The vast majority of these cases are based on true events… The short story ‘Adopted Country’ was first published in magazine format in 2006: here is a very brief excerpt:
“...treat cynically with the impoverished to further their dark ends.”
On a clear day like today, I felt I could almost reach out and touch Africa. I stood alongside my brother, Juan, on the seashore of Tarifa, Spain’s southernmost tip. Juan was the Guardia Civil officer supervising the capture of yet another boatload of illegal immigrants.
Earlier, squinting out to sea as the Guardia Civil launch intercepted the over-laden longboat, Juan had said, “It isn’t surprising, Leon, is it? North Africa is only fourteen kilometres away from where we stand. They want an easier and better life here in Europe so they’ll risk everything in the attempt.”
“No, Juan, it isn’t surprising.”
Now, I watched with a heavy heart as medical teams and officials, flanked by Juan’s men, swooped on the women, men and children who clambered wearily from the beached vessel. The area was ring-fenced with police carrying machine guns.
It was a motley collection of humanity: pregnant women with hypothermia, children whose ribcages were visible through the taut skin, and once-strong lithe men with exhausted faces and wary eyes. A short distance, but often a treacherous journey. Even though they were staring down the barrels of guns, these were the lucky ones. Countless people died making the crossing every year. Desperation does that.
Since my country’s agreement with Morocco and the erection of barbed wire along the common border, it is now virtually impossible to enter Spain through the Ceuta route. So thousands go further along the North African coast and pay their entire savings to board any old boat that will sail for Tarifa or some other beach along the southern coast of Spain. Thousands even attempt the seven hundred mile crossing to the Canary Islands, and many more perish in the attempt.
Sadly, over forty years of independence hasn’t made the African nations a better and safer place to live. All kinds of bloodletting conflict has left the land poorer and thrust millions on the asylum-seeking trail.
From time to time Guardia Civil reports echo the Cazador tales, and this is but one of them, from the Costa Blanca News of September 30, 2013:
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