Paradoxes and contradictions of free movement

At the end of the 70s, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, deregulating the inner workings of their respective countries and liberalizing relations with others, opened the borders to the free movement of goods and services…

As for financial transfers, which soon after became immaterial because of the Internet, they can dodge borders and territories and are a real Brownian movement of capital, building their own speculative life, regardless of the real economy. Since the beginning of the 21st century, the various bilateral or multilateral trade agreements for economic cooperation have removed customs barriers, thus speeding the flow of goods and services. Lorries, trains, airplanes and ships, multiplying the means of transportation, drain this increasing flow of goods by land, sea and air, while the underwater cables and the satellites transmit messages at the speed of light.

The only wealth, and the most valuable one, whose movement is more or less blocked or dramatically slowed down are people whose trips are often still dependent on the visas of their destination countries, or who are harshly driven out of the country they migrated to; in particular, people from "poor" countries, since the "rich" have managed to facilitate their own movements. And indeed, at a time when the demand and the need intensify, more and more people are pushed out of their homes for various reasons, and they all too often drown in the Mediterranean or in the seas of Asia, or they die from hunger and thirst in the desert or from abuse in transit countries.

The answer to this increasing pressure from the host or destination countries is to build physical or virtual walls, to block what many consider and denounce as true invasions. The "rich" countries therefore protect and defend themselves from the "onslaught" of "poor" populations who are desperate to get out of their unfair condition. But in confining themselves in their comfortable fortress, they retreat into themselves and so deprive themselves of the renewal and the enrichment that is needed for their growth, for, as we know, life is in the exchange and movement. By blocking them, the "rich" countries favour the present and their immediate future, but they sign away their long-term future, which can only flourish in sharing and solidarity. It is somewhat paradoxical that goods and services that can bring only material satisfaction to their recipients can move freely while the people who are able to produce and invent them are under house arrest and kept away or exposed to the risk of a fatal migration. What our world needs today are bridges for migration and for the migrants that we all are.

It is also on that building of bridges that the Josefa Foundation is working, with others, in its own way: the Josefa House will host refugees, who are made vulnerable by their forced migration, alongside European residents, and so it will be a home that promotes an "otherness" commensurate with the richness of our differences and our vulnerabilities and helps break the walls between us, who are all migrants, and thus it will renew the way we look upon each other, in order to build a peaceful living together.