‘All of Africa Is Here’: Hopes of Climbing to Spain 「非洲人全在這兒」：翻牆進入西班牙
For most migrants from Africa, the last stage of their trip to Europe involves some sort of perilous sea crossing. At the border in Ceuta, there is just a fence.
Ceuta (pronounced say-YOU-tah) is one of the two Spanish communities on the north coast of what otherwise would be Morocco, the only places where Europe has land borders with Africa.The other enclave is Melilla, farther east along the same coast.
Here, all that separates Europe from migrants is a double fence, 20 feet high and topped with barbed wire, stretching the 4 miles across the peninsula and dividing tiny Ceuta from Morocco — plus 1,100 Spanish federal police and Guardia Civil officers, a paramilitary police force.
Through June, 294 migrants drowned in the western Mediterranean, compared with 224 in all of 2017 in that area.
That has made trying to breach Ceuta’s heavily guarded fence an increasingly attractive proposition, a way to enter Spain without crossing the water. On any given day, young migrant men can be seen prowling on the Moroccan side, looking for an opportunity.
As often happens, successful tries are made by what locals call “mobbing,” when hundreds of migrants surge over the fence in a large group. Salif’s group came on June 6, when 400 young men began climbing the fence at sunrise.
Two were seriously injured on the barbed wire, and hospitalized in Ceuta. Eight, including Salif, managed to get over, and were then allowed to stay in a reception center in Ceuta, awaiting transfer to the mainland.
There is urgent shouting. Lumps of hashish and bags of marijuana disappear into black vinyl sacks, which are then rolled up and thrown onto roofs, hidden under floorboards and stuffed into ingeniously camouflaged hidey-holes — inside hollow propane tanks or behind mirrors. The dealers themselves scatter, sneakers pounding.
By the time police officers reach the open-air hash market on Pusher Street, pistols at their hips, the scent of hash has been replaced by the scent of cinnamon rolls, and half the population is missing. Police march through, poking ineffectually at the drug-dealers’ empty stalls.
The officers, burly and heavily armed, survey the marketplace with their legs planted far apart, projecting dominance. But that is not the case. Within seconds of their departure, the bustling drug market reassembles itself and business resumes.
The area was an abandoned military base in 1971 when squatters broke down the barricades and occupied 84 acres of land, declaring “a self-governing society” of artists and freethinkers. Denmark has allowed the commune to exist for nearly half a century, in violation of property laws, planning laws and drug laws.
Christiania is now one of Copenhagen’s biggest tourist attractions, the subject of a vast number of academic studies and a kind of living monument to Danish tolerance.
“If it had happened in Germany or France, the military would have shut it down,” said Jiesper Tristan Pedersen, an anthropologist and occasional resident of Christiania. “Danish policy back then was more gentle. They were irritated, they didn’t know what to do, but they didn’t want to use violence. A lot of people look at it this way, as Danish gentleness and politeness.”
The mood in Denmark has swung to law and order, though, in recent years. Urban housing projects have become the scene of increasing drug offenses and gang activity. And as anxiety rises, so does support for the anti-immigrant far right.
Conservative-leaning politicians have promised to shut down the Pusher Street drug trade, noting a jarring act of violence that occurred two years ago, when a dealer shot and injured two policemen. This summer has been tense.