Last week, as the president landed in the capital of Algeria with a large business delegation, two women’s pateras arrived on the beaches of Mallorca carrying a delegation of fifty Algerians. Two trips for two different reasons, but the combination demonstrates the social hypocrisy we live with.
Sanchez’s trip to Algeria broke tradition in Spanish democracy, as he is the first head of government not to make Morocco his first state visit abroad. Diplomacy aside, on the agenda of this trip, Mallorca effectively did not exist: no thorny issues were raised such as the claim on the Balearic waters by the Algerian government, nor did there appear to be any meeting to deal with the issue of the pateras that invade the islands. The most high profile issue addressed as part of the trip was the gas conflict between “Naturgy and Sonatrach” as I noted in my article on June 23. The Catalan energy company has in recent months come into conflict with “Sonatrach”, Algeria’s public energy company, over the price of gas. Both companies are partners, but the change of government in Algeria and Francisco Reynés’ intention to renegotiate the contract to lower costs, twisted relations. The Spanish government organized the trip to sign and seal the agreement so that Naturgy, “controlled by La Caixa and the GIP and CVC funds,” can import gas at a lower price, which is strategic for Spain is part of its low-carbon transition.
So far this year, 783 people have arrived on 61 boats, much higher than in recent years. Once in port, the 72-hour counter begins, after identification and PCR tests, they are free and can assume normal life around the island. No one can stop them or repatriate them “Because the Algerian border is closed and only opened to receive the business delegation.” So we are sweeping the problem under the rug, while more than fifty Algerian arrivals piled up, bringing with them the risk of contagion.
During the visit to Algeria, the president inaugurated a cultural route following the steps of Cervantes. The Spanish lived in Algiers as a soldier and was held captive between 1575 and 1580. During his captivity he tried to flee four times; but as good Spaniard, he did not know “the route to Mallorca”.