Transhumants, people who break boundaries

Human migration is as old as human history. None of the laws, pandemics or other events and instances will be able to stop our movements and migrations. Because getting from one place to another is a universal right. A petition for transhumance.

We are all illegal. This slogan served the European left at the beginning of the 21st century to show solidarity with refugees, who arrived on the continent without a passport. We are illegal, almost everywhere in the world, It could be added because after three months in a foreign country, our country of origin and without having obtained the necessary papers and stamps, we automatically become illegal. “Illegal”, is the precision, according to the National States that imposed this rule.

Nothing about human beings “being equal before the law” as the French philosopher Voltaire (1694-1778) dreamed. Nothing that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and (…) should behave fraternally”, as announced in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations of 1948. all inhabitants of the planet and the progressive end of the condition of foreigner as a transforming element of unequal relations between countries, especially North-South”, proclaims the Ecuadorian Constitution of 2008.

The person who wants to settle in another country, and to be recognized by the State, you have to fight with public institutions, meet numerous requirements and have a full portfolio because each visa has its cost. In fact, in Ecuador the costs to obtain a work, professional or voluntary visa are the highest in all of Latin America.

In the world, people who do not have these requirements they continue to live underground in the countryside. It doesn’t matter gender, age, religion or ethnicity. They are les San-Papiers, die Papierlosen, the paperless, the undocumented. They cannot open a bank account, sign contracts, shop beyond food or work. And if they do, they will be further explored.

If they leave the neighborhood where they took refuge, they risk being captured and deported by the police. These people are not considered citizens and therefore have no rights. They are part of the growing group of no ones, to whom Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano (1940-2015) sent them a poem:

“(…) Nobody: nobody’s children, owners of nothing.

The no ones: the none, the none, running the hare, dying their lives, screwed, screwed. (…)

Which are not human beings, but human resources.

They don’t have faces but arms.

This has no names but numbers.

They don’t appear in universal history, but in the Red Chronicle of the local press.

The nobodies, which cost less than the bullet that kills them”.

migrants, migrations, transhumants, immigrants, human rights, freedom

No one even appears in the statistics, despite being 272 million people, who according to UN data 2019 are in migration situation around the world. Most of them had to leave their birthplace due to war, persecution, forced displacement, economic crisis, famine or all of that. Others, on the other hand, a minority of the Global North, left their countries out of the desire to live more in contact with the Earth, less bound by the obligations of the current system and, therefore, more free.

The reasons for migrating are multiple, as well as the stories that each one tells that they settled in another place. They are stories of courage, sacrifice and strength, but also of sweat, tears and despair. These are stories that we are going to tell starting today in our “Trashumante” series. The people who speak are from Cuba, Switzerland, Colombia, Argentina, the United States and Venezuela. The colors of their passports, their way of life and their realities are different. What unites them is the fact that they have established themselves in Ecuador.

for the next two months They show the places where they were born, tell the reasons why they migrated and also describe the difficulties and the good things of having settled in the Andean country. We are convinced that it is only by hearing and seeing the stories of Transhumants that the gap in racism, opened up for decades and centuries, can be filled.

“We humans are also on the same quest.
We look for a place to belong, to feel safe, to live. ”

Why transhumant? To answer this question, we go back to history, before the Industrial Revolution, where migration was slow. He migrated for weeks, months, years, maybe with a mule, a llama or a horse. And although today there are cars, trains or planes, most migrants continue at their usual pace: slowly. Not because they want to, but because they have no other possibilities. Often, they don’t even have to pay the coyote to leave their country. If they are successful – despite the police, the military and the border mafia – it is likely that the administrators of the other country, once discovered, will deport them to the place of departure.

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is where the migration, a term this allows us to take the debate on migration to other ports. Migration It has its origins in livestock and describes a type of grazing. In the pasture, animals move from place to place and adapt to new space, new climate, new circumstances. Borders are natural, marked by rivers, seas or mountains. I mean, there are cows and sheep, where there is grass and where the environment allows them to live.

We are also in the same survey, l @ s human @ s. We look for a place to belong, to feel safe, to live. It is the same thing that Europeans sought during the different wars, Ecuadorians during dollarization and Venezuelans today. They they transhumanized to live with dignity, even though it pained them to leave their homeland.

O migration is a right, not just for the 272 million migrants that appear in the statistics. It is also a right of every person in the world: the millions of people who live on the anonymous outskirts of big cities. Exploited workers from China, Africa and Latin America. Thousands of homeless people in the United States and thousands more in Europe, who have lost their dignified lives due to the global crisis.

migrants, migrations, transhumants, immigrants, human rights, freedom

In 2019, the migratory flow in Ecuador was of almost 3,058,221 million people, that is, this amount of people who entered the country. Most came from Venezuela (509,285); United States (403,364); of Colombia (310,858); from Peru (144,891); and from Spain (120,133). Most of them left the country again. Those who stayed that year were 103,084 people from the five countries. It’s almost the same amount than the number of Ecuadorians who stayed in another country in 2020. Ecuador is not only a country of immigration, but also of emigration. And it will continue to be, as elsewhere in the world, even more so in view of the millions of people who will have to be displaced in the coming decades due to the effects of climate change.

The right to free mobilization in Ecuador is guaranteed at least in standard. The Human Mobility Law recognizes the right to universal citizenship, which is “the recognition of the human being’s power to move freely around the planet. It implies the portability of their human rights regardless of their immigration status, nationality and place of origin”. The same rule prohibits the return or mass expulsion of people.

However, this is not the case in the country. the collective of justice denounced several cases of expulsion of Venezuelans in 2019. This case is now under review by the Constitutional Court.

Those who are not deported, They fight every day on the street or in the workplace against racism and xenophobia so that at the end of the day there is at least one plate of rice and eggs on the table. Being a migrant is not a privilege, it is a sacrifice.

migrants, migrations, transhumants, immigrants, human rights, freedom

The ability to host beings of the same species characterizes us humans @ s. It is a quality we will need to continue building communities. It is empathy that makes us human and perhaps transhumant. We do not allow ourselves to be limited, aware of the migratory waves that await us due to the different changes on the planet, not just climate.

Those who leave their homelands are not illegal. They are migrants, they are travelers of life, just like us. They need to be recognized as such, regardless of the requirements of State Institutions.

Text: Mayra Caiza and Romano Paganini

Main photo: In limbo between two states: a migrant on the Rumichaca bridge that divides what is known as Ecuador and Colombia. (Ramiro Aguilar Villamarin, 2019)

Editing and production: Belém Cevallo and Romano Paganini

Infographics: Mayra Caiza (investigation) & Maria Caridad Villacis (Project)

Web and digital networks: María Caridad Villacís and Victoria Jaramillo

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