Legalising refugees… and me!

CIVIL SERVANTS: They couldn’t have been friendlier or more efficient, I was worried.

I’M celebrating getting my residency renewed for the ninth time

I AM celebrating again with fine music. This time I am listening to Manuel de la Falla’s great ballet opera The Sombrero De Tres Picas. 

Now, what is it that I might be celebrating with classical Spanish music, nothing less than getting my residency renewed for the ninth time. I have written in earlier instalments the fact that I would much prefer to ‘French kiss’ a venomous snake than go to Almeria and get my papers renewed. 

The civil servants were surly and totally molested by having to give you  assistance. And of course they regaled themselves in finding that one paper, however unimportant, that would put an immediate stop to your imprudence of residency in this country.

Once started, they had your records, on the floor along with eight to 10 others and you were a marked man, sent away with great relish to obtain that one errant photocopy or ‘certificado de penales’ from your place of birth, stating unequivocally you had not robbed a bank or committed any major criminal infraction upon the world. 

Not with a lot of forethought, but they so beamingly expounded “it’s your problem not mine”. “But, but, I left there 20 years ago and grew up in another place.” “Not my problem.” The box had to be ticked even if a fictitious document was substituted.

Well, last week, I was ushered into a big hall seating 150 persons and full. Within minutes I was attended to and sorted out. A green elongated light served for putting my index finger for prints and other high tech gadgets were used for photos and card information. They couldn’t have been friendlier or more efficient. Done, dusted, history. I was aghast. It just didn’t feel like Spain. The endless paper chase, the one last paper syndrome, the uncaring civil servants. It worried me.

I reflected back. When I first arrived in the main hall it was almost segregated in that the Sub-Saharan Africans were all sitting together and the Moroccans on their side of the room. I enquired where they were from. They all said Senegal. Think of it, how enormous Africa is and only Senegalese come to Almeria. The Moroccans were from various towns but easily jammed the remaining space to be filled.

Worst yet, I knew they all would get the residency permits in a few minutes and the room would fill up again and again. Spain has its own refugee crisis being legalised and guided as I am sure all those newcomers will be allowed to vote in the next elections both local and nationally. I suppose you can expect a socialist government for at least the next 50 years. 


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