NATIONALISTS WANT CHECKS STEPPED UP AT PORTS AND AIRPORTSBy Humphrey Carter
THE Majorcan nationalist party Unió Mallorquina yesterday backed the Spanish-led crackdown on illegal immigration, calling for much stricter controls in the Balearics. UM party sources said that while the multi-national Operation Ulises, launched in Palma on Tuesday, is a positive step forward, tougher controls should be introduced in the Balearics. The UM party has been scolded in the past, often getting into hot water with its comments on immigration, but the party which is led by the President of the Insular Council of Majorca, Maria Antonia Munar, yesterday called for strict controls at all Balearics ports and airports to stop mafias and illegal immigrants from entering the region. Majorcan nationalists believe that Operation Ulises, which involves a British customs launch with a crew of 12, will make a difference and help to stem the flood of illegal immigrants into Spain and deter human trafficking mafias, two issues which the party said need to be urgently dealt with. However, for Balearics border controls to be enforced efficiently, the Majorcan Union party said that the gaps in the National Police and Guardia Civil have to be plugged, brandishing central government's policing policies a disaster. The absence of any representatives for central government on the recently formed Balearic Security Council has also angered the UM as the issues of immigration and policing start to rise to the forefront as the May 25 elections start to draw near How can central government start to understand the Balearics' problems if it is not represented at such meetings, party sources said yesterday. In the past, members of the UM have suggested that the rise in the number of cases of tuberculosis in the Balearics has been caused by immigration, sparking a backlash from left wing parties and immigrant groups. Operation Ulises was however criticised by the government of Andalusia yesterday. The region is at the forefront in the battle against illegal immigration and government spokesperson, Alfonso Perales, said that the government has had enough of spectacular operations and magical solutions, adding that unless serious and effective steps are taken, all these pilot schemes and one off operations do is fuel illegal immigration into southern Spain. Phase two of the operation, which starts in the Spring, will cover waters stretching round to the Canaries.
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