Venezuela 2014

By Shane Cassidy

The purpose of this article is not to support any particular political persuasion nor does it seek to defend the killings of any citizens by the government or the military. All violence and intimidation in all of its guises by any institution contradicts the very principles of a democratic country. The focus of this article instead is an attempt to create a deeper understanding of the current events in Venezuela.

In his seminal text, Folk Devils and Moral Panics, the late sociologist Stanley Cohen talks about how a moral panic can manifest in society;

Societies appear to be subjext, every now and then, to periods of moral panic. A condition, episode, person or group of persons emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests; its nature is presented in a stylized and sterotypical fashion by the mass media; the moral barricades are manned by editors, bishops, politicians and other right-thinking people; socially accredited experts pronounce their diagnoses and solutions; ways of coping are evolved or ( more often ) resorted to; the condition then disappears, submerges or deteriorates and becomes more visible.

Over the last ten days internet forums, news agencies and social media sites have brought our attention to the current social unrest in Venezuela. The events, as presented by the mainstream media would lead the casual observer to believe that huge social and civil unrest is occurring in Venezuela which has been caused directly by Nicolas Maduro and his left wing government. This reaction to the events and panic which has been cultivated by the media has been reckless, uninformed, simplistic and decidedly one-sided. On closer inspection it is apparent however that this is far from the reality of the situation.

Following the outbreak of protests and civil unrest primarily by private university students and forces who oppose the current democratically elected, left-wing, Chavista government, headed by President Nicolas Maduro, the government issued an arrest warrant for the supposed leader of the protests, Harvard educated, Venezuelan politician Leopoldo López.

In a country where the current opposition parties are in disarray due to a collapse of any real leadership, Mr. López, the former mayor of one of Venezuela’s wealthiest districts, Chacao,  a man who was virtually unheard of on an international scale until this last week has been elevated to the status as de facto leader of the opposition and has emerged as an apparent opponent to all things abhorrent in Venezuela. “Our youth have no jobs, no future because of this economic model that has failed,” Mr. López declared this week to his supporters, before continuing: “If they put me in prison, it’ll wake up the people. That’s worthwhile.” On February 18th 2014, in what must surely be viewed as a shrewd political maneuver, he voluntarily handed himself in to be questioned regarding his role in protests which led to the deaths of 3 people and injury to over 100 more on the streets of Caracas. He did this only after first attempting to goad Maduro into arresting him by posting on Twitter ” Do you not have the guts to arrest me?”. It is important to note that he did not hand himself in until he had released a video on the internet declaring his intention and thus making himself a living ‘martyr’ for the current opposition supporters currently occupying some of the streets and whipping up even stronger support for himself. Many news agencies and blogs are attempting to present the current dynamic socio-economic-political situation in simplified terms with utter disregard shown to the complex history of the country.

A common statistic which has been repeated verbatim by practically all the major news agencies is that a major reason for the unrest is the level of homicide rate in the country. Venezuelan Violence Observatory estimates that 24,763 killings occurred in 2013 and this is a staggering statistic. Unfortunately crime is a depressing reality in Venezuela. It has, however, been ignored across all media outlets that Nicolas Maduro has actively sought to reduce these figures by introducing the program Por la Vida y Por la Paz whose primary objective is to reduce criminal homicides and has shown signs that it is being effective.

As a way of illustrating the highly complex socio-economic situation, the figure which has been constantly attached to the murder rate in Venezuela has most certainly risen over the previous decade. The statistics regarding this are undeniable. What the media and commentators have repeatedly failed to mention is that during the same period, unemployment rates, especially among the poor, have been halved from 14.5% to 7.6%. So in a country where unemployment rates are plummeting and homicide rates are increasing a much closer inspection of the fabric of Venezuelan society must be undertaken.

There is definitely violence in Venezuela without doubt but these recent events have been initiated by the violent, Molotov cocktail throwing, in-some-cases-murdering rioters and these current riots have been a concentrated effort by the opposition to destabilize a democratically elected government. The US government or its media i.e CNN etc doesn’t support this current democratically elected government. Strikingly, as of February 21st, the US has yet to release a statement condemning the violence of the oppositions protests or the threat it poses to the democratic ideals it purportedly subscribes too. In its 2014 budget, the US has even set aside $5 million for funding “opposition activities” in Venezuela. In other words, they want a more right-wing, US friendly government installed that ‘plays by the US rules’. In 2002 the US attempted, aided and supported a military coup of Hugo Chavez’s totally democratically elected government in Venezuela only for the Venezuelan people to revolt and the US had to admit defeat. A few years later, in 2004, they attempted an oil embargo in Venezuela to make the government less popular. Again, that failed. Last year, John Kerry initially refused to recognize the election results of this sovereign nation but in the end, in a humiliating U-turn, he had to accept the results of an independent nations elections. Just this week, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay released a statement making it abundantly clear that they support the Venezuelan government so it is clear that although pressure is being applied by the US and the media, Venezuela’s closest neighbors are fully behind the country.

A more incisive question must be asked; Since 1999, in a country where unemployment has been halved, where GDP per capita has risen from $4,105 to $10,801, where poverty has fallen from 23.4% to 8.5% and it must also be mentioned that in 1999, Venezuela’s proven oil reserves stood at $14.4bn but by 2011 that figure had risen to $60bn – who stands to gain from overthrowing this current government and economic system? Certainly not the majority of Venezuelan citizens who represent the poorest and most vulnerable members of society and who have largely benefited from this system.

Mainstream media’s reporting of Venezuela has also sought to overstate the current economic situation in Venezuela. Though an unequal country, this was not the creation of the current or Hugo Chavez’s governments but a far more deeply rooted socio-economic situation created by those vested interests who had maintained control over the media, industry and oil reserves for the decades prior to Hugo Chavez’s election. The Bolivarian Revolution of the last 15 years has been an attempt to more evenly redistribute this disproportionate wealth to more of it’s citizens. The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean recently declared Venezuela to be now the least unequal country of the region (GINI Coefficient) having reduced inequality by 54%. A fact that mainstream media has conveniently forgotten to mention during these events.

A lot has been made of the protests and unrest and it is paramount that the right to protest and the right to free speech and assembly be respected by the Venezuelan government. It must be stated that the attempts by the executive to conduct the business of the judiciary is deeply troubling and coupled with the recent violent actions and attempts to suppress media which isn’t to the regimes taste indicates a hugely flawed process of government. However a fact, which has been continuously and conveniently overlooked over the last week,  is that Nicolas Maduro and his government have been democratically elected by the majority of the Venezuelan electorate and therefore hold a mandate to carry out their reforms. This, in no way, justifies any and all illegal actions which it may carry out but it is unthinkable that these current protests, which have been directly orchestrated by the opposition parties to create instability, could lead to anything other than an eventual admission of defeat from Leopoldo López. For López, regardless of what develops, he has successfully established himself as the face of the opposition in a country whose government has overcome massive barriers in it’s attempt to create a more fair and equal society. It’s important to ask why a democratically elected, socialist government with 3 times more oil reserves than Saudi Arabia and who aspires to the ideals of Simon Bolivar who has attempted to wrestle power away from the minority, wealthy elites is being portrayed in the generally privately owned, corporate media as a renegade government ?

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“9 Queens” and Argentine national identity

By Shane Cassidy 

By the late 1990’s, Argentina had become a country so straddled with debt due to the mistreatment of the economy by so many that went before it that this irrefutably disrupted and permanently altered Argentina’s national identity. National identity is the result of various different external factors such as the sharing of history and tradition with others to national symbols such as flag or anthem. Those who have now lived through and experienced Argentina’s crises have undoubtedly had their national identity altered. Following the end of the ‘Dirty War’ and the emergence of democratic politics in Argentina in the 1980’s, a new national identity has naturally emerged with the heavy weight of history inevitably ingrained in Argentinean psyche. The sight of the mothers of the Plaza de Mayo is enough to remind Argentineans of their dark history and the damages an unregulated, un-checked power can do. With that in mind, Argentina has since gone on to experience a different type of abuse at the hands of their leaders and this time through economic methods. Fabián Bielinsky, through his film ‘9 Queens’, attempts to portray this new society and shared national identity while also showing the affects it has had on a larger scale.

9 Queens focuses on two con men, Juan and Marcos who meet when Marcos comes to Juan’s assistance when a scam goes wrong at a petrol station and convinces him to work with him for the day. Marco is the more experienced of the two who will go to whatever lengths for the con, while Juan appears to be the beginner, an innocent with more noble reasons for pulling tricks and scams. In effect, his elderly father is in prison and he needs to earn enough money to bribe the judge. Ultimately they stumble upon a scam to sell counterfeit stamps to a businessman, Esteban Vidal Gandolfo, who is leaving the country the next day. Over the course of the film a web of intrigue and deceit is woven as all the characters appear to have ulterior motives. The film opens with the scene of a simple yet highly evocative and powerful image. Our protagonist Juan, crafty, smooth and clever cons a simple, hard-working and honest cashier out of money in her till. This is a microcosm for Argentinean society in general. A largely corrupt government taking advantage of decent, hardworking citizens for their own benefit. This scene is replicated many times throughout the film, the waiter in the restaurant, the unsuspecting old lady deceived into believing she is helping her nephew to repair his car, the news kiosk where Marcos gets his newspaper for free, the old lady in the lift. The film is an accurate depiction of the extent of present day Argentine society is. Corruption is closely woven into the fabric of society that it is no longer surprising to hear of those who have swindled the books or attempted to steal for their own gain.

A mentality of self-entitlement pervades the film and throughout we encounter many characters adamant in the belief that they are not only entitled but also deserving in whatever they can get. There exists also a delusionary aspect to their attitudes as, although they are all in one way or another caught up in criminal activity, they all state that they are not personally a thief or a crook. This idea that it is every man for himself and ones only concern is profiting by whatever means necessary. When the two protagonists are sitting in a café, Washington, a petty thief and stolen goods salesman attempts to peddle some of his goods. Juan turns to him eventually and enquires about the possibility of acquiring a gun to which Washington recoils in horror and insists that he is not a crook. The irony in the scene is evident in itself but it highlights the extent to which Argentina’s attitude towards crime and theft has been readjusted. What is clear from the film is that corruption has affected every level of society and even policemen are presented as opportunists looking to earn some more money as is seen in the scene where Marcos pays a police colleague to pretend to arrest him to trick Gandolfo into believing his story about the stamps is legitimate.

The brilliant Ricardo Darín plays the character of ‘Marcos’ and his is a portrayal of man caught up in modern day, corrupt, Argentinean society. He represents the mentality of so many of his fellow Argentineans. He has delusions of grandeur and views himself as above the status of a thief when he remarks to Juan, “¿Se cree que soy un ladrón? Yo no matar a personas. No utilizo una pieza. Nadie puede hacer eso.” He is out for himself, even going so far as to tricking his family out of their inheritance and Marcos doesn’t feel remorse for his actions. He believes that he has seen an opportunity and seized it and that he is deserving of it, he unrepentantly says “Vi una oportunidad y me agarró”. Marcos typifies a disillusioned, disconnected, modern-day citizen. When he meets his sister in her workplace he questions her marital and family status. This is a clear indicator that he does not stay in contact and does not display any interest in the lives of his sister or younger brother ‘Federico’. He also shows his lack of respect for elders and Sandro in particular when Sandro is attempting to explain what happened, Marcos interrupts and says disrespectfully “that’s when you blew your fuse”. Marcos is even willing to prostitute his sister to satisfy his insatiable thirst for money and greed. Even after the supposed act o f sleeping with Gandolfo is completed, Marcos rushes to his sister only to grab the suitcase enquiring about the money and showing absolutely no regard for his sisters well-being.

Marcos appears to care little but for the materialistic and monetary gains. He is clearly void of any admirable traits or scruples and only assists Juan at the beginning of the film as he needs someone to help him perform scams. In one scene he remarks to Juan, “Santos no hay, lo que hay son tarifas diferentes” and then he later remarks to Juan “putos no faltan, lo que faltan son inversores”. These two statements allow an insight into the workings of Marcos’ mind. He is motivated purely by his own profit and interest. It is a combination of his blind greed and inability to care for others which inevitably leads to the downfall of Marcos and this can be equally applied to the Argentine banks and society in general. Bielinsky cleverly juxtaposes Juan against that of Marcos so even though Juan is seen as a trickster, he is one troubled by a conscience and guilt. He is ultimately vindicated in his actions as he is assisting his lover Valeria to regain control of her inheritance. The relationship between the two main characters shows this clash of conscience and values in modern day Argentine society.

“Este país se va al infierno” (Marcos, Nueve Reinas)

By all accounts, the distrust levelled at banks reached a plateau by the turn of the century, most noticeably with the Cacerolazo’s[1], protests which involve the banging of pots and pans and made famous in Argentina. The reference to the banks and financial systems and the impact they have had in Argentina was therefore inevitable especially when Argentina experienced such economic and social turbulence along with massive financial loss at the hands of the banks. Bielinsky references them in several scenes and his reasoning for this is two-fold: firstly he wishes to highlight their recklessness and his second motivation is to present his audience with a deeper understanding of how the situation with the banks could have developed to such a stage. The audience witnesses Gandolfo in his hotel room, engaged in a rigorous debate about the price of shares. It is only with understanding of the impending financial crisis that is clear that he is wishing to quickly offload his shares and save as much money as possible from the inevitable loss and impending run on the banks. In another scene where the stamp expert attempts to extort a percentage of the takings for himself. Juan remarks to Marcos that he is “handing out too much shares”. This latter remark is subtle allusion to the banks and the way in which they banked so senselessly as to leave Argentinean society facing an economic emergency. As of May 2011 approximately two-thirds of Argentinean bank accounts are in short-term deposit accounts with banks also very wary of long term loans[2]. It is a curious that if one of the things that unties national identity is a shared past and similar mentality then a whole psyche of mistrust and suspicion has since developed into national identity in Argentina. Argentinean society is caught in this complex scenario where they are unsure and deeply suspicious of all types of government and understandably so. They have experienced and witnessed at first hand the atrocities performed by the military Junta in the 1970’s and equally they have seen the total financial destruction of their country and the wrecking of their currency by the corrupt elite in a ‘democratic’ government during the 1980’s and 90’s. Naturally and unsurprisingly a deep distrust has developed and it this can be witnessed by the manifestation of the idea of cautiousness towards the banks. The final irony is that Gandolfo pays Marcos and Juan by a cashier’s cheque which is certified by a bank but little do the characters know that this means very little given the country’s economic difficulty.

Bielinsky cleverly disguises the real motives of both characters throughout the film and this naturally leads to a development of mistrust and suspicion on both characters sides but also from the audience. The audience gets a disorientating sense of not knowing exactly what is going on while also experiencing the feeling that they are being duped or conned. This was a reality for Argentine society, especially in the 90’s and early 2000’s where Argentina’s economy and government was awash with corruption and manipulation. At every turn in the film, a new deceit appears to be uncovered and the narrative is constructed in such a way as to prevent the audience from ascertaining who exactly is involved with who. The film’s opening scene involves an act of deceit by Juan and is quickly followed by Marcos deceiving the petrol station employees to aid Juan. Marcos’ life has been a life of fraud and crafty dealing. He has tricked his siblings out of their inheritance and throughout the film he is unaware that everyone he encounters is involved in the ultimate act of misrepresentation in order to regain Valeria’s rightful inheritance. Even when Juan goes to visit his father in prison, his father is not only fooled by his son’s faux-innocence but also the card game which Juan’s father plays while Juan visits him is one of sleight of hand and trickery.

