Monday, March 31, 2014

A Sight Not to Be Forgotten, a Vision to be Found

Photographs by Samuel Aranda of the NY Times

Last night, six women, old and new friends,  sat around a table, thinking, talking, about what we had learned from our past histories of activism, feminist, anti-racist, anti-colonial, gay liberatory and how at a loss we seemed now--where is the vision, we questioned the night and ourselves. We try, we march in the demos, write letters, we  teach and still the Right marches on. We need a vision, we say, us old time feminist and queer activists. We return to our homes, we have eaten well, we are sheltered well.

La Professoressa leaves for Brisbane, the younger city along the brown river,  to join a seminar on people's tribunals and I with Cello by my side, turn to my computer to read my New York Times, one of the touchstones I carry from my old home. My eye falls on the headline, "A Borderline Where Women Bear the Weight," an article unfolds, written by Suzanne Daley, Rachel Chaundler and Almundena Torai. with photographs by Samuel Aras, March 31, 2014. I watch video, I read the words, I hear the voices of the desperate "mule ladies" who live in the region of Melilla close to the border between Morocco and Spain. They earn a living by carrying huge bundles of merchandise over a hill into Spain.

"There is probably no more abrupt economic fault line in the world then the fences that surround Melilla and Ceuta, Spain's enclaves on the North African coast. Here just a few rows of chain link and barbed wire separate the wealth of Europe from the despair of Africa...'The difference in terms of income between Spain and Morocco is between 17 to 20 times,' said Jose Maria Lopez Bueno, the president of Promesa, which supports economic development in Melilla. 'It's the biggest difference in incomes across any border.'"

The images show young men, strong and hungry for income, pushing the old women out of the way, now that they too have lost other means to survive. Those of us who live in comfort, please find this story and read it, listen to women's voices and it is all there. A daughter ashamed of her breast cancer, weakened by treatment, talking about why she must risk her life in the milay at the border, for my daughters, so they will have a chance. The border where even the hearts of the guards are sickened by what they see, the liberal dream of the European Union, stopping at the border, the border of difference, of colonial history.              

 " Not until the 1990s was there any barrier of note between Morocco and Melilla. Before that, people and goods moved back and forth easily. But membership in the European Union changed all that. Spain was expected to strengthen its border controls, and it did....The Guardia Civil officers assigned to make sure there are no stampedes seem to find the savagery of the scene hard to watch. 'This is not worthy of the European Union,' one of them said with disgust."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               The bent back of poor mother, daughter, wife, sister, woman, trying to find an opening in the wall of economic supremacy. A vision, its smacks of old times, but it can expand to take on the complexities of this time, a vision of economic revolution, of feminist re-dedication to redistribution of wealth.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         And in the Netherlands, the "stable, rational"  Netherlands, the Nationalist leaders shouts to his screaming supporters, "No More Moroccans, No More Moroccans."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  


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