Immigration is a human right! Open the damn borders!

This photo is of two African immigrants who on March 18th made it past the 20-foot chain-link fence between Morocco & Melilla, an outpost of Spain on the coast of northern Africa. Because the detention center already has triple its capacity of immigrants, the Spanish Red Cross set up additional tents (seen in the background).

The photo is posted not to evoke pity–a patronizing emotion–because immigrants are among the toughest, most determined people on the planet. It is posted because the faces of these young men express the fear, trauma, & ordeal of undocumented immigrants routed by neoliberal barbarisms, forced to leave their families & countries, travel thousands of often treacherous miles, risk their lives & limbs simply to find work.

Our fullest solidarity with them. Immigration is a human right!

(Photographer not identified; photo from CNN)

Military occupation of Brazilian favelas under guise of drug war

Military special forces in Rio de Janeiro have now taken over at least 38 favelas, mostly those near the venues for the 2014 World Cup scheduled to begin in June. This favela, Complexo da Mare, was slated for “pacification”–that is, military occupation–as far back as 2011 but it is a primary target now since it’s located near Rio’s international airport where hundreds of thousands of tourists will be pouring in for the games.

The ostensible reason for the occupation is to rout drug trafficking but many traffickers on the run claim half their monthly proceeds go to buying off the police. If drug trafficking in the rest of the world is any indication, the police are not just accepting bribes to look the other way but helping to organize the trade. There were so many corruption accusations made during “pacification” of other favelas that officials banned cops carrying backpacks & began teaching ethics courses in the police academy. The officials most likely have special six-wheelers carting in the drugs & carting out their cut of the dough.

This photo in Complexo da Mare lets us judge for ourselves whether the military invasion is a “pacification” or an occupation.

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Image)

The unspeakable barbarisms of European Union immigration policies

Melilla is a Spanish territory on the Mediterranean coast of Africa surrounded by Morocco. It has long been disputed territory between Spain & Morocco, along with the enclave of Ceuta & several nearby Mediterranean islands. Spain has claimed it since the 15th century & it remains a vestige of European colonialism. Ironic that, since now it serves Spain as a military outpost against African immigrants fleeing the ravages of neoliberal plunder in their own countries.

Reportedly, the Spanish government estimates there are 40,000 African immigrants in Morocco trying to get into Melilla or the enclave of Ceuta which is closer to the Strait of Gibraltar. They estimate another 40,000 moving from Mauritania to Morocco to make entry into Spain & the rest of Europe to find work.

The border between Morocco & Melilla is secured by a six-meter (nearly 20 feet) high chain-link fence with detection wires, tear gas dispensers, radar, day/night vision cameras, & lots of armed border patrol agents. That hasn’t deterred immigrants from repeatedly attempting to cross into the enclave where there is an overcrowded migrant center.

The barbarisms Spain uses to thwart immigrants have created a furor, especially since last February when fifteen immigrants drowned trying to swim from Morocco past a retaining wall into Ceuta. Spanish police fired rubber bullets at them although they claim they were not directly aimed at the immigrants. You don’t find a more paltry defense of barbarism than that. Who were they shooting at then? Fish?

In late March, under early morning cover of dense fog, about 800 young men reportedly mostly from Mali & Cameroon, rushed a weak section of the chain-link fence at Melilla; 500 made it in. It was the single largest crossing since October 2005 when 350 successfully crossed. The young immigrants ran toward the holding center shouting “bosa, bosa” (“victory, victory”) & we join that rally cry with them. Spanish officials claim most were turned back by phalanxes of border patrol from both Morocco & Spain.

European Union immigration policy is barbaric & racist & must be opposed. Immigration is a human right! Open the damn borders!

(Photo of immigrants trying to get into Melilla by Jose Colon/AFP)