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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Disappointment over closure of border with France after summit

The border crossing of the Coll de Banyuls, yesterday, obstructed by rocks.carles ribas

Last week’s Spanish-French summit in Barcelona has not unblocked border crossings in Catalonia, Navarre and the Basque Country, sparking a wave of frustration and anger among those affected. Eight entrances have been completely closed since January 2021, forcing residents on either side of the border line to drive more than an hour to cross. Mayors, businessmen and the general public are suffering from the shutdown and are angry. He believes that the justification given by France – to “put four rocks” to stop terrorism and illegal immigration in points with no traffic – is “ridiculous” and “impossible”. There are those who believe it is responding to pressure from French President Emmanuel Macron, who would consider that Spain does not carry out border controls and causes unwanted entry of clandestine immigration into France.

During these two years, the three communities have tried unsuccessfully to reverse this situation—which many condemn, contradicting the EU’s Schengen Agreements on the free movement of people—through direct dialogue with France, In all possible ways through the Spanish government or the euro area. And neither did last week’s summit. the closure of passes such as Larrau, Urkiaga and Izpegi in Navarra or the Coll de Banyuls, which connects Alt Empordà to Rossello; The Coll de la Manrela, between Alt Empordà and Vallespir, and the Camí d’Age and Vinyola road, in La Cerdanya, pose many problems. Besides, it harms the family, economic and cultural ties that neighbors on both sides have maintained over the years, they indicate.

The ban also causes curious and helpful situations. A resident of Mourillas-Las Illas (in the French department of Pyrénées-Orientales) opened a forest track on his land that allows people to cross the Col de la Manarella from one side to the other without stepping. This fact has saved the restaurants of the city. From Espolla, a municipality of 425 residents among those most affected by the closure of Coll de Banyuls, its mayor, Carles Lagresa, insists that “the impact is not just local”. “It takes about 20 minutes to cross the border from Española to Banyulas by car, more than an hour if you have to walk. This means that people do not come and the economy suffers”, says the mayor, one of those who went to Strasbourg to meet members of the European Commission to demand their involvement in resolving the conflict . “Breakfast in the cafeteria has fallen, they have seen it a lot in the cooperative, in the sale of both wine and oil, and in the tobacconist, where neighbors on the other side of the border make important purchases. Many people from the area work on the other side in the construction industry”, he elaborated.

The mayor also said that “many French came to Figueres on market day and took the opportunity to eat in a restaurant and do some shopping. But no more”. Lagressa, who initially admits that because it was “impossible” he thought it was a populist measure due to the elections, hoped that “in the long run common sense will prevail because here there is neither immigration nor drugs nor Anything happens. It’s a long story.” “It’s a funnel, anyone who passes through has to force their way up to Banylus or Española, so it will be enough to keep watch over the exits of the towns,” he explains. “We are angry, we have already removed the rocks five or six times, – the last time this weekend to celebrate the oil and olive fair – and we will continue to do so,” he says.

Josep Maria Teguido-Mallart, one of the activists of the Obrim Passos Collective, indicates that they are “disgusting” and that it seems that “the French government wants to reinforce its sovereignty with a discourse that reinforces the logic of excessive authority”. hugs from,” he laments. “Putting four rocks on a back road pass doesn’t solve illegal immigration.”

mixed brigade

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Pere Becque, former mayor of Banyuls de la Marenda and president of the Albera Sense Frontera Association, appreciates that the President of the Republic “spoke about the issue”, but criticizes his decision to create a mixed police brigade to monitor the crossing. Treat the request as negative. He believes that “it’s too hard, it can’t be done” and that “it’s just a way to waste time”. For him, the rocks in the steps “are of no use” and “only create difficulties for the area.” “Anyone who wants to pass in an SUV, quad, motorcycle or scooter,” he says. Their union filed a request to the Administrative Court of Montpellier in November to cancel the order of the Pyrénées-Orientale prefect and they are waiting for the French state to respond to the demand. “We will go on to explain ourselves and I believe we will win, but I don’t know when,” he says. “People are happy to be able to go to Española [a la feria del aceite]But they are angry and call for more vigorous demonstrations”, he warned.

On Friday night, before the fair, some workers removed large rocks blocking the path and took one with them. Now, with written messages and located at the crossroads on the French side, it has become a protest element. A poster will explain its history. On Monday, the mayor of Banyules ordered them back.

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World Nation News Desk
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