It is also through this use of characters that Bielinski also depicts Argentina in its multicultural, diverse way. Argentina, home to so many immigrants from all over the world is a melting pot of different cultural backgrounds and customs. Although largely Catholic, Argentina is home to the largest Jewish population in South America and this Jewish presence in society is also referred to in the film. Bielinsky himself of Jewish descent, depicts a whole area of Buenos Aries as being a Jewish area simply from the implied manner in which Juan states that his mother is from Entre Ríos, a predominantly Jewish area in Buenos Aries[3]. Bielinsky is attempting to show more than just one face of Argentinean society to his audience and wishes to reflect the vibrant, diverse culture which exists within Argentina. It is also pertinent as it displays and acknowledges the existence of a vibrant Jewish population because, despite Jewish people in Argentina representing only 1% of Argentinean population, 10% of all victims were Jewish during the ‘Dirty War’ from 1976-83[4].

Bielinsky makes clever use of his characters in order to represent Argentine national identity in a new light. Although he depicts his characters as deceitful, suspicious and untrustworthy it is never done to portray Argentineans in a harsh light. On the contrary, it is Argentinean society, reflected through Juan and his hopeful ending which encapsulates the goodness of Argentina and it’s society. However, as in every society, an ill prevails in the form of con artists and thieves, be it on a small level or a large financial institutional level. Argentina has experienced great change over the last 30 years and naturally their psyche and perspective will have been altered.

References

[1] http://www.cacerolazo.com

[3] FALICOV, T, The Cinematic Tango: contemporary Argentine film, Wallflower Press, 2007

[4] http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Terrorism/Argentina_STATUS.html

Bibliography

FALICOV, T, The Cinematic Tango: contemporary Argentine film, Wallflower Press, 2007

REIN, R, Argentine Jews or Jewish Argentines?: essays on ethnicity, identity, and diaspora, Brill, 2010

SHAW, D, Contemporary Latin American cinema: breaking into the global market, Rowman and Littlefield, 2007

Nueve Reinas, 2000, Bielinsky, F, Argentina. Buena Vista International (film)

http://www.cacerolazo.com/

http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Terrorism/Argentina_STATUS.html

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2011/0517/1224297118048.html

By Shane Cassidy

Violence in Mexican film and literature

 

By Shane Cassidy

Violence in text, like violence in our world, is multifaceted. It functions at different levels, is perpetuated by different motivations, and is experienced in a variety of ways[1]

Over the last 30 years Mexico has suffered various inflictions of violence upon its society. Economic and social violence, in the form of a reduction in the social contract between the state and its citizens, combined with the massive and rapid rise of the drug culture and resulting violence has left a lasting mark on Mexican consciousness. The portrayal of violence In Juan Pablo Villalobos’ novel, Fiesta en la Madriguera, and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s film, Amores Perros, is complex and diverse and facilitates an insight into two very different aspects of Mexican society. Villalobos highlights how continued exposure to violence desensitizes people or society and the ease with which the abhorrent can be normalised. Inarritu’s commentary on present day Mexico also illustrates how such prolonged exposure leads to the audience reacting worse to the animals being hurt in his film rather than the people.

Fiesta en la Madriguera centers around a young boy, Tochtli, who lives in a mansion and the bizarre and violent world he inhabits in Mexico. He lives with his father, Yolcaut, who is a major drug baron and through Tochtlis naive, matter-of-fact narrative we gain an insight into the paranoid and violent world of the Mexican drug trade. By electing to have a child narrator, Villalobos presents the audience with a non moralizing view on the drugs trade in Mexico but it also allows for no ambiguity as to the severity of the world that they inhabit and impact it has had on Tochtli. The portrayal of violence through the young narrator allows for Villalobos to illustrate the crushing effect that not only violence but the exposure to violence can have on a young, impressionable mind. Although not obviously a novel on Mexican drug culture, it is clear that drug culture violence which is so pervasive in Mexican society has heavily informed the novel. In a non-moralizing approach, Villalobos succeeds in highlighting the corruption and numbing of Tochtlis feelings towards violence. In the novel we see Tochtli ponder nonchalantly about how many bullets it would take to kill a man;

Una de las cosas que he aprendido con Yolcaut es que a veces las personas no se convierten en cadáveres con un balazo. A veces necesitan tres balazos o hasta catorce. Todo depende de dónde les des los balazos[2]

As Elizabeth Baines argues, a child’s innocent, unbiased mind acts almost like a camera for the reader[3]. Although Tochtli doesn’t understand the seriousness of these topics, we are left in no doubt as to the severity of the actions of the adults in the novel. It makes the violence and things Tochtli says impact even more as he is so young.

Amores Perros is a violent triptych of stories reflecting love and loss in contemporary Mexico City. The first story revolves around Octavio and his attempts to get his Susana, his brother’s wife, to run away with him. The second story revolves around an upper class executive who has just left his wife for a younger, famous model. The final story centers on El Chivo and his attempts to reconcile with is daughter while also working as a hired gun. These three stories are all connected by a car crash and the characters lives are intertwined stories about the different strata of life in Mexico City. In each story the characters condition is represented in the parallel lives of their dogs who also become victims to its extreme violence.

The dogs serve as crucial narrative to the violence in the film and act as a metaphor for the brutality and bestiality of the city. The dogs are used throughout the film as an escape from economic, social and emotional deprivation and yet ironically they are so often the ones that suffer such savage violence. Octavio’s desperation for a new life has allowed him to reconcile the fact that he is constantly endangering his only source of income and potential escape in order to make enough money to run away with Susana. Valeria’s dog suffers a traumatic ordeal, trapped under the floorboards and reflects Valeria’s own sense of being trapped within the apartment, within her disfigured body and even trapped within her ‘perfect’ body before the accident. In the case of El Chivo, when he discovers that all his dogs have met with a bloody and vicious end, he renounces his life as a gun for hire. Throughout the film, El Chivo rescues stray dogs and gives them shelter while continuing to kill people. It is only upon witnessing the gory scene of his dead dogs that El Chivo realises that the actions of the dog mirror his own murderous behavior and he resolves to change.

Both texts emphasize the evident neglect and isolation of the working class and their desperate measures to survive as a result. Octavio has had to resort to the brutality of dog fighting merely to make money and as he dreams of a better future although he never elaborates on what that future will entail. Octavio’s brother, Ramiro, also affected by the economic situation, is a violent and abusive partner to Susana and who works in a Supermarket where his increasing frustration leads him to commit robberies and hold ups of chemists. His violent nature against his wife reflects his frustration with his life and the lack of any real social opportunities and his failure to provide a living, as the man, for his family. Ramiro’s pride must be severely punctured by the fact that his family are living with his mother and brother and hismachismo leads him to assert his superiority and dominance over his wife , who becomes a victim of domestic violence[4].

The stories of El Chivo and Maru and Octavio and Susana convey the utter polarization which has developed in Mexico in recent years due to excessive economic restrictions imposed by the IMF, NAFTA and all the other side effects of economic globalization overseen by massive multinational corporations and banks[5]. Although this economic hardship and the social impact is prevalent throughout all three of the stories and at every level of society, there is no political engagement from any of the characters. Instead, the struggle against imperialist oppression is limited solely to violence and the role of El Chivu and this is through his previous life as a guerrilla. Violence is seen as the only tool to act against this hardship and even El Chivo has surrendered in his struggle, disillusioned, and has instead become a gun for hire.

This disillusionment is prevalent in both the novel and the film, where the characters are motivated by money to commit acts of savage violence. Octavio is willing to inflict suffering and pain on his dog for economic gain. El Chivo is hired by a man to kill his business partner due to financial greed and El Chivo initially agrees to it, only for the car crash he witnesses to act as a catalyst for change in him. In the novel, Yolcaut and his associates are engaged in the drugs underworld for money and the vast the amounts which can be earned.

In Amores Perros, the depiction of violence is gruesome, bloody and visceral. The visual viciousness of the dog fighting which is captured is staggeringly effective. It is an uncompromising and realistic portrayal of the often violent, daily lives of the characters. In Fiesta en la Madriguera, violence is not limited solely to physical violence, as we see from Tochtlis use of highly violent and aggressive language which pervades his daily mindset. Tochtli’s interests include samurais, the guillotine and safaris in Africa. It is a history of violence and we can see how the violent world in which Tochtli resides has influenced him. In Chapter 3 alone, Tochtli repeats words like “cadaver”, “muerte”, “cortar”, “maricas”. However, the lack of words can also equally reflect the sense of the danger in Tochtlis society and how saying too much or the wrong thing will have dangerous and fatal consequences. So although we are not presented directly with the violence we can still sense it and the atmosphere created is one of great danger and constant impending violence. Muteness is a common theme throughout the novel and it also represents a form of escape and avoidance. In Chapter 3, Tochtli himself elects to remain in mute which doubtlessly reflects the trauma that he has endured. It can also be argued that when Tochtli speaks he unknowingly utters such heavy, wounding words that in his muteness or silence, an escape from this spoken violence is possible.

The sense of a circle of violence dominates the novel. The visit of an American drugs partner is implicit rather than explicit violence. Though nothing of a violent nature occurs an atmosphere is created of a constant foreboding violence in the air. Even Alotl, who provides him with a more maternal perspective and from when he meets her he no longer curses, presents him with a violent samurai film to watch. After the film, Yolcaut shows him the gun room and declares that “Tú un día vas a tener que hacer lo mismo por mí”[6]. That he is exposed to such violence is harrowing and sobering and also there is a tragic element in that we are very aware throughout the novel of this unbreakable circle of violence and that this amiable character in all likelihoods will grow to emulate his father. That Tochtli is deprived of his mother is telling in that throughout the novel he complains of experiencing stomach pains. That the world he encapsulates may very likely have been the reason for this deprivation is telling through this pain. Physical pain suffered by Tochtli is one of the repercussions which is inadvertently due to the violent lifestyle chosen by Yolcaut. It is this corruption of innocence which seems so tragic and so influential. This also serves as an allegory for Mexican society and how so many are exposed to such violence on a daily and often hourly basis, given recent statistics on drug killings in Mexico, and the impact it has on their consciousness[7].

The representation of violence trough the text and the film aid in the understanding of the deep psychological impact it has had on wider Mexican society. By using their respective stories as a microcosm for a much larger sociological problem, the audience is able to grasp the harsh realities of violence in the characters lives. Villalobos employs the use of a child narrator while Inarritu used dogs as an allegorical approach to dealing with this troubling subject. Both are innocent victims who are corrupted and placed in awful situations by their owners. The final result being a sense of loss, devastation and the realisation of how unnecessary the violence being inflicted upon the characters is while at the same time it exposes the socio-economic and cultural factors which have contributed to this harsh vision of modern day, violent Mexican City life.

References

La question noire : une essai sur l’émergence d’une conscience noire au 21e siècle

By Shane Cassidy

Discussion sur les groupes minoritaires de la France conduit inévitablement à des remarques sur la maghrébins et musulmans. Cela dit, il existe un autre groupe qui est souvent négligé. Les Noirs en France. La population noire a lutté pendant longtemps pour obtenir une reconnaissance dans la société française et au cours des 10 dernières années, ils ont lentement commencé à réussir. En France, un principe central du républicanisme, c’est que la seule identité légitime dans la sphère publique est la citoyenneté. Pour cette raison, aucun origines ethniques sont officiellement reconnues dans la République française comme tous les citoyens sont reconnus comme étant les mêmes. Mais la même que quoi exactement?

Les noirs ont eu une longue histoire mouvementée en France. Les travailleurs immigrés qui viennent en France apportent avec eux une culture spécifique. Ils ont leurs coutumes, leurs traditions, leur religion, leur langue, leur musique, leur cuisine, leur façon de s’habiller. Mais maintenant il ya des deuxième et troisième générations qui émergent et qui se considèrent comme tout à fait français. Leur présence dans le sport et les aires culturelles et, dans une moindre mesure dans les arts, est incontestable. Cependant, dans le sphère de la politique et la représentation publique, ils restent très a la périphérie. Il est inégale et injuste que les noirs français vivent dans une démocratie ouverte devrait être restreints dans leur représentations. En plus, beaucoup des noirs ont du mal a s’intégrer dans la société française. Par ailleurs, les partis politiques française ont exploité la situation vulnérable de cet peuple dans la société pour promouvoir leurs idéaux du républicanisme et parvenir a une position de pouvoir.

A la suite de cela, et aussi la discrimination que ces noirs ont connue, un certain nombre d’organisations de base ont été crées pour aider les immigrants a améliorer leurs vies et a améliorer le processus d’intégration. En 2005 le Conseil Représentative des Associations Noirs en France ( CRAN) a été lancé pour améliorer la situation. Leur tache a été de mettre en évidence le sort de cet question noir et aussi d’atteindre un meilleur niveau de compréhension sur les noirs français et d’éviter le racisme. Si la France est vraiment un pays de liberté, égalité, fraternité, alors pourquoi y t-il tant d’organisations qui existent pour lutter contre le racisme et discrimination ?

Je veux explorer comment la question noire a réussi à devenir une question importante au cours des 10 dernières années et quels facteurs ont contribué d’alimenter cette question. Je veux examiner les effets que Le CRAN ont eu sur la société française et de déterminer ou, s’il est indiqué, est-ce qu’ils ont réussi a changer la mentalité ou de consensus concernant les noirs en France. Enfin, je veux voir dans quelle mesure, au pays des Droits de l’Homme, certains naissent moins libres et égaux que d’autres.

1 : Les Noirs en France

Les Noirs en France

Il est important de noter que les Noirs dans la société française peuvent être largement divisées en 2 groupes principaux, ceux de régions françaises d’outre-mer appelées DOM-TOM, qui étaient d’anciennes colonies de la France. Le second groupe est formé de ceux d’Afrique sub-saharienne qui ont émigré des anciennes colonies françaises comme le Sénégal et la Côte d’Ivoire. En outre, il y a ceux qui étaient d’anciens soldats, enrôlés pour combattre pour la France durant les deux guerres mondiales.C’est vraiment une lapalissade de dire que c’est difficile de trouver un point commun entre le fils musulman d’un immigré Africaine et un Guadeloupéen qui est catholique. En revanche, il existe un point commun entre eux et c’est le fait d’être noir. Il est clair que le profilage ethnique est une réalité en France et en 2009, la Justice Initiative de la Open Society  a produit une étude qui a montré que les noirs étaient 6 fois plus susceptibles d’être interpellé que les Blancs [1]. De plus, 31% des Noirs répondants ont déclaré avoir été arrêté entre deux et quatre fois par mois[2].  Cela crée un cadre pour les organisations de travailler au nom des droits des noirs tout en reconnaissant également qu’il existe des différences entre eux.

