Euskal Herria, welcoming people. Dignity, human rights, freedom of movement, equal rights, and choice.

Where there was a narrow space now there is an abyss” sang the Hondarribia rock band DUT a few years ago, and a couple of decades later, instead of a narrow space, the gulf has been growing desperately wider and wider before our eyes.

The impassable fortress of Europe has been raising the fence that separates it from reality and the rest of the world, and the EEuropean Dream has been tied in a knot, together with the hearts of many of the people of this continent. The fence has a physical presence, but it is not static, the fence moves with those who manage to cross it and continue their journey.

This journey brings many of them to our town, to our homes, to Irun, where for the last 7 months, dozens of people and groups organised in the Irungo Harrera Sarea - Irun Support Network. They have been giving them our help and our affection, so that they can continue their journey. We are talking about Solidarity, not charity. We speak of mutual support, and of recognising ourselves in the skin and eyes of others. We speak of Humanity, we speak of Justice.

Demonstration January 2019. Photo Gari Garaialde

Irun has opened its arms, Euskal Herria has always opened its arms to those who have come to participate in the Life of its People and to contribute to the History of this land. But once again it has been the popular initiative that has the lead, instead of the institutions and professional politicians. It has been the volunteers of the Irun Shelter Network who, from the very beginning of this humanitarian crisis, have taken the streets to collect, help and embrace the thousands of people who have passed through our town. We are proud of what we have done and of all that we are doing!... And we have organised and self-managed ourselves outside of the institutions because they have acted badly and late from the very start. Irun City Council, Gipuzkoa Provincial Council, Basque Government, Central Government and European Institutions did not want to face this situation in a meaningful way. All these institutions have spent months improvising and giving short-term responses, without proposing long-term solutions, plans, nor policies. This is a humanitarian crisis that affects thousands of people and requires an effective, affective, humane and supportive response. Patching things up and not using all the means at their disposal to alleviate this situation will not stop thousands of people from arriving here.

We demand that politicians provide solutions, not create new problems. We ask them for a permanent, dignified and comprehensive welcome.

Finally, we would like to address those who govern us from above. To the European governments and political elite who seem to have taken up the discourse of hatred and xenophobia of the new wave of national-populist parties and the classic European extreme right. Offering simple recipes does not solve situations and problems that are the result of more complex realities. Europe, whether Salvini or Casado like it or not, is a welcoming land. It has been for centuries, and will continue to be.

The future of Europe is multicultural or it will not be, because we are bound to mingle, to flux, to understand each other, and to hug one another.

Where there was a narrow space now there is an abyss” sang the Hondarribia rock band DUT. It will depend to a large extent on all of us to make sure that this gulf narrows and does not get bigger and bigger.

Demonstration January 2019. Photo Gari Garaialde

Acknowledgement. Solidarity is the way

It was a hot summer, the third of August, when we threw that bottle we threw into the sea.

A small bottle inside which we had placed 5000 hugs, 4 huge waves and a tiny message; and which silently crossed remote seas and lost islands until you picked it up.

And when you opened that little bottle that we had thrown into the sea that summer, and you read our hugs and embraced our little message, an enormous wave of affection and solidarity brought you to Irun, and brought you to our town square and to our homes.

And you came here to help, to help those who need help, and to help those who help, and we will never forget that.

Sisters and brothers, we do not want you to remember us, we simply want you not to forget us. We want the message of solidarity, fraternity and struggle that you one day found in the Sea to flood neighborhoods and villages, to bath the new World that you carry in your heart, and to help you, to help us, so that we can keep on fighting and dreaming.

We will meet again.

Thank you all!