Society

The Day That Changed Polish Women Forever

The massive march in Warsaw and other protests against Poland's proposed strict new anti-abortion law is a revolutionary moment in what it means to be a Polish woman.

Women protesting in Warsaw, Poland
Women protesting in Warsaw, Poland

-Editorial-

WARSAW â€" It wasn't just a Polish women's protest. It was Polish women and men protesting the violation of their human rights and freedom by Poland’s governing Law and Justice party. It was a demonstration to defend the progressive values of Poland against the parliament's majority, which is trying to change the country into a religiously fanatic nation. It was an outcry to protect the dignity of women.

According to the Law and Justice party, an unborn human requires more protection than a living one. These lawmakers want to put in jail women who refuse to give birth to a baby conceived from a rape. They want to imprison women who don’t want to give birth because their pregnancy endangers their health or life.

We learned an important lesson about solidarity on Monday. Polish women protested not only on their own behalf but also on the behalf of other women who were not present during the demonstrations due to economic or social constraints. Teachers, who are not legally permitted to take a day off on short notice, wore black at schools. Moreover, it was clear that abortion was no longer just a women’s issue. Men showed their solidarity by supporting their mothers, wives, sisters, girlfriends, daughters and female colleagues by taking over their chores, looking after their children or standing by their side at the protests.

On Monday morning, Poland’s foreign minister, Witold Waszczykowski, mocked the protests saying: "Let them have fun." By afternoon, when TV stations showed the protests in many cities, he probably lost his sense of humor. There were hundreds, maybe thousands, of people on the streets. In Warsaw, there were tens of thousands of protesters. It was raining but people stood at the protests with umbrellas, full of determination but also good humor that was clear from the witty banners they held and the songs they sang.

Something unprecedented has happened. Polish women showed what they’re capable of. They proved they have veto power, a power greater than what the heads of many trade unions hold. After all, which union would be able to organize so many protests in so many cities all over the country in just one working day? Only Polish women can do something like that.

Anyone who saw what happened on Monday, anyone who stood there in the rain among all their fellow protesters, does not have a doubt â€" ordinary Polish women have started a revolution.

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Green

In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

CAUCHARI — Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.


It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park

Xinhua/ZUMA

Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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