Surprised neighbours and residents, at around 11:40 on Friday morning, watched around 30-40 North African migrants march through at least two streets, overlooking Amadores Beach in Mogán, in an impromptu public protest on the south-west coast of Gran Canaria. The demonstration was in the area closest to the small hotels in which several have been temporarily accommodated over the last 3 months, in the otherwise empty tourist town of Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria. By all accounts, eye witnesses say that, the migrants march headed down towards the road that leads to the beach, chanting in Moroccan Arabic “It’s a Shame what is happening to us” before joining others who were waiting outside of one of the hotel complexes.
A local bar owner, a vocal and outspoken English-language organiser for the “Save Mogan” anti-immigrants in Puerto Rico platform, who also lives overlooking one hotel in which the migrants have been accommodated, claimed in a facebook post “So people can relax about what just happened” that he had spoken to one of the men who was marching, who told him, in English, that the group were protesting against being transferred to the island of Tenerife, in the bar owner’s words “Because it’s in a rural area. They will refuse to go and want to stay here.” The protest was, he said, “swiftly dealt with by the guardia civil cars” and a helicopter was said to have also been deployed.
Sources who witnessed the migrants march have also reported that the protest was quickly finished and disbanded, with a small police presence arriving after the chanting stopped. The participants returned to the entrance of their accommodation, where the other migrants were gathered, and a coach was waiting to take them away, it is believed (but not confirmed) they are now headed to Tenerife, to the Las Raíces CIE foreigner interment centre.
The ministry of defence facility, an inclement 1000m above sea level, in which a hastily erected camp and barracks has been provided as an alternative, is where these migrants will now continue their Canary Islands stay, under canvas, in tents set up for the purpose, or in bare damp concrete rooms, while they await processing and eventually, almost certain, deportation back to the countries of origin with whom Spain has existing return agreements. More than 90% of all the 7,000 or so migrants still on the Canary Islands will be returned to their starting points, in most cases having risked their lives for nothing, at a cost of thousands of euros each. Many are likely to try again.
“What have we done?”
The improvised migrant rally was led with the cry “What have we done?” and despite social distancing not being properly observed, almost all of those taking part appear to have ensured they wore masks. This, however, did not stop some clearly erroneous reporting to the contrary having appeared on some other questionable local websites, along with other claims for which there is scant evidence, or indeed none at all.
The group remained well organised, if defiant, walking together and chanting in unison, for less than 15 minutes or so, seemingly to demonstrate their anguish at not having been able to continue to mainland Europe and being subjected to frequent verbal abuse, hostility and 3 local protests against their very existence in the town. Sources close to the accommodation facilities have told us that the small impromptu migrants march seems to have been a parting effort to express their unease with the whole situation, by using the very same methods used to protest against their presence.
Agents from the Guardia Civil, supported by Policia Local, were quick to arrive and the group involved dispersed, with the core of suspected participants having tried to evade questioning by climbing a fence into their apartment complex, watched by several others also being accommodated there. An investigation is seeking clarification of the facts, however as these are thought to be teenage boys, then further action is likely to be limited to stronger controls on the whole complex, unless the main protagonists are identified.
As the security forces were arriving three or four other migrant residents were already working with brooms to try to clear up the small amount of debris and stones that were left on the street.
Everyone has the right to protest. It is a fundamental part of our society, it is how your concerns get heard when no one else seems to be listening.
Remember you are always within your rights to film in a public place, even police officers, although they might try to tell you differently, however private property is a different matter. You risk breaking the law if you publish images of identifiable police officers or minors on social media. Images not published can still be used in a court of law if necessary. Always take legal advice before depending on a defence. Stay safe, and don’t invite trouble, but know your rights.
You can always report any crime directly to the National Police by using their Online Denuncias Service, which will create a record of your complaint and should give you a reference number to follow up with. For more serious or urgent crimes, especially those in progress then you can call directly on 091 or for emergencies that may require more than one service call the main urgent emergency number 112, where they can always put you through to someone who speaks your language.
Never take the law into your own hands. Always make sure that what you do is on the record. Help the police and security services to stay well informed and do their jobs and keep us safe.