Le contexte historique

Pour mieux comprendre le développement socioculturel en France et les difficultés que les noirs rencontrent, il est important de comprendre certains événements historiques qui ont finalement conduit à cette émergence d’une conscience noire dans la France contemporaine. En 1789, l’introduction du slogan «Liberté, Égalité et Fraternité et les idées de républicanisme et de l’universalisme a favorisé et maintenu la conviction que tous les hommes sont égaux. Malgré que cette déclaration avait des valeurs nobles et admirables par contre, en même temps dans une des colonies françaises, San Domingue, c’était un cas distinct. La France refusait d’implémenter la Déclaration des Droits de l’Homme et a continué de suivre la Code Noir qui imposait des conditions cruelles et sévère sur les noirs. Par conséquent en 1804, les esclaves révoltés a réussi de gagner leur indépendance et de créer leur propres pays, Haïti. Sous la direction de Toussaint Louverture, c’était la première et seule fois que les esclaves révoltés ont réussi à créer leur propre pays et d’abolir l’escla[3]. En plus, dans l’histoire de la France ca été la première fois où la France a dû accepter que les Noirs étaient plus que des esclaves et cet événement a établi un précédent et en 1848 la France a finalement aboli l’esclavage[4].

A partir de 1870 jusqu’au milieu du XXe siècle, après la défaite de la guerre franco-prussienne, la 3ème République française a commencé de consolider sa pouvoir qu’elle a établi dans ses colonies dans l’Afrique-Occidentale française (AOF). Dans ces pays africains, la France a appliqué l’idée d’assimilation et c’était fondamental d’accepter que la culture, la langue et les coutumes françaises étaient meilleurs que ceux des Africains dans ses colonies. La 3ème République essayait dans les écoles, l’armée et les lieu de travail de renforcer les «valeurs» français et ses mesures ont allé jusqu’à les colonies françaises aussi. Vers 1889, la 3ème République a introduit le Code de la Nationalité française qui a favorisé les politiques d’assimilation. Il a placé la citoyenneté de la France au-dessus de toutes les autres loyautés régionales et c’était la première loi sur la nationalité française qui a imposé le double « jus soli » : c’est-à-dire celui qui est né en France et de parents nés en France est Français[5]. Les pratiques de la 3e République ont beaucoup contribué a la vision contemporaine des Noirs en France parce que cette idée d’assimilation et les idées de l’adoption de pratiques françaises ont diminué toutes les autres cultures à une position secondaire.

Sous le gouvernement Vichy, les Noirs ont été considères comme une « race guerrière » et pendant les deux guerres mondiales les Noirs ont été recrutés pour combattre pour la France. Bien connus comme les Tirailleurs Sénégalais, ils ont représentaient 15% des effectifs total français lors du premier conflit mondiale dont 200 000 soldats venue d’AOF[6]. Même si ils ont combattaient et mourraient pour la France, une image de personnes simples créée par le pouvoir d’éviter le progression des Noirs à émergée, notamment le tirailler sénégalais sur les célèbres boites de cacao jaunes avec le slogan « y a bon Banania »[7].

Figure 1: Le slogan publicitaire “y a bon Banania” lancée en 1915

Pendant la deuxième guerre mondiale les Tirailleurs Sénégalais se sont encore bataille contre les Nazies en métropole. En dépit du fait qu’ils ont fait une grande partie de la libération de la France, ils ont été traité affreusement mal par le gouvernement français qui a refusé de payer les Tirailleurs Sénégalais la même retraite que les soldats françaises. Dans une cas en particulier, les Tirailleurs Sénégalais ont regroupé pour réclamer le paiement et l’affaire a culminé dans une massacre de 24 Tirailleurs Sénégalais[8]. En plus que cela, General de Gaulle a participé dans la blanchiment de la libération de Paris en enlevant la plupart des soldats noirs pour la libération de Paris[9].

En 1958 la Ve République a créée une nouvelle constitution. Le premier article de la constitution clairement énoncé que  «La France est une République indivisible, laïque, démocratique et sociale. Elle assure l’Égalité devant la loi de tous les citoyens sans distinction d’origine, de religion»[10]. Bien que les intentions de l’article soient admirables, cette article va à l’encontre du but parce qu’au lieu de créer un pays où tous les citoyens sont sur un pied d’égalité, l’article permet par inadvertance à la discrimination de prospérer.

Pendant la période de l’après-guerre à 1990, le nombre des noirs dans le pays a augmenté mais bien que la proportion n’ait pas grandi, les immigrés et leurs enfants françaises ont été nettement plus visibles. Comme l’économie s’est affaiblie après les trente glorieuses, les partis politiques comme le Front National ont été créés et un message plus à droite et xénophobe a été communiqué par son dirigeant Jean-Marie Le Pen qui parlait d’un problème d’immigration. Le problème pour beaucoup de noirs en France était que ni eux ni leurs parents ni étaient des immigrés. Beaucoup étaient venus des DOM-TOM, ils étaient français et leurs parents sont français aussi. Donc,  ils ont été considérés comme visiblement différent de ce qui était perçu comme «français». Être noir c’était être étranger, immigré, et pas français. Par conséquent, plusieurs groupes ont été fondée pour la promotion des droits des Noirs.

L’Émergence des groupes contre le racisme anti-noir

La traitement des Noirs par la France dans sa histoire présente une image d’une pouvoir coloniale. Étant donné c’est utile de se rendre compte que les Noirs Français sont Français aussi. Dans les années 1920 et 30, Aimé Césaire et Léon Damas, avec d’autres, ont crées le mouvement de la Négritude[11]. D’une part, ce mouvement a travaillé à la promotion de la culture et de l’identité noire, mais d’autre part ce mouvement a été limité à un groupe d’intellectuels et d’écrivains qui décrivaient ​​leurs expériences plutôt que d’un mouvement pour le représentation des noirs. Dans les années 1980 et 1990, le chômage entre les Noirs dans les banlieues a beaucoup augmenté. Ils se sont senti délaissés et leurs conditions de la vie a beaucoup diminué[12]. Une sentiment d’isolation a développée et les Noirs résidant dans les banlieues ont été plus exposés au chômage que les autres français. Par conséquent les organisations telles que SOS Racisme et Le Mouvement de l’immigration et des Banlieues ont lutté contre l’inégalité la discrimination des noirs.

Bien que les organisations ont commencé de lutter, le succès de groupes juifs à convaincre le gouvernement français en 1995 à admettre sa responsabilité dans l’adoption de la législation anti-juive en 1940 et la déportation des juifs pour être ensuite exterminés était très important pour les Noirs[13]. En outre, dans une moindre mesure, en 2000, des groupes représentatifs arméniens avaient réussi à obtenir du parlement français une reconnaissance de l’assassinat en masse des Arméniens par la Turquie entre 1915-1917 comme génocide[14]. Ces actions ont encouragé les groupes noirs à lutter pour plus de reconnaissance.  Alors en 1998, la commémoration du 150e anniversaire de l’abolition de l’esclavage était une indication que la France était prête, bien qu’à contrecœur, à faire face à son passé colonial. Ainsi, en 2001, Christiane Taubira, une politicienne noire de la Guyane française fait adopter une loi qui reconnaissait le rôle de la France dans le commerce des esclaves. Par conséquent, cinq ans plus tard, Le Président française Jacques Chirac a choisi le 10 mai 2006 comme la date. En reconnaissant l’esclavage comme un « crime contre l’humanité », l’idée d’une identité noire commençait à développer.

Le début du 21ème siècle a également vu l’émergence d’organisations représentant les intérêts des noirs. L’un de celles-ci est Collectif DOM qui a été créé en 2003 par Patrick Karam, dans le but de défendre les droits de ceux des Antilles Françaises, de Guyane, de Mayotte et de la Réunion. Ils ont attiré l’attention du public quand ils ont fait un procès à l’historien Olivier Pétré-Grenouilleau pour avoir suggéré dans un de ses livres que la traite négrière n’était pas un génocide dans la mesure où les maîtres d’esclaves n’avaient jamais eu l’intention de tuer les esclaves[15]. Toutefois dans le deuxième chapitre je me concentrerai sur Le CRAN, une organisation contre la discrimination anti-noirs.

2 : L’Émergence d’une voix noire au 21e siècle

Les émeutes de 2005

En 2005, la France a connu des émeutes énormes, principalement dans les banlieues les plus pauvres où une forte minorité de Noirs résident. Ces émeutes, qui ont causé environ 200 millions d’euros de dégâts, ont provoqué un débat sur ​​la relation de France et les Noirs et leurs banlieues où ils vivent[16]. Il était clair qu’il y avait une grande déconnexion entre la vie politique et la réalité de ces zones urbaines les plus pauvres et la France a fourni une illustration intéressante de son traitement des Noirs après les émeutes. L’Assemblée nationale a essayé de rendre les rappeurs français responsables des émeutes. Ceux qui s’opposent au collecte des statistiques de la diversité n’avaient pas un problème de parler sur les Noirs ou les Arabes pendant les émeutes. Pendant et après les émeutes de 2005, des images de jeunes hommes noirs dans les émeutes ont été présentées dans les rapports de télévision et dans les journaux. Le ministre de l’Intérieur, Nicolas Sarkozy avec Gérard Larcher de l’UMP, entre autres, ont parlé de la polygamie dans les familles noires en raison des émeutes[17]. Alain Finkielkraut, l’écrivain français, à la suite des émeutes a parlé de son dégoût de la façon dont l’équipe de football française était devenue «Black, Black, Black» [18]. Bien que les Noirs n’aient pas été présentés d’une manière équitable, ils ont été maltraités dans les médias nationaux. Alors, comment est-il possible de parler du respect pour la société quand les Noirs se sentent complètement isolés de la société française. Donc, il était évident qu’il y avait une version particulière et trompeuse sur les Noirs qui prenait forme en France et que les Noirs ont besoin d’être équitablement représentés.

Le CRAN

Initialement connu comme Cercle d’Action pour la Promotion de la Diversité (CAPDIV), il a changé son nom en le Conseil Représentatif des Associations Noirs (CRAN), qui a été fondée en 2005. L’émergence du CRAN n’était pas un événement isolé. En réalité, c’est la continuation de groupes noirs qui ont mis en forme l’identité noire en France[19]. Cependant, la signification de la création du CRAN, car il agit au nom de 120 associations, c’est ce qu’il a réussi à forcer la société française à reconnaître l’authenticité de leur message noir[20]. Le CRAN veut briser le tabou du mot « noir » parce que c’était un mot stigmatisé. C’était important pour le CRAN d’utiliser le mot «noir»  car il agissaient directement au nom des Noirs en France. «Black», «minorité visible», «issu de la diversité» tous ces mots étaient acceptables à dire, mais le mot «noir» était tabou. Mais les Noirs sont victimes de discrimination parce qu’ils sont noirs. Donc, il était fondamental que le CRAN reflété cette réalité. Cela a été le premier succès du CRAN. En légitimant le mot, il faut accepter qu’il y a des Noirs français aussi.

Les statistiques de la diversité

Le deuxième tabou pour le CRAN, c’est le tabou du nombre. Apparemment, les Noirs n’ont pas le droit de se compter en France. Le rassemblement des statistiques de la diversité est  une question qui provoque des divisions profondes et une langue très émotive quand il est débattu. SOS Racisme, un groupe dédié à la lutte contre le racisme, est fortement contre les statistiques de la diversité a déclaré que ceux qui soutiennent les statistiques « soutiennent que ce sera le retour aux politiques de Vichy en France »[21]. Fadela Amara, l’ancienne présidente de Ni Putes Ni Soumises, a également évoqué le souvenir du gouvernement de Vichy en disant : «Plus personne ne doit porter l’étoile jaune»[22]. L’une des seules institutions nationales à collecter des statistiques sur la diversité est la ‘Direction centrale du renseignement intérieur’[23]. Donc, cela signifie qu’il n’y a presque aucune institution qui rassemble des statistiques et les institutions qui les rassemblent le font pour les enquêtes sur le comportement criminel.

L’un des objectifs principaux du CRAN est la promotion du collecte des statistiques de la diversité. Selon le CRAN, pour lutter contre le racisme et la discrimination indirecte dont les Noirs sont régulièrement victimes, il est import de mieux connaitre le discrimination pour la combattre. Sans les informations utiles il n’existe aucun moyen pour exposer le niveau de discrimination qui existe en France. Selon une enquête menée en 2003 par TNS-Sofres, 71% des répondants croyaient que les personnes d’origine en africaine sont victimes de discrimination[24].Or, il y avait quelques problèmes avec cette enquête. Tout d’abord, tous les Noirs ne sont pas d’origines d’Afrique. Alors, la référence aux «Africains» était inappropriée. Deuxièmement, les Noirs ont été empêchés d’avoir leur propre voix. On n’a pas demandé aux Noirs spécifiquement s’ils avaient déjà connu le racisme personnelle. Ainsi, en Janvier 2007 Le CRAN a publié la première étude sur les statistiques de la diversité publiées en France. Il s’agit d’une avancée majeure et le sondage a constaté que 61% des personnes interrogées avaient été victimes de discrimination au cours des 12 mois précédents[25]. En plus de cela, l’enquête a révélé qu’il y a environ 1 850 000 personnes âgées de plus de 18 ans qui s’identifient comme «noir». Le succès de cette sondage a également révélé que la croyance que le rassemblement des statistiques ethniques est illégal n’est pas fondée. La loi Informatique et libertés de 1978 est souvent citée comme la preuve qu’il est illégal de rassembler des statistiques. La loi interdit le rassemblement des donnés sur les origines ethniques. Cependant cette loi est aussi accompagnée par une série de dispositions où il est légalement autorisée de rassembler des statistiques. Ces dispositions stipulent que le répondant doit donner son autorisation pour être interrogé et le sondage doit être anonyme[26].

La sphère politique

Pour améliorer la situation des Noirs, le CRAN publie des études avant chaque élection présidentielle et continue d’appeler pour un débat au sujet de la diversité dans la vie politique d’abord afin de mettre en évidence la discrimination et le racisme que les Noirs rencontrent en France et aussi pour montrer que les Noirs sont toujours sous-représentés dans la politique[27]. Il est devenu de plus en plus difficile pour les politiciens d’éviter les questions concernant les statistiques et leurs projets pour améliorer les conditions pour les Noirs. Le CRAN a encouragé et soutenu les tentatives du Président François Hollande pour supprimer le mot « race » de la Constitution Française car le CRAN estiment que la différence raciale n’existe pas.  En 2002, Christiane Taubira est devenue la première femme noire candidate aux élections présidentielles 2002 et bien qu’elle n’ait pas réussi, elle a reçu 2,32 % des voix[28]. En revanche, la même année Jean-Marie Le Pen a réussi de recueillir 16,8 % des voix et cela a montré les différences d’opinion qui existaient en France. Depuis 2002, la France a connu une augmentation du nombre de politiciens noirs. Il y a eu notamment Rama Yade au gouvernent de Nicolas Sarkozy et pour la première fois il y a trois ministres noirs dans le gouvernement actuel de François Hollande ; Christiane Taubira, Victorin Lurel et George Pau-Langevin.

