Freedom of Movement

La Voz de Galicia – January 31, 2020 →

Cristina PatoAt midnight tonight, Europe will have one less country. And even though there will be a transition period that will «ease» things until the close of the year, the truth is that one asks what will the British do (or what we will do) when the implementation process ends, and we realize what this means in the long term.

A year from today, you are British or you are European; and unless you have a double nationality, you can no longer be both at once. The British will simply be British, and the identity of the 47-year relationship with the European Union will be deleted (as if it were that simple). I suppose this is the result of our cultural (and social) identity being openly available to economic power.

The fact is that when I began writing this column, I was more or less sure about what my vision of the theme would be. In my other life, in my life as a musician, I spend most of my time traveling, and I am conscious of the privileges I have simply for being European. In the organization for which I work, the Silkroad Ensemble, I see daily the differences between having one passport and having another. Requesting a visa to play in China or in the Emirates or even in the United Kingdom may be a drawn-out process, and not always a fruitful one for my Korean, Israeli, Syrian and Iranian colleagues; and coming to play in Europe with a Chinese passport can land you in jail though you may have all documents in order.

The passport matters. And when we forget that the idea of being part of something allowing the free movement of people is a right of incalculable value with which we should not play, we run the risk of ending up building walls around ourselves.

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