Hugo Chávez just triggered some alarm when he announced there will be no Venezuelan oil for European countries using the newly adopted European Union migration directive that says that immigrants considered as illegal can be jailed for up to eighteen months and face a re-entry ban of up to five years. European leaders are saying he just misunderstood the thing:

“Spain’s prime minister said Madrid was prepared to explain the new law “so that the EU’s relationship with all Latin American countries remains positive.” “Maybe we need to explain exactly to the president of Venezuela what this directive (EU law) consists of,” Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said at a two-day EU summit. “There have been many interpretations of this directive… that have nothing to do with what it really is,” he said.” (from “EU says Chavez misunderstood migration law”, Reuters, June 20 2008)

It’s a misunderstanding. Ok. So a little good explanation will do. Explanations are always great:

“Zapatero referred to Chávez’s words at the European Council in Brussels. “We will for sure provide an explanation,” said Zapatero, who has heard “many interpretations” of the law approved by the EU Parliament. “It might be appropriate to explain to Venezuela’s President the meaning of this directive,” because “we hear sometimes interpretations that have not much to do with reality,” said Zapatero.” (from “España explicará la directiva europea sobre inmigración a los países latinoamericanos”, El País, June 20 2008)

Super. There is nothing like a good little explanation. Agreed. But why don’t you guys give that fancy explanation straight away?

Let us guess. And, meanwhile, we will spend some time wondering about this an other new cool ways of using oil.


  1. DV

    Lazy politicians. Why couldn’t Chavez have read some of the news articles about the directive? It basically sets limits for immigration law to normalize to a greater extent the rules within Europe. Countries with more liberal laws are fine, its the ones who are too strict that are affected. They are trying to get rid of unlimited terms of imprisonment without trial ect. They had to compromise with the strict countries to get it past. Its possible, I guess that it may encourage some countries to make tougher laws, but they could have done that before anyway the way I understand it.

  2. DV,

    It’s true that “[t]his Directive shall be without prejudice to the right of the Member States to adopt or maintain provisions that are more favourable to persons to whom it applies.” But the sentence continue: “… provided that such provisions are compatible with this Directive.” A directive’s aim is to align local legislation. So the possibility of more liberal laws (which by the way are more than fine because they prevent the European atmosphere from becoming politically unbreathable) is compromised. For countries happy with unlimited terms of imprisonment without a trial, then a 18 months term and a 5 years ban are really a very mild constraint. From a political perspective, an interesting alternative to compromising with the “strict countries” would have been to tell these countries to fuck off.

  3. A general clarification: the Test Society blog is officially favorable to the idea that (1) people should be allowed to live and work in whatever place they happen to be and that (2) the administrative notion of nationality should be dropped altogether.

  4. DV

    If you tell those countries leave the EU then there is no improvement. I don’t think the “either you are with us or you are against us” mentality is very efficient. Also the 18 month maximum is only available for “special cases” in those countries that wish to be that tough. There have to be procedures in place to provide for over site. They also have a 7-30 day period to leave voluntarily which they didn’t have before.

    I am do not think that the EU’s immigration laws are what they should be, but this seems to make things better from a practical perspective.

  5. DV

    I too think people should be able to live an work were they wish. The only stipulation I would put on that is that they present themselves to authorities to get an verified ID. Without ID laws wont work because after an offense is committed the person will just make up a new name for themselves.

  6. “Them” and “us”, “they” and “we”: the precision of deictics is indeed of a great importance in a context in which a close look at what they (and this “they” is really them, i.e. Sarkozy, Berlusconi, Fogh, etc.) are doing to Europe must translate into a call for resistance against the “practical perspective” (their words), i.e. “state xenophobia” (ours). Getting rid of them (this “them”, not the other “them”) would be indeed an efficient improvement (for us). They themselves started with the “them or us” game in the first place, anyway. So fuck them.

  7. DV

    Thats just it. In order to remove the perception of the “other” you have to invite new people into the political, social, economic process of a country. That requires an ID, so that transactions like voting and contracts can be completed.

  8. il napolitano

    Un articolo divertente, in spagnolo però, che punta deicticamente sui colpevoli nascosti di questo bordello: http://www.elpais.com/articulo/ultima/burdel/elpepiult/20080627elpepiult_1/Tes

  9. napolitano,

    Very anthropological.




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