A well-organized criminal syndicate that uses bribes and false promises is responsible for the nearly 60,000 African migrants who arrived in Spain last year, filmmaker Lauren Southern told RT.
Southern’s latest documentary, ‘Borderless,’ features a rare interview with a human trafficker who helps ferry migrants from Morocco to Spain. The man explained that each client pays between €2,000 ($2,248) and €4,000 ($4,495) for the trip – a business model which Southern described as incredibly lucrative.
“Imagine how much money you’re making. It’s €130,000 per boat. Ten boats in a day? You’re making $1.3 million. Why is no one talking about this massive criminal syndicate?”
The filmmaker revealed to RT that she was told “multiple times” by people on the ground that smugglers bribe members of the Moroccan Coast Guard in order to ensure that certain waterways remain unpatrolled. The sophisticated smuggling operation clashes with what is often portrayed as a purely humanitarian crisis, Southern argued.
“This is quite an intelligent business. This isn’t just a few people fleeing their country, desperately getting on dinghies trying to get to Spain. This is a very structured business.”
While Southern casts doubt over whether most African migrants could be considered legitimate asylum seekers, she said that in some respects, they are still victims. Those who attempt the perilous journey to Spain are often fed false promises of European citizenship and a good job by opportunistic smugglers, she noted. To make matters worse, the smugglers encourage their clients to destroy their passports before arriving in Spain – making them essentially non-persons in the eyes of the EU, thus making proper integration virtually impossible.
“They are not looking to help people,” Southern said of the smugglers. She added that she doesn’t foresee the traffickers slowing down any time soon. In 2018 alone, nearly 60,000 migrants crossed into Spain by sea – a record year.
Southern, a Canadian-born filmmaker and journalist, has generated considerable controversy with her work and activism. Often labeled as far-right, her critics have accused her of Islamophobic fearmongering. She was barred from entering the UK last year after handing out flyers that read “Allah is gay” in a British town. The stunt resulted in a lifetime ban from entering the country, Southern has claimed.
She’s had similar trouble while touring other parts of the world. An event she planned to host in New Zealand last August was canceled after the venue said it wasn’t “comfortable” with her message. The activist has also been lampooned for several notable gaffes. During a trip to Australia, Southern claimed on camera that a Sydney suburb she was visiting had been completely stripped of its British culture – prompting her interviewer to point out an Irish pub across the road.