A gardener against concertinas in Santander | To live | Back roads


“What the Port of Santander with Albanians it is the same as I do with moles: I annoy them to go to the neighbor’s meadow ”. The simile is made by the gardener Javier Soto when he tries to explain why concertinas will be installed on the fences of the port of his city. The tops, in this case, they are a group of just over two dozen Albanian boys that every night they try sneak into the port to travel like stowaways on the ferries that depart bound for England.

There they have family, friends, contacts. Many of them speak English and believe that things will just be easier for them. The difficult thing, at the moment, is to get there. To avoid intrusions, Since 2018, the Port Authority has invested more than three million euros in reinforcing the fence. They first increased their height, which now reaches four meters. Then they placed cameras, CO2 detectors and spikes, among other security measures. The latest: concertinas, some galvanized steel blades that the Spanish government has begun to withdraw in Ceuta and Melilla due to the seriousness of the injuries they inflicted on those who tried to cross the border.

“The intrusion has a very negative effect on the activity that takes place in the port”, justifies Santiago Díaz Fraile, director of the Port of Santander. The person in charge of the facilities explains that shipping companies put fines if a boat with stowaways arrives, in addition to returning the cargo of the containers where the intruders were hidden. “Who assumes that cost?” Asks Díaz Fraile. “The shipping companies have told us that the crews are very uncomfortable with this phenomenon because they don’t know how these guys are going to react. Anyway, at the moment there has not been any security problem ”, he clarifies. Faced with this situation, the Port Authority has agreed install concertinas with the approval of public authorities: the Government of Spain, the regional government and the Santander City Council form part of its Board of Directors.

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Image of the ‘Hotel Morri’, the building where a group of Albanian boys live in Santander. / BR

A life in the ‘Hotel Piojo’

Santander is a city of passage for young Albanians. During the day, They live near the port in an abandoned building to whom, with a particular sense of humor, they call Hotel died (louse, in Albanian). It is a block that was half-built during the construction crisis and that now only retains its structure. The same people do not always live there: some go, others come. Hopefully some make it to England.

Rosa and Javi, two residents of Santander who fight against the installation of concertinas in the port. / VR

And meanwhile, Javi, Rosa and Aurora they help them with what they can. Before the coronavirus health crisis these neighbors of Santander they went to I died once a week to offer you a shower, food and charge mobile phones in their own homes.

The three neighbors complain about strong social stigma that falls on these guys in Santander. “If you trust the media, they are a dangerous group of ex-combatants,” says Aurora. To which Javier, the gardener, adds: “There is no way to open the doors for all prejudices to come out“.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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