"They ask me why except black"

Pietro Bartolo, the well-known doctor of Lampedusa who attended thousands of people arriving at Italian affairs, often remarked that the only belief that should have been was the law of the sea. This is what Toni – a fictitious person – recognizes and Manuel Capa asking for tapas in Escondite, an Almeria bar with the best cheese croquettes in the province.

Both work on Salvament Marítim, the public entity of the Ministry of Development through Sasemar, which has more than 1,500 workers and a whole fleet of ships, helicopters and tugs to respond to all emergencies that may arise. Toni and Manuel are sailors, they need glasses to look at the cell phone and are not used to being interested in their work.

Last August, Capa, who is a union delegate of the CGT in the fleet, attended the press during the week of institutional tension for the abandonment of people to the docks. That same month he received a touch of attention for the dissemination of information and, subsequently, the warning was extended to all Salvation workers: a circular prohibited them from making statements and attending the media specifically about the arrivals of people migrants In spite of everything, the Manuel maintains the contact with the press like released union.

In summer, the relationship between police forces and Maritime Salvation worsened to the point of creating a military command called a single command. This new top of authority is managed with a general of the Civil Guard based in Seville and has become the decision of any movement that wants or need to be Rescued. "It is as if the sole command was God, and no one knows what face he does, God," Ironiza Capa. However, the workers continue to claim that the maximum authority of the ship is the captain. That is why the denunciations against the Civil Guard in the Maritime Captain have increased every time they contradict what the captains consider safer for the crew and the rescued people. "Nobody asked us if we needed or wanted a military command," Capa criticizes.

The union resistance of the CGT, with a majority of delegates, has also brought improvements such as the recovery of the fourth crew, which had been excluded with the latest cuts. Although the change had to take effect on October 31, the withdrawal of the fourth crew was postponed until December 31. Also, the work days have improved: they have gone from working seven days to resting seven to working three and having six rest to shorten the guards and increase the security and effectiveness.

But what is affecting Maritime Salvage workers is not just an organizational issue. El Toni has been missing for more than a month. It has been the first to ask for psychological and emotional reasons. "Nobody knows what we are seeing because we are invisible, in the photographs of the media it seems that it is the Civil Guard who rescues migrants, but 95% of people take them out of the water," he says. "In addition, we are the ones who are looking at it, we will be the focus of debate in the next elections as they decide whether they improve working conditions or they degrade Salvation because people do not want more migration: this public company hangs from a thread, fear The sailor criticizes the dissemination of xenophobic speeches and ensures that among all the people who arrived they would not be able to reach or fill the Camp Nou. "You can not deny anyone who is fleeing misery," he maintains.

Increasing pressure

Salvamento Marítimo has launched a new agreement with the Red Cross to offer a service of psychological attention to the workers. "This is a very masculinized world, and it is hard for the workers to assume that they are not good or that they can not," says Manuel. This service is intended to cover the psychological needs of people who work in rescues. " In addition, the union's intention is for the mutual fund to assume these casualties, offering, on the other hand, an individualized therapy.

Toni is not satisfied with psychological attention. "The worst thing is that twenty years ago we rescued people from the water and we have always been invisible. Now that we are not, it attacks us and it sinks us. It is hard that we are accused of trafficking in people or making money with rescues, "he says. And he adds that the tension is closely related to her: "In the neighborhood they ask me why I bring more blacks, they tell me to punish the boats, to shoot them on the edge. It is the daily battle we deliver with our environment. " Toni explains the jumps from the ferries, of which he has picked up to 11 children the same day that they try to swim to the beach: "They go in shorts, grease and a plastic bag."

Seated at the Escondite bar, Manuel and Toni desgranan the emotions of what they see every day. In spite of the circulars, the workers who face rescues and deaths of migrants in the pits – like those of at least 12 people who have recently been in Cadiz – are reluctant to speak without military commands that tell them how they should do what They know how to do better: save lives.

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