When migrants are drifting at risk on the sea near Gibraltar, they know who to call: Helena Maleno's number is always available, and she puts the Spanish Sea Rescue Service in the picture as quickly as possible.
Those calls have saved hundreds of people over recent years, but now it's Maleno herself who is at risk: she has been summoned to declare in court at Tangier, Morocco, as part of an international investigation into human trafficking. After several delays, she is to declare on the 10th of January.
On the 27th of December many people came together in Iruñea, Navarre, to express their solidarity with Maleno, having been called together by several anti-racist groups. As the organizers explained, the persecution she is being subjected to is not an isolated event: "They're trying to turn solidarity into a crime".
This has not been the only initiative taken in recent weeks. Hundreds of well-known people and thousands of people involved in Spain have signed a manifesto in her support. In the Basque Country, the person commissioned to defend citizens' rights, the Ararteko, has got in touch with his Moroccan counterpart "to express the interest which many Basque groups have in the work which Maleno is carrying out on the southern border".
Who is Helena Maleno?
Helena Maleno (El Ejido, Almeria, 1970) is a member of the Caminando Fronteras ('Walking Frontiers') groups, a journalist and an activist. The group has carried out considerable work over recent years, having direct contact with migrants on the frontier between Spain and Morocco and giving them assistance. In that way, they have won the trust of people fleeing from their own countries, and who then get in touch with them when they run into difficulties crossing the sea.
“I've gone to sleep and woken up to those calls for help for 16 of my 20 years, and it may become a crime now”, said her son in a letter to the media. The Moroccan justice department accuses Maleno of promoting hidden immigration.
The journalist explains, though, that the investigation actually began in Spain in 2012, but the only evidence they have is those calls to the Sea Rescue Service. Maleno has received threats because of her work in the past. She was send many threats and messages because of denouncing the Spanish police's aggression at the Tarajal frontier.
On 14 April the biggest demonstration in Iruñea for a long time was held in support of the ten young people from Altsasu, Navarre, who are going to be tried in Madrid. Some people thought it was the biggest demonstration ever held there: the municipal police state that 38,000 people took part, while the organizers say that 50,000 did. Claiming that a brawl in which they took part was "terrorism", the prosecutor has called for them each to be imprisoned between 50 and 62 years.
“After taking part in a four-year long process, we have opened a new playground at our school. It will give boys and girls the same opportunities, they will be surrounded by nature and it has come from their dreams." This is now the new playground at Kurutziaga School at Durango, Bizkaia, has been described. It will be officially opened on 24th April.
After making preparatives over the last few months, BiziLagunEkin ('with our neighbours') platform has been set up in Donostia. "The current model of tourism in the city concerns us. We are a meeting place for people from different ideologies and ways of life. What brings us together is a concern about the consequences of tourism in our city on local people's lives".
The Government of Navarre (Basque Country) has decided to offer public health care to the people who have been excluded from it; for instance, immigrants without documents.
A pension of less than 1,080 Euros. That is the figure which the Pentsionistak Martxan (Pensioners on the March) platform has set forward as the lowest dignified pension, and on 17th March tens of thousands of people demonstrated in the main Basque cities in support. The people furthest from that objective in the Basque Autonomous Community (Araba, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa) are women.
In 2017 somebody at Sarriguren (in the Iruñea area of Navarre) suggested that part of the town's participative budget be used to create a natural wooded area along the canal there.
The Basque Country Feminist Movement has given its first evaluation of the day. They underline that it was "a complete success", as can be seen in the photographs. They see the strike's success as turning point, and say it is time to take real measures "once and for all". According to the feminist movement, 230,000 women demonstrated in the Basque Country on the day.
Over recent years the FCC company has been in charge of keeping the streets of Hernani (Gipuzkoa) clean, just as in many other Basque towns. But from May onwards Hernani's own Garbitania public service will be doing that. Votes from EH Bildu and Orain Hernani (Podemos) passed switching the service from the private sector back to the public sector.
Basque political prisoner Xabier Rey Urmeneta has died in Puerto de Santa Maria Prison (Cadiz, Spain), more than 1,000 kilometres from his home in Iruñea.
A demonstration had been organised for 14th April in Iruñea in support of the three young people who have been held in prison for almost a year and a half, and to demand they be given a fair trial. After a pub brawl with two members of the Civil Guard (Spanish armed forces), they were arrested and have been held in custody since then.