Exercises in translation: “Down with borders”

Excerpted from Xavier Mas de Xaxàs op-ed article entitled “Fora les fronteres” [Down with borders]:

There is no doubt that it is difficult to combat fear. […] [According to the eurobarometre opinion poll] Immigration is the most bothering problem for Europeans. It seems as if our lives were more threatened by the immigrant than by the rising precariousness of our workplaces, by traffic accidents, or by the stress that makes us eat junk food and drink too much.

We have turned into fuel for nationalism and populism. […] But immigration has come down to pre-2014 levels, i.e. around 10,000 intrepids per month, people who risk their lives to cross the Mediterranean and look for a second chance in the European Union, the most important supranational organization in history: 511 million inhabitants unable to achieve a replacement birthrate, i.e. more than two children per couple.

Borders are an obstacle to collective progress and they must be abolished. There are economic studies that support the idea of prosperity based on the free movement of people.

[The author “cites” studies from the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C. (2006), and the American Economic Association (2011).]

[There are a lot more studies on the benefits of free trade than on the benefits of the free movement of people…] This opacity encourages xenophobia. The parties that govern Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Poland… grew with the massive arrival of immigrants to Europe in 2015… and today, as the problem has become a lot smaller, they stir fear to retain their share of power. The worst is that their racist discourse marks the policies of more moderate parties in power. Look for example to the problems of Merkel under the pressure of the “Demochristians” from Bavaria, her life partners who now don’t want to see immigrants.

There is nothing in Christianity that justifies the marginalization of the immigrant. There is no moral argument that allows me to sleep quietly, being an atheist or a believer, knowing that there are people that suffer and die because my country has fallen into an authoritarian and xenophobic drift.

Why does a person have to give up and accept misery if he or she is born in a miserable country? Wealth is not distributed in a uniform manner on this planet. Some areas are more adequate for economic prosperity than others. Energy ressources are where they are, and the consequences of colonialism weigh on the countries that see their forests and minerals depleted. The richest countries exacerbate these differences by raising barbed wire over arbitrary lines, encouraging nationalism, economic protectionism and religious fanatism, the purity of some ethnicities condemned to extinction.

The states use violence and human rights violations to stop immigration: [examples]… We are frightened; we want to maintain our welfare without knowing that the world is a different one, that the pressure of the desperate can only grow. We don’t believe anything of the immigrant appealing to peace, to contribute with his or her experience and capacity to make our societies better.

The World Bank has calculated that the migrants’ remittances… in 2016 were three times higher than all development aid. […] This money arrives steadily and is invested in housing, education, healthcare, and small businesses.

The freedom of movement is a human right that nonetheless is limited to the borders of a nation state. That doesn’t make sense. Human rights transcend whatever border. What arguments do we, who apparently have been born in the right place at the right moment, have to prevent somebody else from looking for a better life where he or she wants?

There was a time when we were afraid of bringing down the walls, of abolishing slavery, of giving women the vote. Today we know that these were unfounded fears, and overcoming them implied more peace and prosperity for everyone. The same will happen when we eliminate borders and reduce the nation state to a folkloric dance.

There is post on Xavier Mas de Xaxàs from May 2017.

SOURCE: La Vanguardia, June 30, 2018, p. 6 [printed edition]


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