Figure 2: Christiane Taubira, Victorin Lurel et George Pau-Langevin

De plus, le 18 novembre 2012, il a été annoncé que Harlem Désir avait été choisi pour diriger le parti socialiste en France. Il est devenu le premier homme noir à diriger un parti politique français[29]. Toutefois, le CRAN veut voir des résultats concrète parce qu’un ou deux politiciens noirs ne changeront rien. Sans introduire de législation, le gouvernement français risque de participer à une politique de tokenism.[30] Pendant cette période en 2007, à la suite de la publication de l’enquête du CRAN, pour la première fois  une provision a été proposée par la Commission des Lois de l’Assemblée Nationale pour introduire le rassemblement de données sur les origines diverses. Initialement, elle a été acceptée par l’Assemblée Nationale mais enfin elle a été rejetée en novembre 2007 par le Conseil Constitutionnel car c’était considéré comme contraire à l’Article 8 de la Loi Informatique et libertés de 1978.

Les Médias

Figure 3: La couverture du Nouvel Observateur

Au cours des 10 dernières années, les Noirs dans les médias ont commencé à obtenir de plus en plus une visibilité. Déjà établis dans le monde du sport et de la musique, maintenant il est possible de voir les Noirs présenter des émissions de télévision. En 2004, Audrey Pulvar est devenue la première femme noire présentatrice des informations à la télévision française  France 3[31]. Bien que la chaîne n’était pas la chaîne la plus regardée en France, c’était un moment historique. Après les émeutes en France il était plus pertinent que jamais que les Noirs soient mieux représentés. Par conséquent , en 2006, Harry Roselmack a également créé l’histoire en devenant le premier homme noir à présenter les nouvelles sur ​​TF1, une chaîne très regardée[32].  En 2006 également, Le Nouvel Observateur a publié une édition avec le titre « Nous les Noirs de France »[33]. C’était un précédent et pour la première fois, on a directement examiné la question des Noirs français et montré qu’ils sont noirs et français.

Le CRAN considère que les Noirs sont sous-représentées à la télévision française et il soutient les initiatives qui augmentent la conscience des Noirs dans les médias et en 2012, le CRAN a été l’un des plus grands supporters de Miss Black France, une alternative à Miss France, pour souligner le manque de femmes noires dans le concours Miss France. Depuis sa création, Le CRAN a fait campagne pour que la télévision reflète mieux la diversité de la société française mais malgré le succès d’Audrey Pulvar et de Harry Roselmack, c’étaient deux cas très exceptionnels; et les Noirs restaient pratiquement invisibles à la télévision française. En conséquence, en 2009, le Conseil Supérieur d’Audiovisuel (CSA) a publié sa première étude de la diversité à la télévision[34]. Pour éviter d’utiliser certains mots comme «noire» ou «blanche», le CSA a demandé aux répondants si les gens à la télévision ont été «perçu comme blanc» ou «perçu comme non blanc ». Les résultats de l’étude ont montré que la grande majorité des personnes représentées dans les publicités, émissions de télévision, le sport, la musique étaient tous «perçu comme blanc ». Chaque année depuis 2009, la CSA a publié leurs résultats et l’enquête de 2012 a révélé que la représentation des personnes «considérées comme non blanc» avait augmenté de 3%[35]. C’est un processus lent, mais il est en cours et ces jours-ci il est plus facile qu’avant de voir des Noirs à la télévision comme Arnaud Ngatcha et Karine le Marchand. En plus, à partir du 12 décembre 2012, Numéro 23, une nouvelle chaîne qui a l’ambition de représenter toutes les diversités commencera à émettre. En 2012, Omar Sy est devenu le premier acteur noir à gagner le César du meilleur acteur mais c’était une arme à double tranchant[36].  En gagnant le prix c’était certes une occasion très historique mais en même temps il a gagné le prix pour son interprétation d’un stéréotype des banlieues. On peut accepter l’argument que le film reflète la société et il y a des Noirs qui viennent des banlieues; par contre cela nous montre que les Noirs sont toujours perçus comme des jeunes hommes avec un frère qui vend des drogues. Pour mieux comprendre les Noirs français, il faut voir et accepter que les Noirs ne sont pas seulement les trafiquants de drogue et les pauvres. La communauté noire est riche et diverse et les médias doivent refléter cette réalité à la télévision et au cinéma. Cependant, comme nous le verrons dans le troisième chapitre, les progrès ont été très lents dans la vie politique française, au détriment des Noirs

3 : L’illusion de l’efficacité

Un pas en avant, deux pas en arrière

Dans ses efforts pour lutter contre le racisme, la France a adopté des lois qui tendent à éliminer le racisme et elle a aussi créé en 2004 la HALDE, une organisation indépendante engagée à la lutte contre la discrimination[37]. En plus de cela, en tant que membre de l’Union européenne la France a accepté la directive 2000/43/CE qui traite de la lutte contre le racisme en milieu de travail[38]. À la surface, la France fait face à la question et les exemples du chapitre précédent sont des exemples de progrès qui ont été réalisés. Comme c’est souvent le cas, cependant, la réalité de la situation est plus nuancé.  La criminalisation de la discrimination ne peut pas prévenir la discrimination  à l’embauche.

Un plafond de verre existe pour les Noirs qui sont victimes de discrimination et le marché du travail est très difficile[39]. Des études ont montré que la présence d’un nom marqué quant à l’origine peut être un obstacle à l’obtention d’un emploi[40]. Les employeurs hésitent à recruter des employés noirs et ils se débarrassent de toute responsabilité en utilisant des excuses faciles. On a dit à un candidat « Je veux bien vous prendre mais c’est au niveau de ma clientèle. Ma clientèle ne veut pas voir des noirs »[41]. En même temps le gouvernement se débarrasse de toute responsabilité en se référant aux lois anti-discrimination. En plus, même obtenir un poste ne garanti pas qu’on sera libre de racisme; un candidat a été informé par un patron «Que fais-tu là? Je ne veux pas de toi ici, je ferai tout pour me débarrasser de toi »[42]. Comment est-il possible alors de prouver que les lois anti-discrimination sont efficaces si il n’y a guère d’employés noirs pour les tester ? Il est inutile d’avoir des lois contre la discrimination si les Noirs ne peuvent même pas obtenir un emploi et la faiblesse gouvernementale facilite la discrimination.

Ces lois n’arrivent pas à la racine du problème de la discrimination, en particulier quand les initiales « BBR », bleu blanc rouge, sont utilisées comme une référence à la préférence des employeurs pour les travailleurs français de souche. En 2011, L’Oréal et Adecco, l’agence de l’emploi la plus grande du monde, ont été reconnus coupables de chercher à embaucher des vendeurs qui n’étaient que «BBR»[43].

En 2006, pour éviter cette situation, la loi  pour l’égalité des chances a introduit une mesure qui oblige les entreprises de plus de 50 salariés à procéder à l’anonymisation des CV[44].  Le problème avec cette mesure ce que ce n’est qu’une mesure provisoire et il faut que la Conseil d’Etat l’autoriser mais jusqu’à présent, la mesure n’a pas été légalement adopté. Néanmoins AXA, l’entreprise d’assurance la plus grande en Europe, a choisi de mettre en place la pratique de CV anonymes en 2005 malgré le fait qu’aussi récemment que 2011 Yazid Sabeg, le commissaire à la diversité et à l’égalité des chances, a dénoncé l’idée de CV anonymes obligatoires[45] .

Ce problème a acquis un poids économique majeur aussi et ce n’est pas seulement liés au monde du travail car beaucoup de Noirs habite dans les banlieues pauvres et par conséquent en 2011 Kamel Hamza, le président de l’ANELD (association nationale des élus locaux pour la diversité) a annoncé qu’ils ont reçu 50 millions d’euro du gouvernement du Qatar pour aider les entrepreneurs dans les banlieues. Clairement, la réticence de la France à aider ces régions pauvres a créé une situation où l’investissement extérieur a dû prendre la place de celui du gouvernement français. En conséquence, le Président François Hollande a dû accepter aussi de fournir 50 millions d’euros pour les régions les plus pauvres[46].

Le CRAN et l’avenir

Figure 4: Un jeune homme noir arrêté par la police

En 2007, la France a introduit des quotas d’expulsion des immigrés illégaux selon lesquels la police peut arrêter ceux qui sont perçus comme des immigrés. Théoriquement, tout le monde est potentiellement un immigré mais ce sont surtout les Noirs et les Maghrébins qui ont senti tout le poids de cette politique. Afin d’éviter le délit de faciès, le CRAN soutenaient l’idée de le récépissé du contrôle d’identité qui a été promis par Président François Hollande pendant les élections présidentielles[47]. De cette façon, un record de tous les arrêts excessifs peut être conservé et utilisé si nécessaire pour mettre en évidence un comportement discriminatoire[48]. En 2012 cependant, Manuel Valls, en parlant sur l’honnêteté morale des policiers a abandonné l’idée donc le CRAN doit retrouver une nouvelle approche[49].

De plus, le CRAN est en train de travailler sur la question des réparations en ce qui concerne l’esclavage[50].  Bien que beaucoup de travail ait été fait pour mettre en évidence la situation des Noirs pendant l’époque du esclavage, il reste toujours beaucoup à faire. Le CRAN maintient que les réparations doivent être payés pour que la France puisse vraiment se réconcilier avec son passé colonial.

Cette question demande une attention politique et Christiane Taubira a beaucoup accompli sur cette question, mais il est maintenant nécessaire que les autres politiciens prennent les rênes. Et c’est là où la France est exposée par son diversité déséquilibré. Malgré tous le progrès, seulement 3 des 577 membres de l’Assemblée nationale sont noirs. En fait, dans les élections de 2012 pas un seul membre noir a été élu par la droite[51]. Sans représentation adéquate le CRAN aura du mal à avoir un impact et donc l’augmentation des représentants politique doit continuer d’être une priorité.

Conclusion

Comme nous avons vu, le traitement historique de la France noire associé à des troubles économiques et civils a permis à une nouvelle conscience noire d’émerger en France autour de l’an 2000. La France noire est une élément intégrante et complexe de la France où ils ont joué un rôle très importante et actif dans l’histoire du pays.

Il est clair que certains progrès ont été réalisés mais ce n’est que la partie visible de l’iceberg. En réalité, il existe toujours un faille importante dans la société française. Le danger est que si les Noirs sont plus visibles dans les médias et la politique, le pays risque de se laisser aller à un sentiment de sécurité trompeur. Le cas de Barack Obama est un exemple parfait : un homme noir élu président des États-Unis suggère que les Etats-Unis ont réussi à surmonter leur problème avec le racisme, mais les statistiques montrent qu’il existe toujours d’énormes problèmes raciaux aux États-Unis[52].

Aujourd’hui la société française est plus consciente de sa communauté noire qu’auparavant. Grâce à des organisations comme le CRAN, on constate une plus grande prise de conscience de la lutte des Noirs car ils ont fait campagne sans relâche pour leurs propres droits. Bien que des progrès ait été réalisés, il y a encore un long chemin à parcourir. Il semble donc évident que les propositions comme les statistiques sur la diversité devraient être encouragées pour lutter contre la dure réalité sociale des Noirs. Au lieu de rejeter automatiquement ces idées, il faudrait laisser la place à un débat ouvert et franc sur la meilleure façon de traiter la question noire. Ce n’est pas simplement une affaire du racisme de l’extrême droite étant donné que certains dirigeants de gauche ont officiellement exprimé leur opposition contre les statistiques sur la diversité[53]. Il s’agit d’un problème plus profond, où la confiance de la France en sa constitution républicaine la laisse effectivement aveugle aux problèmes auxquels les Noirs sont confrontés. L’idéal républicain rejette l’idée de communautarisme, mais en refusant la proposition des statistiques il est très possible qu’un communautarisme sera créé. En plus, si la France continue de collecter des statistiques seulement sur la criminalité cela va créer une image déformé des Noirs en France.

Benedict Anderson avance que l’identité nationale est une communauté imaginée, créée par des gens[54]. On ne peut pas mesurer l’identité nationale et ce n’est pas un objet tangible, mais elle existe encore dans l’esprit de la population.  La France a donc la possibilité de rééquilibrer sa société en une société qui sera basée sur la reconnaissance mutuelle et où elle pourra surmonter les vieilles suspicions de communautarisme pour créer une société plus inclusive. La profonde méfiance en ce qui concerne les statistiques créer un sentiment d’isolement définitive d’isoler définitivement parmi les Noirs. Si la France ne veut plus subir de nouvelles émeutes il est donc crucial d’éviter les gestes purement symboliques comme les lois anti-discrimination et de traiter les problèmes au fond. Sinon, il y a un risque réel que le communautarisme tant redouté  de viendra une réalité.

Reference


[2] http://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/sites/default/files/french_20090630_0.pdf p.35

[3] Aimé Césaire, Toussaint Louverture : la Révolution française et la problème colonial, Paris, Présence africain, 1962, p. 261

[4] Frédéric Regent, La France et ses esclaves : de la colonisation aux abolitions, 120-1848, Paris, Grasset, 2007, p. 315

[6] Nicolas Bancel, Pascal Blanchard et Laurent Gervereau, Images et Colonies, Iconographie et propagandes coloniale sur l’Afrique Française de 1880 à1962, ParisBDIC édition, p 74

[7] Pap Ndiaye, La Condition Noire, Paris, Gallimard, 2009 p.156

[8] Pap Ndiaye, p.184

[9] Myron J Echenberg, Les Tirailleurs sénégalais en Afrique occidentale française, 1857-1960, Paris, CREPOS, 2009, p. 173

[10] http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/connaissance/constitution.asp

[11] http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/histoire/aime-cesaire/negritude.asp

[12] http://www.bip40.org/autour-du-bip40/emploi/immigration-emploi-et-chomage

[13] Suzanne Citron, L’histoire de France autrement, Paris, Ouvrières, 1992, p. 195

[14] Stéphane Dufoix, La politique des mémoires en France, Paris, Ed. de l’Eclat, 2006, p.85

[15] Olivier Pétré-Grenouilleau, Les traites négrières: Essai d’histoire globale, Paris, Gallimard, 2004

[16] http://lci.tf1.fr/economie/2005-12/emeutes-assureurs-confirment-200-millions-euros-degats-4877680.html

[19] Abdoulaye Gueye, Rompre le silence: l’émergence d’une voix noire collective en France, du Bois Review: recherche en sciences sociales sur la race 7, n ° 1 (2010):  p.82

[20] http://lecran.org/?cat=234

[21] http://www.sos-racisme.org/content/campagne-contre-la-statistique-ethnique

[22] http://www.liberation.fr/societe/0101555717-fadela-amara-opposee-aux-statistiques-ethniques

[23] http://www.police-nationale.interieur.gouv.fr/Organisation/Direction-Centrale-du-Renseignement-Interieur

[25] http://www.le-cran.fr/document-cran-associations-noires-de-france/1-la-premiere-enquete-statistique-sur-les-noirs-de-france—une–realisation-le-cran-tns-sofres.pdf

[26] http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=LEGITEXT000006068624&dateTexte=20080609

[27] http://lecran.org/?p=2973

[28] http://dev.ulb.ac.be/cevipol/en/elections_france_presidentielles_2002.html

[29] http://www.lepoint.fr/politique/harlem-desir-nouveau-premier-secretaire-du-ps-18-10-2012-1518547_20.php

[30] Le terme anglais est utilisé par Pap Ndiaye, p.354

[31] http://www.liberation.fr/medias/0101163984-du-cran-a-l-ecran

[32] http://www.lemonde.fr/actualite-medias/article/2006/11/10/la-representation-des-minorites-progresse-dans-l-audiovisuel-francais-indique-le-csa_833278_3236.html

