Category: Editor’s Thoughts

Latest Gran Canaria News, Views & Sunshine

The Canary Guide #WeekendTips 31 March – 2 April 2023

 

 A glorious first weekend of April ahead and the beginning of the christian Holy Week “Semana Santa”, diligently observed in Spain. There will be many religious acts and processions throughout the week around the island, especially in the capital.  Don’t forget it’s also April fools’ on Saturday even though it isn’t a tradition in Spain, there will be those who will take the whimsical opportunity for some hilarity. The Mercado Inglés is on at The British Club of Las Palmas and there is also an authentic Canarian rural fair to visit this weekend in the traditional mountain market town of San Mateo.

Gran Canaria Weather: Yellow Warnings – Up to 36ºC, in the shade, expected on the south, high temperatures with strong winds and calima expected to affect all The Canary Islands this week

The Spanish State Meterological Agency, AEMET, has issued yellow warnings for heat, calima haze and strong winds this week on the Canary Islands forecasting high temperatures of up to 34ºC expected on several islands. An alert has been issued due to a risk of forest fires on Gran Canaria as the mix of dry weather, strong winds and high temperatures has led to concerns over coming days.

#WeCrossMountains

Wild fires Alert on Gran Canaria this Wednesday, with temperatures set to exceed 34ºC in the shade

Springtime has only just begun and already the temperatures, in the shade, on Gran Canaria have been repeatedly hitting the low to mid-thirties, which brings with it also a rising risk of Forest Fires and Wildfires.  Here in the Canary Islands forest fire crews are well versed in tackling an occasional mountain blaze, with alert levels often following the basic informal rule of thumb, the so-called 30/30/30 rule, putting the authorities on alert whenever the temperature is set to rise above 30ºC in the shade, the humidity levels drop below 30% and sustained winds are forecast at faster than 30kmph.  Common sense and preparation help the general population to avoid injury in the event of a fire taking hold.

The Canary Guide #WeekendTips 24-26 March 2023

 
Plum tree blossoming in Tenteniguada March 2023
It’s the last weekend of March already and Spring is here; winter is behind us and the summer weather is already hotting up on Gran Canaria. The hillsides are in full bloom, particularly up in the mountain summits; it’s Carnival Weekend in Arguineguín and the last of the carnival festivities for this year are happening around the island. With summer just around the corner, clocks Spring forward this Saturday and Sunday night when 1am becomes 2am 🕐. On the north of the island, one of the biggest seasonal trade fairs is happening, gathering produce and people from 11 municipalities, ENORTE will be celebrated in the historic Rum capital of the island, Arucas, this weekend.

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Canary Islands Migration: Ukraine war exasperating food shortages, poverty and unrest in the West African Sahel

Special ReportTimon .:.
Without being overly sensationalist, it would be fair to say that, a perfect storm has been brewing for some time in Western Africa.  The Canary Islands is a region on the frontier, and needs to avoid allowing fear to drive decision making.
The war in Ukraine may seem very far away, however the disruption to global cereal supplies, those blocked in Black Sea ports, or worse still not harvested all, is adding a growing food crisis to the problems that already existed. There are reports this is now beginning to fuel riots and social unrest in the Sahel, putting at risk the difficult balance that has been maintained over the last two years or so. These problems are not new.
 Feature Image© UNOCHA: Michele CattaniA young woman carries water in a camp for displaced people in Tillaberi region, Niger.

Food shortages in this vast arid region, which includes Senegal, Gambia, Mauritania, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Nigeria, could easily become the final straw for several populations already suffering extreme hardship, and ever-increasing water poverty, as well as the active presence of jihadist groups looking to control resources and establish North African strongholds, which in turn attracts Russian mercenaries, like the Wagner Group (a secretive military organisation who prop up enfeebled governments often suffering from corruption themselves, in return for vast wealth and natural resources, and who, though they claim to be independent, in fact have very strong proven links to the Kremlin). Then there are the various types of organised crime that flourish in such environments. All of which gives rise to extreme circumstances, including forced displacements of native populations, and violent conflict.
Economic paralysis caused by the pandemic has been compounded by the withdrawals of international support troops, cuts to funding for NGOs on the ground, runaway inflation, unpredictable harvests ever more pronounced due to climate change, high population growth rates (between 2.8% and 3.8%) and growing hunger.  The UN have warned of the coming “Unprecedented Hunger Crisis”
Once again, as happened in 2019 and 2020, various organisations and institutions are now warning that a new wave of migration will be headed towards Europe.
The Canary Islands stand at Europe’s southernmost frontier. While Western Sahara is just over 100km east of here, occupied and controlled by Morocco whose US military and diplomatic ties grow ever-stronger; the Mauritanian coasts, to the south east, are just 778 kilometres away; and Senegal is further south still, some 1,311km from here, almost exactly the same distance to the north separates Las Palmas de Gran Canaria from Cádiz. Even if it is not yet evident to everyone, the archipelago really is in the middle of all this.
This week an action plan, drawn up in Brussels, assessing the ongoing consequences of the war in Ukraine, gravely points to the likelihood of “a catastrophic famine” in the countries of North Africa. An internal report commissioned by the European Council warns that the tension Ukraine adds to the situation with food security increases the risk of triggering “new waves of migration to the EU” with Spain and Italy on the front line.
The European Council estimate around 30% of global maize and wheat supplies come from Ukraine and Russia, with at least 20 million tons unable to leave Ukrainian ports and that 47 million more people will likely be affected by acute food insecurity in 2022

Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, who is also the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, this week wrote:
“For several decades, hunger was declining and the international community committed to end it globally by 2030 with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) adopted in 2015. However, since then, the number of undernourished people has stopped decreasing and the COVID-19 pandemic has already made things much worse. The World Food Program (WFP) estimates that this number has risen from 132 million people before the COVID-19 pandemic to 276 million in early 2022 and 323 million today.”

