The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Oceans and borders won’t stop desperate immigrants

Jun 3, 2007

On May 5, a 30-foot boat filled with at least 160 Haitians capsized as it was towed by the police of the Caribbean islands Turks and Caicos, a British colony. Only 78 survived, leaving 82 dead, some eaten by sharks. Since 2001, more than 400 people have been lost at sea as they tried to sail from Haiti or the Dominican Republic to reach the United States.

On May 28 in another part of the world, fishermen from the island of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea pulled in the sole survivor of a shipwrecked boat that contained clandestine immigrants to Europe. The next day, 26 survivors of another shipwreck were pulled from the sea by an Italian boat. Another 27 people were rescued by a Spanish trawler from another boat mishap. Since no country wanted to receive them, those rescued had to stay on the boat, without food, clothing or a place to sleep. Without the slightest concern, a minister from Malta stated that the survivors, “were found in a Libyan fishing zone and were rescued by a Spanish ship. We don’t have any obligation to aid them under international law.”

Each year on days good for sailing, thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of men, sometimes accompanied by their families, take an enormous risk. They leave from the poor islands of the Caribbean, and from the poor countries of Africa, trying to reach a rich country. They try to cross the sea. They travel on dilapidated boats that are completely overcrowded, lacking experienced crews, without food and only a small amount of water.

The rich countries increase sea patrols with military cruisers, with radar. They write new laws and sign agreements between their police forces, but it all serves for nothing. Even when governments give their officers the right to toss illegal migrants overboard, which some have done, it doesn’t discourage illegal entry. For no barriers the rich countries can invent will be more horrible than the misery created by imperialism in the Caribbean, in Africa and in other poor areas of the globe. This misery pushes some to take a terrible risk, as they hope to reach the shores of the richer countries.