Today is the Europe Day or Schuman Day. To celebrate this I wanted to share some pictures and thoughts.
The first time I travelled abroad consciously was in 1995, on trip I made with an aunt, two cousins and my brother to Germany. I remember one picture we took of us on the Germany-Austria border (already then; the only thing indicating that we were coming to a different country was a signpost). I remember the act of crossing a border as something special.
Last Easter, on a trip to Brazil, we had to cross the border between Brazil and Argentina in order to see Iguaçu falls from Argentina. Again, this act of crossing borders felt special. When was the last time I had to cross a full-fledged border, with a police stand post in either side of the borderline? (The term “full-fledged” includes police, long queues, waiting for almost an hour…).
I have travelled abroad lately, but apart from controls in airports we normally don’t get to see this so often, at least not in Europe. The last time I went through this was between Croatia and Bosnia on a trip in 2007, nevertheless there was minimal infrastructure on that border. The previous time was on 2003, when I crossed the Estonia-Latvia border by bus or the Macedonia-Kosovo one on foot.
After having crossed the border, already in Argentina, I remember I made a comment to Juan Pablo, the driver (quite a Boca fan!), along the line of when would those borders in South America disappear… his reply: “that cannot happen; South America is really only two countries, Argentina and Brazil, and if that was to happen, the day after thousands of people from Peru, Bolivia would be coming here…”.
I remember having heard similar comments in Europe both in 2004 and 2007, when two waves of Eastern European countries entered the European Union…
I was looking through some numbers in the Wikipedia (with data from I.N.E.): amongst the 29 the main inflows of immigrants in the period 2001-2008 only 3 corresponded to immigration from the countries that became part of the Union during those years: Romania (1st), Bulgaria (9th) and Poland (16th). Of the 14 most numerous groups living in Spain there are again only 3 from Eastern European countries: Romania (2nd), Bulgaria (8th) and Poland (14th).
Leaving aside the discussion of the benefits of that immigration, I just wanted to see whether that fear had materialized. I don’t think so.
There will be a day in which Juan Pablo will cross the Brazil-Argentina line without any stops and then he may as well be surprised when he encounters a full-fledged border somewhere else.