We talked to one of the members of Unity Against Fascism and Racism regarding the demonstrations for the World Refugee Day and the demands of the entities revolving the campaign #RegularitzacióXTotes.
Several entities that fight for the rights of the refugees have organised demonstrations throughout the country for the World Refugee Day on June 20th, to request social justice. The emergency generated by the Covid-19 pandemic - which has become a health crisis but also an economic and social one that persists - has led the entities to request an urgent, permanent and unconditional regularisation of people in an irregular administrative situation in Spain.
The Unity Against Fascism and Racism (UCFR, for its Catalan initials) is one of the several collaborating entities. We talked to Iolanda Maurici, member of the organisation regarding the demonstrations, the motion presented to the Congress of Deputies, the status of the campaign #RegularitzacióXTotes (regularisation for all) and the existing racism in our territory.
Which were the demands of the World Refugee Day demonstration?
There were several. The first one is the registration of residency. Even though it is a duty of the city councils, many of them are reluctant and find invented bureaucratic obstacles to avoid registering everyone. Registration is the basic door that gives access to all the rights, and is one of the first demands that people have to meet to achieve regularisation in addition to prove three years of "survival" rather than residence.
We also ask for regularisation both regarding residence and labour for unprotected people who often find themselves without residence nor work. We ask for the right of regularisation with no need of previous labour contract, in other words, we demand the residence and labour permit first and then they will be able to look for a job.
Which were the other demands?
International protection for all asylum seekers. We ask to meet the international protection criteria. When the programmes are overs, refugees often find themselves without documents that allow them to work, which is a very complicated procedure.
All the demands ask for the application of the article 127 of the law on foreigners which allows a regularisation in exceptional circumstances. We are still in the midst of a social and economic emergency, and if these are not considered exceptional circumstances, then we do not understand. We are fed up of utilitarian and mercantilist measures that condition the rights of the workers.
There is a continuous violation of rights.
Exactly. We also condemn what happens to people who cannot access to this regularisation that we demand. We mean that there is a violation of rights in issues such as the Immigration Detention Centres, express deportations, seasonal workers and all the dead people related to these issues. Everything is a consequence of promoting an informal economy and a system that denies people their basic rights.
How has the situation evolved revolving the campaign #RegularitzacióXTotes / #RegularizaciónYa?
So far, we have seen the adoption of specific measures, for example, those related to young people that no longer have a guardian to allow them to work in the fields. Or the fact that seasonal workers whose permits expired and who could not return to their country of origin could stay and work. But all of these are utilitarian measures that do not solve the underlying problem.
The minimum subsistence income has been approved, which leaves out many people condemned to hunger. People who cannot move nor return to their countries of origin and cannot access any kind of aid.
The motion has been taken to the Congress of Deputies.
It has been an effort. There was a proposal from the Coordinadora Obrim Fronteres (COF), which has been coordinated with the demands of Regularización Ya, a platform of migrant groups throughout Spain. The two platforms have tried to cooperate on the explanatory statement. It has already been presented and will be discussed as soon as possible, which we assume will be in September.
Which parliamentary groups support it?
In addition to those with which we have already spoken since the beginning, such as Catalunya En común, CUP, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, EH Bildu and Podemos, that joined later. The past weeks, Más País, Compromís and JuntsXCat have also joined, while the PNV has asked to study it.
We count on the possibility of increasing support when the proposal is voted on. At the moment it is a motion, that is to say, it is not binding, but it is an important call for attention. And even more considering the declarations of the Spanish government saying that they have not received any initiative in this matter.
The demand has spread throughout Europe.
At the UCFR we received an international call from World Against Fascism to include mobilisations that focus on the demands for regularisation on an international, especially European, map. It is no coincidence the demand for urgent regularisation in Europe, it is a sign of justice. All the movements are asking for the same thing.
The last few weeks, seasonal workers in Lleida have denounced their situation and the violation of rights that they suffer.
The Plataforma Fruita amb Justícia Social (Fruit with Social Justice Platform) is in constant contact with the COF. I think that the fact of being a network amplifies the complaint and makes more people aware of this struggle. Besides, this year is even there was no response to the current pandemic circumstance, which is even more outrageous knowing that this happens every year. Despite the administration's measures, they have been insufficient and have been badly managed. We have had many colleagues sleeping on the floor, and this does not make any sense.
We talk about racism in the United States, but it is very much present here as well.
There have been angry reactions from the business community and some city councils, who claim they are not racists, but they attack these people. The campaign is asking for justice, and it also recognises the work of many peasants who are concerned about providing housing and proper care for the workers. But this does not prevent that it has to be reported. Some hotels deny their rooms to them and there are comrades who try to rent apartments and it is very difficult for them. Even by people with documentation and money. It's impossible to get access to rent anything. There is racism.
How have you supported these anti-racist struggles throughout the country?
We have joined the demonstrations called by the Black African and Afrodescendant Community. We have been shocked by the death of a person in the United States, and it is very good because it is intolerable, but there is daily racism here too. There constantly are identifications because of the colour of the skin, because of race, because of discrimination in the workplace... It is clear that black people suffer much more from police violence, it is undeniable.