Key December in the Canary Islands: the number of arrivals will put Marlaska to the test



The migratory tinderbox in the Canary Islands exploded on November 17. That day, just two weeks ago, the mayor of Mogán, in Gran Canaria, broke the deck when she saw how 200 immigrants who were crammed into the Arguineguín pier were evicted with no destination or a place to sleep. The risk, given the lack of measures announced by the Government to alleviate the migratory chaos, was that these people would end up wandering aimlessly through the streets of their municipality. For this reason, he mounted them on several buses to plant them in front of the Government Delegation in Gran Canaria. After the storm, which the Executive tried to stop by deploying its ministers to the Canary Islands, Morocco and Geneva, calm arrived. Although it is relative. There are fewer boats and the one known as the “pier of shame” is empty. But the trickle continues and now immigrants are waiting in hotels and Temporary Attention Centers for Foreigners (CATE) to be deported or, in extraordinary cases, transferred to the Peninsula. This week, only between Monday and Friday, more than 800 “without papers” arrived in the archipelago for the 2,698 registered in the whole of last year. The rebound is not good news and heralds a month of December in which two factors will mark the future of the situation: the weather conditions and the effectiveness or not of the international negotiations undertaken by the Executive. As there are fewer boats, fewer notices also arrive at the Maritime Rescue control center in Las Palmas. There they suffered in November the month with the most arrivals (8,157), at least, in the last 14 years. There has not been a similar moment since the 2006 canoe crisis. Roberto Bastarreche is the head of said Coordination Center and explains, in conversation with ABC, that it is still too early to assess whether the tap on the boats has been closed. “Last week there was a fairly massive arrival and I think it is still too early to evaluate,” Bastarreche cautiously analyzes, who sets his sights on the coming weeks. «Morocco presses» «In the Canary Islands, at this time, there are moments of calm at sea. When the storms move, the calm of December arrives and it is in those windows of good weather that the Maghreb immigrants take the opportunity to come. This month these calms may occur and then we will see if migratory routes such as Dakhla remain open [al sur de Marruecos]», Predicts the head of Salvage in Las Palmas. One of the members of the rescue teams activated in the area, who prefers to remain anonymous, insists on the same idea, but highlights the ascendancy that the political nuance will have. “Many factors will influence whether or not shipwrecks continue to arrive to a greater or lesser extent. The meteorological conditions are very important, but the migratory flow will also vary depending on the decisions taken by Morocco or the political will in Spain, ”adds the rescuer. And these two positions, that of Morocco and the Spanish, came together on November 20 in Rabat, when Marlaska and his counterpart in the Alawite kingdom, Abdelouafi Laftit, saw each other. The Spanish minister, before the press, admitted that he had been “very satisfied” at the end of the meeting. It remains to be seen if the Moroccan minister did it as well, because shelving, at least for the moment, the migration problem in the Canary Islands happens there. «Morocco is pressing, behind the massive departures there is always a policy of pressure that comes from there. If it is not for one thing, it is for another, but whenever we see avalanches there is a negotiation behind it, ”he synthesizes, based on the experience that years helping castaways from the front line give, this cash of the Maritime Rescue teams. «There is one certain thing, if there is an arrival as massive as the one we have had these months, it is because there is an arrival channel. In the area in Dakhla there seems to be an open road. The reasons that lead to this? That is something that does not concern us », ditch Bastarreche. Without going any further, on Thursday almost 300 “without papers” arrived in the archipelago, spread over eight boats, and on Friday more than 250 did the same. “They are letting them pass, there is no doubt,” reveal other sources with knowledge of the situation consulted by this newspaper, which also warn about the difficulty of controlling this part of the Moroccan coast, where there are large beaches with few population centers. High figures “After the large avalanches, then the situation relaxes a bit, media attention drops because the figures decrease, but they are still higher than in previous years,” laments the member of the rescue teams, who admits that the pace Work these weeks is somewhat inferior, but in no case relaxed: “It seems that there is nothing left because there is not so much humanitarian drama, but we see that the door is reopened and that the drama continues.” Despite the initial truce, the boats have returned. The rate of arrivals has dropped somewhat, but the boats are still there, day after day and some, like Onalia Bueno, mayor of Mogán, do not see the future clear despite the hot cloths that the Government tried to put once the immigration problem was runaway. “Marlaska’s visit to Morocco has not had any effect, he cannot be satisfied because the immigrants continue to arrive”, criticizes the councilor, who remains attentive to the evolution of the migration curve: “We will see the figures, but I think this will be continuous, like a river. December will be a good thermometer to know if finally the road to southern Morocco, after the Government’s maneuvers two weeks ago, is no longer a drain. The other side of the coin is that it is also possible that other routes now controlled, such as the north, the Strait and Alboran, are reactivated accordingly. The only sure thing is that the boats are not going to disappear. The great avalanche of boats and canoes was already evident in summer The head of the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Las Palmas, Roberto Bastarreche, acknowledges, in a conversation with this newspaper, that the rebound in boats that led to a uniquely similar migratory crisis to that of the cayucos, in 2006, it could already be perceived in summer. «Already at the end of last year there was an increase, but throughout this year there has been a great increase. The most notable has occurred since August and in the months of September, October and November, when the numbers of arrivals have practically doubled ”, argues Bastarreche. He adds that the main contingent of shipwrecked is the one represented by the Maghreb – around 80 percent – “although there have also been arrivals of Mauritanian and Senegalese cayucos.” Bastarreche concludes: “We finish the job once the people have been landed on land.”


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