September 18, 2023 editorial of Révolutionnaires, newspaper of the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) in France. Translated from French.
Since September 11, 11,000 migrants – men, women and children – have arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa, whose reception capacity is already saturated. We have seen the actions of solidarity from the inhabitants in the face of the distress of these migrant families. But the most prominent governments of the European Union (EU) immediately decided to close their borders to these refugees. Italy declared a state of emergency on the island and closed its territory to asylum-seekers, followed by Germany and France. The French government tightened controls along the entire Franco-Italian border.
Crocodile tears… and imperialist responsibilities
Economic crises, natural disasters and wars are pushing more and more people on the roads of exile. The earthquake that struck Morocco, in a very poor region, claimed several thousand victims. And with the cyclone that devastated the town of Derna in Libya, over 10,000 people are still missing. It costs European leaders nothing to shed a few tears over these disasters. But there is no question of acknowledging their responsibility for the situation in many African countries… and even less of assuming it. The big French groups are doing business in Morocco, taking advantage of the great misery of the Moroccan people, watched over by a billionaire king. As for Libya, it was the military intervention of the imperialist powers (led by France) in 2011 that plunged it into chaos. At the time, they claimed to be acting to overthrow the Qaddafi dictatorial regime, to which they had subcontracted for years the dirty job of border guard, responsible for parking would-be emigrants in camps. Since then, the country has been torn between warlords who obtain the support of rich countries, including France, by monetizing oil, and the retention of migrants wanting to reach Europe and doomed to a life of slavery in Libya.
And the European Union butters up the Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed, who is himself leading a racist campaign in Tunisia against migrants from sub-Saharan Africa. On Sunday, the EU even promised him new subsidies to open new camps in Tunisia to block migrants from the other side of the Mediterranean.
Don’t let us be divided
The rulers of the rich countries sow misery, exploitation and chaos throughout the world. But they rely on a carefully nurtured xenophobia, the better to divide us, the exploited. Macron is not the last to follow in the footsteps of the far right. He launched his idea of a referendum on immigration, in an attempt to divert our attention from current essential issues: wages and purchasing power in the face of galloping inflation. And now, he is making one gesticulation after another, depriving students from Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger of any possibility of continuing their studies in France. A way of taking revenge on them for questioning the French presence in the Sahel, when it is above all the population of this region that suffers the consequences of military coups.
The only effect of denying access to Europe is to make migratory routes ever more dangerous. The Mediterranean is turning into a graveyard, with thousands of deaths every year. We have the means to welcome with dignity exiled people. They will be our fellow workers tomorrow and they must have the same rights as any other person. And we also have the means to increase our salaries. To do this, we need to attack profits. For those who pretend otherwise are precisely those who grow fat by exploiting our social class. Exploitation knows no borders. Workers of all countries, unite!