December 10, 2013
Mother of Greenpeace activist: 'I trust in a diplomatic solution'
By Constanza Heller
Paula used to drop her 21-year old daughter at the Greenpeace office in the Buenos Aires city neighborhood of Chacarita. Never went cross the entrance door; maybe once, she recalls, because “there was someone” her daughter wanted her to meet. But the story has changed now ever since news headlines announced Camila Speziale had been arrested in Russia accused of piracy and there we find a 41-year old mother, missing her daughter and meeting the Herald.com at the Greenpeace office in the Buenos Aires city neighborhood of Chacarita.
“If you think it rationally, you say it is absolutely illogical; it is pretty much obvious this is a ridiculous accusation,” Paula Boscaroli says although she knows rationality or a cold mind is something difficult to get these days for her family. “Regardless of any analysis you can make, you have to bear the pressure, the impossibility of going to work because your life has been stopped; but you go ahead because you would do it for any of your children.”
Paula and Néstor have six children and the toughest for Camila these days –her mom is sure about it- must be being away from her brothers and sisters. Tomas is 17 years old –“he is the intellectual version of Camila; he goes just for it and rebuts everything with the firmest arguments.” Then come 13-year old Valentina, twins Abril and Pedro who have 5 and Juan Martín just turning 4.
“The other day we were playing with the little ones, playing on the phone and I was telling them Cami is ok, she sends you kiss, she is in a ship defending the polar bears. And then they repeated, she is in a ship, she went to take care of the bears,” Paula brings up the anecdote. She smiles. She says with no hesitation she is proud of her family, a “too big and beautiful family.” She is proud of Camila, her daughter, a “21-year old woman.”
“It is not that Camila just appeared in the Arctic. She has taken part in lots of Greenpeace campaigns and pacific actions. She has been in the Riachuelo and in San Juan protesting the Barrick Gold’s open-pit mine projects. This (Russia) was an opportunity she did not want to lose. She could have said no but never doubted about it,” Camilla’s mother tells the Herald.com marking exactly 1 month since her daughter took a plane to Russia.
“I did not accept my 13-year old daughter leaving to Russia. I accepted that a woman came to me and told me ´I have been chosen and I’m leaving.”
Camila is the daughter of a social worker and a gym school teacher –“not the typical teacher at a private, middle or upper class school, who has always liked working at public schools, being with the kids who have less.”
Her last name has been hitting headlines over the past weeks after Russian security forces arrested her together with a group of Greenpeace activists over a demonstration against Arctic oil drilling, facing now detention 14,000 km away from home.
Yet, mothers know better. Paula’s daughter studies photography at the Andy Goldstein Escuela de Fotografia Creativa and has plans to apply for a scholarship in New York. When the opportunity to participate in the Russia protest she did not want to miss came up, she quit her job at a language institute. “She was happy but the job just did not fill her right. It is the time in life when you start looking for what you really want. She loves photography and wants to work as a photographer. Other jobs were ok to get her money but then she comes and tells you I am bored,” her mother says.
“Camila is 21 years old and even today she lets me know every place she goes. She is terribly responsible. We have a relation that has grown based on trust. Not the trust that kids would use to do whatever they want to do. If she is at a friend’s house and they decide to go somewhere else, she calls me to tell me about it,” Paula explains as she checks on her cell phone because “news could come at any time now.” There is the chance Paula could be flying to Russia; she is just waiting for one confirmation: that she will get to see and talk to Camila for the first time since she was arrested.
“I would tell her to keep strong. To have a little more of strength and that when she gets back home we will have a mate together and laugh about what happened. She will surely have a lot of anecdotes to tell. This has been a learning stage for her, a huge personal experience. I know her, she must be making friends with all the activists so she will have lots of places around the world to meet now and I will surely have to receive all her European friends at home soon.”
A diplomatic solution to bring her home
At the Caballito neighborhood family house, Camila has her own room. She has decorated it with a vintage style, “she loves old stuff, she has old photo and film cameras, super 8-like cameras.” She sleeps with an old sweater that belongs to her father. “She is no consumerist. She can live 4 months with what she makes only in one month. 20-year old sweaters her father used to use when I met him and that I can’t stand seeing, she uses them to sleep. If she gets to know that I am talking about this, she will kill me! But when you see her, she is just so nice, so funny. She loves that sweater and just won’t drop it,” Paula says and smiles again.
“Call it how you want; defense mechanism. I bet on a diplomatic resolution rather that on a judicial way out. I think both governments must come to an agreement; the pressure must come from that side,” Paula tells the Herald.com and gets the chance to thank the support they have received from the Foreign Ministry.
“From the very first day, they have supported us; calling us on a daily basis, sometimes even twice a day. When there is official information, we are the first to know about it. You feel you have a real company. Argentina’s embassy in Russia has done great; we can not complain. The Argentine consul has been with her all the time, there is now another official who sent us an email the other day to tell us that he had brought her food, clothes, making sure she eats fine and has reading materials. There is a consular office installed in Munsbark.”
The distance from Buenos Aires to Murmansk is 13,607 kilometers. As the family still waits for the good news that will allow Paula to finally reencounter with her daughter, Camila’s room remains locked since her detention back in September. Paula wants to keep everything tidy because Camila is “very organized,” a 21 year-old that keeps her things in place and drives Pedro to his therapy sessions on Tuesdays when he attends to equine sessions that help him treat his autism.
“We have cleaned it up and it is very nice now. It is locked, waiting for her. I want to keep it that way because she can come back at any moment and I want her room to look nice and tidy. Something stupid, maybe; she probably won’t be back this week. The other day Tomás asked me for the keys because he wanted to watch the Boca game, he said he was more comfortable in Cami’s room. I said ok; then you give me back the key. It is not hermetically closed. But just in case…”