Apr 27, 2015
The following article is a translation from Lutte Ouvrière, the publication of the revolutionary group active in France.
How many children, women and men drowned on April 19 when the boat they were traveling on capsized off the coast of Libya? Were there 700, 800 or 900 people on board, as some survivors said? We may never know. But this ship wreck follows others that were just as horrible.
When will this mass slaughter end? How many Syrians, Ethiopians, Sudanese or Somalians will have to die at the gates of Europe before the European Union decides to lift a finger?
The European Union knew ahead of time how dangerous the situation had become, given the multiplication of smugglers and influx of migrants on the Libyan coast. So, what did the European Union do? It refused to help finance the Italian government’s rescue operations, which had already saved 150,000 lives.
By both reducing the number of the patrols and scaling back where they operated, the EU leaders chose to allow people to drown when they tried to cross the Mediterranean Sea. There was no help for those in danger. Adding to the insult were the 18 naval vessels and two helicopters that were sent only after the boat filled with refugees had already sunk.
After drying their crocodile tears, these same leaders agreed to harden their criminal policy against migrants. They want Europe to “cooperate” – not to save the migrants – but to keep them away! Their most pressing problem is to find someone in Libya like Khadafi, who had kept the country’s borders well-guarded.
Plenty of people would prefer to use secure and legal ways to gain refuge. Instead, they are hounded like pariahs and forced to depend on unscrupulous smugglers. French president Hollande and the other European leaders can denounce the smugglers. But they are the ones who expose the migrants to bigger and bigger risks.
Close to four million Syrians have fled their country, which has been torn apart by war since 2011. But last year, France welcomed only 3,000. The vast majority of refugees forced out of their countries are in Turkey or Lebanon, that is, neighboring countries.
Only a tiny fraction of them try to make it to the developed European countries. But that is enough for demagogues like the National Front to talk about a “migrant bomb,” a revolting fantasy, especially when children, women and men die under real bombs. The European leaders try to outdo each other in keeping away those who are poorest. But the system that they serve multiplies the misery, wars and persecution.
They always speak of “democracy,” “peace” and “development.” But what have they brought to Africa, but continuing pillage of its riches? As for France, it has intervened militarily dozens of times in Africa and the Middle East, leaving in their wake a succession of dictatorships and devastation.
The last wars carried out by the imperialist powers in Iraq, Syria or Libya resulted in the dismemberment of the states and governments by armed militias. To condemn people who are stripped of everything and keep them trapped in a situation of exploitation is part of the war carried out by the bourgeoisie against the poor. The fight that the rich states carry out against migrants is one vile aspect of this war. The exploited from here should not protect themselves from the very poor, but the very rich, that is, the capitalists. Their power over society creates such inequalities and injustices. For the last century, the means of production have been more than sufficient to satisfy the needs of all of humanity, without people having to fight each other to gain access to vital necessities.
Europe itself has concentrated a huge amount of wealth. But that wealth accumulates in the pockets of a tiny minority. It is wasted on the whims of the rich or in speculation, while cruelly denying the majority a way to satisfy their needs.
With the parasitic bourgeoisie in power, this system will never grant everyone the right to a life with dignity. To put an end to this barbarism, workers will have to snatch the means of production from the hands of the capitalist minority and take control of it themselves.