06/05/2006versione stampabileprintinvia paginasend



Spain asked and got help from EU states in order to protect the Canaries from immigrants
The shopping list is precise but costly: 5 naval units, 5 helicopters and an agreement on a plan to control and dispose of immigrants that have arrived in the Canary Islands. The request aimed at member countries of the European Union was made by Spain that constantly finds itself exposed, with its archipelago on the southern edge of the Union, to landings along its coastline by clandestine refugees.
 
An expensive bill. For a long time itís been known that the southern borders of Europe are no longer just a problem for individual states. Spain, like Italy, and Greece no longer intend paying the full costs of control alone. Union countries, which are somewhat obsessed by immigration, nine of these countries, (Austria, France, Germany, Finland, Great Britain, Portugal and the Netherlands),† have acknowledge this and have already assured their support to Spain. The Spanish Minister of the Interior, at the end of his meeting with other partners of the Union in Madrid made it known that next month details and costs of this agreement will be clarified. An unfavourable partnership: itís not rich countries anymore that promote the development of poorer countries, but a common strategy to make Europe more and more like a fortress that blocks groups of desperate people fleeing war and famine from trying to reach the European coast in order to search for a better life.
There are essentially three entry points into Europe: from Turkey to Greece, from Libya to Italy and from Morocco to Spain. In particular, the shortest distance that separates Morocco from the Iberian Peninsula (14kms from the Strait of Gibraltar; 100kms from the African coast to the Canary Islands and the barbed wire fence that surrounds the two Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in Morocco), Spain is one of the† favourite destinations for migrants.
 
The Canaries, entry point for Europe. With the progressive militarisation of the Strait of Gibraltar and the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, the route into the Canaries has become the most heavily controlled. The archipelago, which every year is the preferred tourist destination of more than 10 million people, has become the outpost for the European Unionís restrictive immigration policies. A kind of collective frontier for all members of the Union. To give an idea of the flow of immigrants arriving in the Canaries, the Spanish Civil Guard published a report in March and according to this there were between 1,200 and 1,600 clandestine immigrants from Mauritania that drowned at sea trying to reach the islands. The figures only relate to the last 45 days of 2005. The estimate was calculated on the number of migrants leaving every day from Mauritania between November and the first half of December 2005. According to the Spanish authorities, there could have been between 2,000 and 2,500 migrants leaving, but only 900 of them reached their destination.
 
Everyone united against desperation. This has been the result of strong currents at sea, but this massacre has not come about through natural causes and calls into question the collective conscience of Europe and civil rights. After the Schengen Treaty, all migrants have, indiscriminately, become criminals. The agreements between Union states have emerged from an approach that is more and more militarised and policed rather than being seen as what it is, a social problem. There is no difference to how the problem is seen between European governments whether they are from the Left or Right. The government of Zapatero demonstrates this, so much at the vanguard of civil rights in its own country, yet so inhumane with regards to immigrants. Miguel Angel Morantinos, the Spanish Foreign Minister has shown for a long time that he is moving towards signing a series of cooperation agreements with African countries that are willing to repatriate migrants expelled from Spain. Without taking to much attention to the fact that in the majority of these cases we are talking about countries where human rights are not respected. A few days ago the government in Madrid presented the so called Africa Plan to tackle the flow of migrants, this plan has emerged from Spanish collaboration with individual authorities from African countries in order to control people leaving countries. This was the basis of the request to other European countries for help. On this point, as we have seen, the Union has assured help to Spain, as if it was at war and as if it was a European state under attack from a foreign army, and not thousands of desperate people.
 
Christian Elia