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Fearless... Adventurous... Seductive... Romantic... and also a bit naughty Stories of pirates have always captivated us in literature, film and on television. Piracy is as old as navigation itself. But... what is a pirate? A pirate is an outlaw who robs and plunders at sea. He takes possession of that which does not belong to him And he does it heavily armed and with disregard for the law. On occasions, they have the protection of a state or a nation, and they act under what was previous known as a "letter of marque" In that case they were called "Corsairs" "The Somalian pirates have expanded their area of action" "these are two of the pirates" "The military attempted to capture the pirates" "Finally the frigate 'Canarias' reaches the skiff and captures the two pirates" "About 60 pirates will divide the booty of 2 and a half million Euros between them" "There has been a fire on the 'Inters-Ono-Dos' repelling the pirates" "We have 63 pirates on board right now" "The group of about thirty pirates are armed, have consumed alcohol and are very aggressive" "Somalian hell" "At the present time the piracy in Somalia monopolizes the communications media. But... does such piracy exist? What does it consist of? And... who are the pirates, really? In order to find that out, it is necessary to go back to the origin. "Pirates" Somalia was colonized by Italy and England It won its independence in 1960 But the democratic government only lasted 9 years. In 1969 the dictator Mohamed Siad Barré stages a coup d'etat and takes control of the country He obtains power with the unconditional support of the United States Thanks to that, the principal oil companies from the United States obtain important contracts to exploit the oil that belonged to Somalia. Somalia occupies a geostrategic position that is key for the transportation routes that unite Europe and Asia. More than 20,000 cargo ships pass by Somalia's costs through the Gulf of Aden each year transporting more than 10% of the world's commerce and also a great deal of the oil extracted from the Middle East. Since long ago, regional nations and foreign powers have entered into disputes over these waters as a strategic point for maritime transport routes. Siad Barré's military rule lasts until 1988 when the National Somalian Movement rebles against the dictatorship. The uprising gives way to a bloody civil war which lasts until 1991 when Said Barré finds himself obligated to abandon his position of power and flee from the country. But his departure doesn't bring peace. In the absence of power, various clans fight against one another to take control of the country impeding the existence of a stable government to the present day. The civil war had devastating consequences for the Somalian people. More than 300,000 dead One and a half million displaced people and a terrible famine that affects the whole country made worse by the prolonged drought. Currently, the fragile government can barely maintain control of the capital city The confrontations between different factions of the population are constant Violence, chaos and anarchy reign in the streets of Somalia and it is considered the most dangerous country in the world. Taking advantage of this chaotic situation without control or government a multitude of fishing ships from various countries begin to fish with out any sort of liscence in the waters in front of Somalia, Including Somalia's territorial waters. These ships, from the United States of America, Asia and the European Union practice a kind of fishing labeled I.U.U. Illegal, Undeclared, Unregulated Their incessant and uncontrolled activity, employing methods of fishing that are prohibited in other regions of the country is depleting the fish reserves of a country that lacks the authority and resources to protect its coasts Currently, more than 800 ships from different countries are fishing in the zone It is estimated that the income generated by the illegal fishing amounts to more than 450 million dollars Tuna fishing has experienced a vertiginous and unsustainable increase in the last 10 years Just the tuna fleet, fundamentally composed of Spanish ships, with 60% of the captures, and French ships with 40%, capture in Somalia approximately 500,000 tons of tuna each year The fishing fleets of powerful countries with the European Union in the lead contribute in this way to the impoverishment of one of the most miserable regions of the world They rob the population of its principal source of protien and destroy the local fishermen's way of life and ability to sustain themselves and that brings condemnation without hope of a remedy to a fragile country that agonizes and dies of starvation Since 1990 the Somalian community has protested repeatedly before the United Nations and before many intergovernmental organizations Somalia's protests have never been listened to or given importance The United Nations Monitoring Group for Somalia has also documented and mentioned the systematic depredation of the zone in its reports that is being carried out by the foreign fishing fleets The United Nations doesn't even listen to its own advisors and has done absolutely nothing to stop the looting But the nightmare doesn't end here since the fall of the government in 1991 other ships have begun to appear near the Somalian coast Their activities are more mysterious The ships enter Somalia's territorial waters, throw barrels into the sea, and leave This suspicious activity alarms the Somalian fishermen who try to dissuade the carriers who carry out the dumping But they are unsucessful The dumping has continued for 14 years The content of these barrels had been a mystery until the end of 2004, the year in which a terrible tsunami strikes Southeast Asia When the wave of the tsunami reaches Somalia hundereds of barrels are are thrown against the coast The barrels break open There is leakage. The contents reaches the surface and ends up on the beaches the people in the area become sick Respiratory infections... intestinal hemorrhages... strange chemical reactions on the skin and more than 300 sudden deaths cause alarm in the population after a time babies begin to be born with malformations and a range of sicknesses Nick Nuttall, spokesman for the United Nations environmental program explains that when the containers were broken by the strength of the waves the containers brought to light an appalling activity: Somalia is being used as a dumping ground for toxic wastes since the beginning of the 90s and continued together with the beginning of the civil war in the country The trash is of many classes: principally, radioactive uranium and heavy metals like cadmium and mercury There is also hospital and industrial