Migration: a global challenge

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Boris Berenzón Gorn.

To La Báez with love on her birthday

“The exile looks to the past, licking his wounds; The immigrant looks to the future, willing to take advantage of the opportunities available to him. ”

Isabel Allende

Recently, industrial design students from the Universidad Iberoamericana de Torreón aroused a controversy on social networks after the presentation of a "backpack for migrants" that would respond to the needs, according to the students, of Americans who found themselves in need of traveling to the United States looking for the opportunities that they did not get in their country. The device included handles to hold the children on the trip, a detachable fanny pack, a vest "in case they had to run", a compartment for documents and a padded cover where the empty backpack could be inserted and used as a pillow in case of that they had to “sleep outdoors”.

As expected, the criticism was unleashed and the official account of the University deleted the video that had already been played in the media and received thousands of negative comments. Most of the Internet users pointed out the lack of connection of the students with the real world, the lack of sensitivity of certain groups towards the social problems that afflict marginalized groups—such as people in mobility—and insisted on the economic difficulties that migrants faced to be able to acquire an artifact like that. Some pointed out that it wasn't entirely a bad idea, as long as the backpack didn't contribute to making migrants a target for abuse and was provided free of charge through support organizations.

The crux of the discussion, however, is far from feasibility or good backpack design. It puts into perspective the narratives that we have built as a society and that have led us to lose focus on important issues. It is, of course, an educational problem, not a lack of empathy, because although they were poorly informed, surely the intention of the students was good. The migration crisis at the global level—not only in Latin America—is a fact that exposes the inequalities and human conflict that we have not been able to resolve either locally or nationally, that violates the stability of thousands of people and that calls for global solutions urgent.

The causes of migration are many and are generally multifactorial. The common cliché that migrants go in "search for better opportunities" may not accurately reflect the conditions that lead them to make the decision to completely abandon their places of origin, their families and known spaces and that lead entire families to transit by unimaginable dangers and conditions that put their health and integrity at risk in order for their future to present them with new perspectives.

Economic inequality and poverty are the main motives that lead people to migrate. Historically, whenever living conditions are not guaranteed in a place, human groups mobilize to find better destinations. The lack of opportunities to get a job, access to food, education, health, decent housing, water, among others, generates migration. When poverty multiplies and multiplying the number of people living in conditions of marginalization, migration usually occurs en masse. For example, in various areas of our country since the end of the 20th century and still today, towns inhabited mostly by women and children arose, since men, following their social role, left to seek better job opportunities and thus be able to maintain to their families. Remittances are the main engine of the economy in certain regions of the country and Latin America.

Although there have also been massive female migrations that respond to the desire to escape violence and entire families that migrate to reunite with their loved ones after one of them has settled elsewhere. And it is that truly the reasons for migration are numerous and the causes are not univocal. In fact, violence and human rights violations are another important cause of migration. Throughout the world, wars and armed conflicts, organized crime, persecution and hate crimes, social instability or the lack of a rule of law lead people to adopt the condition of mobility.

As is well known, Europe is facing one of the most serious migration crises in its history, not only in the face of Syria and those displaced by the war between Ukraine and Russia, but also in the face of migration from North Africa and the Middle East from where for decades Thousands of people arrive daily with the intention of settling in the European Union fleeing the inequalities and violence that prevail in their countries of origin. The privileged situation of the members of the EU or of the United States of America and Canada compared to third world nations is one of the most urgent challenges to address in postmodernity, since development has proven not to be for everyone and the contradictions between the advancement of science and technology and the exorbitant number of human beings living in extreme poverty should prompt the search for a global and multidirectional change.

The reasons for migration reflect inequality from different perspectives, whether due to economic factors or because people are fleeing political repression, because they seek access to quality education, because they hope to find societies that are more open to sexual diversity or less aggressive towards women, because they aspire to spaces where the law is respected and justice is achieved by legal means, because they feel underestimated in their places of origin or simply because they build ideals of improvement that are not always real. In addition, it is common for environmental factors, natural disasters and environmental deterioration to affect the vulnerable population directly, prompting them to migrate.

But escaping from these situations is not always easy or even possible. Migrants face an unimaginable series of difficulties. Many of them are victims of violence, discrimination and xenophobia, of smugglers and coyotes, they are easy targets for organized crime and human trafficking, others find themselves dying as a result of diseases, lack of access to food and health services. , due to weather conditions or the strenuous physical effort that constant mobility entails. Emotional factors are often not considered, but require more attention, as leaving one's place of origin or family could be enough to affect mental health.

In addition, most migrants do not reach legal status, therefore they arrive in places where they have to face constant persecution, lack of access to services, dealing with cultural and language barriers, with exclusion and lack of rooting. Many migrant communities come together at host sites in an attempt to preserve their identity, but despite their mutual support, they are rarely well received by local people. Pretexts used to justify violence and hate speech are common, as well as blaming migration for the lack of services and job opportunities.

Unfortunately, the global migration crisis does not seem to be coming to an end, above all because inequalities, far from being eliminated, are worsening, because violence has not been eradicated and because mobility tends to be considered a form of escape and hope for families. . The situation should call us to empathy, to be aware of the discourses that could replicate xenophobia and discrimination and, above all, to a constant analysis of the conditions that produce migration, always valuing human dignity and celebrating the wealth of our differences.


And with the voice of the poets, let's give two farewells to those who leave.

*The first of Borges:

Between my love and I they have to rise

three hundred nights like three hundred walls

and the sea will be a magic between us.

There will only be memories.

Oh worthwhile afternoons,

hopeful nights of looking at you,

fields of my way, firmament

What am I seeing and losing...

Ultimate as a marble

Your absence will sadden other afternoons.

*The second of Pizarnik:

An abandoned fire kills its light.

A bird in love raises its song.

So many hungry creatures in their silence

and this little rain that accompanies me.

narcissus the obscene

And he left and his ship called loneliness and on his chest he drew lobsters and he could not return.

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