Europe estimates that 40 million tons of cereal are blocked in the Black Sea ports
EU Member States this month managed to unblock progress on the New Pact on Migration and Asylum,  just a few days ago, reaching an agreement on a voluntary solidarity mechanism for the distribution of refugees. It underlines that relocations should primarily benefit the countries within the Union that face landings after search and rescue operations both in the Eastern Atlantic – the Canarian route – and in the Mediterranean.  There are those who believe this pact does not go anywhere near far enough, with “voluntary solidarity” having already so often failed to function as intended, leaving the countries and regions of first contact to try to cope with increasing arrivals.
Food security: EU to step up its support to African, Caribbean and Pacific countries in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
A total of 8,582 people have arrived already this year to the Archipelago, between January and June 15, which is 2,884 more people than during the same period last year, in fact 50.4% more; while the 3,478 maritime arrivals to the Balearics and Mainland are significantly lower (-26.7% year on year), the canary islands figures actually produce an overall increase of more than 14% for maritime arrivals, and nearly 20% overall, when you include arrivals by land. Even with the so-called “Good neighbours” treaty having been signed in April, between the Spanish and Moroccan governments, which entailed much greater controls over migrants leaving for Spain, the continued increase in numbers arriving to these islands has been a shock to those trying to deal with the consequences of these migratory flows.  Perhaps less so for those trying to shift attention on to the origins and causes.

Western Sahara, a government in exile, and the longest offshore gas pipeline in the world:
Despite Spain’s best efforts, recently, to work with Morocco on prevention, resulting in reports of much higher numbers of migrants now being stopped from leaving Moroccan shores on open boats, it seems the numbers attempting the crossing to this archipelago are still climbing.  This comes even as Spain has appeared to perform an about turn, on their entrenched position of recent decades regarding Western Sahara, by offering tacit support to Morocco’s settlement proposals, which, at first glance, seem to disregard decades of concerted resistance from the native population, many tens of thousands of whom have lived in refugee camps for nearly 50 years now (represented by the Polisario government in exile, and cautiously supported by Algeria), as well as apparently discarding decades of opposition from the UN and other EU member states.  It’s clear that much more will need to be done to try to stem the migratory flows, which have their origins in countries across the Sahel.
Gas pipelines planned to connect Nigeria with Morocco & Europe
There are, too, many more reasons for concern in the region, with increased US military support for Morocco, and Algeria’s longstanding opposition to the nearly half a century of illegal occupation in Western Sahara, not to mention the now well-established plans for two major gas pipelines stretching from Nigeria to the mediterranean, both connected to Morocco, one straddling Algeria, and the other, Atlantic pipeline, set to connect 13 West African countries to the Nigerian gas fields, including Benin, Togo, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Senegal and Mauritania, and through those territories to the mediterranean coast and then, it is planned, Europe.
According to a press release issued by the Australian company Worley, the company chosen to carry out the preliminary studies for the project and design the pipeline:

“When completed, the more than 7,000-kilometre-long pipeline, promoted by Morocco’s National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines (ONHYM) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), will connect Nigeria to Morocco, cross 13 West African countries and extend to Europe. It will be the longest offshore pipeline in the world and the second longest overall”. 

Here on the Islands, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs have not yet dismantled the camps they so hastily, and belatedly, set up in 2020 as a result of the migratory rebound (which had been warned of for at least a year prior). 23,023 individuals arrived on these shores, during the initial period of pandemic responses, compounding problems was a complete ban on international travel, with tourists unable to fly and migrants unable to leave.  It was the largest surge of arrivals since what is known as “the crisis of the cayucos” back in 2006, when the Canary Islands received 31,678 migrants arriving on open boats and cayucos (small, open canoe-like boats). The Ministry has instead, quietly, launched improvement works to the Temporary Foreigners Care Centre (CATE) on Lanzarote, and to the main shelter for minors and mothers in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. And despite La Laguna Town Council’s announcements, on Tenerife, nor has the heralded closure of the old Las Raíces military barracks camp come to fruition.
With spaces available for up to 7,000 people across the island, and the estimated numbers of migrants living in those camps having fallen to less than 1,000 by the beginning of this year, it seems clear that the Government of Spain is now doing what it can to prepare for a further surge.
According to the FAO – the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation – the number of people in need of food assistance in West African countries rose from 7 million to 27 million, over the last decade and a half, and estimates that if aid is not articulated internationally and supplied urgently, that number could grow by another 10 million or more by the end of this summer. The picture is getting ever more complicated.
The priority set by the European Commission, in its logistics support plan, rests on the search for export routes so that the cereals currently blocked in the Black Sea might instead leave by train or by road, and so can be exported. Both Ukraine and Russia – against whom multiple sanctions condition their international trade – are among the main grain exporting countries in the world. Ukraine distributes around 10% of the world’s wheat, 13% of barley, 15% of millet and more than half of all sunflower oil, according to data provided by the Spanish Institute for Strategic Studies to Casa África. Millions of tons of food – Brussels calculates 40 million – are being stored, waiting for a fluid exit to be agreed, taking into account that up to five million tons per month would usually have left by sea. African countries imported 44% of their wheat from Russia and Ukraine between 2018 and 2020, according to UN figures, quoted by Spanish language daily La Provincia.
The de facto blockade of food supplies brings with it worrying increases in food prices particularly in the more fragile regions, such as the Sahel. The African Development Bank has reported a 45% increase in wheat prices on the continent on top of a 20-30% increase in the overall price of food in the last five years throughout West Africa.
Add to this, on top of soaring fuel prices, the shortage of goods transport containers, that became apparent around the globe with the start of the covid-19 pandemic. This will hamper any efforts to establish alternative supply sources, which even if they are identified would take many months or, more likely, years to be established. Meanwhile people will still have to eat.
To make matters worse, even before the invasion of Ukraine, on February 24, the World Food Program had been warning that this would be a difficult year: China, the world’s largest wheat producer, is facing one of the worst harvests in its history after floods that last year devastated the central province of Henan; and India, ranking second in the world, has just paralysed exports due to the severe drought that the country is suffering from with crop yields much reduced. This has not been caused by the situation in Ukraine, the WFP have been warning for some time of a starvation catastrophe, but war has now accelerated the worst predictions for the foreseeable future.
Worse still, there is also a problem with our trying to increase local production. Russia and its ally Belarus are two of the world’s largest exporters of fertiliser, which is crucial for intensive farming and production, let alone any increases to local production, and both countries are now limiting sales. At the same time, the rise in energy prices, further exasperated by the war, has led to the closure of large factories in Europe which might otherwise have sought to fill the gap in the global fertiliser supply.

