Ceuta Stampede(s)

The city of Ceuta, Spain has an unusual dilemma.  Geographically along the border of Morocco, it’s part of the African continent.  However, it’s also a Spanish territory.  So technically it’s part of Europe.  With a population of about 85,000, Ceuta does not have an airport.  So the only way to get from Spain to Spain is by boat.

Naturally, when an atypical situation like this occurs, strange problems are bound to arise.  A picture is one thing…

But an actual video is something different.

It’s some pretty surreal footage.  And trust me, that’s a sanitized version.

Swarms of mostly elderly women, affectionately referred to as “porters” or human mules, basically being used as modern day slave labor.  Strapped with cargo on their backs, the relative mass easily outweighing their personal body weight.  Barely scraping together enough wages to offset abject poverty.  Desperately trying to cross the border at a congested checkpoint.  Imagine the physical exhaustion.  Trudging for miles.  The pressure and anticipation is building.  Emotions are running high.  They finally reach their destination.

Now let’s add some other variables:

1.  A steep hillside, an impenetrable border wall topped with barbed wire and a twisted maze of steel fencing.
2.  A border patrol exhibiting decades of racial bias, prejudice and discrimination.
3.  Cultural and religious differences.  Morocco is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim.  Citizens of Spain are predominantly Roman Catholic.
4.  An occasional military flare up and a lengthy history of border skirmishes.
5.  The overarching systemic immigration problem between Africa and the European Union.

Throw all of those ingredients into a boiling pot of stock… and the outcome is a savory serving of steaming stampede soup.

On January 15, 2018, a stampede at the Ceuta border claimed the lives of 2 women.  A year earlier, 4 women died at the exact same location.  Bottlenecks and crowd impatience are the norm, not the exception.  I suppose I shouldn’t be so cynical.  Hey, if you follow the statistical trend lines, things are proportionately improving.  In 2019, the projected death total should be only 1.  Not bad!

So if you’re interested in a low-paying career in human stampede prevention… well, let’s just say you’ve come to the right place.  Feel free to contact me at your earliest convenience.  304-312-1395.  Ask for Eric, or if you prefer, “Saf.”