Historical Memory

La Voz de Galicia – January 11, 2019 →

Cristina Pato The truth is I always thought that my father and my mother came from two different countries. The women of the Berredo family had nothing in common with the men of the Armariz clan. They spoke and related to each other in different ways—they even had different ways of making sausages. My theory was that those from one side had people skills because in the place where they came from, people had itinerant professions and developed that skill to survive while those from the other side had good land, and that was enough to get ahead for them to get ahead in life. Even their reasons for immigrating were different: she wanted to leave, he escaped as a fugitive.

Today, Galicia is more unified when it comes to people’s accents and ways of being. But sometimes, when I meet up with someone from the coast, I have the feeling of being in a different country, with its own habits and routines. It is truly fascinating to think that in less than 62 miles, one can feel like an immigrant. When one leaves one’s environment for another place, no matter how close, one tries to adapt oneself to that new way of being and doing. It is not necessary to travel far to feel like an outsider.

These days, reading about Trump and about Spain’s far right-wing party, Vox, I think about the loss of memory by countries I know well, countries that I have crisscrossed from one end to another, that taught me different perspectives, countries where I met immigrants from all parts of the world and learned from them.

Human immigration brings progress, those “outsiders” give us the chance to look at what is ours with a different set of eyes, an opportunity to exchange ideas. We all deserve the same rights and the same opportunities, and this is the reason we should not forget that many of us were refugees, fugitives or immigrants, so that we are not carried away by the tides of hate that seem to be battering the world.

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