Editor’s Thoughts:
This is a perfect storm, with no clear solutions.  We are going to have to weather it, and help as many as we can.  What is clear is that simply disagreeing with migration is not going to make it go away. 
Paying Morocco to stop hungry people getting into boats, is not going to stop them being hungry, and it is certainly not going to dissuade them risking what little they still have, including their lives, in the search for security. 
In the absence of any clear plan to effectively tackle the root causes of migration, and certainly not any time soon, we are going to need to figure out how we, as a community, will deal with millions of people on the move from West Africa, and tens of thousands, possibly more, arriving on these shores. 
Either we will value our humanity, and try to find positive and constructive ways to react, working with a situation far beyond our control; or we will allow misinformation, ignorance and anger to drive whatever happens next.  Misplaced anger rarely solves hunger but it can certainly put communities at real risk of tearing themselves apart, never mind its destructive potential, increasing harm to all involved and further putting lives and livelihoods at risk.  We need to think calmly and work to build communities that are resilient to change.  You can’t fight the ocean, but you can learn how to fish.
Timon .:.
Canary Islands President Victor Torres demands “shared solidarity” from Europe
The Regional President called for “shared Solidarity” from the rest of Spain’s autonomous communities, and delivered the same message on Friday to the European Committee of the Regions’ Committee on Citizenship, Governance and Institutional and Foreign Affairs (Civex) in a meeting to address the impact of migration and the need to improve the support from European institutions for local and regional authorities.
President Torres, speaking by videoconference, valued the recent advances to unblock reform of the European Pact for Migration and Asylum and presented to the meeting the current migratory situation in the Canary Islands, a territory at the southern border of the EU, located less than 100 kilometres from the neighbouring African continent and “which has become the tragic protagonist of the Atlantic migration route, one of the most dangerous in the world.” The president put unaccompanied migrant minors at the very centre of immigration management. He explained, according to a statement, that the regional government has protected and cared for more than 2,400 unaccompanied minors in this situation, which has led to 50 centres being mobilised, until this year, costing the islands more than €70 million of their own resources.

There will be many right now who will firmly agree that simply waiting for other regions of Spain, or EU member states, to voluntarily share the burden of migrant arrivals is not a strategy for success.  It hasn’t worked up until now, and so will require a more structured policy to ensure that peripheral regions like ours do not continue to be left to handle migrant arrivals on our own.  Solidarity is all very well, but it means nothing unless it is supported with help doing the heavy lifting.

Final thoughts…
Getting angry (or upset) is not going to solve the coming food crisis. However you feel about it, there is going to be a huge surge of people trying to save themselves and their families from starvation, water poverty, and conflict, unless proactive steps are taken right now, and delivered at scale.
Call it what you like, but there are those with very little to lose in risking everything for a better life, and there are those who just don’t know how privileged they are.  

 

In all likelihood, unlike survival and self preservation, kindness is not going to be top of the agenda for most people, but make no mistake, kindness is exactly what we are all most going to need, so we better start practicing.
 
We all need to reset our worldview, and learn how to deal with a global situation that is far beyond our control, or anyone else’s for that matter, and could get far worse before it gets any better at all.

Timon .:.
Editor, The Canary News

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The newly green-lighted Cañadas de Gatos tunnel could reopen Playa de Mogán road within the next two years

The project to reopen the old national road between the resort of Taurito and the tourist-cum-fishing port town of Playa de Mogán has finally emerged almost five years after a landslide that forced the Mogán coastal road to be closed to traffic on the southwest of the island, although it could still take another two years or more before vehicles and cyclists will be able to travel the less than two kilometres between the tiny tourist enclave and the ancient coastal settlement without having to detour via Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria along the GC-1 motorway.

 
Imagined route of the new Cañadas de Gatos tunnel to Playa de Mogán
The Island Commission for Cultural Heritage, part of the Cabildo de Gran Canaria, last Thursday May 5, reported favourably on the plan to construct a tunnel through the Cañada de Los Gatos, an area of significant archaeological importance, finally allowing the project to move forward, with the support of Mogán Town Hall and the tourist industry, to return the link between Taurito and Playa de Mogán along the original southern highway, the GC-500, avoiding the cliffs which even before the collapse in 2017 had been a point of serious concern due to their instability and the constant danger of landslides.
Mogán’s still incumbent mayoress, O Bueno, has grandly announced that she now plans to address the President of the Canary Islands Government, Ángel Víctor Torres, in her words, to ensure he “fulfils his commitment” to build the tunnel using Regional Autonomous Community funds, presumably rather than municipal or State funds, on the basis that this work has not been included in the road construction or maintenance agreements with the State. The construction cost of this 260+ meter tunnel has been calculated at about €12 million.
That stretch of road  has been closed to vehicles since July 2017, when the first of two rockfalls occurred, along a section of about 650 meters. Although an attempt was made to reopen it to traffic with some emergency works, a new landslide in September of that same year meant the indefinite closure of the GC-500, for motor traffic, cyclists and pedestrians, where walls and barriers were erected across the carriageway to prevent access.
The Island government reported yesterday that the Historical Heritage Commission last Thursday, chaired by the insular advisor to the Presidency, Teodoro Sosa, “gave the go-ahead with conditions for this project, which will be carried out at kilometre point 44.7 on the GC-500, the route of which affects the Archaeological Zone of Cañada de Los Gatos, which has been declared a Site of Cultural Interest (BIC), due to its scientific importance within the chrono-cultural framework of historical indigenous populations of the Island and its state of conservation.
The project plan from the Government of the Canary Islands will therefore include “measures that guarantee the conservation and protection of the BIC ensuring that none of the archaeological remains that make up [the site] will have their integrity compromised, neither during the course of the work nor during subsequent use of the new road infrastructure.”
To minimise “the significant visual impact” that the exit of the tunnel will likely cause above the archaeological zone, environmental recovery actions must also be carried out. Specifically, on the 650 meters of road that border the Cañada de Los Gatos, which will not be open for public use, the asphalt will be removed and, as much as possible, the original topography of the enclave will be recovered, guard rails, barriers and signage will be removed, and native vegetation encouraged to return.
The rest of the road not closed will be modified so that the the existing guard rails will blend in better with the surroundings or will be replaced by others more integrated into the landscape, and the same stone from the surroundings will be used in the construction of the tunnel’s mouth. Lastly, those responsible for the project must also remove the large build up of rubble that was dumped there when the GC-500 national road was built, which was deposited inside the BIC zone. All these actions will be overseen with archaeological controls and include archaeological excavations, consolidation and restoration works will also be carried out on some of the structures present within the BIC demarcated area.
READ ALSO
MOGAN RESIDENTS COLLECT SIGNATURES DEMANDING A SOLUTION TO THE CLOSURE OF THE GC500

Mogán tunnel project to re-establish links with Taurito and Playa de Mogán

A wall is suddenly built to prevent usage along road closed 18 months ago.

