September 1979. Streizyk and Wetzel families wanted to start a new life in the free Europe. They crossed the frontier between East and West Germany travelling in a hot air balloon. When they landed on a hill near Naila, in West Germany, Peter Streizyk and Gunter Wetzel explored the area and found two police officers. Immediately the police officers helped them and picked up the rest of members of the families. Red Cross and the mayor of Naila took in both families until they got home and job. A film was made about the great feat of these heroes who got to go through the Iron Curtain (Escaping the Berlin Wall by hot air balloon).
February 2014. Larios Fotio, 19 years old, wanted to start a new life in the free Europe. He traveled from Cameroon to Morocco and then tried to cross the frontier between Morocco and Ceuta (Spanish city on north coast of Africa); he and a group of people tried to reach the Spanish side of the coast swimming. Some of them, including Larios, got to arrive near. But on the Spanish beach there were agents of Civil Guard, armed with riot control equipment. The guards fired tear gas to the exhausted people at the sea, making difficult to breathe and swim. Then, also the guards fired rubber bullets against their heads. Larios and other 14 people drowned before the impassive gaze of the Spanish Guards. (Spain: Ceuta migrant tragedy – deplorable disregard for human life)
Why Peter Streizyk was treated like a heroe and Larios Fotio was killed like a dangerous criminal? What has changed over the years?
The murders in Ceuta weren’t an isolated matter. Usually police defending the European Fortress don’t kill people directly as Spanish Guards did, but Europe is skilled letting die thousands of people who try to reach the “free” Europe, 22.000 deaths since year 2000. The tragedy isn’t less serious naming them as “migrants” instead of people, as media and politicians always do, but they try to make them seem less human: we are “people”, they are “migrants”.
And the tragedy is worse nowadays. Since the Nobel Peace Prize Obama got to destroy Libya and start a civil war at Syria, thousands of people have tried to flee from the war. And many of them are dying, drowned, in the Mediterranean; in the last weeks, two sinkings have caused more than 1.000 deads.
Which is the answer of the European Union leaders? Will our rulers help the African refugees, making their escape safer? No, Europe will reinforce the Iron Curtain between Africa and Europe, increasing the patrol and surveillance tasks at North Africa to avoid that people begin the travel. Even our rulers are talking about military actions to sink the ships before they start the trip (with or without people on the ships?). Europe will strengthen the wall around the European Fortress, trying that people die in silence in their countries instead of the Mediterranean. Maybe not in silence, but far away, in those countries where our mainstream media don’t talk about them.
At what precise moment had Europe fucked itself up?
Note: The phrase is taken from Vargas Llosa’s famous novel ‘Conversación en La Catedral’. The original phrase is “¿En qué momento se había jodido el Perú?” (“At what precise moment had Peru fucked itself up?”). This quote is well-known for Spanish speakers, but maybe not so much for English speakers.