A Child Writes the Tragedy of a People in the Sand / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez

Front page of Spain's El Pais, 3 September
Front page of Spain’s El Pais, 3 September

I am innocent and I have come to the seashore 
Gaston Baquero

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, 3 September 2015 – There is a boy on the beach, he does not move, he does not smile, he does not build sand castles. The life of Aylan Kurdi has been brief: only three years, but the drama of his people has lasted decades, centuries. A tragedy that sheds light on the displaced, on wars, on the overwhelming economic contrasts that mark this planet. The little head that rests in the sand encompasses the pain of those who flee, who leave everything behind, but who never arrive at their destination.

A people who escapes always understands better another who emigrates. They know the pain of saying goodbye to things that are left behind. Goodbye table. Goodbye tree. Goodbye window, from which every day they gaze upon the sunrise, and the horror. Goodbye friends. There is always a touch of innocence, of blind hope in those who leave, as if they are filled with the certainty that they will reach the other side.

The Mediterranean smells like a cemetery these days. In its water float many of those whose geographic fatality left them trapped in a war and who decided to do what human beings have learned from the days of the caves: find a save place, protect your family by taking it to a place far from danger. But the world now has borders, customs, immigration officials who inspect passports and, above all, the fear of those who come from a distant place, great fear.

The odyssey of Syria and other places in Africa belongs to everyone. Every inhabitant of this planet has a share of the responsibility

The odyssey of Syria and other places in Africa belongs to everyone. Every inhabitant of this planet has a share of the responsibility for those countries that are being dismantled right now, wracked by lawlessness, the brutality of the Islamic State and material scarcities. It is not only Europe’s responsibility to help ease this humanitarian situation and to shelter people desperate to emigrate. Where is the solidarity of other continents? Why do we not hear of the governments of Latin America, Asia, North America or far off Australia offering asylum quotas for those who flee?

The historical debt to Africa is one we all carry on our backs. When we enjoy the beauty of an ancient temple erected with the sweat of its people, or savor a spoonful of sugar bought at the cost of lashes and death for centuries. Even when we remember the applause we dedicated to the Arab Spring; that moment when the citizens of the region rocked the dictators and took to the streets with their cellphones and their enthusiasm, confident that a new era was beginning.

The solution to the immigration crisis that is engulfing the old continent should not be left only in the hands of those at the emergency summit called by the European Commission for 14 September. This problem must involve the greater share of the governments on the planet. Including the countries that people escape from every day, like this island in the Caribbean whose Mediterranean is the Florida Straits. No one should be oblivious to the drama of a boy dead on edge of the beach.