Mogán and the Government of the Canary Islands discuss Pueblo de Mogán bypass and the planned Taurito tunnel

Editor’s Comment:
Mogán is broke
Keen observers over Mogán’s municipal finances might well have noticed that funding such a project would be simply impossible from town hall coffers anyway, regardless of whether or not the Regional Government had already agreed to foot the bill.
The local town hall administration, led by O Bueno’s CIUCA party’s much questioned absolute majority, has found itself on the verge of bankruptcy, according to reports and critics, due to serious “financial mismanagement” as well as a series of ill advised administrative and legal decisions that have left this town hall’s once brimming coffers somewhat lacking.
Having started the year 2021 with more than €20 million available to it, it is thought this town council had depleted that to around just €300,000 by October of last year, say their opposition, and have had to request millions of euros worth of loans just to stay operational with its current liabilities, something that voters will surely remember at the ballot boxes next year.  A number of longstanding urban projects also remain unfinished, despite outside assistance, and so it will likely be the next administration that will have to pick up the bill for their final completion, late and overbudget.
The financing of the current administration’s various actions, it is thought, will take many years more of tax payers’ money to address. Though Bueno defends the dire financial situation by claiming it was down extra spending due to the pandemic, the fact is no other town council in the Canary Islands has claimed such a change of fortunes in the time of Covid.  A series of legal misadventures, including ill advised appeals against already existing court judgements, various fines and compensations ordered against the town hall, have apparently cleared out the municipal accounts, which now, according to many observers, hang by a tenuous thread.
Of course, O Bueno will be speaking to the regional president, cap in hand, what else could they do?! The only way this long overdue tunnel gets built, and the road reopened, is with the support of the Regional Government, unless other state funds were to become available.  Mogán is, it seems, broke, although it is not thought that, in itself, is what has held things up for this long. The fact is, this tunnel was put forward by the Cabildo de Gran Canaria, and it will be funded by the Canary Islands people. Any suggestion whatsoever that Bueno has any real influence over that is fanciful at best, but more likely simple political point scoring, in an attempt to take credit for what other larger institutions have already taken responsibility. As the 2023 local election season gears up, we can expect plenty more of this posturing, claiming kudos or credit for the ongoing work of more serious actors and institutions.
The good news is that there is finally some light at the end of the tunnel.

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Disturbing paradise: A small group of foreign residents feel themselves “besieged” by youths living in a Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria hotel

Another normal day in Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria, but disturbances, on one street at least, have become more frequent in recent times. Some will claim there are “daily riots”, this is inaccurate.  There are incidents, however.  Mostly noise related, occasionally more serious.  And although almost every problem is pretty well contained within the one building involved, local residents are losing sleep. Some feel threatened when leaving their homes, for fear of the strangers across the road.
Never before have these neighbours had to deal with so many repeated police deployments, sent to calm altercations between raucous young teens, but then there are not really many teens who live in Puerto Rico, the resident population are usually more advanced in years. And then there is the noise, more than there ever used to be, easily heard through paper-thin walls, and open windows, of the tiny studio apartments, originally only meant as temporary accommodation, designed for a week or two in the sun, but now transformed into tiny dream homes, of 20 or 30 square meters, from which a sunset glass of wine on the balcony has ceased to have the same appeal it once did.
– Edward Timon .:.

The noisiest quiet little street in Puerto Rico
On Tuesday night up to nine police vehicles, including Policia Local and Guardia Civil, responded to a loud series of noisy altercations in the 3-star Puerto Bello Apartments, where unaccompanied Maghrebi Migrant Minors have been accommodated for the last six or seven months.
Local residents gathered on the street to watch as police entered the building to investigate the cause of the disturbance, after youths were reported throwing objects, plastic bottles and rubbish from the balconies of their rooms.
As is often the case with situations like this, there is unlikely to be an official explanation of what happened, as this is an ad hoc “reception centre” for under eighteen year olds, where it is generally accepted that some accommodated there my have issues with authority.
Locals at the scene talk of some sort of loud event, disturbing enough to bring neighbours out in to the street, and for some to take photographs and video of the police arriving and standing outside.  The disturbance itself lasted about 10 minutes, and at least 20 agents from the two separate police forces attended, perhaps a sign of the amount of calls they received, though the event appears to have been quickly controlled, their investigation continued quietly for an hour or more, watched by the weary neighbours of Tasartico road.
You can read more about the response to this incident over at El Sur Digital our local Spanish Language Partners on the south of Gran Canaria

