Volcano update, migrants landing and Covid

Dear reader,

December’s missive will try to cover other Canarian news than La Palma’s volcano. Reporting for USA and Eire radio and EWN from there, it’s been difficult to forget how dreadful it is. Feeling earth tremors here when at home, 167 kms away on La Gomera, doesn’t help either.

A TV newsflash gets forgotten: another disaster, amongst the many.

Being there, senses affected, talking to stressed and depleted islanders, going inside devasted exclusion zones and witnessing this natural disaster, has longer term effects than the sore eyes and sketchy breathing I’ve come back with each time and I don’t live there, have lost nothing.

Some 20 psychologists from the Grupo de Intervención Psicológica en Emergencias y Catástrofes are there. More arrive soon. Their brief is providing ‘emotional ventilation’ for a tough community, whose jokes and apparent insouciance mask increasing stress.

Over 7,000 people are evacuated. Lots have lost everything. Recent predictions that, far from stopping, this eruption will be the longest on record since Tehuya lasted for 84 days in 1585, provide little comfort. As I write, new volcanic mouths and lava flows cause further damage and evacuation.

Sailing into this, incredibly, are increasing numbers of mostly sub-Saharan Africans, fleeing their own disaster. Use of the so-called Canarian Route to Europe brought 9,255 migrants to our coasts between January and August, some 135 per cent more than last year.

Politics exacerbates the situation. Relations between Spain and Morocco are still precarious, although both Spain’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Jose Albares, and his Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita, are supposedly ‘working towards a new spirit of understanding’. Bourita’s failure to attend a Barcelona meeting with Albares on 29/11 indicates otherwise.

Meanwhile, the unchecked role of Moroccans continues in organising and charging €3,000-€6,000 a head for the privilege of boarding small boats to come here. Last year 1,851 migrants paid, only to die in the attempt. Many of them were children and babies. Deaths will be higher this year.

As for Covid, well… everything was good on the islands for a few months, with few cases and no deaths. Covid-free and with restrictions lifted, we nevertheless exercised caution.

It’s all different now. Record numbers of foreign tourists arrived to enjoy October and November here, many of them German.

Germany’s dramatic rise in cases, with more vaccinations, has produced a 67 per cent vaccinated population. According to German Immunology Society President, Dr Christine Falk: “This is insufficient and, together with lack of contact restrictions, allows the virus to spread almost exclusively among the unvaccinated.” Are stories of false test and vaccination certificates available there true?

Cruise ship Vasco de Gama’s 1,000 passengers strolled unmasked into local bars and shops recently, causing concern, despite ‘all passengers are vaccinated’ assurances.

Surprise! An ill, unvaccinated passenger had Covid. Passengers were quarantined, too late for all of us who live here of course.

It seems that Tourism = Covid.

So, what do you think? Do we sell our safety or get serious?

Merry Christmas everyone.

Barbara Belt. barbarabelt@gmail.com

Barbara Belt’s opinions are her own and are not necessarily representative of those of the publishers, advertisers or sponsors.

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Barbara Belt