Here and in Mayotte, down with the war on migrants!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
May 22, 2023

Operation Wuambushu (“take back”) has started up again in Mayotte. The police are bulldozing shantytowns and deporting Comorans. Authorities are saying they are getting rid of criminal gangs but in reality they are hunting down and driving out the poor. Families in Mayotte and across the Comoran islands have long been intertwined. Fifty years ago, French colonialism separated Mayotte from the rest of the archipelago. France had dominated these islands for 130 years and wanted to keep a part of its empire in that region. Today, poverty is rampant in the Comoran Islands and many inhabitants are risking their lives trying to get to Mayotte. And France, one of the richest countries in the world, is denying them access to healthcare, education and to a slightly better life.

The 1,800 police officers and riot police that Darmanin has sent over to Mayotte aren’t installing electricity in neighborhoods where power is unstable. They aren’t building any schools, which are lacking, nor are they caring for the sick in undersized healthcare centers. Operation Wuambushu was designed to clear the French state of its responsibility and to get the not-so-poor part of the population to stand behind the repressive forces. The aim of this horrible operation backed by local politicians who are prepared to incite murder and block hospitals is to make people believe that other poor people are responsible for the Mahorais’ problems1.

In mainland France, things aren’t much different. At the Ventimiglia border with Italy, French police turn back migrants arriving from North Africa via Italy. In and around Calais, as soon as a group of migrants gather together they are violently separated and their tents destroyed. Police interventions happen daily but they don’t stop groups of migrants from heading to the coast nor do they prevent them from attempting to cross the English Channel on makeshift boats, as a growing number of them are doing. Police interventions are, however, making life impossible for them and forcing them to take risks.

All of Europe is increasing its armed forces, putting up barbed wire fences and even steel walls to keep all those fleeing war and misery out. In Greece, the police are sending migrants back on a dinghy and abandoning them at sea. Denmark and the UK want to deport them to Rwanda. In Turkey, the campaign to deport Syrians is well under way. Everywhere, migrants are targeted, turned away and hunted down.

With the economic crisis, politicians such as Le Pen, Bardella and Zemmour are using people’s closed-mindedness and hostility towards foreigners to their advantage. The Republicans are calling for a tougher migration policy and the interior minister is looking to do the same. The government, always ready to serve the capitalists, is waging a merciless war on the wretched of the Earth.

The mayor of Saint-Brévin-les-Pins resigned after his bitter experience. After opening up a center for refugees, he was harassed by the far right who threatened to kill him and burned down his house. He explained to the Senate that he had received no support or protection at all. It’s a lesson we mustn’t forget: no one can count on the state’s protection against far-right extremists, quite the contrary. Many migrants, whose complaints are never heard in the Senate, experience this on a daily basis.

By pointing the finger at foreigners, Le Pen and Darmanin are trying to pit poor people against other poor people, just as they try to pit workers against other workers. Macron and his government accuse jobseekers of not trying hard enough and those on welfare of taking advantage of their benefits. In order to preserve its domination, the bourgeoisie has always sought to divide workers to maintain its rule.

But workers cannot be enemies, whatever their origin, nationality or skin color may be. Their enemy is the capitalist minority that makes its fortune through exploitation and at workers’ expense, that hikes up prices and freezes wages. Their enemy is the government that serves the capitalist class, a government that wants to make workers who have worn their health out on the job work an extra two years.

So, down with the war on migrants. The working class must take up the fight against the capitalist class – our only enemy – and defend its true class interests.

Nathalie Arthaud


1The Mahorais are the inhabitants of Mayotte.