#WeCrossMountains

Community is very important in a place like Gran Canaria, particularly for foreigners who choose to live here. Failing to understand how the local systems work, or who has responsibility for different areas, or indeed just not wanting to join in with the local politics of the various neighbourhoods, towns and municipalities, means many become disconnected from the practical day to day realities of island life, as well as administrative life in Spain.  Often lacking accurate information leaves some foreign residents open to constant rumours and misrepresentations of what is actually happening around them, and why.  Nonetheless, people manage to muddle on through, without much concern, until, that is, they are faced with an unavoidable, or unprecedented, large scale situation, for which there can be no easy answers.  Without a “usual” communication channel to the authorities, they naturally feel isolated and forgotten, particularly if they don’t understand any Spanish.
For many weeks, and months, there has been worry, concern and repeated outrage expressed by a small group of residents in the, currently empty, tourist resort town of Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria. Their complaints are centred not so much around the “sudden” surge in African migrant arrivals to the island over the last year, as they are, primarily, against the Spanish Central Government, and Canarian Government’s, failure to properly prepare or respond.  Many express themselves as being at their “wits end”, and, sometimes in hateful terms, describe scenes of mayhem “destroying” their lives. As evidence they will offer an occasional image of rubbish on their streets, which used to always remain clean; if a police car, or more than one, shows up, then it is immediately videoed and posted to social media, there have been at least three or four instances of windscreens broken, always photographed, and they talk of continual loud noises at night disturbing their sleep and leading them to feel “besieged” while having to observe curfew, though others are seen breaking the rules on movement at night.
Some say that their world has been shattered. Residents of this particular street, Calle Tasartico, say they have had to unfairly bear the brunt of hastily made decisions, wholly inadequate and rushed remedies, to problems far outside of their own scope of experience, while they try, despite the global pandemic, and the total disappearance of tourism, to continue their lives as they were before.
These residents are used more to living along tranquil, palm lined terraced avenues, nestled onto the quiet hillsides of this sunny little town, built for tourists, which overlook Spain’s very first artificial beach. They see no reason why the outside world should be permitted to change any of that, pandemic or not, migration crisis or not.  They feel that they are entitled to be shielded from having to deal with any of these difficult situations, and that they are in fact the primary victims of ill-thought through policies, the faceless politicians who’ve failed them and an apparent lack of interest in their complaints to the authorities.  They don’t want any of this, anywhere near them; and who would?
Their angers and frustrations have attracted vocal support, mainly through social media, from various quarters, the largest proportion of which comes from people who do not actually live on the island, but who may visit once or twice a year, and who have little interest in understanding any of the reasons behind the situations that have unfolded. And why should they?  For them, this is the place where magical holidays happen, where they come to get away from worldly problems, and expensive beer.  And if the tourists can’t make use of the place, during a global health emergency, then it should be left unused.
Saving tourism in Little Britain
Many, along with their supporters, are entrenched in a them-and-us mentality that weaves between various conspiracy theories of why migrants are “really here”, or “still here” and, who is “really” behind it all. Some appear to have switched from decrying Covid-19 restrictions, which stop them getting on a plane, even denying the need for restrictions at all, though most tend to denounce the apparently lackadaisical government handling of both the pandemic, as well as their disgust for the migration response policies invading their world view. More than anything, they share an all inclusive longing to be able to return to the mass tourism, cheap flights and sunny beach holidays that have made this town a favourite among British immigrants and holidaymakers alike.
Regardless of all other considerations, their stated mission is to “Save tourism” and their participation in this fight is visceral. They have attracted as much support as they can, making sweeping declarations, to try to bring attention to their pain, with a few thousand facebook fans and a few hundred Change.org signatures.  This has become their cause.  And their route to “victory” features the imminent removal of the much vilified youths, that they are forced to suffer in their neighbourhood, while tourists still cannot visit.
Lots of other nationalities enjoy this town too. Nearby Arguineguín is nicknamed Little Norway, for the nordic “snow-birds” who often stay between 3 and 6 months at a time during the winter, and indeed Playa de Mogán, further down the coast, became known as Little Venice, not so much for the increase in Italian immigrants to the island, in recent years, as for its (actually very small number of) waterways and harbour views. More than a few islanders, here, know Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria as our very own Little Britain, with no more than a hint of irony. For many of these foreign residents, it is a paradise over which a dark cloud has arrived and simply refuses to move on.
Nearly eight months is too long
Now that the vast majority of migrant arrivals, temporarily accommodated in the town over recent months, have been transferred, elsewhere, the main focus of anger centres on an ageing 3-star apartment hotel, where more than 100 migrant minors continue to be kept under the supervision of an NGO, Siglo XXI, who are specialised in working with socially deprived youths. In particular they work with youth offenders, providing “training and social reeducation for those admitted to internment of any kind by judicial measures” as well as  attempting to bring about “social integration of minors dependent on public institutions in reception or protection regimes.”  We can be sure, however, that they have never been caught in any situation quite like the ones they are having to deal with right now.  Hostile neighbours, large numbers of frustrated youths in administrative limbo, with no clear alternatives available and focused on trying to help the youngsters as best as they can, but without the resources necessary to do so.
This foundation is just one of several organisations tasked with trying to take care of large numbers of recently arrived unaccompanied minors, almost all teenage males, that remain the responsibility of The Canary Islands Regional Government.  Due to the numbers having to be looked after and accommodated, increasing more than 5 fold in just a few months last year, hurriedly organised solutions were found in the use of empty hotels on south of the island.  Though almost all of the adult migrants have been moved on, unfortunately there has been little by way of appropriate alternatives for the youths and so, since at least November last year, this organisation has had to deal with large groups of young teenage men, practically deprived of their freedom, and accommodated on a de facto residential street of tiny tourist apartments, purchased by or rented to longterm, mostly foreign, residents, despite still being very much classified and viewed as tourist accommodation by the local town hall and other administrations.  Nobody expected this quick fix to have to last so long, and frustrations are continuing to build.
In fairness local residents say that for the first two or three months they hardly heard a peep out of the youths, however towards the end of January something changed which led to increases in noise and at least two rowdy altercations, which led to the subsequent arrest of four teenagers, one of whom turned out to be an adult male falsely claiming to be a child.  He was removed, along with the other troublemakers, having led a noisy little rampage on February 8, which resulted in a microwave being thrown through a window, and police in riot gear going in to take control.  There are suspicions from some local observers that this same individual may have been involved in another altercation with police just two weeks earlier at a different complex for minors, and was possibly moved to the Puerto Bello apartments, where he caused more trouble, which then took root.  But we are unlikely to ever really know the truths of this story. What is clear is that tensions continue to rise, and local residents are trying to draw attention to what many of them see as an “invasion”, and that has a serious adverse effect on how we are perceived by would-be tourists, and how we perceive ourselves.  If we want to recover tourism, we need to stop looking like we are incompetent when it comes to reception and hospitality.
We must not let the indignation, no matter how well placed, nor perception of this being some kind of war zone, perpetuate. It is nothing even close to being a war zone, it is a quiet little street, in a still quiet little holiday resort, which has been forced to confront one of the more serious side effects of a migration crisis for which few had been adequately prepared. Compassion for how we as a society treat children, on their own, has turned into anger and distrust, without dialogue between the local community and the institutions struggling to ensure the care of vulnerable teenagers. There have been outbursts and recriminations. All in all there is a desolate feeling of helplessness.
What we do know is this:
As a temporary fix to an unprecedented emergency situation, accommodating these youths in hotels was effective and very likely the right thing to do at the time. Nearly eight months later, however, an alternative must be now found, and very soon indeed.  The perfectly predictable frustrations expressed by local residents, and of course felt by the youths themselves, can no longer just be explained away through urgent necessity.  It is deplorable and unfair that the Regional Government appears to have been left utterly isolated by the Spanish State, in the care of these children. The NGO’s involved are under immense pressure from all sides, but for now, it is the Regional Ministry for Social Rights, headed up by Noemí Santana, that must take full responsibility for finding the alternatives needed.  These youths must be found a home, or homes, not continue to be kept cooped up in a run down hotel with no clear view of their potential futures.
The Puerto Bello apartments are simply not up to the job. They have served their purpose, when the need was greatest, and it is now time to put an end to all procrastination.  Whether the government finds a large country house, or a farm, or one of the many other large empty institutional buildings that may serve as a longer term solution, whether it be an empty school, or an old hospital, whatever the solution is to be, it needs to be found without further delay.  The risks to everyone involved are far too great.  If this is a matter of money, we must find the money; if it is a matter of security, we must resolve those issues; if it is space we need, then it is space we must find or build; but we cannot let this rot continue further.
Let’s get back to building our communities, instead of allowing them to be so easily divided.  Gran Canaria must return to hospitality thinking as soon as possible, and provide adequate provision to ensure these young men are not being unfairly criminalised before they’ve even had a chance to make a life for themselves.
Call it what you like. Call it nimbyism, call it a lack of compassion, call it legitimate concerns for the future of a quiet little street on a hill, whatever needs to happen, this is a holiday resort preparing to return to work, after more than a year of uncertainty and struggle, and no longer can be seen simply as an unused resource temporarily out of operation.
Those teenagers definitely don’t want to be there, and like all teenagers they will acutely feel any hostility towards them and amplify it. This is why a more suitable solution must now be found, this current situation is just not healthy. The residents of Calle Tasartico want their street back to how things were before, quiet, untroubled and without the problems of the outside world visiting their doorsteps or interfering with their little piece of paradise.

