As we have seen in other periods of economic crisis and great social polarization, the right is trying to fuel prejudices in order to divide the working class by nacionality, gender or race. During the last months, by the heat of national electoral campaigns, the right and the extreme right in the Spanish State have turned worse their offensive against immigrant workers. The same is happening in the rest of Europe, they use the hate and fear discurse to try to divide us between natives and foreigners, and meanwhile get more benefit of their explotation and throw down the labor conditions of all of us.
One of the arguments most often used by the reaction is that “foreigners steal our jobs”. In a cynical and very concious way they blame immigration for the high levels of unemployment and job insecurity. Thus, they throw dust in the eyes of the workers in an attempt to hide the true responsable: their own system. The great businessmen and capitalists take advantage of the high unemployment rate to deteriorate the labour conditions and salaries of all the workers to keep extracting their capital gain. The same businessmen and great landlords prefer to hire foreign workers taking advantage of their desperation and of the lack of rights, specially the undocumented immigrants, to offer them jobs with worse conditions and salaries.
Poor working conditions for rural workers
Agriculture is one of the sectors that more immigrants employ and in which these poor conditions are more evident. Immigrant workers take the jobs that locals workers refuse to take because working conditions are absolutely inhuman. In Murcia, for example, 14% of population is foreign, since agriculture in the region provides jobs almost all year long. Work days may last 13 or 15 hours and most of the workers are paid on a piece-rate basis.
In Huelva conditions are even worse. Temporality and low wages force more than 2.000 immigrants to live in shacks around the municipalities dedicated to the cultivation of strawberries. So far this year, there have been seven fires in these settlements, the last on May 23, when some 300 people had to be evicted as the 150 shacks where they lived were burned. They have lost the little they had to survive and the administrations have not offered any solution yet.
But reality is even more cruel for inmigrant women. Labour exploitation, long journeys and low wages are also accompanied by harassment, sexual abuse and violations by chiefs and business owners.
Infamous cases as that of the seasonal workers in Huelva are not an isolated episode but the norm in a sector where working women, most of them immigrant, are completely unprotected and do not stand up for fear of losing their jobs. Even when they dare to report, the justice looks the other way. The First Instance Court of La Palma del Condado (Huelva) dismissed the lawsuit of these seasonal workers without even calling them to testify. After the appeal, the Huelva Provincial Court has reopened the case and ordered the investigative jugde to take a statement from the victims but we already know how bourgeois and patriarchal justice acts against women who report abuses or sexual harassment, above all if they are immigrant. We cannot trust this justice system and we must carry on reporting this situations with great mobilisations.
Thousands of lives continue to drown in the sea
Many of them do not even reach Europe because the rescue policy towards immigrants is completely criminal. During 2018 over 1.000 people lost their lives trying to reach the Spanish coasts, and in 2019 the numbers does not seem to decrease.
Maritime Rescue has decided that they may not rescue immigrant boats until Moroccan coast guards take charge of them when they “consider it appropriate”. And it usually takes them more than five hours to arrive after the call for help. This is Pedro Sánchez Government´s magic formula: while he pronounces empty words about human rights, he is planning to return immigrants to the Moroccan Goverment, an opressor regime where these people´s lives do not worth a dime and they get beaten everyday.
With these guidelines salvage vessels such as Clara Campoamor, which is berthed at the port of Malaga, will be used as floating platforms to prevent rescued immigrants from reaching land and keep them crowded until they are returned instead of as rescue ships.
For decent living conditions for all
Not only the right wing fuels racism. This criminal policy of the PSOE Government and of the reformers in terms of immigration also sustains it. Rather than combating racist prejudices and offering a decent life to everybody; rather than explaining that neither the border controls, nor the walls or the concertina wires, nor the “hot returns”, nor the immigration laws, nor the hardening of asylum policies... will end austerity policies, social cuts or the attacks on democratic rights that we are suffering, Social Democracy echoes in essence the discourse of the right wing. So, they end up acting just like the PP does: treating immigrant as prisioners, massing them in Immigration Detention Centres or ships and criminalizing them.
These conditions, along with desperation and the fear to be returned are causing riots which are used by the reaction to try to widen their ranks, stating that immigrants are violent and that uncontrolled entry threatens "our way of life".
Thus it is outrageous that even representatives of the so-called city councils of change, such as Manuela Carmena in Madrid, have not taken any decisive action to safeguard the rights of the immigrants, beyond placing banners with the “Refugees welcome” claim. Even worse, Carmena mantained the policy of her predecessors of the PP in the mayor's office: to prosecute “blanket sellers”. An example of this was the support given to the continuous police raids against this group which resulted in the death of Mame Mbaye in May 2018.
Workers and young people who fight against unemployment, against labor exploitation, against cuts in education, health, and social services, and to preserve our democratic rights do know immigrants are not responsible for privatization of public services, nor for junk Jobs or bank rescues, much less for imperialist wars that cause the exodus of millions of people in the world.
We need to fight along with our class brothers to ensure democratic rights for everybody, as well as to end Immigration Law and any other law that criminalizes them. We need to build a socialist program to combat attacks, cuts and precariousness. A program that expropriates the big capitalists, puts all the wealth under the control of the workers -natives and foreigners- and ensures a decent life for all.