It’s impossible to conceive of a democracy if a part of the population is excluded and it does not participate; the social issue is key. French sociologist Sami Naïr wrote a vital book about immigration in the Mediterranean titled The Open Wounds. The two Shores of the Mediterranean: A Conflictive Destiny? Its reading is recommended in the middle of constant xenophobic sprouts in Europe. We must shed light about emigration concepts: the psychosis on immigrant invasion and the lack of foundation in the argument about job loss and productivity reduction.
Foreigners who live in Spain do not even represent 3 percent of the population. They represent 6.5 percent in France, 9 percent in Belgium, 32 percent in Luxembourg, 17.5 percent in Switzerland, 7.5 percent in Germany and 6.5 percent in Austria. Like author Antonio Izquierdo proves in The unexpected immigration, the exaggeration of the numbers represents an ideological matter and an inductive component of xenophobia.
Integration in Europe will be impossible if misery prevails in the Southern part of the Mediterranean, which needs to share the benefits of profits. Thus journalist and writer Joaquín Estefanía quotes the Algerian leader Ben Bella, “How absurd it would be for Spain to welcome the Polish and reject Moroccans and Algerians, a Spain that would try to control immigration by spreading its army like Italy does with the Albanian refugees in Brindisi. Even if Europe wanted to live within its walls and ignore the rest of the world, the rest of the world will not forget Europe. The developing world is a shanty town with barracks in front of golf courses. What can happen next? An invasion to property. There is only one way to prevent it: that the shanty town lives better. Europe must help developing countries develop, following their own paths.”
Sami Naïr proposes the creation of a space of encounter, a space of exchange and solidarity that takes racial mixture into consideration in the shores of the Mediterranean. Instead of considering the sea a frontier, having the Mediterranean as a common space. Massive immigration fluxes cannot be defended, nor can immigration policies be sustained with the living conditions of the immigrants’ countries of origin. Spain, a land of shelter, must promote the most generous policy and not allow the free flow of cash while being stingy with the people who, many times, are forced to emigrate due to the excesses of an unregulated, inhuman and clumsy globalization.
José Carlos García Fajardo
Emeritus Profesor of Contemporary Social and Political Thought. CCS Director