Sunday, December 10, 2006

I'm translating away pretty much full-blast around here, but found time to read this excellent article by Christopher Caldwell in the Weekly Standard on West African immigration to Spain. Don't miss it. We have been posting about this for years, and this is the first extensive piece I've seen on the issue.

Here are a couple of interesting paragraphs:

Spanish laws towards foreigners are generous, and punctilious about human rights. They also invite chicanery. You cannot detain an immigrant for more than 40 days unless you charge him with a crime, and you cannot deport an immigrant unless you know where he comes from. If he can keep his mouth shut for a month or so, or if he can mis direct the bureaucracy until his 40 days have elapsed, he's in like Flynn. A common way to throw authorities off balance is to pretend to be from somewhere else. Since Spain does not have an extradition treaty with strife-torn Ivory Coast, for instance, many of the Senegalese who have arrived by boat in recent weeks have claimed to be from there (even though the two countries speak mutually exclusive sets of African languages).


The often proclaimed motto of the migrants--which horrifies Senegalese public opinion and would horrify Spaniards if they ever heard it--is Barça mba barsakh. Translated out of Wolof, this means "Barcelona or Death!" Barcelona in the sense of the soccer team, not the place. One of the kids at the camp near Esmeralda told me that when he got to the Spanish mainland he wanted to live in "Real Madrid" (another soccer team, of course). What courage! What ignorance! And how hard it is to say which of the two predominates.

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