For almost 10 days I got the chance to participate in the 3rd edition of the Caravana Obrim Fronteres initiative. The main goal is not to fix the violation of human rights issues that take place in the borders and in some points of the european territory but to put the media and social focus in those places for a while and learn as much as we can from those situations and from the people usually taken for passive actors but being an example of active resistance instead. In fact, one of the main conclusions of this year’s caravan was to use all the knowledge we got - in Greece, Melilla and now in Italy - to make an impact and to push to change the european, national and local immigration and social policies.
What we saw in Italy doesn’t fall far from what we see everyday in the southern border of Spain or in the streets of Barcelona. It’s all part of the same eurocentrist policies that affect all the aspects of our lives, but mostly of our brothers and sisters coming to Europe to find an opportunity. Either because they have to flee their homes due to the bombs we create and benefit economically from, dropped in Syria, Afghanistan and Palestine and directed from the MUOS base in Niscemi. Because they can’t find make a living for themselves due to the bilateral agreements countries like Spain make to exploit other countries resources, materials like coltan in Congo or the fishing industry in Senegal. Or because they want to have the same experience we are free to have to travel, study in another country or even settle down in a different place. Basically, the right to migrate.
All in all, we saw people struggling and fighting for their rights, the same struggles we see with the women working in agriculture in Huelva or the people working in the fruit campaign in Lleida. We visited hotspots and “hosting” centers doubling their capacity and making the people arriving to our coasts to wait forever for someone to determine if they fit in some legal category to be eligible for asylum or some other kind of “protection”, forbidding them to build their own life or even to move freely. What they ask for, just like what the men and women selling clothes and accessories in the streets of Barcelona or the people being detained in the CIE of Zona Franca, is for their rights to be respected and to be treated just like any other citizen. In addition, in Italy, Spain and other countries we see racist and xenophobic speeches and policies rising, aggressions and violence against migrant people and activists being normalized… just like we are back to our darkest times.
The question is: are we going to do something about it?
First, after the Caravan experience, I came back more determined to use my communication skills and my privileges to fight inequality, discrimination and spread the word so the people that surrounds me understand what I learned and why we should treat others equally, respecting and guaranteeing everyone’s right to free movement, to have a home or a job, social care, political and social participation and all the basic rights from the welfare state, regardless where they come from or their “legal” status. Secondly, we want to work together with other actors in a local, national and european level to tackle all the criminal policies as well as pressuring our governments to apply the needed changes to ensure everyone’s wellbeing. “There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal”, as Martin Luther King said.