The caravan of refugees and undocumented migrants : a political lesson

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The action week of the caravan of refugees and undocumented migrants, which took place from the 20th to the 28th of June 2014 in Brussels, was an unprecedented event. Indeed, more than 500 refugees, migrants and supporters (with a very large majority of migrants) joined together for a week to discuss and take actions on the fringe of the summit of heads of States who were discussing the european migratory problems.

The caravan witnessed the participation of undocumented people, refugees and migrants from Germany, Italy, france and Holland, but also some delegations too from Tunisia, Morocco, and other countries. All these people had to prove much determination to face the European fortress laws to come to Brussels: this is a victory in itself.

The week program included demonstrations and gatherings about the migration theme: gatherings in front of the german, Italian and dutch embassies, symbolical actions in front of the places representative of the institutions and the private interest of Europe war (NATO, weapons lobby) and economic policies. These actions allowed giving full light to causes and consequences of migration policies in numerous areas: economic policies, foreign policies, social policies…

Desorganization and various internal conflicts (in particular with the supporters; the migrants showed a great unity), did not allow to go satisfactorily forward about essential issues and about concrete demands of participants. We can quote the few political contacts established , a lack of communication toward the citizens and the low amount of time dedicated to discuss the future of the movement.

In spite of these failures, Brussels was happy to welcome a major political event. As a matter of fact, the majority presence of illegals, refugees and migrants (and the relations they managed to build) allowed the emergence of a proper voice, propositions, choices and a conscience. Because if the participants want a just solution to their administrative situation (regularization, ID for all), the echo of the protest movement goes far beyond this demand:

  • stop to the European weapons policies which destroy on a everyday basis lives and states where those migrants come from
  • stop to the neocolonial economic policies that go on with the looting of the riches of the south hemisphere: recognition and reparation
  • stop to the instrumentalisation of the migrants as scapegoasts of all the european society problems
  • for a society of equality and social justice and for a unity between all the exploited people of Europe and other countries.

Therefore it is the expression of a class conciousness and a clear analysis of the mechanisms of opression established since decades (hundreds of years!) by Europe to get rich at the expense of exploited people that has been voiced.
It was the great victory and the fantastic achievement of this intense week.

Absent ones and questions

This deep collective consciousness is the result of 20 years of fierce fights for ID’s, everyday in the streets and poor neighbourhoods of our huge cities, in front of the ministries, to claim the right of living with dignity. A free political consciousness, forged while fighting, in the defeats, victories but also in fratricidal fights and political isolation.
Because what we also saw in Brussels, is the absence of other protagonists of the social movement.

This absence is nothing new: an analysis of undocumented people and refugees movements of the last years, of the acting militants, would prove it. These movements are supported by a very rare political support, what is more the major forces of the labor movement: excessive claims, rough political context, overbooked agenda, are the arguments presented to explain this distance. The illegal and refugees movement was accused of having demands too administrative (ID’s) or of endangering our social security welfare (freedom of circulation and residing).

However, in this Europe, going deeper everyday in the economic crisis and its chauvinistic and racist solutions, the voice of undocumented migrants and refugees is essential. We can’t avoid analysing Europe in its whole: austerity policies on one side, free trade, war and neocolonial policies on the other side, the two faces of a unique issue. And today, this issue is articulated and clearly voiced by this movement. And this debate must be heard and discussed by the movements trying today to build an alternative to the politics imposed on by Europe trying to get over the crisis .

We can’t fight war policies without those on who bombs are dropped everyday. We can’t fight fascism without those who are suffering its most fierce violence. We can’t fight austerity policies without those, men and women, who have been suffering from them for decades, and are still suffering.

Only together, political and social movements from here and everywhere, starting from the field, will we be able to fight against those policies who are opressing everyone!

Sébastian Franco, August 2014