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<nettime> Evo Morales Aya: against the European 'return directive' targe
Patrice Riemens on Mon, 16 Jun 2008 10:06:10 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Evo Morales Aya: against the European 'return directive' targetting 'illegal' immigrants

42 days? Try 18 months

This European targeting of illegal immigrants is hypocritical,
draconian and undiplomatic

Until the end of the second world war Europe was a continent of
emigrants. Millions left for the Americas: some to colonise, others to
escape hunger, financial crises, persecution, ethnic cleansing, war or
totalitarian governments.

European citizens arrived in Latin and North America en masse, without
visas or conditions imposed on them by the authorities. They were
simply welcomed, and continue to be in Latin America. They came to
exploit the natural wealth and to transfer it to Europe, with a high
cost for the native population. Yet the people, property and rights of
the migrants were always respected.

Contrast the European "return directive", to be voted on in the
European parliament this week. It imposes harsh terms for detention
and deportation of undocumented immigrants, regardless of the time
they have spent in European countries, their work situation, their
family ties or their achievements in integrating themselves into local

The EU is now the main destination for migrants around the world,
because of its positive image of space, prosperity and public freedom.
The great majority of migrants contribute to, rather than exploit,
this prosperity.

They are employed in public works, construction, cleaning, hospitals
and domestic work. They take the jobs the Europeans cannot or will
not do. Maintaining the relationship between the employed and the
retired by providing generous income to the social security system,
the migrant offers a solution to demographic and financial problems in
the EU.

For us, our emigrants represent help in development that Europeans do
not give us (few countries reach the minimum objective of 0.7% of GDP
in development assistance). Latin America received, in 2006, a total
of $68bn sent back from abroad, more than the total foreign investment
in our countries. My country, Bolivia, received more than 10% of its
GDP in such remittances.

Unfortunately, the return directive is a huge infringement of the
human rights of our Latin American friends. It proposes jailing
undocumented immigrants for up to 18 months before their expulsion.
Mothers with children could be arrested, without regard to family and
school, and put in detention centres, where we know depression, hunger
strikes and suicides happen. How can we accept it?

At the same time, the EU is trying to convince the Andean Community of
Nations (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru) to sign an "association
agreement" that includes a free trade agreement of a similar nature
to that imposed by the US. We are under intense pressure to accept
demands for liberalisation of our trade, financial services,
intellectual property rights and public works. Under so-called
"judicial protection" we are being pressured to denationalise water,
gas and telecommunications. Where is the "judicial protection" for our
people seeking new horizons in Europe?

If the return directive becomes law, we will not be morally able to
deepen negotiations with the EU, and we reserve the right to legislate
so European citizens have the same obligations for visas that Europe
imposes on the Bolivians, according to the diplomatic principle of

The social cohesion problems that Europe is suffering now are not
the fault of migrants, but the result of the model of development
imposed by the north, which destroys the planet and dismembers human
societies. I appeal to European leaders to drop this directive and
instead form a migration policy that respects human rights, and allows
us to maintain the movement of people that helps both continents.

Evo Morales Ayma is the president of the Republic of Bolivia

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