[33] http://www.grioo.com/info6640.html

[34] http://www.csa.fr/Etudes-et-publications/Les-observatoires/L-observatoire-de-la-diversite/Les-resultats-de-la-premiere-vague-du-barometre-de-la-diversite-a-la-television-Septembre-2009

[35] http://www.csa.be/system/documents_files/1712/original/Barom%C3%A8tre%202012.pdf?1332936426

[36] http://www.lemonde.fr/cinema/article/2012/02/25/des-cesars-2012-domines-par-the-artist_1648296_3476.html

[38] http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?language=FR&reference=A6-2007-0278&type=REPORT

[39] François Durpraire, France blanche, colère noire, Paris, Jacob, 2006, p.92

[40] http://www.lexpress.fr/emploi-carriere/le-racisme-au-travail_494143.html

[41] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIDygPXsJ9w (6.03sec) Documentaire Le plafond de verre dirigé par Yamina Benguigui

[42] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_BZMquSvjo (3.46sec ), reportage télévisé par Euronews , 25/05/12

[44] http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=JORFTEXT000000268539

[45] http://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2009/11/03/relance-du-cv-anonyme-outil-de-lutte-contre-la-discrimination-a-l-embauche_1261942_3224.html

[47] http://www.liberation.fr/societe/2012/06/01/le-gouvernement-travaille-au-recepisse-pour-controle-d-identite_822904

[48] http://www.lefigaro.fr/flash-actu/2009/12/10/01011-20091210FILWWW00563-controles-au-facies-proposition-du-cran.php

[49] http://www.lefigaro.fr/actualite-france/2012/06/01/01016-20120601ARTFIG00604-controles-d-identite-la-grogne-policiere-s-amplifie.php

[50] http://www.le-cran.fr/reparations-cran-associations-noires-de-france_indexe_depeches_0_0_0.html

[51] http://www.francetv.fr/2012/la-diversite-fait-son-entree-a-lassemblee-151253

[53] http://www.liberation.fr/evenement/010194900-pas-d-ethnique-dans-les-statistiques

[54] Nous nous appuyons ici sur Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, pp. 48-49

Bibliographie

Sources Primaires

Anderson, Benedict, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, London, Verso, 1996

Bancel, Nicolas, Blanchard, Pascal et Gervereau, Laurent, Images et Colonies, Iconographie et propagandes coloniale sur l’Afrique Française de 1880 à 1962, ParisBDIC édition, 1993

Blanchard, Pascal, La France Noire. Trois siècles de présences des Afriques, des Caraïbes, de l’océan Indien et d’Océanie, Paris, la Découverte, 2011

Césaire, Aimé, Toussaint Louverture : la Révolution Française et le problème colonial, Paris, Présence africaine, 1962

Citron, Suzanne, L’histoire de France autrement, Paris, Ouvrières, 1992

Dufoix, Stéphane, La politique des mémoires en France, Paris, Ed. de l’Eclat, 2006

Echenberg, Myron J, Les Tirailleurs sénégalais en Afrique occidentale française, 1857-1960, Paris, CREPOS, 2009

Lozès, Patrick, Les Noirs sont-ils des Français à part entière ?, Paris, éditions Larousse, 2009

Lozès, Patrick, Nous, les Noirs de France, Paris, éditions Danger public, 2007

Ndiaye, Pap,  La Condition Noire : Essai sur une minorité française, Paris, Gallimard, 2009

Regent, Frédéric, La France et ses esclaves : de la colonisation aux abolitions, 1620-1848, Paris, Grasset, 2007

Sources secondaires

  • Articles

Blum, Alain, Guérin-Pace, ‘From Measuring Integration to Fighting Discrimination : The Illusion of « Ethnic Statistics »’, French Politics, Culture & Society, Volume 26, 2008, pp. 32–44

Gueye, Abdoulaye, ‘Rompre le silence: l’émergence d’une voix noire collective en France’, du Bois Review: recherche en sciences sociales sur la race, Volume no. 1, 2010,  pp.82-83

Simon, Patrick, ‘The Choice of Ignorance: The Debate on Ethnic and Racial Statistics in France’, French Politics, Culture & Society, Volume 26, 2008, pp. 7-31

Tin, Louis-Georges, ‘Who is Afraid of Blacks in France ? The Black Question: The Name Taboo, the Number Taboo’, French Politics, Culture & Society, Volume 26, 2008, pp. 32–44

  • Sites sur la Toile

http://www.academia.edu/662757/Ethnic_statistics_and_social_classifications_in_France_how_the_black_communitywas_born

http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr

http://www.bip40.org

http://www.csa.be

http://www.csa.fr

http://collectifdom.com

http://dev.ulb.ac.be

http://www.france24.com

http://www.frenchamerican.org

http://www.grioo.com

http://www.guardian.co.uk

http://halde.defenseurdesdroits.fr

http://lci.tf1.fr

http://www.lecran.org

http://www.le-cran.fr

http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr

http://www.lemonde.fr

http://www.lepoint.fr

http://www.liberation.fr

http://medias.lemonde.fr/mmpub/edt/doc/20100309/1316418_e409_rapportlozes.pdf

http://www.observatoiredesdiscriminations.fr

www.opensocietyfoundations.org

http://www.police-nationale.interieur.gouv.fr

http://www.rfi.fr

http://www.sos-racisme.org

http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com

http://www.youtube.com

  • Presse

Le Figaro, 21/11/2005, ‘Les risques de a discrimination’

Le Figaro, 11/12/2012, ‘Mariage gay: Thuram compare aux Noirs’ 

Le Monde, 09/12/2005, ‘Discriminations : pourquoi les Noirs de France se rassemblent-ils ?

Le Monde, 10/11/2006, ‘La représentation des minorités progresse dans l’audiovisuel français, indique le CSA’

Le Monde, 13/10/2011, ‘Non aux statistiques ethniques, oui à la mesure des diversités’

Le Monde, 25/02/2012, ‘Omar Sy, César!’

Le Nouvel Observateur, 24/04/12, ‘Finkielkraut, les “noirs” et les “arabes”’

Le Nouvel Observateur, 27/09/2012, ‘Le concept de racisme anti-blanc nie la réalité de la situation”

Le Point, 18/10/2012, ‘Harlem Désir nouveau premier secrétaire du PS’

Libération, 26/11/2005, ‘En attendant la télé en couleur’

Libération, 27/11/2005, ‘Bleu Blancs Noirs’

Libération, 22/10/2008, ‘Du cran à l’écran’

Libération, 16/03/2009, ‘Fadela Amara opposée aux statistiques ethniques’

Libération, 20/07/2011, ‘Statistiques ethniques: «Il faut arrêter d’être hypocrite»’

Libération, 04/02/2012, ‘Noirs : des historiens mettent fin au black-out’

The Economist, 26/03/2009, ‘To count or not to count’

The Guardian, 24/02/2007, ‘French presidential candidates divided over race census’

The Guardian, 26/03/2011, ‘France’s minorities under fire’

  • Documentaires

Benguigui, Yamina, La Plafond de Verre, 2004

Noirs de France, France 5, 2012

Noirs de France ?, Toutes les France, 2011

  • Photos

Figure 1 : http://www.france-images.com/affiches-anciennes/449-y-a-bon-banania-1930.html

Figure 2 : http://www.bet.com/news/global/photos/world-lens/2012/06/world-lens-week-in-review-june-5.html#!060412-global-world-lens-france-cabinet-Christiane-Taubira-Victorin-Lurel-George-Pau-Langevin

Figure 3 : http://www.afribd.com/article.php?no=10489

Figure 4 : http://www.lunion.presse.fr/article/faits-divers/pour-lutter-contre-les-abus-de-verifications-didentite-un-controle-un-recu

Spanish society through literature and film

By Shane Cassidy

Image

It is important when considering the works of the 3 artists that they are placed in socio-cultural context. 20th Century Spain witnessed a massive turn in its fortunes, beginning with the development in the early 1930’s of the left-leaning, progressive Republican government who wished to engage the people with the arts through their missiones pedagógicas[1]. The Spanish civil war of 1936-39 marked a break in the development of the arts and during the Franco regime, Spain practised a massive, sweeping censorship which inevitably limited artistic expression. Luis García Berlanga, Federico García Lorca and Ana María Matute all lived through tumultuous periods in Spains history where they came under the scrutiny of censorship under General Franco’s regime which would challenge their attempts at accurate, honest portrayals of the societies they lived in. What is prevalent not only in García Lorca’s play but the films of Berlanga and the short stories of Matute is that they all carry strong critiques of their society and have contributed massively to Spanish 20th century arts.

“Berlanga no es un comunista; es mucho peor, es un mal español”[2]

– General Franco

Of all the 3 works, cinema was the most heavily censored at the time and the above quote represents the regimes attitudes towards any art which was critical of Spanish society, or to put it more accurately, whatever art which most depicted a real picture of Spanish society. Satire is heavily dominant in both in the 1952 film ‘Bienvenido Mr. Marshall’ and ‘El Verdugo’ which was made in 1963. In ‘Bienvenido Mr. Marshall’, the scenes of Don Manolo and the Mayor making this grand speech of promises of prosperity are highly effective in satirising General Franco. The film is littered with allusions to the loss of political power, most noticeably in the same scene where the Mayor and Don Manolo are on the balcony, they constantly struggle with each other for the right to speak and as Justin Crumbaugh says they are “conflicted over the way in which to direct the very image of popular sameness”[3]. It is interesting to note that it is Manolo, a man who can be interpreted as the one representing commercial interests and life succeeds over the Mayor who represents political life and office.

What is prevalent in Berlangas work is his commentary of Spain as it experienced changes in its society. The struggle between modernism and traditionalism, the intrusion of a modern world into Franco’s carefully orchestrated one. During the making of ‘Bienvenido Mr Marshall’, the Spanish government was softening its stance on isolationism[4]. This can be seen in his portrayal of a society open to welcoming the Americans in return for financial assistance. Eleven years later in ‘El Verdugo’, a satirical film about a young man, José Luis, who takes the job as a State executioner with the hope that he will never have to actually perform an execution, once again comments on the changes in Spains position is evident with the inclusion of the tourists and the visit to the tourist area of Spain. This film was made at a time when Spain was experiencing what is known as “el miraglo Espanola” with the tourist boom[5]. His intentions were to paint a picture of a backward society which needed to evolve and progress.

Berlanga depicts, if not a sexually repressed society, then it is most certainly a sexually adverse one. In ‘El Verdugo’, the scene where José Luis and Carmen are dancing after their picnic illustrates perfectly the closed-minded view Spanish society took of public displays of affection when an older couple who are sitting on the grass beside them get up, turn off their radio which is playing the music and leave. As they pass the young couple they say “si querían bailar, que se traigan la música”. This scene is employed to show the backwardness of Spanish society and a clash between the old-fashioned views and the new is depicted. Similarly this can be seen in Lorcas play, ‘La casa de Bernarda Alba’, especially with the exchanges between Poncía and Adela and the attitudes towards men. Poncía retains the old-fashioned view that men need to satisfy sexual urges whereas women have none of their own. She says “los hombres necesitan estas cosas” to which Adela, always challenging conventions, replies “Se les perdona todo”[6].

Federico García Lorca was a member of the surrealists ‘Generation of 1927’ in which defiance and rebellion through the arts was the norm and progressive thought and frank observation of Spanish society was encouraged[7]. This can be seen through his work ‘La casa de Bernarda Alba’. A play centred on the house of a woman who is autocratic in her behaviour, Bernarda Alba, and her 5 unmarried daughters who are not permitted to leave the house. The play begins under a cloud of death, with the family in mourning for Bernardas previous husband. What’s most notable about the play is the total lack of male presence throughout it. She runs the house with a vice-like grip and is utterly dominating in a role which Lorca has unconventionally transformed her into. As Alfred Rodriguez describes it, Lorca has turned an “anomalous mother-figure into a solidly fixed masculine role”[8]. An atmospheric and claustrophobic setting is created by the fact that the set never changes, nobody can leave the house and therefore we feel exactly how the daughters feel. The impression is created that within this autocratic, dictatorship of a household it is not possible to live freely and the outside of the house represents freedom and liberty from such provisions. The strength of Bernardas rule is witnessed in Act 2 when, significantly Poncia asks “Puedo hablar?”[9]. The fact that a simple action like speaking requires permission represents the fear that Bernarda generated and the control she wielded. It is also ironic that such an untraditional character maintain and clings to traditions throughout the play; from observing the mourning period to wishing to maintain ‘honour’ and ‘decency’ in the wake of Adelas suicide by insisting “Ella, la hija menor de Bernarda Alba, ha muerto virgen.”[10]

Lorcas intentions were to examine the cultural clash between modern and traditional and this is most acute in the fact that the youngest daughter Adela is the most progressive and resistant to Bernarda and her rule. This can be witnessed towards the hugely dramatic end to Act 2 when la hija de la Librada is to be punished for sexual transgression and on one hand Adela says “No, no, para matarla no!” but on the contrary Bernarda attests “Y que pague la que pisotea su decencia”[11]. The idea that la hija de la Librada had a child out of wedlock doesn’t shock Adela and she doesn’t believe any ‘honour’ has been lost but for Bernarda it is the ultimate act of dishonour due to her distorted honour code. The attitude of modern versus tradition also prevails in Berlangas work where his comment on a backward Spanish society is evident in his films. ‘Bienvenido Mr. Marshall’ allows the audience to see this in the Mayors dream sequence where his idea of the United States is a comic, archaic and stereotypical view of a typical Western film not at all in-tune with how the USA of the 1950’s would have been.

Throughout Ana María Matute works, in her collection of short stories Historias de la Artamila, a very common theme of the loss of innocence re-appears over and over again. At the breakout of the Civil War in 1936, Matute was sent to live in the countryside and this heavily impacted upon her works. Matute utilised the disarming technique of writing from a childs perspective and therefore censors would have been less suspicious of the messages Matutes stories carried. Nevertheless her collection of works served to remind readers of that very loss of purity, of innocence which not only Matute lost as a child herself at the outbreak of the Civil War but also Spain lost . As a country, Spain lost that aspiration and hope it had developed during the Republican government from 1931-36. Throughout her works, she highlights the hypocrisy of society and their adverse reactions to ‘outsiders’.

All three artists wanted to hold a mirror up to Spanish society in order to highlight the hypocrisy which was clearly present. The ostracisation and stigmatisation of individuals or groups of people by society and their ignorance and fear of the unknown were themes which all three directly addressed. In Matutes ‘El Perro Perdido’, the dog which enters the village is immediately viewed with suspicion and disdain. The villagers immediately stigmatise the dog without reason and he is taken to be killed only for the cries of young Damián to be listened to. Anotonia María, the healer in the village declares “ese perro es un espíritu malo”[12]. The fear of the unknown stretches to societys treatment of the outsider as Antonia María also says of the dog “Eche al perro de casa…esta embrujado”[13]. It requires a large struggle from Damián to save the dog and even then it is begrudgingly allowed to live.