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The Canary News

Migratory flows headed for the Canary Islands continue to worry the Regional Government who fear “a constant humanitarian crisis”

Migratory flows, headed for the Canary Islands, continue to worry the Canary Islands Government, in particular the increases in two vulnerable groups: minors, whether accompanied or not, and women, particularly pregnant women. In fact, data from the last two weeks reinforce this upward trend with 75 [supposed] minors (pending medical confirmation) and 94 women having arrived on the islands in recent days and weeks. The changing profile of migrant arrivals, with respect to the 2006 crisis, a record year in which nearly 32,000 individuals arrived on Canary Islands shores, UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) attributes to several factors, including the intensification of conflicts in various countries of origin and the effects of the global pandemic, among other causal influences.

“The Canary Islands cannot live in a constant crisis”, declared Canary Islands Minister for Social Rights, Noemí Santana, yesterday at a press conference following a meeting of the Canarian Immigration Forum , where social agents and host NGOs, involved in the reception and care of migrant arrivals, shared information and perspectives with the general director for Inclusion, Maite Pacheco, the Spanish President of the Commission for Civil Liberties of the European Parliament (LIBE), Juan Fernando López Aguilar, and the UNHCR’s international spokesperson, Sophie Muller, among others. The results from that meeting were translated into an update of the Canary Island Immigration Plan and a declaration which they intend to submit to the Canary Islands Governing Council for their adoption and transfer to other institutions. The intention now is to make the archipelago a benchmark in migration management, not only responding to the current situation, but also generating resources for the future. According to Santana, Canarian society will be directly involved – through NGOs, trade unions, employers and third sector agents – and both the central Executive, in Madrid, and the European Union will be asked to be jointly responsible for management of the phenomenon.
Likewise, the Canary Islands have pointed out the need for a law that requires a “responsible” distribution of unaccompanied migrant minors among all the autonomous communities, with the aim that the burden of guardianship does not fall solely on recipient territories. “The Canary Islands are willing to assume their share but we cannot leave the problem in the hands of the will of autonomous communities, we must legislate”. At the moment, agreements have been reached to transfer 200 minors to different regions of the Spanish mainland, that is to say less than 10% of those currently hosted here on the islands, but only 32 minors have so far been transferred: 10 to Castilla y León, 14 to Extramdura and 8 to Navarra.

“The Canary Islands cannot live a constant humanitarian crisis, we must act”NAOMI SANTANA

“Dignified care for migrants involves working together, we cannot do it alone,” said the Minister. “Given the complex migratory reality, specific and credible funds are required.” Santana pointed out the work the Canary Islands Regional Government has already been doing, to care for minors, with the opening of 29 emergency centres to accommodate the growing number that has now reached nearly 2,700 being sheltered. Following the previous crisis, the number of places available had been reduced, to just 600, and many centres were dismantled “as if the Canary Islands had changed their geographical location.”
Controversially, three of the new temporary centres were located in empty hotels, on the south of Gran Canaria, due to the total lack of alternative spaces, and only possible due to the total collapse of tourist arrivals because of covid restrictions on travel. One of these has already been closed and the other two are expected to close in the coming months, ahead of any attempts to restart tourism.

Editor’s Comment:
Several residents, as many as 50, in the usually popular tourist resort town of Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria, living in tiny apartments originally constructed as short-stay tourism complexes, and subsequently sold to, primarily foreign, residential buyers, have complained for weeks about migrants having been temporarily accommodated in, otherwise out-of-use, 2-star and 3-star hotels.
Though almost all adult migrants have now been transferred to Foreigner Internment Camps, the issue of protecting under-eighteen-year-olds has been more complex to resolve. Few people are more upset, or vocal, than the unfortunate residents living near to hastily organised emergency accommodations set up to house unaccompanied minors, which they say are plainly not fit for purpose.  Much of their upset follows at least three very noisy incidents, caused by frustrated youths cooped up in apartments and, in at least two particular situations where adult migrants, pretending to be under 18, have instigated serious disturbances, including violence, that required police intervention in full protective riot gear.  Arrests were made and the perpetrators jailed.
Many that have spoken to The Canary News feel abandoned in a situation outside of their control, with little communication, or understanding, between the authorities and local residents, who claim their previously dead-quiet hillside streets, overlooking the town, have, in the last two months, turned into daily gathering points for large numbers of disaffected and otherwise unoccupied migrant youths, under the guardianship of NGOs specialising in child protection and youth social services on behalf of the regional government.
The Full Editor’s Comments are available to Supporters of GranCanaria.NEWS
With regards to the presence of minors, in adult detention centres and vice versa, Noemí Santana indicated that an attempt is being made to respond with improvements to the initial filiation of immigrants upon arrival at the coasts, through the presence of social entities specialised in dealing with minors at the port, since the Government depends on the results of bone tests to confirm whether an individual is a minor and to carry out their functions as legally responsible guardians for those under the age of 18.
The forum also drew urgent attention to the need to act in the face of “not less than a thousand migrant deaths” at sea over the last year, primarily on the Ruta Canaria, according to UNHCR estimates, a number they consider “minimal” due to the lack of data. Additionally, participants explored the possibility of adapting available resources or opening centres segregated by gender, to prevent women from having to stay in the same centres as men, where there are currently just a small number of places reserved for them, and thus to be able to improve attention offered to them as a vulnerable group.

