Saturday, August 04, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 4.8.18

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable. 
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain. 

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here. Garish but informative.

Spain
  • More on that Spanish blue wine that at least some French folk are finding interesting. And possibly palatable.
  • Spanish consumer debt: Don Quijones expresses some worries here.
  • Migrants:-
  1. Is Spain really facing a new wave of xenophobia?
  2. See below for an article from today's Times
Life in Spain
The USA
  • American exceptionalism. Interesting final comment.
  • Trump's biggest lie yet? After he'd met the British queen . . . It was supposed to last 15 minutes but it lasted like an hour. Because we got along. We got along fantastically well. But the time went by - you know, sometimes you get along and the time goes by. And honestly folks, it was such a beautiful, beautiful visit, an afternoon but they can make anything bad because they are the fake, fake disgusting news. Palace officials said the meeting was scheduled to last 30 minutes, not 15, and went on for 48 minutes, not an hour. Love that assertion 'Honestly'. As if he knew what it meant.
  • Oh, dear. This is so difficult. They keep coming: Trump then claimed he had a better relationship with European leaders than any other [American] president has had.
  • Here's a video on the subject of his mendacity. Quotes: Lying is second nature. He's always done it. He does it for fun. He doesn't know he's doing it.
  • I'm an avid fan of the several daily satirical shows on US TV. Last night I laughed out loud at this comment about the wardrobe of Paul Monafort: It looks like it was put together by a blind pimp who got a hundred wishes.
The UK
  • From an ex Tory MP and columnist: A survey of Tory members may have crowned Boris Johnson as the favourite to succeed May but the reality is very different. That's a relief.
Galicia and Pontevedra
  • More here and here on Sr Lúcia of Pontevedra. Or maybe on someone else.
  • Here's an article on the Camino de Santiago. The author exults about it but has yet to walk any of it. He repeats the utter nonsense about St James without even hinting that it's pure fantasy. And he uses the meaningless concept of 'spirituality' as the reason that most 'pilgrims' have for doing some or all of the camino. Shorthand for 'A period away from my normal daily worries and concerns and a time to think'. He also gives an incorrect number for the total of different caminos, which is nothing if not a commercial enterprise. It's not 10 but 33, as you can see here.
Finally . . .
  • Keep an ear out for the wonderfully obscure reference to the main event – not the only one – of 1492 in this 1960 hit. TDWSLTAM
  • With the help of one of those altruistic folk on the net, I'm getting very close to eliminating all the hundreds of hits registered by Google Analytics as coming from Amazon bots in Boardman, Ohio  Maybe by the end of today . . . I realise this is unlikey to be of interest to anyone except, perhaps, another blogger who might like to ask me how to do this . . . On doncolin@gmail.com
© David Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 4.8.18

THE ARTICLE

How Spain became the new centre of Europe’s migrant crisis

The number of migrants arriving in the country this year has exceeded Italy or Greece with most opting for the nine-mile journey from Morocco
, writes Graham Keeley

When an inflatable dinghy carrying about 50 African migrants landed on Playa del Cañuelo beach near Tarifa, in southern Spain, the holidaymakers relaxing in the sun were suddenly confronted with the raw reality of Europe’s migrant crisis.

A police patrol boat was cruising offshore but had failed to stop the landing and the migrants ran past the stunned tourists and disappeared into the woods behind the sand. “Suddenly there were over 50 starving migrants dressed in little more than rags charging on to the beach,” said Bernardo Pelayo, who runs a surf shop in Tarifa and witnessed a scene that has become increasingly common this summer in southern Spain.

The number of migrants arriving in the country this year has exceeded those landing in either Italy or Greece. So far this year 23,048 migrants have arrived in Spain by sea, while 18,645 crossed the Mediterranean to Italy and 16,114 made it to Greece, according to the International Organisation for Migration. Of those landing in Spain 14,000 have arrived since April, mostly in Cadíz province, where the southern tip of the country is just nine miles from Morocco across the Strait of Gibraltar.

Council sports arenas have been turned into makeshift holding centres, and the Red Cross is helping process the average 100 arrivals a day.

In Tarifa, famous for its windsurfing and giant sand dunes, local residents have taken bedding and other essentials to a civic centre that has become a temporary home to 500 migrants. It is a scene repeated in towns across the region.