Equally so, in Berlangas ‘El Verdugo’, the position of the executioner is one which carries a lot of stigma and not only do Amadeo and José Luis experience it but Amadeos daughter Carmen also suffers it purely through association. In the scene where they go for a picnic, she expresses to José Luis her desire to runaway to “Francía” to start afresh. The position of state executioner is not a position which is highly coveted and the one performing it is always given a wide berth. Berlanga cleverly depicts this at the beginning of the film when the undertakers bring in a coffin and the guard on duty simply raises his hat to pay his respects and returns to eating his soup undeterred. However a moment later Amadeo, the executioner, asks the guard about a lift and the guard quickly becomes agitated and uncomfortable and when Amadeo leaves the guard pushes away the bowl of soup clearly indicating he has lost his appetite. In the same scene, Jose Luis is talking about the executioner to the other undertaker and he describes him in the following manner “La verdad es que parece una persona normal”. It is clear that society has a distorted idea of how an executioner should appear and through what José Luis says it is evident that the executioner is not a position with a great deal of respect or understanding.

Loss is a theme which permeates right throughout the artists works. La casa de Bernarda Alba opens with the loss of Bernardas husband and it serves as a metaphor for the rest of the film. Loss hangs over the family; it forbids them from leaving the house as they are in a period of mourning. The characters of Pepe Romano, although never seen, and Poncia add to the frustration of the women as they provide a hint of the liberty that outside brings them. The daughters, loss of freedom has also come at a cost of losing their sister Adela at the end of the play and Angustias has lost her fiancé.

In Berlangas ‘Bienvenido Mr. Marshall’, the villagers’ dreams of the Americans coming and making them all rich is ultimately not realised. Berlanga cleverly uses the characters of the Don Manolo, Don Cosme and the Mayor to highlight the impending fate of the townspeople as they all have dream sequences which all end fatally for them. Matute also uses the characters in her stories to highlight the sense of loss and unfairness. In her story ‘Pecado de Omision’, a recently orphaned boy called Lope goes to live with his rich uncle Emeterio in another village. Although family was very important at the time, Lope is treated badly and not welcomed. He is sent to the mountains to be a shepherd and his uncle says “hay que ganarse el carrusco”[14]. The character of Don Lorenzo is effectively used in the story to show the loss of potential when he attempts to explain to Emeterio that he is clever and that he could achieve something, “es que el chico vale…es listo. Muy listo.”[15]. The contrast between Lope and Manuel Enriquéz also harshly contrasts the fortunes of both boys. Lopes hands are rough and barely capable of holding a cigarette but Manuel Enriquéz has fine, slender hands which highlights the socio-economic gulf between the two boys. It is a tale of two hands and two worlds, what might have been for Lope but he was never given the opportunity.

Similarly, in Berlangas ‘El Verdugo’, the inclusion of the Germans in the story appears to play several functions. One is to highlight the development of Spain’s tourism industry, which was a double edged sword in itself as it helped to revive a floundering economy but also allowed liberal, left wing progressive attitudes to enter through tourism and therefore this was a lot harder for the Franco regime to control[16]. However the other purpose which these Germans play, it can be argued, is to serve as a constant reminder of the life Jose Luis could have had. In the picnic scene early in the film, Carmen expresses her wish to go to France, to which Jose Luis responds with “y porque no Allemana, así podríamos marchamos juntos”.  Later in the film he meets three blonde German girls who represent progressive, liberal Western women with their modern technology and uncovered hair. At the music show which Jose Luis and Carmen attend, it is his wife, symbolically, who again obstructs his passage to sit with or near the Germans. Finally, at the end of the film when Jose Luis comes aboard the boat and it is evident that he is a broken man, the party boat in the distance plays lively music and the German girls are getting on it to go for a party. It’s the tale of two boats but it could easily be the tale of two hands.

The intention of Berlanga is that José Luis is condemned by society as he is complicit in the government’s actions. Berlangas observation is of a man who allows himself to be led by others to ultimately dire consequences. José Luis first arrives in Mallorca to perform the execution he is met by members of La Guardia Civil and he is resistant and ultimately has to be coerced into going and the scene of him sitting on the back of the jeep gives the impression of a condemned man. Later when he is with his wife at the music show and again La Guardia Civil arrive in search of him, the impression as he gets into the boat and Caremen, his wife, shouts to him “ tranquilo, no te preocupes”, as if it will be their final meeting and once again he is led off. The most powerful scene aesthetically comes towards the end of the film when he is in the prison and he has to physically dragged through a long white room into the execution room to perform his duties while the man who is to be executed is far more composed. The white-washed walls of  the room in the prison are contrasted against the black clothes of the characters and the looming black door at the end of the room is reminiscent of both Lorca’s description of the room in his play; white walls contrasted against the black of the characters clothes. It is interesting to note that both José Luis and Adela wear white and green respectively and thus are made to stand out. They are both different.  Hugely symbolic is José Luis’ hat which he drops, thus signifying both his submission finally to the act and also when the guard returns to pick the hat up the hat itself and bring into the execution room. Clearly signifying that absolutely no part of Don Jose will be left behind, he is 100% complicit in the States actions and he is a condemned man.

All 3 artists sought to comment on Spanish society through their works and even with the obstacle of censorship their goal was to make the audience aware of the societies they lived and highlight the unfairness and inequality which was occurring. That it was done in such poetic, beautiful art only adds to its poignancy and the impact of their work on Spanish culture and the arts in general cannot be overstated. By using ‘small’ domestic issues to raise awareness of the larger scheme of things and the greater problems in society, all 3 were able to effectively portray their message without fear of losing their audience through their clever use of metaphor, satire and analogies.

Reference

[2]http://www.lasprovincias.es/v/20101121/culturas/comunista-mucho-peor-espanol-20101121.html

[3] CRUMBAUGH, Justin, Destination Dictatorship: the spectacle of Spain’s tourist boom and the reinvention of difference, SUNY Press, 2009 (p. 9)

[4] MAXWELL, K, Spiegel, S, The New Spain: From Isolation to influence, Council on Foreign Relations Press, New York, 1994, (p. 83)

[6]RAMSDEN, H, La casa de Bernarda Alba, Federico García Lorca, Manchester University Press, 1983 (p.47)

[7] Romance Notes 21(1980-81) : Bernarda Alba, Creation as Defiance, Alfred Rodriguez, (p. 279)

[8] Romance Notes 21(1980-81) : Bernarda Alba, Creation as Defiance, Alfred Rodriguez, (p.280)

[9] RAMSEN, H, La casa de Bernarda Alba, Ferica García Lorca, Manchester University Press, 1983 (p.56)

[10] RAMSEN, H, La casa de Bernarda Alba, Ferica García Lorca,Manchester University Press, 1983(p.91)

[11] RAMSEN, H, La casa de Bernarda Alba, Ferica García Lorca, Manchester University Press, 1983 (p.65)

[12]http://www..jesusfelipe.es/anamariamatute.htm#El%20perro%20perdido

[13]http://www..jesusfelipe.es/anamariamatute.htm#El%20perro%20perdido

[16] http://www.sensesofcinema.com/2003/great-directors/berlanga/

Bibliography

CRUMBAUGH, Justin, Destination Dictatorship: the spectacle of Spain’s tourist boom and the reinvention of difference, SUNY Press, 2009

GARCÍA LORCA, Federico, La casa de Bernarda Alba, ed by H. Ramsden (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996).

MAXWELL, K, SPIEGEL, S, The New Spain: From Isolation to influence, Council on Foreign Relations Press, New York, 1994,

Kinder, Marsha, Blood Cinema: The Reconstruction of National Identity in Spain (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993)

El Verdugo. Dir. BERLANGA, José Luis García, Interlagar Films, 1962

Turkey and European Union

By Shane Cassidy

Introduction

On the 3rd of October 2005, the European Union finally opened the door on Turkey to begin negotiations which could ultimately lead to the accession of Turkey into EU. This will have profound effects, not only on Turkey but also on the EU and the direction it will then take. These negotiations had been anticipated for a long time and it had been almost 16 years since Turkey formally applied to join the European Community.

What this means is that over the course of the next 10-15 years, Turkey will conduct and ultimately aim to complete the necessary negotiations to integrate themselves into the EU. The face of the EU will change dramatically after this and I feel that it is important to examine Turkey and its relationship with the EU a little more closely as it begins the final lap of its journey from association agreement partner to fully fledged member. I feel that it is important that we examine the complex relationship Turkey has with the EU and the possible problems and also advantages of accepting a country as vast as Turkey. Turkey is the only pluralist secular democracy in the Muslim world and has always attached great importance to developing its relations with other European countries. Historically, Turkish culture has had a profound impact over much of Eastern and Southern Europe.

Turkey began “westernising” its economic, political and social structures in the 19th century. Following the First World War and the proclamation of the Republic in 1923, it chose Western Europe as the model for its new secular structure under the leadership of Kemal Ataturk1.Turkey views the accession process as a method to modernise their country in the process. Turkey is a founding member of UN, a member of the Council of Europe, NATO, OECD and is also an associate member of the Western European Union. 

Militarily, Turkey has been aligned closely with Europe for quite some time now and plays a vital role in defence of the European continent. It seemed only appropriate then, that Turkey would seek to more closely link itself to Europe, economically. From this decision, the first EEC-Turkey Association Agreement was created. 

I am doing this dissertation because i believe it will provide me with a greater insight into the operations of the EU enlargement process in relation to Turkey.I am aiming to determine what the obstacles facing Turkey are and how they are affecting their bid to become a fully fledged member of the EU instead of its current status which is defined under the 1963 Association Agreement. Under these terms, Turkey is considered as an associate member but not a full member of the EU and therefore it does not enjoy its various benefits, be they economic, legal or political. I will begin by looking at the various important documents in relation to Turkey and the EU Enlargement process.

1. Various processes of EU Enlargement

1.1 The Treaty of the European Union.

This treaty was signed in Maastricht in the Netherlands and henceforth has become known as the Maastricht Treaty. According to the EU Treaty, the European Parliament and each member state of the EU have to agree to any enlargement. The treaty deals with geographical and general policy issues relevant to Turkey’s accession aspirations. Any country seeking EU memnership must conform to Article ‘O’.

Article ‘O’ of the Maastricht Treaty states:

Any European State may apply to become a Member of the Union. It shall address its application to the Council, which shall act unanimously after consulting the Commission and after receiving the assent of the European Parliament, which shall act by an absolute majority of its component members. The conditions of admission and the adjustments to the Treaties on which the Union is
founded which such admission entails shall be the subject of an agreement between the Member States and the applicant State. This agreement shall be submitted for ratification by all the contracting States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements[2].

Following the amendment of this Article, the Maastricht Treaty laid down the principles of application for EU membership with the following two articles:

Article 49:
Any European State which represents the principles set out in Article 6(1) may apply to become a member of the Union.

Article 6(1):

The Union is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, principles which are common to Member States.

1.2. Copenhagen criteria

In order to join the European Union, a State needs to fulfill the economic and political conditions generally known as the Copenhagen criteria( after the Copenhagen summit in June 1993). It has 3 main points of focus and requirements:

  • Political – The applicant county must have achieved stability of its institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities,
  • Economic – It must have a functioning market economy, as well as the capacity to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the EU.
  • Legislative – The applicant country must be able to adopt the corresponding European Law into its own national body of law so that they are brought up to date.[3]

1.3 The Acquis Communautaire

This refers to the total body of EU law accumulated up to this point. If Turkey wishes to become an EU member they will have to satisfy each of the 35 Status of Acquis Chapters which are conducted and supervised by the European Council. Criteria of the adoption of the acquis includes the ability to take on the obligations related to membership, including adherence to the aims of a political, economic and monetary union[4]. These chapters cover a very broad spectrum which includes, the Free Movement of Goods, the Free Movement of Services, Telecommunication and information technologies and Financial control. The negotiations are currently underway and it is crucial that Turkey satisfies all 35 Chapters.

1.4. Council of Europe
Turkey became a member of the Council of Europe on August 9th 1949. Considering it signed up just over 4 months after the Council of Europe’s inception, Turkey is still considered a founding member of the organization. Although seperate form the Council of the European Union or even the European Council for that matter, their goals are very much alligned and that is European integration. The Council, in its lifetime has spread the values of human rights, democracy and respect throughout its members and Turkey has been an integral member of the Council. Turkey is answerable to both the European Convention on Human Rights and the Europan Court on Human Rights.

2.The Eu-Turkey and Custom Union Agreements

1963 EU-Turkey Association Agreement

Also officially known as ‘ The Agreement Creating An Association Between The Republic of Turkey and the European Economic Community ‘, this agreement between Turkey and the then EEC was, strictly speaking, an instrument for enabling Turkey to ultimately join the European Economic Community. When Turkey first formally applied for membership in 1959, the EEC recommended a preliminary preparatory stage as an associate member and so negotiations on terms took place and were concluded on September 12, 1963 and this became known as the ‘Ankara Agreement’. The agreement came into force on December 1st, 1964 and provided for a number of things, including the free movement of workers, establishment and services. Also included was the aim to completely integrate EEC internal-market policies within Turkey. The aim of the Ankara Agreement was to politically and economically connect Turkey with the EEC much more closely and it envisioned three phases for Turkey’s eventual accession to the EU Common Market through the establishment of a customs union. This was of paramount importance to Turkey as it represented one step closer to the EU. Since the Ankara agreement was established, it has set in motion all agreements beween Turkey and the EU since then. Since the Ankara agreement was established, it has set in motion all agreements beween Turkey and the EU since then. The Additional Protocol was signed in brussels on 23rd November 1970, was approved in the Turkish Grand National Assembly in July 1971 and came into effect in January 1973. The establishment is massively significant and it is due to this agreement that Turkey is now in a position to seek and entitled to expect full EU membership, provided they satisfy all accession requirements.

There are cases when the European Court of Justice has been utilised in order to make a decision on the matter of whether or not a Turkish citizen has the right under the Association Agreement to be resident and/or remain in a Member State of the EU. Usually a decision is sought regarding the interpretation of the following pieces of legislation.

DECISION No 1/80 OF THE ASSOCIATION COUNCIL OF 19 SEPTEMBER 1980 ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ASSOCIATION

2.1. Article 6

2.1.1. Subject to Article 7 on free access to employment for members of his family, a Turkish worker duly registered as belonging to the labour force of a Member State:

  • shall be entitled in that Member State, after one year’s legal employment, to the renewal of his permit to work for the same employer, if a job is available;
  • shall be entitled in that Member State, after three years of legal employment and subject to the priority to be given to workers of Member States of the Community, to respond to another offer of employment, with an employer of his choice, made under normal conditions and registered with the employment services of that State, for the same occupation;
  • shall enjoy free access in that Member State to any paid employment of his choice, after four years of legal employment.

2.1.2. Annual holidays and absences for reasons of maternity or an accident at work or short periods of sickness shall be treated as periods of legal employment. Periods of involuntary unemployment duly certified by the relevant authorities and long absences on account of sickness shall not be treated as periods of legal employment, but shall not affect rights acquired as the result of the preceding period of employment.
2.1.3. The procedures for applying paragraphs 1 and 2 shall be those established under national rules.

2.2. Article 7
The members of the family of a Turkish worker duly registered as belonging to the labour force of a Member State, who have been authorized to join him:

  • shall be entitled-subject to the priority to be given to workers of Member States of the Community – to respond to any offer of employment after they have been legally resident for at least three years in that Member State;
  • shall enjoy free access to any paid employment of their choice provided they have been legally resident there for at least five years.