Today we send a very clear message: the Canary Islands cannot live in a permanent humanitarian crisis.
Today we have reconvened the Canarian Immigration Forum, for the second time, and with the presence of all the relevant institutions and the third sector.
pic.twitter.com/tF0e4vixo6
— Noemí Santana Perera (@noepmp) March 29, 2021

Today we send a very clear message: the Canary Islands cannot live in a permanent humanitarian crisis.Today we have reconvened the Canarian Immigration Forum, for the second time, and with the presence of all the institutions and the third sector.

DATA
36 [assumed] minorsYoung migrants that have reached the Canary Islands in the last week, following the predicted increase in boats arriving, to which are added another 39 the previous week. A trend that no longer only encompasses unaccompanied minors, but now also those who embark with family members.
200 placesThis is the current expected number of minors who will be transferred to other regional communities in Spain, although at the moment only Castilla y León (10), Extremadura (14) and Navarra (8) have actually transported young people from the islands to be cared for elsewhere.
69 womenThis is how many were travelling in the boats that have arrived to the Canary Islands over the last seven days, two of them died when a boat overturned on Friday,  and at least two are pregnant. This is 43 more than the previous week, bringing the total to 94 in just 15 days, and they already represent 12% of the migrants who arrived this year.
29 emergency centresThe Canary Islands Government has opened temporary reception facilities to welcome the growing number of arriving minors, now under guardianship, a figure that has already reached around 2,700 in care. During the biggest migrant wave, back in 2006 known as the Crisis of the Cayucos, the Canary Islands barely had 600 places in operation, and even with other communities sharing the burden, the capacity on the islands is wholly insufficient.
600 people deadThese were the confirmed deaths counted on the Canary Route in 2020, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), although UNHCR state that figure to be more than a thousand, at a minimum estimate, with many more thought to have perished without anyone knowing, due to the lack of data around those who embark on this perilous journey.
Here is a recent report from the IOM:

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The Canary News

GüïGüí Mushroom Party: Guardia Civil and Policia Canaria launch joint operation to catch beach partiers high on hallucinogenic fungi, and without masks

A bunch of young people celebrating at a GüïGüí Mushroom Party, on hard to access beach, while high on hallucinogenic mycelia, and without masks, were denounced, by Guardia Civil and Policia Canaria agents, on Sunday morning, after having been discovered at a GüïGüí Mushroom Party for The Moon, held on perhaps Gran Canaria’s remotest beach, on the wild west coast. Known as GuiGui (GüïGüí or Guguy dependant on who you ask), a specially deployed joint patrol, involving more than 20 agents, travelled to the off-road location to denounce 79 people who, allegedly, said they were there celebrating the crescent moon. Some agents arrived by other modes of transport, including speedboat and helicopter. According to the Guardia, most of the attendees charged were visiting Italian and French, although there were also some Spanish women present.

#WeCrossMountains

The Guardia Civil believes that these people had been on the beach since the previous night, thereby violating the curfew, for which they have been issued a sanction fine for breach of the restrictions and for the absence of masks.

Editor’s Thoughts:
So basically a team of police, from two separate forces, undertook a 2 hour hike to go and spend an hour with a bunch of twenty-something backpackers on a beach, adoring the equinox crescent moon while gobbling down magic mushrooms, before trekking back again?  Seems legit! A totally legitimate use of policing resources on Gran Canaria.
Luckily everything is so very quiet and peaceful on Gran Canaria right now, they have all the resources necessary for a Sunday morning exploratory expedition forces to trek through a remote wilderness for 5 hours, there and back, to go issue some fines to young magic-mushy-nibblers, howling irreverently at the moon.  Brwrwrilliant. We should all feel safer.
A complaint was also issued for “illicit possession of narcotic substances,” said a spokesperson, specifically hallucinogenic fungi, which were allegedly consumed in commemoration of the Crescent Moon, as it is waning, reported the Guardia Civil.
Two dozen agents were reportedly deployed, on Sunday morning, in the municipality of La Aldea (4,100 inhabitants, on the wild west of Gran Canaria) filing several complaints that related to an illegal party alleged to have been held overnight. Guardia Civil confirmed that they had deployed at least six agents from their Citizen Security Unit, alongside their La Aldea detachment, who were joined by agents the Policia Canaria, Regional Canary Islands Police Force. All of them mobilised as a combined force to get to the beach, which can only be accessed on foot or by boat, from the sea.
GüïGüí is one of the natural reserves most loved on Gran Canaria and by local villagers and by environmental groups throughout the Canary Islands. It has several protection declarations governing its use: it is a natural reserve, an area of ​​special ecological sensitivity and a special conservation area.

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The Canary News

Maritime Rescue operations have increased this week, with all indicators pointing to greater numbers attempting the crossing by boat in 2021

As the springtime arrives and the weather becomes less hostile, so The Canary Islands, and the 100km+ stretch of ocean separating us from the African coast, are likely once again to become the focus of Maritime Rescue operations in an increasing trend toward irregular migration that is good for no-one, not The Canary Islands, not the currently absent tourists, not the residents, not the governments, not the police, not the EU, and least of all, the migrants themselves.  After last year’s huge increase in patera arrivals many had hoped we had already lived through the worst of a situation about which we were being forewarned as early as summer 2019.