waste chemical wastes and others that wish not to be named The most alarming factor is the dumping of nuclear waste The radioactive waste is killing the Somalian people and is totally destroying the oceans Ahmedou Ould Abdallah The United Nations special representative to Somalia declared to Al-Jazeera that dumping of toxic wastes continue to take place at the present time The diplomat affirmed that he had reliable information proving that they are European and Asiatic corporation that are dumping the chemicals and nuclear wastes on the Somalian coasts Yes, the United Nations sent representatives to observe the catastrophe and without any more thought, the chapter was closed At the moment, there hasn't been a single trial, detention, or sentence for the these criminal acts And, this does not only occur in Somalia The waters of other African countries, like Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Congo, and Benin are also used by industrialized nations as dumping grounds for toxic wastes In 2001 alone, 600,000 tons of toxic wastes arrived in Africa The African continent has been converted into the dumping ground for radioactive wastes generated by rich countries A devastated country that is starving to death The rich countries flock to snatch away the fish and on the way, they contaminate the country's waters with toxic and nuclear waste This is the context in which the men taht some sources label "pirates" appeared Presented with this situation of complete defenselessness some fishermen react in a desperate way They begin to form alliances of small armed groups and using motorboats they try to drive away the foriegn fishing boats and dissuade the ships that dump wastes into their waters "Many years ago we used to fish a lot... It was enough to eat and to sell at the market. But then the foriegn illegal fishing ships arrived that many times dump toxic substances which decimate the fish reserves I don't have any other alternative" They call themselves "Volunteer Somalian Coastguard" and they have the complete support of the local population According to a survey, 70% of the Somalian population strongly supports this activity as a form of defending the country's territorial waters One of their leaders, Sugule Ali, explains their motives: "To put a stop to the illegal fishing and the dumping in our waters We don't consider ourselves outlaws of the sea We consider those who fish illegally and dump toxic wastes to be the outlaws" But at first no one takes them seriously the foreign fishing fleets continue to fish with impunity and the toxic waste dumping continues Given that all of this happens in a country plagued with weaponry and divided into rivaled groups ex-combatants soon join the fishermen and the groups become heavily armed They see a lucrative business in the capture of these ships and creating the need for their rescue When they begin to withhold these ships the area starts clearing and the foriegn fleets stop arriving with such frequency The powerful nations see their lucrative fishing business threatened and they are deprived of their private and cheap dumping ground for toxic and nuclear wastes The United Nations, which has systemitically ignored the Somali's complaints is listening now to the countries affected by these actions Spain and France, countries with important fishing fleets in the area are heading the petition for a joint military action That is how "Operation Atlanta" is born The mision begins with 8 battle ships, supply ships and surveillance aircrafts Following the failure of the operation its duration and budget is increased, with more than 20 ships and 1,800 soldiers The approximate cost for the Spanish government amounts to more than 6 million euros per month The cost of the Galician and Basque tuna fishermen's private security forces amounts to half a million euros per month The Spanish government takes responsibility for half of this cost using the nation's general budget Let's remember the definition of a pirate: They rob at sea, taking possession of that which does not belong to them They carry out their actions heavily armed and on ocasions they have the protection of a state of a nation But... Why do these fleets fish there Can't they do it in their own territorial waters? In their oceans? No And they reason why is terrible There is nothing left to fish They have ravaged and plundered all their reserves Rich countries have exterminated the marine life in their own oceans The fishing systems in the capitalist countries have been industrialized The marine ecosystems are exploited to the limit, with the objective of maximizing profits The marine species capacity for regeneration is destroyed the food chain is broken and species become extinct According to Greenpeace international at least ¼ of all of the marine life that is captured is thrown back into the sea dead whales, dolphines... albatross, sea turtles They are what the fishing industry frivilously labels by-catches from the seas of the north to the Gulf of Biscay the Cantabrian and the Mediterranean the habitat of many species has been depleted and destroyed A professor of the history or political thought, Jose Carlos Garcia Fajardo, affirms: "Our European fleets went in search of the rich fisheries of Africa, Latin America and Asia in many countries they benefited from unscrupulous governments from countries lack of resources to defend their own waters or from fake corporations created for the purpose of exploiting the countries riches In the year 2006, trying to protect its natrual resources, Senegal stops renewing its fishing agreements with European Union countries But it seems impossible to stop the capitalist fishing fleets They mock the law creating fake corporations and buying licenses from other countries and flying flags of convenience Currently, on the internet flags of convenience can be bought in a few minutes and for less than 500 euros In Senegal, fishing boats have ceased to be useful for their intended purpose and now they are used to transport immigrants who look for a better future in European countries Ironically, they are the same countries that have taken away their future In Somalia, the boats have can no longer be used for fishing and now they are used for piracy The global confernece on the Oceans announced that 75% of the world's fish reserves have disappeared The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations also reported that 80% of the worlds fisheries are over exploited and 30% of all marine species are under the biological security limit Taking all of this into account, many scientific studies calculate that in the year 2048 all of the world's fishing reserves will have been depleted.
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