Children of Turkish workers who have completed a course of vocational training in the host country may respond to any offer of employment there, irrespective of the length of time they have been resident in that Member State, provided one of their parents has been legally employed in the Member State concerned for at least three years. [5]

2.3. Article 11

Nationals of the Member States duly registered as belonging to the labour force in Turkey, and members of their families who have been authorized to join them, shall enjoy in that country the rights and advantages referred to in Articles 6, 7, 9 and 10 if they meet the conditions laid down in those Articles. [1-www.diyih.gov.tr/uluslararasi_kuruluslar/ab/ortaklik_ant_doc/okk_1_80_eng.doc ]

2.4. Case C-434/93 Ahmet Bozkurt v. Staatsecretaris van Justitie, judgment of 6 June 1995, [1995] ECR I-1475
Ahmet Bozkurt, was a Turkish national living in the Netherlands and working as an international lorry driver for a Dutch firm. In between jobs, Bozkurt resided in the Netherlands. As Dutch legislation did not require Bozkurt to obtain a working or residence permit, he did not seek one. However, after an accident which rendered him unable to work, he sought a permanent residence permit. After initial rejectment form the Raad van State der Nederlanden, Bozkurt appealed under Article 6(1) of Decision 1/80 of the EEC-Turkey Association Council and the case was referred to the European court under Article 177 to determine whether decision 1/80 of the EEC-Turkey Association Council entitled Bozkurt to remain in the Netherlands in his unfit state. The Court ruled that Article 6 of Decision 1/80 did not entitle Bozkurt to remain in the Netherlands as that provision is only applicable to Turkish workers who are currently working in a Member State or are only temporarily incapacitated for work. In other words, the right of to remain in an EU member state after incapacitation is not conferred upon Turkish nationals [6].

2.5. Case C-1/97 Mehmet Birden v Stadtgemeinde Bremen, judgement of 26 November 1998, [1998]
The Verwaltungsgericht der Freien Hansestadt Bremen in Germany (Administrative Court of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen) referred to the Court for a preliminary ruling under Article 177 of the EC Treaty a question on the interpretation of Article 6(1) of Decision No 1/80 of the Association Council of 19 September 1980 on the development of the Association.[Nicola Rogers , 1999. A Practitioner’s Guide to the EC-Turkey Association Agreement (Paperback) , Brill, London.]
Article 6(1) of Decision No 1/80 of the EEC-Turkey Association Council must be interpreted as meaning that a Turkish national who has lawfully pursued a genuine and effective economic activity in a Member State under an unconditional work permit for an uninterrupted period of more than one year for the same employer, in return for which he received the usual remuneration, is a worker duly registered as belonging to the labour force of that Member State and in legal employment there within the meaning of that provision.
As long as a Turkish national has a job with the same employer, they are entitled to demand the renewal of their residence permit in whichever EU Member State they may be present in. In relation to this particular case the Court, in their interpretation of this case, ruled:
A Turkish national who has lawfully pursued a genuine and effective economic activity in a Member State under an unconditional work permit for an uninterrupted period of more than one year for the same employer, in return for which he received the usual remuneration, is a worker duly registered as belonging to the labour force of that Member State and in legal employment
there within the meaning of that provision. In so far as he has available a job with the same employer, a Turkish national in that situation is thus entitled to demand the renewal of his residence permit in the host Member State, even if, pursuant to the legislation of that Member State, the activity pursued by him was restricted to a limited group of persons, was intended to facilitate their integration into working life and was financed by public funds. ‘ [7]

2.6 Customs Union Agreement
This Customs Union agreement between Turkey and the EU was finally signed in 1995 and what this achieved was the eradicatication of customs restrictions on goods that travel between the Turkey and the EU. The Customs Union agreement provides for the free travel of goods between the two entities without any customs restrictions. Turkey adopted the Common Customs Tariff of the EC as provided for in Articles 17 and 18 of the Additional Protocol of the Association Agreement which laid down the timetables by which Turkey moved towards the CCT of the Community.

However, major areas such as agriculture are not covered and bilateral trade concessions still exist for these products. Although it was agreed in the Association Agreement that free movement of agricultural goods should have come into effect 22 years after the signing of the Additional Protocol in 1973, it was decided, in 1995, to not go ahead with it as both entities are pursuing very different agricultural policies.[8]. Agriculture is currently omitted from this agreement as it would contravene the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy. Therefore the Customs Union agreement focuses mainly on manufactured and industrialized goods and it abolished in reciprocal and progressive fashion, all tariffs and duties on those goods.

Officially, it appears as though Turkey has as much free movement of goods as the EU countries but in practice it is much more difficult to operate. To illustrate, Finike, a city on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey and approx 20km north of the Greek island Rhodes, in order to comply with EU standards and regulations, would have to transport their goods up through Turkey and through to Athens so that they could undergo a mandatory laboratory examination in order to determine whether they meet EU criteria and subsequently whether the goods could be imported into the EU. A trip which should be done in 45 mins suddenly takes considerably longer.

3. Obstacles within Turkey

Freedom of Expression


Keep the tongue in your mouth a prisoner
– Turkish proverb

3.1. Article 301

Article 301 of the Turkish Penal code is probably the most controversial of all the legal reforms undertaken by Recep Erdogans government and it effectively makes it a crime to insult “Turkishness”. The definition of “Turkishness” is broad and incorporates many different areas of Turkish identity, from the Government and its institutions to referring to the mass killing of Armenians as a ‘genocide’. Although these different categories are not legally defined, persons have been prosecuted for alleged insult of them. Article 301 has been in effect since the 1st of June 2005.
Article 301 states the following[9] :

  • 1. A person who publicly denigrates Turkishness, the Republic or the Grand National Assembly of Turkey shall be punishable by imprisonment of between six months and three years.
  • 2. A person who publicly denigrates the Government of the Republic of Turkey, the judicial institutions of the State, the military or security organizations shall be punishable by imprisonment of between six months and two years.
  • 3. In cases where denigration of Turkishness is committed by a Turkish citizen in another country the punishment shall be increased by one third.
  • 4. Expressions of thought intended to criticize shall not constitute a crime.

This article is highly contentious and could prove to work against Turkey and their EU accession attempts.The European Commission, in its annual progress report released in September 2007, highlighted a series of shortcomings in the areas of freedom of expression and encouraged Turkey to address these issues to accelerate its EU membership bid. In the report the EU stated ‘ …the prosecution and conviction for the expression of non-violent opinions under certain provisions of the Turkish Criminal Code are a cause of serious concern'(2 Turkey progress Report, Commission of the European Communities, SEC (2007) 1436). One of the issues that the EU strongly emphasizes in this report was Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which has been used to prosecute many writers, intellectuals and journalists for allegedly insulting the Turkish identity and the country’s institutions. This is not the first time that the EU has criticized this article as it has been urging Turkey for a long time to either scrap or radically change 301, which it perceives as violating freedom of speech. Nevertheless, Turkey’s reluctance to deal with this notorious article puts its EU bid at risk as well as diminishing the trust in the country’s judicial system due to interpretations of this article according to non-judicial criteria which is clearly evident.
There are many famous Turkish writers who have been prosecuted by the Turkish judiciary on account of their comments being interpreted as unpatriotic. For example, Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk , who was brought to trial on account of statements he made about the the mass killing of Armenians and Kurds around the time of World War 1. Throughout his trial, he protested his innocence and argued for the freedom of speech without reprimand from the Turkish police or State. The fear aroused from this article is that self-censorship will become the rule of thumb within broadcasting agencies, writers and journalists and Turkey must seek to combat this if they are serious about accession.

In 2006, the EU Enlargement officer, Oli Rehn, requested that Turkey ammend their laws in relation to those which restrict freedom of expression [10]. It has developed into somewhat of a problem for the Turkish centre-right government to deal with as they are stuck in a considerable quandry. They are receiving pressure from the European Commission to ammend the law and subsequently give more freedom of expression to Turks. At the same time however, the Turkish government faces a backlash from nationalists in the country as they would see this move as an act of submission of Turkish identity in order to satisfy the EU and the enlargement process. As, for the moment, support for joining the EU begins to dwindle, the AKP need to carefully address this issue. The signs for amendment are positive however. Late in 2007 the Turkish government announced they were looking at amending the article, although very little progress has since been made. This once again, typifies some of the opinions within Europe that alot of what Turkey is doing is very much just a façade so that they can appear to be fulfilling all of the EU’s requirements. Turkey, if it wants to be taken seriously must tackle these pressing issues with more transparency and urgency and must create an environment where they are free to do so without fear of reprimand from the Turkish judiciary based on a justification of a threat to secularism. Article 301 has proven to be self defeating in purpose as this penal code was introduced by the Turkish government as part of wider reform package with the aim of Turkey achieving the same standards as the EU but instead it has attracted a wide range of criticism from all corners of Europe and from within Turkey itself.

Concerns for Turkish freedom of expression manifest themselves within the broader media also. Discouraging people from performing military service is also considered a crime under Turkish law. Miklos Haraszti, in his review of the Turkish Penal codes for the OSCE, notes that it ‘becomes punishable for journalists to report or debate on the military service’.[11]

Article 318 states:

  • 1. Persons who give incentives or make suggestions or spread propaganda which will have the effect of discouraging people from performing military service shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of six months to two years.
  • 2. If the act is committed through the medium of the press and media, the penalty shall be increased by half. [12]

3.2. Cyprus Issue

The Cyprus issue is an issue that has plagued not only Turkey but also Greece and the EU for some time now. During the Cold War it was easier for the EU to issue vague promises on the matter so that Turkey and Greece would remain within the Western Union and support the struggle against the Soviets. After the collapse of the Soviet Empire in the early 90’s however, it became apparent that the US and EU differed on the problem. USA regards Turkey as a strategic partner on the issue of the Middle East, this was most evidently displayed when Turkey supported the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. To upset US-Turkish relations would be to do a disservice to US foreign policy. This manifested itself in October 2007 when US President George Bush requested that the US Congressional panel, which was debating whether or not to call the mass killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks around the same time of World War I as “genocide”, to resist from doing so. Turkey denies that the deaths constituted genocide, it has stated that the number of dead has been exaggerated and insists that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest. I have looked at this matter elsewhere in this paper under Article 301. [13]
In 1974 Turkey invaded Cyprus to counter what they considered to be a Greek takeover of the island. Since then, the island has been annexed, with the Northern portion known as the the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Only Turkey recognizes this state. Turkey has stationed 40,000 troops on the island and refuses to recognize the Republic of Cyprus until a solution is found by the UN Resolution 541 (1983), adopted by the UN Security Council, has officially declared the Turkish occupation as unlawful and has called for Turkey to withdraw its forces from Northern Cyprus [14]. Within the resolution, it is stated ‘The Security Council…deplores the declaration of the Turkish Cypriot authorities of the purported secession of part of the Republic of Cyprus…Considers the declaration refereed to above as legally invalid and calls for its withdrawal‘. The UN has attempted to solve this dispute and most recently the ‘Annan Plan for Cyprus’, named after the then UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, was supported by the UN, Turkey and the European Union. This was the most comprehensive UN effort at a peace plan for Cyprus. What this plan suggested was the creation of United Cyprus Republic. This new country was to be a loose union of two States, the Greek Cypriot State and the Turkish Cypriot State and they would be joined together by a minimal federal government apparatus. Amongst the proposals were plans for a Senate, Chamber of Deputies, Presidential Council and even a Constitution. This plan also proposed a limited right of return between Northern and Southern Cyprus and would also allow a military presence from both Greece and Turkey to be maintained but on a much smaller scale[15].
In the subsequent referenda in both communities, a split decision emerged. The Turkish Cypriots approved the plan with 64.91% vothing in favour of the Plan. The Greek Cypriots voted against the Plan, with 75.83% voting against the proposal [16].
From a military perspective, the Cyprus issue remains very clear. On the 25th January 2005, General Yasar Buyukkanit, commander of the land forces of the Turkish army stated unequivocally “Before a final and lasting agreement, not even a single soldier will go from here” [17]. Cyprus has also had a knock on effect with regards to the Customs Union signed by Turkey in 1995. In this agreement, Turkey promised and is also obliged to open up its ports and airports to Cypriot vessels and planes. Turkey refuses to do this however until Council Regulation (EC) No 389/2006 is met. This regulation provides for the opening up of direct trade with the Turkish Cypriots and also the provision of €259m in funds from the EU to assist the the Turkish Cyriots in upgrading all of their infrastructure.[18] .The aim of this Regulation is to establish an instrument of financial support to encourage the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community.Article 1.1 of this Resolution sets out one of the overall objectives as:

The Community shall provide assistance to facilitate the reunification of Cyprus by encouraging the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community with particular emphasis on the economic integration of the island, on improving contacts between the two communities and with the EU, and on preparation for the acquis communautaire.’ [19].

3.3 The Kurdish Minority

The Kurdish people are a large and distinct ethnic minority in Turkey. They represent 15 million people of the total 71 million Turkish nationals[20]. The treatment of Kurds by the Turkish government has been highly controversial and has received international condemnation from both governments and human rights agencies. Turkish forces have, in the past, destroyed Kurdish towns and persecuted Kurdish political parties and leaders as a reaction to acts of violence carried out by the main Kurdish armed separatist movement, the Kurdish Workers Party or as they are more commonly known, the PKK. The Kurdish people, due to their large population, are perceived to be a possible threat to Turkish national unity and as a result the Turkish government has attempted a forced assimilation of the Kurds into Turkish sociey and have introduced a wide range of schemes to suppress Kurdish culture and language. Some of these schemes include and official ban that was imposed on speaking or writing in Kurdish. On all State television and radio, broadcasting in Kurdish was also not permitted as it would have been seen as promoting the Kurdish language and therefore would have been a threat to national unity. The majority of Kurdish people in Turkey live in the extremely poor and underdeveloped region of South and South-Eastern Turkey or else they are scattered elsewhere in other poor, urban areas of Turkey. This is due to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Kurdish people by the Turkish armed forces who feared a threat from the Kurdish paramilitaries[21]. This, in turn, created a barrier to understanding between the Kurdish community and the Turkish government and administration offices.

The PKK took up arms in 1984 as a response to constant suppression of the Kurds by the successive Turkish governments and its ultimate aim was an independent Kurdish State situated in what today is South Eastern Turkey. So the struggle for the area also known as Kurdistan began. Since the conflict began, 37,000 people have been killed and many more have lost their homes. The PKK is listed as a terrorist group by the United States, United Nations and the European Union. According to Human Rights Watch, in a letter to the then Italian Prime Minister Massimo D’Alema, it stated ‘ all economic, political, military, social and cultural organizations, institutions, formations — and those who serve in them — have become targets. The entire country has become a battlefield ‘.
There was also criticism for Turkey and the role it had played in this conflict, ‘ Turkish government forces have, in the course of the conflict with the PKK, also committed serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including torture, extrajudicial killings, and indiscriminate fire‘. Amnesty International, along with other human rights organisations, have linked the Turkish armed forces with the disappearance of PKK members.

