Surrounded by piles of brochures, newspaper clips, banners and picket signs promoting world peace and nuclear disarmament, Concepción Martín Picciotto lives in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave—the White House—since 1981.
With the exception of the occasional stint in jail and/or the ER instigated by those who want her protesting to end, and the few hours a day in which she eats and cleans up, “Connie” or “Conchita” as she’s affectionally known, protests day in and day out against the exploits and backward logic of her across the street neighbors.
So far, Reagan, Bush Sr, W, Clinton and Obama haven’t indulged her pleas, nor made her life any easier—police are constantly harassing her, making sure the size of her banners is up to regulation, and enforcing a no-sleeping-in-the-horizontal-position policy. She’s not allowed to sleep in a sleeping bag either.
Some consider her a heroine with an admirable agenda. Others, dismiss her as a lunatic, a street hoodlum. And is fairly easy to do so, considering she wears a black wig atop a bicyclist helmet 24/7, to “defend myself from police attacks, vandals, and people that don’t agree with me, politically speaking.”
The daughter of a military doctor, Concepción Martín was born in Santiago de Compostela, Spain and grew up in Vigo.
During the sixties, she met and married an American entrepreneur of Italian descent, got her green card, her american citizenship, and worked for the Spanish Commercial Office in New York from 1965 to 1973, when she got pregnant with her only child, a baby girl.
Her struggle begun back then, as she tried to return to Galicia to raise her daughter following a messy divorce that ended up being sorted in court “My husband managed to convince the judge I wasn’t a proper mother,” says Martín, who hasn’t seen her child since 1975, despite having appealed the decision and seeking support from Human Rights organizations, the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Relations and even the King of Spain and the presidents Felipe Gonzales, and Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
Currently, 75 year old “Conchita” supports herself through donations, and the few bucks she makes selling “peace rocks” that she paints herself.
“Conchita” has no plans of leaving her spot across the way from the White House; she has come to embrace protesting the absurdities of governments that according to her are ” [every one since I’ve been here has been] corrupted, supports weapons and not peace; peace is not a business, and the money invested in murdering innocent people abroad, should be invested in education and creating jobs. Can’t they see that they’re impoverishing the nation by investing in the so-called “security?”
Read more about her fascinating story and daily struggles, on her website.