Wednesday, March 22, 2023
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Peru Erroteta. Journalist

It is the spring of 1970 in Paris. We could still feel the smouldering embers of May 68. On weekends, bands of dubious affiliation -infiltrated by the police itself, some believe- broke windows in the Latin Quarter. Delegations from Vietnam and the US were busy negotiating an end to the war, while the bombing continued. Georges Pompidou, Gaullist, presided over the Republic and (is this an urban legend?) there was always light In the window of the office of Interior Minister, Raymond Marcellin. Paco Ibañez sang at La Mutualité and Lluis Llach took his first musical steps in the faculty of Censier. He was not a political refugee, as he used to tell us. Nevertheless, people who were still fleeing Franco's police and courts were still coming to France.

Except in dramatic cases, in general refugees always had some reference in the country of arrival. In this case, the first point of support tended to be companions of the fight for the cause or friends, always ready to offer shelter, clothing and, say, give first aid.

The same as what happens to the "clandestine" migrants, refugees are forced to enter their destination illegally. Bureaucratic procedures are frontally opposed to the flight. People escaping persecution do so however they can, hastily, without asking. Some people such as the families currently fleeing war, turned up at the borders with the risk of being returned to their country of origin or to a third "in the heat of the moment", without further ado. Then, the majority of Spaniards seeking asylum in France entered the country irregularly or in some cases, they did so with their Spanish passport and then went to the police station. There were rare cases in which the French police, alerted by the Spanish or confidants, stepped forward, stopping the runaway, sometimes with abnormal display of force.

With the police breathing down their necks

Strangeness, emptiness, insecurity, confusion..., if not outright hostility, accompany its first steps in the refugee, like many of those who emigrate looking for work or a better life. The only personal reference was closest circle of friends and in some cases, the organization that they formed part of. In those years, the flight from the Franco regime came mainly from the Communist Party, ETA or related domains, as was the case of the trade union, Comisiones Obreras. The Communists, of course, were welcomed with special affection for their French colleagues. Which did not prevent them from having to fend for themselves, sometimes in particularly harsh conditions.

Those familiar with the clandestine political struggle were those that chose it. Falsified documentation, undeclared work (never in short supply) and registered in a friend's house led to this situation, which was essential for activists still fully dedicated to its membership. The rest, especially if they had family or aspired to be regularized, had no choice but to go through the police.



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