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Camino street art: La carta de Helena, Pamplona

Prentiss Riddle

Aprendiz de todo, maestro de nada
Year of past OR future Camino
Poco a poco: we're nibbling away at the Francés. Hoping to go back in 2022.
If you saw this street art on the Camino in the historic center of Pamplona, perhaps you're wondering what it means.

Helena Maleno is a Spanish human rights activist focusing on the rights of migrants. She is the CEO of the non-governmental organization Caminando Fronteras and is credited with saving the lives of thousands of migrants by monitoring conditions in the Strait of Gibraltar and alerting rescue services when migrants' vessels are in danger.

In 2017 she was prosecuted on charges that her actions in support of migrants constituted human trafficking. The charges were eventually dropped, but harassment against her has continued.

Here she is portrayed as Venus rising from the sea, holding the shell which is the symbol of the Camino and a letter to the Spanish president, representing the many letter-writing campaigns in her defense.

With this installation, street artist LKN reminds pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago to think of other pilgrims traveling much more difficult paths, and of the people like Helena Maleno who defend them.

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