4. Opposition to Turkeys EU Accession and arguments against Turkish membership.

4. 1. Article 49

Article 49 of the Maastricht Treaty creates one of the more difficult obstacles for Turkey, insomuch that it states that ‘Any European State…..may apply to become a member of the Union‘. Therefore the question becomes; Is Turkey a European State?

Opposition to EU accession has repeatedly revolved around the geographical location of Turkey. Geographically, Turkeys claims of being European does not stand as a very good argument. Turkey is divided into 2 separate pieces of land, Thrace and Anatolia. Anatolia, which comprises 779.452 square km of the country (Thrace contains just 23,764 square km) is situated to the east of the Bosporus Straits and for the purposes of EU accession would not be enough to qualify Turkey [22]. It would appear that it is Thrace, to the east of the Bosporus, which has given weight to Turkeys call for negotiations with the EU, geographically speaking. I believe that if it were not for Thrace, it is very doubtful that Turkey would be in the position that it is in today with regards to accession and membership negotiations.

Turkey is a very vast country, blending eastern and western cultures such is its history and location. Depending on where in Turkey you are, it varies greatly. If you were to visit only İstanbul, Ankara, İzmir or the coast towns you would think that Turkey for all intents and purposes is an European country. If you visit only Sivas, Elazığ, Erzincan, Malatya, Kayseri you would think that Turkey is an Asian country. And if you visit Diyarbakır, Mardin, Şanlıurfa, Hakkari you would think that Turkey is a Middle Eastern country

One of the major arguments against Turkey is the fact that it is not geographically situated within the continent of Europe. On 20th December 2007, in an interview with Radio Vatican, German news agency DPA reported that French president Nicolas Sarkozy stated the ‘Turkey is not in Europe but in Asia Minor, and this is a geographical reality‘.[23]
Although it is worth noting, however, that there are no set borders in Europe as there are for Africa for example. Sarkozy’s comments must also be seen in the light of the fact that he wishes to set up a Mediterranean Union and this can be seen as an alternative to Turkey acceding into the EU.

It appears that political and cultural differences play a major role when it comes to deciding as to who is or is not a member. Cyprus, for example, is situated just north of Egypt and west of Israel and Lebanon, yet it was accepted into the EU and became a full member in 2004. Cyprus is, in fact considered part of Anatolias Continental shelf and according to the online CIA Factbook, Cyrpus’ location is stated as ‘Middle East’.

Location of Cyprus, an EU member.

If the European Union is to accept Turkey, it would mean the extension of the EU’s borders as far east as Syria, Iran and Iraq. In so doing, this would automatically involve the EU not only in Middle East but also Middle Eastern politics. This was never the aim of the EU, the aim of the EU was closer economic co-operation and EU harmonization.

4.2. EU Budget

A concern for many European countries is the fact that Turkey is a comparatively poorer country than many of the other European countries and the EU will therefore be inheriting a country badly in need of EU investment and consequently will drain EU resources. There naturally occurs therefore a certain reluctance to negotiate with Turkey regardless of its progression or advancement it has made. The Copenhagen Criteria stipulates that enlargement is not any longer dependent solely on the ability of the accession countries to meet the very strict and thorough requirements of the European Union, but also on the ability of the current members to be able to handle further expansion. Turkey’s accession requirements could be at a time when the EU cannot cope with any new members. Over a period of less than 4 years, beginning on January 1st 2004, the EU has expanded its membership to almost double its members. The consensus it would appear is that Europe, although not able to continue expanding at this rate is that the EU cannot refuse Turkey its right to attempt to join the EU as this could create larger problems down the road for Europe with respect to possible trade agreements. The EU Budget therefore offers Europe the chance to regain some stability and momentum. As they are set out in 7 year terms, it means that Turkey wouldn’t be able to join the EU until the end of 2013 at the very earliest. This is because the current budget is running from 2007-2013 and as everything has been accounted for it would simply not be feasible to accept Turkey before this date, coupled with the fact that the Status of Acquis chapters have not been fully implemented.

4.3. Balance of Power

Major opponents to Turkey’s EU bid are France, Germany and Austria. These countries believe that the EU should offer Turkey a ‘privileged partnership’ instead of full EU membership. Although they can say it outright, it would not be wholly unreasonable to suggest that Germany would oppose Turkish membership as it would mean that Germany would no longer be the most influential country based purely on population( provided Turkey’s proposed population growth trend continues). Germany’s influene and power in the representative European institutions would also be directly affected. Germany also shares a lot of history and strong economic links with Turkey and any negotiations which would lead to Germany publicly having to veto Turkey joining could conceivably lead to the corrosion of relations between the two countries. On top of this, Germany is the location of the largest concentration of Turkish immigrants, which constitute 2.4% of Germany’s 82 million population.

5. Arguments for Turkish Accession

There are sound geo-strategic, economic and political arguments to counterbalance doubts about Turkey’s eligibility to join the EU. Or, for that matter, to counterbalance concerns over its European identity. The fact that since 1923, Turkey has modeled itself of on its European counterparts and has, as much as it possibly can, attempted to become part of the European community displays its dedication and commitment to the European way of doing things that simply cannot be denied. Turkey has been striving for EU acceptance and their aim is simple, as former Prime Minister of Turkey, Naim Talu put it: ‘ The objective of the Turkish government is to develop political and  economic relations with the EEC, with a view to realizing the final objective of accession to the European Community as a full-fledged member ‘.

In a nut-shell, Turkey brings a young workforce, massive economic growth and a huge army to the European Union. On top of all this, the EU sees a westernized Turkey as the best possible obstacle to Islamic fundamentalism, particularly within Europe itself.

5.1 Economic Advantages

There are major advantages in accepting Turkey into the EU and this is due to the strategic and economic importance of the country just at the EU’s doorstep. According to the Turkish Statistical Institute, Turkeys GDP rate from 2002-2007 grew at a rate of 7.4 % making Turkey one of the fastest growing economies in the World. The World Bank also forecasts that Turkeys GDP at market prices will continue to grow at a rate of 5.4% in 2008[24] . According to Bartlomiej Kaminski and Francis Ng, Turkey has benefited greatly from the Customs Union agreement that was signed back in 1995. Not only has it allowed Turkey to receive greater and greater EU investment into the country itself but it has also opened up the industrial market within the EU for Turkey to do business. A result of this Customs Union agreement is that Turkey is no longer as heavily reliant on agricultural produce and exports as it had previously been [25].

Accepting Turkey into the EU would strengthen the EU’s economy with the addition of an OECD founder and G20 member to the bloc. Istanbul, the financial capital of Turkey is also the strategic location which controls the Turkish Straits which, in turn, link the Black and Aegean Seas. In this way turkey could be an engine for growth for both itself and the EU. Turkeys vast oil reserves also make the prospect of accepting Turkey that little bit more inviting. Economic growth within turkey has been significantly higher than in any of the other European Union countries in recent years also[26].

Another benefit of accepting Turkey would be the emergence of a young, motivated workforce willing to travel to obtain employment. Although this is seen as a concern for many Europeans, it cannot be denied that the average age of the EU as a whole is increasing and a fresh injection of young Turkish immigrant workers would benefit both the European and domestic economies. If dealt with properly, it will be possible to reduce unemployment in the EU and any of the particular Member States. The idea that the EU would be swamped with Turkey doesn’t appear to be accurate and a rough estimate of 2-3 million Turks arriving into European Member States seems to be a much closer estimation [27]. This is roughly on par with the type of immigration witnessed when the Eastern European countries were accepted into the EU on the January 1st 2004.

5.2 Legal and Political Reform

In an effort to align itself more closely with the EU, Turkey has undergone a massive overhaul of its Constitution with a total of 34 Articles being amended. This was done to ensure that its political and legal institutions meet with the approval of the EU. Two of the articles which prohibit the dissemination of literature ‘in languages forbidden by law’, have been amended to give more rights to whom they had most directly affected, the Kurdish population.

5.2.1 Civil Code

On November 27 2001, the Turkish Grand National Assembly amended the 1926 Turkish Civil Code and it was adopted into law on the 1st of January 2002. This new Civil Code has been instrumental in giving women more rights and freedom of choice and right to property. This new Civil Code was the starting point of a whole range of other amendments and reforms and it introduced improvements with regards to the freedom of association and the right to assembly, as well as gender equality and child protection. Article 186 of the Civil Code now provides for more equality in the marriage and states that the husband is no longer automatically the head of the family. Also, Article 188 states that men and women are given equal status and they can both represent the family in legal matters. Article 416 states that with this Civil Code amendment, not only men but also women are obliged to assume the responsibility of guardianship when appointed as a guardian[28]. Since the Civil Code was amended there have been many reform packages that were introduced to ensure the implementation of the Civil Code but also to completely update Turkeys legislative system. Over the last few years, the Turkish government has passed some major reform packages including the ban on the death sentence, which was brought into force when Turkey signed protocol number 13 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
Article 2 (2) of the the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union states, ‘ No one shall be condemned to the death penalty or executed ‘. As such, it was vitally important for Turkey to sign this piece of legislation to respect human life at all times and not just at ‘times of peace’ as had previously been their position.

In addition to that, a zero tolerance policy on torture in prisons has been implemented and they have also curtailed the influence of the military in everyday life . All of these reforms have been conducted with the aim of joining the EU. The obvious argument here is that Turkeys democratic institutions would be bolstered even further by joining the EU. Broadcasting and education in minority languages such as Kurdish were legally authorized in 2003 and this is seen as a significant step forward in recognizing the Kurdish population of Turkey and integrating them into Turkish society as opposed to their previous method of failure to recognize their existence.

Modern Turkey was established as a secular democracy in a country with a predominantly Muslim population. The significance of this should not be over looked considering Turkeys history and also its geographical location. A major diplomatic and political advantage of allowing Turkey to join the EU would be that a westernized Turkey is seen as a barrier to Islamic fundamentalism. The Turkish membership would be of immense symbolic significance as an attempt to close the gap between the Christian and the Muslim world and the message that it would give to Muslim world about the EU would be one of integration, tolerance and acceptance. It would show that the EU and a major Muslim country joining can work and that they are compatible.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that an argument leveled against Turkey quite often is that 99.8% of Turkey’s population are Muslim and a as a result they are too culturally different from a Judeo-Christian based Europe. It is worth remembering however that the EU always argues that it is not a religion based organisation and so on that basis alone any reference to religion should be rendered obsolete; but also Turkey is a secular democratic Republic which defends this fact strongly. Lastly, concerns over Muslim populations living in the EU need only look at present statistics to find that there are 15.9 million Muslims residing throughout the EU [29].

Conclusion

The fact that, since 1923, Turkey has modeled itself on its European counterparts and has, as much as it is possible, attempted to become part o the European community displays it’s dedication and commitment to the ‘European way’ of doing things which simply cannot be denied. Although turkey faces some stiff opposition from certain quarters in the EU, it is undeniable that at this stage they not only have everything to play for but they are also most certainly in control of their own destiny.

Turkey has progressed to the point of Accession negotiations and they must not become complacent as they strive for their ultimate foal of full EU membership. I have highlighted some ares of difficulty for Turkey and these must be addressed. Even in 2008, Turkey has not progressed very far with regards to the Statue of Acquis chapters and they have only themselves to blame for that. it is a slow process which involves amending and changing legislation and policy at a rate not necessarily best suited to a nation as vast and different as Turkey. Political pressure and restraints means almost certainly that no longer everyone is happy with the EU from within the country. Resentment of the EU due to the sometimes agonizingly slow accession process has manifested itself within Turkey and EU approval ratings are down. Disillusionment at the whole process is fast becoming a common sentiment within Turkey and further afield. The argument, of course, could be made that this is a concentrated effort by European politicians wary of allowing to Turkey to join.

Statements by French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, like: Turkey, which is not European, has no place within the EU are damaging and destructive to EU-Turkey relations. The Copenhagen European Council of 12-13 December 2002 already ruled that ‘if the European Council…decides that Turkey fulfills the Copenhagen political criteria, the EU will open negotiations without delay.’ So, taking this into consideration, it highlights the recklessness of President Sarkozy’s comments and displays possible ulterior motives for issuing the statement. I can only see the result of fostering resentment and undermining Turkey’s EU accession bid by making comments like this. Regardless of Sarkozy’s own personal opinion, the fact of the matter is that Turkey has fulfilled the Copenhagen political criteria and negotiations have commenced, though very slowly.

Even at this stage,of Turkey’s bid, I believe that they still have the hardest battle of all to face in the shape of satisfying all 35 chapters of the Acquis. Should they manage to succeed however, I feel that they cannot be delayed entry any longer as they will have been waiting for over half a century to join the EU. That is far and away the longest any prospective country has been made wait.

Turkey has made substantial progress in its political and legislative reform process but it must continue to broaden and consolidate its existing legislation and the implementation of it if it desires to one day become a member of the EU. I feel that Turkey has come so far and the EU has dangled the membership-carrot in front of them for so long now that it would be unthinkable that Turkey could be refused entry upon completion of the negotiations. If they succeed, it will be an extraordinary achievement for a country that was once known as the ‘sick man of Europe’.

Reference

1. http://www.turkishembassylondon.org/canon/aboutturkey_eu.htm

2.  http://www.eurotreaties.com/maastrichteu.pdf

3. http://europa.eu/scadplus/glossary/accession_criteria_copenhague_en.htm

4. http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/atwork/_documents/dgenlargementbrochure/sld005.htm

5. www.diyih.gov.tr/uluslararasi_kuruluslar/ab/ortaklik_ant_doc/okk_1_80_eng.doc

6. http://www.ejil.org/journal/Vol8/No3/sr1-05.html

7. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:61997J0001:EN:HTML

8. http://www.ecsanet.org/conferences/ecsaworld3/kabaalioglu.htm

9. http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?lang=e&id=ENGEUR440352005

10. http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/1197

11. http://www.osce.org/documents/rfm/2005/03/14223_en.pdf

12. http://www.antenna-tr.org/mevzuat_devam.asp?feox=21&lgg=en

13. Arikan, H (2006) Turkey and the Eu: An Akward Candidate for Eu Membership, 2nd ed, Ashgate Publishing

14. http://www.un.int/cyprus/scr541.htm

15. http://www.hri.org/docs/annan/

16. http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2004/sc8074.doc.htm]http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2004/sc8074.doc.htm

17. http://www.hri.org/news/cyprus/tcpr/2005/05-01-25.tcpr.html#01

18. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/smartapi/cgi/sga_doc?smartapi!celexplus!prod!CELEXnumdoc&lg=en&numdoc=306R0389

19. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2006:065:0005:0008:EN:PDF

20. www.ciafactbook.com

21. http://hrw.org/english/docs/2003/12/31/turkey7023.htm

22. http://www.turkish-houses.com/turkishhouses/category.asp?CatID=30

23. http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,3016610,00.html

24. http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTGEP2008/Resources/GEP_APP_165-202.pdf

25. Kaminski,B, Ng,Francis, Turkey’s Evolving Trade Integration into Pan-European Markets

26. Lammers, Konrad, The EU and Turkey – Economic Effects of Turkey’s Full Membership

27. Lammers, Konrad, The EU and Turkey – Economic effects of Turkey’s full membership

28. http://www.ewla.org/wf_content/72.html

29. http://islameurope.blogspot.com/2007/05/number-of-muslims-in-europe.html

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By Shane Cassidy