Saturday, January 16, 2010

The hypocrites are victorious in Vic

The small Catalonian town of Vic passed an ordinance on Wednesday that prohibits illegal immigrants from registering on the municipality’s rolls — a compulsory norm for all who live in Spanish territory.

The conservative Catalan Nationalists (CiU), with support of the Catalan Socialists (PSC) and Catalan Republicans (ERC) decided that in this town, where 24%of inhabitants are foreigners of almost ninety different nationalities, anyone who has not already begun the process of getting work or residence permits, will not be allowed on the town’s residential register.

In other words, the so-called “sin papeles” of Vic will not be guaranteed the right to basic public services such as education and health care.

What this really means is that the town council of Vic is saying to these immigrants “You are lucky to work here and get paid an often sub-standard wage, but if you get sick or have children you do not exist. We want your labour but we don’t like you getting anything more than just enough to live on, in return. You can fix our streets or put up our buildings but don’t go thinking you are equal with the rest of us.”

It is likely to be of no comfort to illegal migrants here that Spain’s central government does not approve of the new ordinance in Vic, with Labour and Immigration Minister Celestino Corbacho saying he will adopt a “wait and see” approach. In the meantime, it will simply mean that many “sin papeles” will have little option but to try and move elsewhere, possibly to neighbouring areas.


Czarny Kot said...

The ordinance itself is not as surprising as the fact that the 3 parties you mention, CiU, PSC and ERC all agree to it.

What's the background? Was it sparked by an incident of some kind or has the decision just come out of the blue?

Brett Hetherington said...

The background is an unemployment rate of 20% which tends to bring out the worst in some of society. Spain has until recently avoided supporting extremist anti-migrant parties, (if we don't include the national opposition PP, who have been strong on the rhetoric but mainly progressive when governing) but that seems to be changing. As an editorial in 'El Pais' stated: "Everything indicates that the local government — with a CiU (center-right Catalan nationalist) mayor, supported by the Catalan Socialists and the leftist Catalan nationalist ERC — is more interested in winning over the racist vote than in influencing migratory flows. Not for nothing, this town is the stronghold of the extreme rightist Josep Anglada, a councillor in Vic and leader of the openly xenophobic party Plataforma per Catalunya, which in the latest municipal elections obtained 17 councillors throughout Catalonia. As happened to a part of the French right after the rise of the ultraright Jean-Marie Le Pen, the parties governing in Vic are trying to arrest the upsurge of the xenophobic party at the price of embracing its outlook. This aim, far from justifying their conduct, aggravates it. And, though critical of this measure, the regional leadership of these parties have not forced its withdrawal, perhaps with an eye to a portion of their electorate..."