This is how I fight injustice.
Bianca Jagger arrives on time. She was once often late, but it seems as if her habits have changed. She is all dressed in white, in a suit and a low-cut t-shirt. She plays with her hands in the lobby of the Mayfair Regent Hotel in New York. She is about to leave for Tuzla with the Bosnian boy she brought to the United States three years ago to have a heart operation. She is returning him healed, with his family.
Bianca, are you excited about this trip you have ahead of you?
Yes, very much so. It’s like the end of a dramatic, difficult day that isn’t quite over yet. The parents of Mohammed, who is now eleven, want to go home.
When did you start working with humanitarian causes?
In 1972 when there was an earthquake in Nicaragua and 11,000 people died. At that time, I lived in England. I remember that it was Christmastime at night and we were eating, and I heard the news about the earthquake from the television in the next room. I couldn’t contact Nicaragua. My parents lived there, and I didn’t know if they were still alive. So I left the next morning. I walked among the ruins and the fire of destroyed houses. And I understood the misery that the people endured under Somoza’s dictatorship.
So what did you do?
I convinced my husband Mick Jagger to hold one of the first charity concerts to raise funds. The concert took place in Los Angeles.
Do you feel a strong connection to your country, which you left when you were sixteen years old?
Yes but not just to my country. I feel a strong connection to the entire Third World. Even though I’ve lived a large portion of my life in Europe and the United States, I think my spirit identifies most with the Third World. At a certain point, one needs to get back in touch with her roots.
What does it mean to be from the Third World for you?
It means to understand the socio-economic injustice that these so-called southern countries have bestowed upon us. But you can easily be born into privilege in the Third World and ignore the misery around you.
Do you consider yourself a possible presidential candidate in the upcoming elections in Nicaragua?
No. The elections are in October, and for now it is out of the question. Perhaps it is something I could consider, but for the moment, I don’t know how to respond. My decision will depend upon where I would feel more useful.
This year you were chosen as Woman of the Year and Abolitionist of the Year, and you received a medal for having championed human rights and justice in the world. Are there two Biancas?
Women with multiple faces exist only in the movies. I have to say that I am pleased that people have been able to see beyond first impressions. Many people had forgotten that I was born in Nicaragua, and that my life didn’t start in Paris, London, or New York. I went to Paris with a scholarship from the French government to study political science. When I was young, I wanted to grow up to be a woman in politics. My marriage to Mick Jagger was an interlude that briefly diverted me from my path.
What did the medal you earned as Abolitionist of the Year mean to you?
They gave it to me because I was able to get the death sentence of a woman named Guiniver García commuted. It’s not easy in the United States, but I am working with all of my might against the death penalty.
But for many years, you were more a part of the entertainment world…
So what? Ronald Reagan was part of the film world, but because he is a man nobody ever said anything. But when it comes to me, they do! Everyone asks me this question only because I’m a woman! But one thing doesn’t get in the way of the other.
How do you work?
On one front, there’s the humanitarian work, and then there’s the environmental work with the indigenous tribes in Central America, South America, and Brazil. Then there’s the evacuation of children in Bosnia. I also work to document violence against women, and this is in the former Yugoslavia as well.
How does the world seem to you today?
Indifferent. Egocentric. People live in total isolation as if they want to pull the blinds down on the rest of the world.
What does that make you feel? Anger? Indignation?
Indignation and sadness. It makes you feel impotent. But I won’t be an accomplice to the crimes in Bosnia.
Are you a woman who is very alone?
In a certain sense, yes. I don’t share my life with a great love.
Are you looking for a great love?
No. I don’t think you can look for a great love. It appears miraculously or it gets away from us.
I am not willing to accept compromises.
Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation
19th August, 1996