Handala Visits Santander, Spain

We left La Rochelle on Friday, June 21st, at 3:00. The weather was calm, though that didn’t last. Overnight things got rather “roughy”, as Capt. Wellu likes to call it, and by noon, most of us were under deck again. Capt. Wellu, Aoife, Bob, and Youssef worked around the clock to navigate around the storms. We made a detour into the Atlantic and approached Santander from the Northwest. We arrived under grey skies again. Large crowds greeted us as we sailed by downtown, but we had to dock in the industrial harbour on the outskirts around 21:30.

The lack of a floating dock and the low tide were such that we could not go to shore until the morning. After some waiting in the pouring rain, we were driven to a rally downtown. Friendly people handed us umbrellas. A notable characteristic of the signs were the Palestinian flags sewn out of children’’ clothes.

Santander welcomed Handala in Puerto Chico with a demonstration to stop the genocide in Palestine. Multiple civil society organisations and the population from Cantabria mobilized for Palestine and walked under the rain from the port to the city center.

Activists from Handala, such as Rana and Youssef from Palestine joined the demonstration speaking for the children of Gaza.

Las Batuluchas, the female drumming group from Cabezon de la Sal, and the Charanga Ventolin from Asturias animated the demonstration and read a manifesto for Palestine.

Sandra Barrilaro, coordinator of the Rumbo a Gaza, a member organisation of the Flotilla, spoke about the trajectory of the Flotilla, where she participated in 2016, and the relevance of the BDS campaign and the total boycott of Israel.

During the rally Fellipe Lopes, FFC representative said: “Recognizing the State of Palestine is basic and not enough. So, now is the time to take concrete action in support of the Palestinian people.”

Local support groups organised a lunch in the Plaza Porticada to welcome Handala.

Najati Jabari, Palestinian activist and longtime resident in Cantabria, along with Sandra Barrilaro, coordinator of the Rumbo a Gaza and Felipe Lopes, media coordinator of Handala were received as representatives of the Flotilla at the Delegacion de Gobierno de Cantabria, the Government Delegation of the Autonomous Community of Cantabria.

The three representatives were received at the Parliament of Cantabria.

Representatives of the Flotilla were received at the Town Hall in Santander by council members from three political parties (PP, PSOE and Izquiera Unida).

Representatives of the Flotilla were received at the Town Hall in Marina Cudeyo.

Representatives of the Flotilla were received at the Town Hall in Cabezon de la Sal by representatives from all political parties of the municipal government.

Activists for public pensions in Santander that demonstrate every Monday in front of the Town Hall chanted slogans to stop the genocide in Palestine and for the boycott of Israel.

Local group supporters organised a round table at the Instituto Santa Clara in Santander, moderated by Najati, a Palestinian activist, with the participation of Sandra Barrilaro, Pilar Barrado, a judge from Barcelona and Fellipe Lopes, FFC representative.

As we were setting off from Santander a sailing boat, from the local community joined us until we got into the open waters.

Next stop, A Coruña in Spain!

Added June 27:

We received a lovely message from Daniel in Santander:

“As coordinator of the stopover in Santander del Handala, I want to inform you of the citizens’ satisfaction for having had your presence these days.
It has been fortunate that FFC and RaG trusted us to organize this stage of the trip. Your stay has given us a lot, personally and politically.
We are certain that these days will represent another push in the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people.
We hope that the Handala has a very safe journey and brings much peace to Gaza.
Long live Free Palestine, from the river to the sea!!!”

Thanks again to the organizers and people of Santander for their warm welcome and reception!  Free Palestine!