Sure, placing migrants on pleasure boats owned by a now-disgraced former ambassador to Finland doesn’t send the right message

The Skinny | No. 39 • The Captain Morgan Boat Migrant Fiasco

What are we skinning? The fallout of the Captain Morgan boat migration fiasco.

Why are we skinning it? Both in conception and execution, it has all but revealed the fault-lines of both Malta’s and the EU’s vulnerabilities in and indelicacies when handling the migration issue.

But don’t you think it could also be seen as an out-of-the-box solution in extraordinary times? There is nothing simple or easy about the situation, not least because it arrives slap-bang in the middle of a global pandemic. But that’s not enough to excuse away the blemishes that mark this unfortunate strategic plan, if one can even call it that.

Sure, placing migrants on pleasure boats owned by a now-disgraced former ambassador to Finland doesn’t send the right message. And neither does letting migrants and crew languish in the craft during harsh winds and stifling heat.

Yes, it can’t be pleasant. But surely threats of violence by migrants cannot be justified? The justification – or not – of violence shouldn’t be our main focus here. People were left to languish on boats while our leaders were scrambling to try and come up with as ‘diplomatic’ a solution as possible. Which should be a source of shame.

But they let the migrants disembark in the end, didn’t they? Yes, which only highlights how maybe, just maybe, that’s what should have happened in the first place.

But... COVID! COVID-19 is behind us, remember?

Right – so that’s why both racists and anti-racists could congregate in front of Parliament earlier this week...? They were congregating to commemorate Lassana Cisse, the Ivorian national murdered by two AFM soldiers who were since released on bail.

But it was also a Black Lives Matter event... and, apparently, a space in which anti-migration ‘patriots’ could air their grievances while interrupting a minutes’ silence with jeers, make monkey gestures and the Hitler salute? Yes, it was all of these things. It just goes to show how happenings such as the Captain Morgan boat debacle tend to be important flashpoints.

How so? They can ignite the spark that leads to an outburst. In this case, it’s a spark that’s being felt concurrently around the world, and that has even dwarfed COVID itself.

Do say: “While the migration issue remains a complex hot potato that will not be solved through ‘magic wand’ solutions, the Captain Morgan boat fiasco is an undeniably embarrassing attempt at both sweeping a long-standing problem under the rug and using that same rug-sweeping gesture as a brinkmanship exercise which ultimately failed. All the while, human dignity was made to take a back seat to political wrangling.”

Don’t say: “If leisure boats have proven to be such a political problem, does that mean we can pray for an entirely cruise free harbour from here on out?”

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