The power of passport, from Ukraine to Guatemala

The second day of the “Protection of Migrants in Vulnerable Situations” conference organized by IOM and EMN Slovakia on July 4th elaborated on the topic “Power of the passport & phenomenon of migrant caravans”. Associate Professor at Central European University in Vienna, Boldizsár Nagy, opened the session and spoke about “the costs of a feudalistic mindset” in the field of passports and visas. Should Russian be allowed in the EU? He stressed the arguments against such a ban: 1) It is illegal under the Schengen acquis. 2) It is morally wrong. 3) It is inhuman towards those who wish to escape from Russia. Concerning the points in favour of the ban: 1) Visa policy may depend on that country’s actions. 2) The law can be amended to allow a ban. 3) Any economic EU sanction hits the whole population for the decisions of the government.

Baptiste Amieux, Border Governance Specialist Policy and Programme Support Division (IOM), discussed global mobility and access to identity, affirming that identity is connected with mobility. Smuggling and organized criminal networks in migration flows was the subject approached by Dardan Koçani, Field Coordinator for Kosovo of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime. Human smuggling is a cross-border crime, which involved transportation or fraudulent documents. Inevitably, the war in Ukraine was brought up in connection with migration. Its huge wave of asylum seekers coincided with a surge of irregular migration, according to a 2022 Frontex report. This was accompanied also by the redistribution of resources to handle refugee flows from Ukraine. The pressure was felt especially in Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria.

While Ukrainian criminal networks operated before 2022, Koçani registered an increasing involvement of Ukrainian nationals in people smuggling networks in Bulgaria. With the war, a new phenomenon occurred: the recruitment of Ukrainian citizens with no criminal records as drivers. Smugglers are increasingly looking to “integrate” into local societies. Later in the conference, Italian freelance journalist Simona Carnino presented her documentary “The Power of Passport”, on the history of indigenous people migrating from Guatemala to the U.S. via Mexico, dedicating the movie, to migrating women and mothers on this route, who suffer abuses during the transition and do not usually have chances to tell their stories. There are several root causes of migration from Central America, Carnino pointed out. These include: 1) Poverty and inequality: people leave their countries due to economic reasons and a lack of employment. 2) Political instability, violence, and corruption.

3) Impact of climate change: hurricanes destroyed thousands of homes in 2020. 4) Gender-based violence: El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are among the five countries with the highest rate of femicides in Latin America. This region is also the object of analysis by a Ph.D. candidate in Migration Studies at the University of Oxford, Abril Ríos. Starting from her experience in her hometown Mexico City, Ríos showed the audience of migrants from Central and South America pursuing the “American Dream” moving up to the U.S. Conflicts in Latin America fuel migrations towards the Northern borders. Aspirations, skills, and dreams: migrants today are willing to risk anything to have a new opportunity of any kind away from poverty. They are also already spend over 20 thousand dollars to be smuggled into the U.S. Migration is an opportunity, the guest concludes; “it is our past, presence, and future”.

Amedeo Gasparini

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Pubblicato da Amedeo Gasparini

Amedeo Gasparini, class 1997, freelance journalist, managing “Blackstar”, MA in “International Relations” (Univerzita Karlova, Prague – Czech Republic); BSc in “Science of Communication” (Università della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano – Switzerland)