A Hand That Is A Gloomy Fist

Human Wrongs Watch

By Federico Mayor Zaragoza*

The great sin against the poor is indifference

Refugees | Image from Wall Street International.

14 March 2020 (Wall Street International)*These are words from a poem by José Ángel Valente “… after a shipwreck, after so many things that have been destroyed within ourselves…”.

Too many things must indeed have been destroyed within ourselves if we can still see —without being moved, and becoming outraged!— the pictures of thousands of refugees (including children and old people!) in the Greek-Turkish border, the border between Mexico and US, the Mediterranean sea…

It’s hard to believe that this tragedy is happening mostly in Europe. I have emphasized many times the continuous breach of those principles that were so wisely set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (2000). The first article is devoted to equal dignity.

The second article deals with the right to life… The European Union should be, in the first place, a political, social and economic union with an autonomous security… but it is merely a monetary union. And who makes the decision and why is the decision made to reduce development aid almost to zero in order to prevent migration flows caused by hunger and poverty?


It’s hard to believe that this tragedy is happening mostly in Europe | Image from Wall Street International.

In November 2015 the XV World Summit of Nobel Laureates was held in Barcelona with the attendance of 19 laureates, nine individual laureates and ten corporative laureates.

This meeting gave rise to the Declaration of Barcelona: Refugees – Meeting the Challenge to our Humanity, a strong and urgent appeal to take all necessary and urgent steps to guarantee world peace, based in the four challenges that humanity as a whole must face: nuclear threat, environment, non-solidarity and fanaticism. The Nobel Laureates pleaded for “disarmament for a sustainable development”, in order to redirect current trends before it is too late…

Once again the words pronounced by Pope Francis on the occasion of the First World Day of the Poor in November 2017 became particularly relevant: “The great sin against the poor is indifference”.

I echo once more the words of Iñaki Gabilondo: “Do you know what the most impressive thing about this news is? It’s not news anymore”… It is up to us to see that it becomes news again… Let us all support Manifestos such as CEAR’s and do everything possible so that migrants are treated with the dignity they all deserve. Up to now European citizens have been mere impassive spectators when confronted to non-solidarity and incompetence.

But I’m convinced that “We, the peoples”… shall no longer remain impassive while looking into the eyes of these sad, distressed and perplexed children who stir our emotions and shake our conscience, and very soon great popular clamours will call for radical changes in the current behaviour of the European Union, worldwide leaders —especially President Trump— big financial, media, energy and military corporations, and billionaires who do not remember that “shrouds have no pockets”…


Equal dignity is the first article of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union | Image from Wall Street International.

Every day, when we wake up, we should remember the eyes of these refugee and migrant children who carry the seeds of animosity and hate that have been planted in their hearts. Every dawn, we should feel the pain of thousands of people who will die this same day from hunger and distress.

This is a hidden murder that is conveyed by the media in a misleading way. Although it may not seem so in the news, which is highly discriminatory and disproportionate, all lives —as well as all deaths— are worth the same.

“This hungry child hurts me like a great thorn” wrote Miguel Hernández… and we should feel: “Shame for having lost our sense of shame” as in 2018…

In order to get out of the distress and shipwreck in which we find ourselves, let us join voices and hands, and let’s raise a great clamour in the streets and the cyberspace, and see that all walls and fences are torn down and bridges are built instead.

Refugee hosting is a human right. Helping those in greatest need is an essential ethical duty. Only multilateralism —”We, the peoples”, as we were so wisely referred to at the beginning of the Charter of the United Nations— can shed some light on today’s bleak horizons and only international cooperation shall save us from sinking.


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