Slavery on Europe's southern borders?
Every day up to 9,000 impoverished Moroccans, most of them women, are loaded up with goods in the Spanish exclave of Ceuta and then carry them across the border to Morocco. The border is not subject to controls because Morocco does not recognise the city of Ceuta as Spanish territory. Spanish commentators vent their anger over the situation in this legal grey zone.
Everyone looking the other way
For El País the trade is smuggling pure and simple, which only thrives because Morocco doesn't carry out border controls:
“The smuggling mafia are taking advantage of a legal loophole: hundreds of Moroccans line up in queues that stretch to the industrial area of El Tarajal [in Ceuta] where a group of men load the products that have just arrived in Ceuta on their backs. ... They don't pay either the customs or the VAT that Morocco levies on such imports. ... It's all taken as hand luggage. ... Why even mention all the back injuries these porters who age quickly suffer. This is an example of a new form of slavery. ... And no one is even batting an eyelid.”
Spain and Morocco must negotiate
Spain must finally push for a solution, El Mundo warns:
“The only thing that governs transit traffic in this place is arbitrariness. ... For many of these desperate porters the one thing they know for sure is that whether they cross the border or not almost always depends on bribes. Human rights organisations have condemned this disgraceful situation a thousand times. Spain can't allow the daily chaos of this third-world-like situation to continue on its borders. It should negotiate a solution with Rabat as quickly as possible, particularly since the migration pressure from Morocco to Ceuta and Melilla is taking on dramatic proportions.”