Mr Pelayo, 36, said that one of those who landed on the beach later turned up at his house begging for water, food, and a shower.

After Madrid pleaded for extra European cash to help it cope, Brussels promised €55 million in emergency aid but José Medina, head of government emergency provision in the region, admitted the authorities were struggling to cope. “This crisis is here to stay. More migrants will come this summer,” he said.

This week Mr Medina visited a new holding centre for 500 migrants in Campamento, near the port of Algeciras, where they will be guarded by 100 police. Only one other proper facility exists in the province.

Extra police have been drafted in to deal with the influx after migrants broke out of another centre in the town of Barbate. “The number of migrant arrivals is very significant, as is the lack of means to deal with it,” Carmen Velayos, of the Cadiz branch of the United Police Union, said.

Francisco Ruiz, the mayor of Tarifa, admitted that he feared a social backlash against migrants if public services become too stretched. “So far people have been tremendous and very generous, but we have to sensitive with the language used and not talking about services being overwhelmed,” he said.

Nonetheless a bitter political row erupted this week after the leader of Spain’s conservative opposition, Pablo Casado, claimed Spain faced an influx of “millions” of Africans. During a visit to a sports centre in Algeciras where 100 recently arrived migrants were being held by police, Mr Casado told The Times that a pan-European plan involving investment in African countries, providing training, education and professional skills was required to reduce the flow.

Addo Myers, 23, from Liberia, was plucked from the waters by Spanish coastguards as he crossed in a dinghy from Tangier. His dream is to make a new life in Britain or Spain. “I am hoping to claim asylum. Six members of my family were killed in the civil war in my country,” he said.

Down at the docks, the newest arrivals who have been picked up at sea, are brought ashore, given purple tracksuit tops marked by the Red Cross with a date to show when they were picked up at sea, and dispatched to one of the migrant centres springing up in sports arenas or civic venues in the region. Red Cross officials said that some of the women have described how they were raped by people traffickers but the vast majority of arrivals are young men. Almost all have suffered hardship and abuse coming from west Africa.

Modou Faye, 19, from Senegal, paddled across the Mediterranean for nine hours with 12 other people in a flimsy boat, including three women and a child. He spent a month in Morocco where he hid in hills with other migrants and claimed he was beaten by the local police. Mr Faye clubbed together with others to buy an inflatable boat for €1,600. “I want to come to Europe to get a job and send money back to my family in Senegal. I know it will not be easy but I have to try,” he said.

For the thousands of migrants arriving in Spain, Ousmann Umar might seem like a role model. He has made a successful life in Spain after making the dangerous journey from Africa. However, the Ghanaian businessman, who has a master’s degree from ESADE, the prestigious business school in Barcelona, urged Africans not to come to Europe. Mr Umar, 30, survived a five-year journey from his home in west Africa, before making it across the Mediterranean. “When I was in Libya I was illiterate, I knew nothing. But these traffickers say , ‘Come to the paradise in Europe’. And you know nothing so you do it,” he said. “I am the 0.01 per cent. Only 1 per cent can integrate into European life.” He decided to head to Europe when he was 13 and saved money to pay traffickers. The gangs abandoned his group as they travelled across the Sahara, and only six survived the desert. As a black man arriving in Libya during the era of Colonel Gaddafi he suffered racist abuse and moved to Mauritania. Finally, he paid traffickers to take him on a boat to Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands. After arriving in Barcelona, he was fostered by a Spanish family and went to school, then finally took his masters in social administration. He wanted to study chemistry at school to see if magic was real. He now has permanent residency and runs a charity trying to stop migrants coming to Europe by sending computers back to help train up people in Africa. “I went from being almost illiterate to studying a masters. It is like I won the lottery,” he said. “But I say to others, don’t come, it is too hard. Stay in your own countries, be confident in yourself and try to build a life there.”

Help for migrants

After migrants are rescued by the coastguard, they receive humanitarian aid and medical assistance from the Red Cross. They are then handed over to the police and given expulsion notices. They have 45 days to leave and are released. They can claim asylum but there is a long backlog in claims. All are passed into the care of regional governments around Spain. Many move to be with relatives who already have legal status in Spain or travel to other countries. Others work illegally on farms or sell merchandise on the streets.

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