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Sharing meals, a way of occupying public space

Reflecting on how to occupy public space in Melilla is a challenge, somewhat complex and not obvious. These spaces are a manifestation of the paradox of the system in which we live. If you look at it superficially you will find a well-kept city, places of work and leisure where people come together to swim at the beach, drink a beer or eat with friends. Also near Plaza España you will see green parks and police who watch the traffic and on the seafront you will find beaches and bars with music.

On the other hand, if you look carefully you will notice that in the parking area of Plaza España there will always be a guy cleaning cars, at certain times of the day in the port there will be a young Moroccan hiding trying to do "risky" and in the Rastro neighbourhood you will find some guys on the steps of the supermarket (Dia) eating what the neighbours have given them or what they have got after helping out in the local shops.

However, you won't see these same boys in the discos in the port, on the terraces of the bars in the Plaza de las Culturas or on the football pitches or beaches, as they are neither welcome nor accepted in these places.

Public space is a place of conflict; many collectives are denied it, aporophobia and racism relegate them to the invisible margins. They are not legitimised to occupy and pass through public space because they are considered dangerous in the sense that they do not fit in with the decorum of the city: "Security itself has become a political ideology that can be defined as securitarianism: this ideology replaces the principles of legal and penal guarantees, becoming a tool that is used to the detriment of certain undesirable subjectivities". [1]

The institutional discourse therefore develops around the theme of "security", understood as the militarisation of the streets and public space. Real security, on the other hand, is made up of housing, health, wages, social and civil rights. Therefore, camera installations are implemented and security policies are tightened, to the detriment of welfare and a logic that refers the deepest causes of social unrest to the lack of basic civil rights.

At Solidary Wheels we promote the reclaiming of these spaces, in support of the children who arrive in this city and who are made invisible every day. Apart from our meeting spots in the skatepark and the beach, which also promote "occupying public space", two days a week we distribute food to emphasise their right to occupy that space and give it the form that suits them, as well as to denounce the lack of resources in the city.[2] There is no canteen or public service that caters for the young Moroccans who are forced to live on the streets, many of them while waiting for their asylum applications to be processed.

Therefore, the decision to share food, which is a basic need, in a public space is both a social and a political resolution. The right to the city is embedded in the right to freedom, to individualisation in socialisation, to habitat and to inhabit, and must be guaranteed to everyone, regardless of their documentation, legal and economic situation.

[1] "La stessa sicurezza è diventata un'ideologia politica definibile come securitarismo: tale ideologia sostituisce i principi del garantismo giuridico e penale trasformandosi in strumento da utilizzare a scapito di alcune soggettività indesiderabili" Simone A. (2010) I corpi del reato. Sessualità e sicurezza nella società del rischio, Milano - Udine, Mimesis Edizioni.

[2] “Vivienda: Los indicadores MIPEX-R no relevan ni medidas ni programas específicos por parte del gobierno regional para favorecer el acceso a la vivienda del colectivo de personas extranjeras, sean ayudas en forma de asesoramiento o de apoyo económico. Asimismo, preocupa la falta de políticas que aborden la situación de segregación en los barrios más desfavorecidos del territorio.” Francesco Pasetti y Carlota Cumella de Montserrat, investigadores, CIDOB (2022) MIPEX-R: la gobernanza de la integración en seis regiones españolas. CIDOB Briefings 37.



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