Catalan parties condemn Spain's reaction to migrant deaths at Morocco border crossing

Barcelona mayor "embarrassed" by PM congratulating African country for handling of situation

Dozens of migrants lying on the floor at the Spain - Morocco border, in Melilla, on june 25, 2022 (by AMDH Nador)
Dozens of migrants lying on the floor at the Spain - Morocco border, in Melilla, on june 25, 2022 (by AMDH Nador) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

June 27, 2022 12:00 PM

Several Catalan parties have condemned the Spanish government's reaction to the incident at the border crossing between its enclave, Melilla, and Morocco, which resulted in multiple migrant deaths.

On Saturday, hundreds of Sub-Saharans tried to jump the border fence, with 18 to 37 of them losing their lives and 300 sustaining injuries after Moroccan forces tried to stop them from leaving the country, although 133 managed to enter Spain. According to official sources, only 18 people died, but NGOs have raised this figure to 37.

Spain's prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, praised the cooperation between Madrid and Rabat, saying the "violent and organized assault" was "well resolved by both Spain's and Morocco's security forces."

"I want to thank the work of the Moroccan government," he said, referring to the attempts to avoid migrants breaking into the border.

There are reports of teargas and stones being thrown at those hoping to make their way to Europe. A video published by outlets such as '' and 'Público' shows Moroccan officers in Spanish territory sending migrants back to the other side of the border.

Both the incident and Sánchez's reaction sparked outrage among several Catalan parties over the weekend.

For instance, Barcelona's anti-austerity mayor, Ada Colau, an ally of the Spanish government's junior partner, Unidas Podemos, said she was "embarrassed" by Sánchez's words.

Talking to Rac1 station, she said she was appalled at his "lack of empathy" and "coldness" after the deaths.

"The images we have seen are absolutely brutal, chilling, and unbearable," she said, referring to the footage of dozens of migrants lying on the floor at the border with police officers guarding the scene.

Pro-independence Esquerra's president, Oriol Junqueras, tweeted that Sánchez's statement "is a worrying from a human rights perspective."

Calls for an investigation

Both Colau and Junqueras called for an investigation into the events to be launched.

Catalan government ministers appointed by the Catalan cabinet's junior coalition partner, Junts per Catalunya, also condemned the incident.

For instance, foreign minister Victòria Alsina said also on Twitter that she was still hoping Sánchez would "regret the events and give an explanation."

Violant Cervera, the social rights minister, believes the incident has breached "all human rights" and decried the Spanish leader's comments, while also asking for an investigation.

Far-left CUP MP Dolors Sabater called the deaths "killings" and said both Spain and Morocco "are racist, anti-black people."

Other groups, such as the Catalan council of lawyers, have also issued statements calling for an independent investigation.

Hundreds rally against Melilla incidents

Officials from several Catalan parties took part in a protest that was held on Sunday in Barcelona and gathered hundreds of people.

'Las vidas negras importan,' or 'black lives matter' in Spanish, was the motto of the rally that took place at the city's Idrissa Diallo square. This plaza was named after Antonio López, a 19th-century businessman with ties to slavery, for decades but was recently changed to that of a migrant who jumped the fence in Melilla and died in a Barcelona hospital after being sent to the migrant detention center (CIE) in the Catalan capital.