Angela Bachiller has become the first councilwoman with Down syndrome, after taking possession of her office in Valladolid city council, Spain.
A real example of self-improvement and empowerment that has conquered the heart of the whole country during these tough days when corruption and recession have made the majority of citizens lose faith in their politicians.
Bachiller, 30, had been working in the area of Social Welfare and Family as an administrative assistant for three years.
Now, this young woman who defines herself in an interview in the Spanish newspaper Publico as “friendly, positive, tenacious and stubborn,” is willing to work to give visibility and opportunities to other people with special needs.
The importance of a good education
Angela has always had the support of her parents. Her mother, Isabel Guerra, explains that her daughter has always lived quite normally. “She goes out with her friends, to play sports, to the movies, to have dinner, etc…” Bachiller started going to school at 1 year of age. Her parents knew that a good education was the most important asset for their girl´s future.
Actually, the first time her mother left the house after giving birth to Angela was to ask for vacancy in the same center where her sister, who is three years older, was studying. “We insisted much on education because we knew that without discipline and knowledge you are not going anywhere,” says Isabel.
Angela Bachiller, a happy woman with a normal life
Now, Bachiller is a woman like many others, even though she´s making history. She enjoys her Latin dance, English and music theory classes, and also plays the piano. Plus, the brand-new councilwoman loves reading, traveling, and says she never felt bullied at school.
She has read El Quijote three times and confesses that a book is like a best friend: “It is always there and never demands anything from you.”
A chance to break clichés and correct social injustices
Even though the case of Angela Bachiller has inspired sympathy and affection across the country, it also highlights the difficulties that other people with special needs are currently facing. This year, the conservative government of Mariano Rajoy plans to cut nearly $2 million from funding for the Dependency Law, a measure that is severely affecting many families.
Bachiller, although she´s a member to the Popular Party currently ruling Spain, clearly states that, “If there are people who need resources, we must give them.” With her appointment, the young councilwoman hopes to draw attention to other people with her same condition and give visibility and normalcy to their collective.
The manager of the Down Association Spain, Augustine Matía, has declared to ABC newspaper that the appointment of Bachiller is positive news that represents the beginning of “the inclusion of people with disabilities to social participation, civil and political,” as well as serving “to break clichés.”
However, the Spanish Committee of Representatives of Persons with Disabilities (Cermi) is more critical. Although they trust that gradually there will be other people with special needs who assume political responsibility, in a recent statement they drew attention to the contradiction that people with Down syndrome can hold political office but are still not allowed to vote.
Although it will take time, it’s clear that individuals with Down syndrome are becoming more widely accepted and integrated into our world. We’re grateful for Angela Bachiller and those who’ve come before her to continue this progress worldwide.