Barberá, says that we are “a provocation” (though it is not clear what exactly we are provoking - if she means provoking debate, the yes, that is exactly true). She also says that we cause indignation, and wants to see the boat blocked from entering the port. From what I’ve been hearing from the locals, she also causes a lot of indignation, but for now she is the mayor.
Tomorrow is the inauguration of the campaign, and the arrival of the boat. Local organizations have programmed performances by local bands and a dance troupe., and it seems like a lot of people will come. They are saying that people with boats will try to block the boat from entering the harbor but the local government has also been informed. They are offering us protection, and recognize that we aren’t breaking any laws and are acting within our rights.
In anticipation of the campaign, all sorts of articles and rumors are flying around. There are pictures of boats from ten years ago, some say there are two boats, there are all sorts of different stories as to where the boat is right now, and of course all sorts of rumors about the abortions themselves. You can really see the conservative edge of the media here in Valencia, with some of the most outlandish descriptions of the boat and the campaign. Some of the really great statements from the local press are the “Batalla abortista en alta mar” (abortion battle on the high seas).the anti-abortion protesters saying they probably won’t get near the inauguration because feminists are very violent, but that they come to block the “fiesta asesina” (killing party). We are hoping for more balanced coverage once the campaign actually starts.
We are hoping for a large turnout tomorrow. With at least 33 local organizations involved, there will be a large turnout. However, there is another important protest scheduled for tomorrow. It seems like the local school system teaches a class on human rights, which is a standard part of the curriculum in Spain, but here they teach it in English, a language that very few students speak fluently. So there were huge demonstrations and shut-ins in the schools, by parents, teachers, and students. That a human rights class is taught in a language that students can’t understand is an indication of the local political situation.
At the last minute goodbye party everybody toasted to free and legal abortion…
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