Thoughts about Ceuta.

OPINIÓN | Pensamientos sobre Ceuta y la frontera – el colonialismo está bien y está vivo.

La versión en Castellano: APDHA Cádiz


OPINION | Thoughts about Ceuta and the border – Colonialism is alive and well.

By Alexandra Mittermüller, Cultural- & Social Anthropologist. Intern at APDHA.

Reading about all the injustice that is happening in the world will never be enough to really understand the heart of a problem. During my studies, I was reading a lot about “the fortress Europe”, but to become a witness to the injustice first hand is simply different. This week I’ve been to Ceuta. Ceuta is located at the African continent; nevertheless, it belongs to Spain. When arriving in Ceuta, it becomes increasingly clear that colonialism is alive and well. Walking through the city centre makes you feel like everything is alright: The beautiful Spanish architecture, there is art influenced by Salvador Dalí, people seem to be content and it is possible to spend a pleasant time there. Nonetheless as soon as you start to look more closely, you realize that it is a false front and it all begins to fall apart quickly: Down by the port, you can see refugees, who are waiting for the opportunity to be able to board a ship to Europe in disguise. If you let yourself, you can feel the immense hope and the tremendous despair at the same time. However, it is still possible to look the other way, if you want to. At the border it is not possible to do so, here it becomes evident, what has been known for a long time.

The border consists of a wall, which is 8 km long and 6 meters high: It should separate Spain from Morocco. When we were passing the border to Morocco we had no problems. But why is that so? Simply for the fact that we are owners of a red passport. We are Europeans. Do we value more?
In this world, we are living in, the answer is absurdly yes:
We did not have to wait. We could just pass through. The police treated us differently with one police officer even trying to flirt with me. So, it becomes very clear that there seem to be two “classes” of people. The Moroccan women, who work in Spain to be able to make a living, have to wait hours and hours in the heat until they are allowed to cross the border. We are separated (!) from them through a wooden wall.
What we do not see – we do not care for?
It is so absurd. I feel speechless. That’s Europe – the “oh-so-great” Europe?

So, I think it is very important to know about this, because we tend to forget that the politics of the European Union are the cause of so much injustice. I am from a very rich country, but also in Austria, the political parties, who win elections are the ones, who represent inhumane politics. The external borders of the EU seem to be very far away and politicians like Sebastian Kurz find it therefore even more easy to generate hateful narratives about people, who do not have a voice in the discussion anyway.

I think we should stop promoting this false narrative of the European Union being peacemakers and that we deserve to be wealthy. As we should never be allowed to forget, that the reason why we are prosperous is the fact that we have been exploiting and that we still are exploiting other continents and countries. It is not labelled under the concept of colonialism, but if we look at the conditions, it is nothing more than that: another form of colonialism.

We should know that.
We should learn.
And become better.


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