Protests in Melilla: The Revolution of the Unemployed

via Clarissa’s Blog

Melilla protest

As if the price the country paid for its ridiculous colonial efforts on North Africa weren’t high enough, Spain stubbornly holds on to Ceuta and Melilla, its last two enclaves in North Africa.

Something very disturbing took place in the poorest neighborhoods of Melilla the other day. The unemployment rate in these barrios stands somewhere between 47%-50%. Every year, the authorities publish a list of people who are given 6-month-long jobs by the government. These jobs pay €1,000 and require no qualifications. The lucky few whose names get on to the list get to clean public areas, tend the gardens belonging to the municipality, and so on.

After it was announced that new regulations had been passed and now only those who had resided in the city for at least 2 years would get a chance to appear on the list, the neighborhoods inhabited by many recent and illegal immigrants erupted in violence. A group of about 60 unemployed barricaded one of the streets and violently resisted attempts by the police to remove the barricade.

The official name of the barrio where the disturbances took place is La Cañada de Hidum. It has long been known, however, as La Cañada de la Muerte (the Valley of Death.) The people populating the neighborhood are illiterate and lack any kind of job skills. This makes their employment opportunities limited to the menial, low-paid, scarce jobs that only allow to keep surviving in the barrio without  any hopes of leaving it. Aside from the 6-month jobs offered by the municipal authorities once a year, people in the Valley of Death manage to scrape by selling drugs, exploiting the even more marginalized and dispossessed immigrants from the Sahara, and engaging in petty crime.

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