19 May 2011

No Man's Land

This is the French side of the frontier between France and Italy where normally there are no police. It had been completely open, except on Fridays when the police try to catch people who've bought counterfeit handbags in the markets of Ventimiglia - I gather that trade has now moved to San Remo.

Now, though, things have changed and every day you'll find French police stopping cars - and people - in an attempt to prevent Tunisian refugees entering France.


Voici le côté français de la frontière entre la France et l'Italie, là où normalement, il n'y a plus de poste de police. Le passage de la frontière est librement ouvert à part le vendredi où la douane recherche les gens qui ont acheté des sacs à main et autres contrefaçons sur le marché de Vintimille - Il semble d'ailleurs que ces commerces illicites se trouvent maintenant à San Remo.

Mais actuellement, les choses ont changé et tous les jours à la frontière, la police française arrête des voitures - et des gens - pour empêcher les réfugiés tunisiens qui tentent de rentrer en France.


  1. In Switzerland, we have the Wednesday Butter Brigade. The Swiss stop Swiss housewives who have been in France on the assumption they may have bought French butter, which is so much better than Swiss butter. In my humble opinion. LOL!

    I've heard rumors that, because of the flow of refugees from North Africa, the EU is going to suspend Schengen. I hope that's not the case, 'cause that will really make life a pain in the a$$. Especially for those of us who live in frontier areas.

  2. The Tunisians will find other ways to enter, not on the main road.
    I can't even imagine an open border between countries.

  3. The Shengen agreement was short sighted in the extreme.
    Everyone I speak to in Europe does not want Brussels dictating what we can and cannot do.
    We all originally voted for free trade within Europe, not what we have now.
    Let's all keep our national identities, it's what makes us different. I love the French view on life, just as I love the Italian way of life.

  4. You are supposed to be able to travel without passport these days,thanks to the Schengen agreement something I wouldn't recommend.

  5. Only 4 comments thus far, and each very interesting.

    The flow of refugees (economic/political) around the world at the moment is an issue that each country must come to its own terms on and whether they abide by exisitng treaties or not, eg Shegen or UN Declarations. I cannot comment upon the political issues that exist along borders in Europe, but I do have firm ideas on the moral issues that are being challenged.

    I am not sure that these two chaps would stop either the butter brigade, or the handbag heisters, but they sure don't look sufficient to stop determined Tunisians/Libyans/Syrians.

  6. In Costa Rica, some estimates are that as many as 25% of the population are undocumented immigrants from Nicaragua, as the average income in Costa Rica is more than triple Nicaragua. The border is not fortified. Costa Rica does not have a military. And the language is the same, which makes is easier for people to emigrate.

    With the broken immigration system in the USA and the stalemate in Congress over passing any immigration laws to fix the system, and as an American who lives in Arizona, I certainly cannot comment on any immigration issues in Europe.

  7. I problemi sociali superano le frontiere .Le piaghe del genere umano , queste larghe piaghe che coprono il globo non vengono circoscritte dalle linee blu e rosse tracciate sul mappamondo . "La sofferenza non può scomparire , la miseria deve scomparire . Vi saranno sempre degli infelici ma può darsi che non vi siano più dei miserabili "
    Victor Hugo

  8. This is a mistake, as they will pass anyway, on more dangerous paths, risking their lives in the mountains. Let them in, all they want is a better life!

  9. Karen USA19 May, 2011

    "There was a time when strangers were welcome here" as the Neil Sedaka song celebrates. Not so much anymore. While I think the Shengen agreement is flawed because of the way it was imposed on the people of Europe - not everybody in every country got to vote on it - I think it is wrong to change the rules in the middle of the game by closing the borders to refugees already granted admission by one of the members. The only people who invited us into their home when we lived in France were from Tunisia. I met them through their daughter who wanted to practice English with me. Their hospitality and delicious food were overwhelming. I had three helpings of couscous! They wanted us to stay all day as they kept bringing more food, but we had to leave while we could still walk home. It is one of our cherished memories. Most of my ancestors were immigrants to America from Europe - when strangers were welcome here. I think we all have to find a way to recognize that those lines on the map are just lines on a piece of paper, and to resolve the conflicts that arise between assimilation into a new culture and the desperate need to hang on to what you can of the old one. They did.

  10. As Dave says, we in America are in no position to comment on border issues elsewhere.

    But . . . police to monitor counterfeit handbags? Ummmm . . . OK.

  11. I gather, then, that they are selective about who they stop. We will probably make a run over to Ventimiglia while we're over your way in August - I know a local photographer with that last name (Shawna Twenty Thousand?).

  12. Jilly I'm sure you knew I would pick out this photo - I love the guys' black silhouettes, that's brilliant!
    A thorny subject too. Great post!

  13. Don't get me started!!! Australia has a deplorable attitude to people who struggle to get here - a handful arrive by boat after battling dangerous seas, pirates etc. This is a country made by the hard work and effort and determination of exactly these kinds of people! After all that we lock them up in deplorable conditions, where the mental torture abounds. We call asylum seekers "illegal arrivals" (there is NOTHING illegal about seeking asylum). They are coming in the main from countries where WE have been waging war - Afghanisatan, Iraq etc. Where people are fleeing persecution etc.

    Ooooooh....yeah, don't get me started!!!

    As for handbags - I'm looking forward to the July sales in paris!!


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