 
Search and Rescue flight path on Wednesday
All the current indicators, however, point to a further increase in migrant arrivals this year, and even after Spain’s and Europe’s failure to properly prepare, and their subsequently inadequate response in 2020, many fear the worst is still yet to come.  Gran Canaria’s Sasemar 103 Maritime Rescue (Salvamento Maritimo) aircraft have once more located boats adrift this week, the latest carrying about 40 people on board who were about 81.5 nautical miles (149 kilometres) southwest of Maspalomas (Gran Canaria). It follows the rescues of nearly 100 others, including women and children, in the preceding days, many of whom were in need of critical medical attention.
Salvamar de Salvamento Marítimo
Once found, the maritime rescue sent their Guardamar Concepción Arenal vessel to the area where the boat was located – a journey of about three hours to reach the exact point -, which also meant alerting a passing ship, which was in the area, the ‘Alicia’, to request they approach the migrant boat to help keep track of its movement and the people onboard. The prevailing currents in the area travel away from The Canary Islands, had they not been spotted they almost certainly would have perished in the open ocean as many do, without a trace, and without anyone ever knowing what has happened.
The maritime rescue Sasemar 103 has continued to search the stretch of water between Africa and the Canary Islands, Europes most dangerous migratory route, in the hope of locating any more boats that may be adrift, as this one was found only after several warnings about various vessels that have left the coast of Africa in recent days, although currently maritime rescuers do not know how many might still be found. Another one was rescued on Tuesday night not far from Gran Canaria.

Editor’s Thoughts:
While many oppose migration in open boats to The Canary Islands (practically no-one supports it) particularly following a 750% increase in arrivals during 2020, simply put, it is a fact that we are having to deal with.  There is literally no way to stop people risking their lives unless we invest longterm in improving their situations in their countries of origin.  Failure to do so is to simply accept that people in poverty will always try to find ways out of poverty.  We need to help them do that, or they will try to find any way they can with or without us, and that means more arrivals without any control.
Indeed there are those who oppose any type of maritime rescue efforts to prevent loss of life, but really, is there anything anyone can do in the short to medium term to stop would-be migrants from getting into rickety boats, often overloaded and not fit for purpose, in their attempts to escape the effects of climate change, poverty, hardship, oppression and conflict in Africa?  Those adrift that we don’t rescue are simply never heard from again.  Their failure is simply no deterrent, just letting people die does not stop others from trying, as the information is never heard by others who, rightly or wrongly, think the potential improvement to their lives worth more than wasting away in the place they were born.
All indicators so far this year point to an even greater increase in maritime migration in 2021, with more than double last year’s  numbers, the second highest number of arrivals in history, already having been registered during the first two and a half months of this year compared to the same period last year.
Anti-immigration protesters have focused on the temporary use of empty tourist hotels, as accommodation, in recent months, while internment camps were being constructed to try to deal with the large numbers who had already arrived. Almost all migrants that were briefly accommodated in otherwise empty hotels on the south of Gran Canaria have now been moved into camps to await deportation, or those with asylum claims (less than 10%) transferred to the mainland.  A further protest against migrant arrivals has been organised for Saturday the 20th March, where organisers will attempt to create a “human chain”, asking participants to all dress in white, in order to try to send some sort of public message about their dissatisfaction concerning people trying to come here in the first place.  The actual message behind the demonstration is not really very clear yet, though the event will apparently be filmed from a helicopter and so we are expecting a video production to subsequently make clear the organisers intentions.
While 23,023 individuals were recorded arriving by boat last year, all mostly stuck on the islands due to COVID restrictions closing down international travel, stopping repatriation or deportations, more than 17,000 of those arrived in the last four months of the year.  There were many who feared that large numbers of people unable to continue on their journeys towards mainland Europe would result in mass criminality, however crime actually went down last year, with a total of just 122 crimes involving migrants having been recorded in the 80 days prior to January 20th, 65 of those being falsified documents, and another 45 of those related to “security” issues having resulted from altercations among the migrants themselves.  While there have been some isolated cases of young migrants allegedly stealing booze from local businesses, and at least one accusation of serious sexual assault, all of which have resulted in immediate arrests and investigations, in general there has been little by way of trouble, with the exception of an occasional social media hoax, several false reports and a few would-be vigilantes with knives trying to present an atmosphere of mayhem, where there is none.
Irregular migrants, with nothing to do, and not allowed to leave the islands, have certainly been more visible, in the absence of any tourists for the last year.  While many have few if any resources, there are those of them who have enough support to survive a few months.  They receive no financial aid, and so quickly become dependent on the reception network, where they wait in hope, slowly realising that 90% or more of them will be told to return to their points of origin without ever getting to mainland Europe.
Small numbers of residents in the south have certainly felt less secure, many women report feeling intimidated by groups of young men hanging around the streets.  However there have been very few actual incidents. To try to allay public fears, about 40 extra Policia Nacional were drafted in to police the situation more visibly, and 20 or so of our specialist Guardia Civil tactical response unit, GRS8 based on Tenerife, were posted twice to the south of the Gran Canaria to ensure a very visible presence on the streets, however they have primarily been relegated to traffic controls and stop and search duties. One GRS8 officer consulted (not an official spokesperson) directly told The Canary News “Right now we are mainly here to help Canarian citizens and foreign residents to feel safer. Though we have been called to isolated incidents, our skill sets have not been required, so we observe and make sure that we are visible to the population, carrying out patrols and traffic stops.  There is not a serious security issue right now on Gran Canaria, it is more public relations to keep everyone calm.”
By far the biggest concern so far has been the handling of unaccompanied minors, more than 2,600 of whom are currently under the care of the regional government’s child protection services, with very little support having yet materialised from mainland Spain, with the exception of some extra finances, and wholly inadequate facilities being used to accommodate the youths among residents living in empty tourist resort towns.
Like it or lump it, we face an even larger influx of migrant arrivals this year, and therefore maritime rescue operations. Everyone, including Spain’s own recent Ombudsman’s report, agrees that the response has been wholly inadequate, and we as a society need to improve how we deal with the reality of something that cannot be easily stopped in the short term.  We face the potential of a quickly growing crisis, primarily humanitarian, here on Europe’s southernmost maritime border, if Spain’s central government and the EU do not act quickly to ensure that this archipelago does not become a prison, for both irregular migrants,  and residents alike over the coming months.  
With growing unemployment and an economy in free fall we can expect more tension from the resident population who see increasing migration as an existential threat on top of so many other calamities over which they have little or no control.  This will take a lot of energy and many years to effectively overcome, but right now we need to calmly deal with the realities of the situation.  We either work together to get through it, or more angry voices, offering no real solutions, continue to polarise our communities.
Edward Timon.:. Editor

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