Young undocumented migrants follow the Republican exile route in Portbou (Spain)
Stop, shout four uniformed agents of the French 'gendarmerie' from the Col de Belitres, in the middle of the border. They have just intercepted Ahmed, Hamza and Biftaur, three young migrants without papers, approaching the mountain of Portbou (Alt Empordà). They are placed on a fence and asked for documents they do not have. The boys, born in Morocco and Bangladesh, put their hands on their heads and snort. Their crime: they do not have a legal residence permit in Spain nor the right to cross the French border.
Like them, dozens of young undocumented migrants follow daily the same steps of the Republicans who escaped Franco's regime, or of many Jews, like Walter Benjamin, who fled Nazism. Others do so through the tunnel that connects the railway stations of Portbou and Cervera de la Marenda (France) to Colliure, on whose tracks three people have already died in less than a year. The scene, on the Belitres pass, takes place in front of the memorial dedicated to the Republican exile, where a poem by John Donne reminds us that the death of a single man concerns all mankind.
The lives of these three teenagers crossed a year ago between Santa Coloma de Gramenet and Badalona. Biftaur came from Bangladesh a decade ago with his parents. Ahmed left Nador at the age of 12 and arrived in Spain by boat. Hamza fled the Tangier neighborhood of Ben Dibane by sneaking under the engine of a truck.
Both have lived in centers for minors of the Generalitat until, at the age of 18, the administration left them on the street. "In France everything is much better, there is more work, things will go well for us", Ahmed is convinced from the platform of the international station of Portbou, after the encounter with the 'gendarmerie'. The two Moroccans had to return to Portbou.
An assignment for El Periódico